Bryant v. Connections et al
MEMORANDUM - Signed by Judge Gregory M. Sleet on 11/30/17. (rwc)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF DELAWARE
CEDRIC L. BRYANT,
alkla Joseph Fooks,
CONNECTIONS, et ai.,
Civ. No. 17-1080-GMS
The plaintiff, Cedric L. Bryant ("Bryant"), an inmate at the Sussex Correctional
Institution ("SCI"), appears pro se and was granted permission to proceed in forma pauperis.
(D.I. 5.) Bryant filed this lawsuit alleging violations of his civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.c.
§ 1983. 1 (D.1. 3.) The court proceeds to review and screen the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and § 1915A(b)(I).
On April 25, 2017, Bryant contracted a rash that started in his left arm and spread to his
chest and back. (D.!. 3 at 5.) Within two weeks the rash had spread from head to toe. On May
12, 2017, Bryant was seen by the sick call nurse and given ointment and medication. (Jd.) The
medication did not provide relief.
Bryant submitted sick call slips to see a physician or dermatologist. (Jd.) He also
submitted sick call slips for Benadryi. (Jd.) During the first week of June, Bryant was seen by
When bringing a § 1983 claim, a plaintiff must allege that some person has deprived him of a
federal right, and that the person who caused the deprivation acted under color of state law. West
v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).
nurse practitioners Clauda Pierce ("Pierce") and Brad Boyer ("Boyer"). (Jd. at 6.) Bryant was
prescribed a cream and Benadryl. (Jd.) Bryant was told that the sick call nurse would apply the
cream every day. (Jd.) The Benadryl provided some relief, but the itching was very bad when
Bryant was in the sun or took a hot shower. (Jd.)
Bryant began submitting sick call slips and grievances. (Jd.) He was called to medical
on June 15, 2017, and again seen by Pierce and Boyer. (ld.) Bryant was administered a steroid
injection and prescribed prednisone. (Jd.) He was directed to take the prednisone in a specific
manner and alleges that the medication nurses did not properly administer the medication.
Bryant was next seen by Pierce around June 25, 2017. (Jd.) He asked her ifhe had been
placed on the list to see a physician or outside dermatologist about his rash. (Jd.) Pierce checked
the computer and advised Bryant that he was not on the list. (Jd. at 6-7.) During this visit, an
unnamed physician looked at Bryant's rash and "put [him] in for a consult with a[n] outside
dermatologist." (Jd. at 7.)
Bryant has not yet seen an outside physician despite his requests. He alleges that "they
keep sending a lady and she tells [him] that she can't put [him] in to see the doctor" and that he
will have to wait another three months until his next appointment. (ld.)
On July 12, 2017, Bryant met with unnamed individuals about his medical grievances.
(Jd.) Bryant was told that he could not pick and choose his provider. (Jd.) Bryant explained the
treatment he received had not helped him and again asked to be seen by a physician, "inside or
out." (ld. at 7.) His request was "denied on all accounts." (ld. at 8.) Bryant seeks compensation
for his pain and suffering and to be seen by the appropriate physicians. (ld.)
ST ANDARD OF REVIEW
A federal court may properly dismiss an action sua sponte under the screening provisions
of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) and § 1915A(b) if "the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is
immune from such relief." Ball v. Famiglio, 726 F.3d 448, 452 (3d Cir. 2013); see also 28
U.S.c. § 1915(e)(2) (informapauperis actions); 28 U.S.c. § 1915A (actions in which prisoner
seeks redress from a governmental defendant); 42 U.S.C. § 1997e (prisoner actions brought with
respect to prison conditions). The court must accept all factual allegations in a complaint as true
and take them in the light most favorable to a pro se plaintiff. Phillips v. County ofAllegheny,
515 F.3d 224, 229 (3d Cir. 2008); Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007). Because Bryant
proceeds pro se, his pleading is liberally construed and his complaint, "however inartfully
pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers."
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. at 94 (citations omitted).
An action is frivolous if it "lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319,325 (1989). Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) and § 1915A(b)(l), a
court may dismiss a complaint as frivolous if it is "based on an indisputably meritless legal
theory" or a "clearly baseless" or "fantastic or delusional" factual scenario. Neitzke, 490 at 327
28; Wilson v. Rackmill, 878 F.2d 772, 774 (3d Cir. 1989); see, e.g., Deutsch v. United States, 67
F.3d 1080, 1091-92 (3d Cir. 1995) (holding frivolous a suit alleging that prison officials took an
inmate's pen and refused to give it back).
The legal standard for dismissing a complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to
§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) and § 1915A(b)(1) is identical to the legal standard used when ruling on Rule
12(b)(6) motions. Tourscher v. McCullough, 184 F.3d 236, 240 (3d Cir. 1999) (applying Fed. R.
Civ. P. 12(b)(6) standard to dismissal for failure to state a claim under § 1915(e)(2)(B)).
However, before dismissing a complaint or claims for failure to state a claim upon which relief
may be granted pursuant to the screening provisions of28 U.S.c. §§ 1915 and 1915A, the court
must grant Bryant leave to amend his complaint unless amendment would be inequitable or
futile. See Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103, 114 (3d Cif. 2002).
A well-pleaded complaint must contain more than mere labels and conclusions. See
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007). A
plaintiff must plead facts sufficient to show that a claim has substantive plausibility. See
Johnson v. City o/Shelby, _U.S._, 135 S.Ct. 346,347 (2014). A complaint may not dismissed,
however, for imperfect statements of the legal theory supporting the claim asserted. See id. at
Under the pleading regime established by Twombly and Iqbal, a court reviewing the
sufficiency of a complaint must take three steps: (1) take note of the elements the plaintiff must
plead to state a claim; (2) identify allegations that, because they are no more than conclusions,
are not entitled to the assumption of truth; and (3) when there are well-pleaded factual
allegations, the court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly
give rise to an entitlement to relief. Connelly v. Lane Const. Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 787 (3d Cif.
2016) (internal citations and quotations omitted). Elements are sufficiently alleged when the
facts in the complaint "show" that the plaintiff is entitled to relief. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679
(quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2)). Deciding whether a claim is plausible will be a "context
specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common
The SCI, a named defendant, falls under the umbrella of the Delaware Department of
Correction, an agency of the State of Delaware. The Eleventh Amendment protects states and
their agencies and departments from suit in federal court regardless of the kind of relief sought.
Pennhurst State School & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100 (1984). "Absent a state's
consent, the Eleventh Amendment bars a civil rights suit in federal court that names the state as a
defendant." Laskaris v. Thornburgh, 661 F.2d 23, 25 (3d Cir. 1981 ) (citing Alabama v. Pugh,
438 U.S. 781 (1978». Delaware has not waived its immunity from suit in federal court; although
Congress can abrogate a state's sovereign immunity, it did not do so through the enactment of 42
U.S.c. § 1983. See Brooks-McCollum v. Delaware, 213 F. App'x 92, 94 (3d Cir. 2007)
(unpublished). In addition, dismissal is proper because the SCI is not a person for purposes of
§ 1983. See Will v. Michigan Dep't oJState Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71(1989); Calhoun v. Young,
288 F. App'x 47 (3d Cir. 2008) (unpublished).
Accordingly, the court will dismiss the SCI pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(iii)
and 1915A(b)(2) as it is immune from suit.
Bryant complains of the medical care provided as well as the delay and denial of medical
care. In order to set forth a cognizable claim, an inmate must allege a serious medical need and
acts or omissions by prison officials that indicate deliberate indifference to that need. Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976); Rouse v. Plantier, 182 F.3d 192, 197 (3d Cir. 1999).
When an Eighth Amendment claim is brought against a prison official it must meet two
requirements: (1) the deprivation alleged must be, objectively, sufficiently serious; and (2) the
prison official must have been deliberately indifferent to the inmate's health or safety. Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). A prison official may manifest deliberate indifference by
"intentionally denying or delaying access to medical care." Estelle, 429 U.S. at 104-05.
The complaint describes the medical care provided by the individually named defendants.
The allegations against the individual defendants indicate that the provided Bryant medical care,
albeit not to his liking, and that does not appear to have remedied his skin condition. The acts
take by the individual defendants cannot be described as deliberate indifference to a serious
medical need and do not rise to the level of constitutional violations. As a result, the court will
dismiss all claims against the individual defendants as frivolous pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) and § 1915A(b)(l).
The complaint also alleges that Bryant has not received additional inside and outside
medical care, despite physician requests for outside medical treatment. Notably, Bryant alleges
that he has been repeatedly apologized to for the failure to provide him outside treatment. The
court liberally construes the allegations as alleging a relevant Connections' policy or custom, and
that the policy caused the delay or denial of medical care. See Natale v. Camden Cnty. Corr.
Facility, 318 F.3d 575, 584 (3d Cir. 2003). Accordingly, Bryant will be allowed to proceed with
the claims against Connections.
Bryant will be allowed to proceed with his claims against Connections. The court will
dismiss all remaining claims and defendants as frivolous and based upon immunity from suit
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) and (iii) and § 1915A(b)(1) and (2).
An appropriate order will be entered.
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