Jones v. Thomas
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Richard G. Andrews on 10/8/2019. (nms)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF DELAWARE
: Civil Action No. 19-896-RGA
OFFICER WILLIAM THOMAS ,
Matthew Jones, Greenwood , Delaware . Pro Se Plaintiff.
Wilmington / Delaware
Plaintiff Matthew Jones, who appears pro se and has been granted leave to
proceed in forma pauperis, filed this action on May 13, 2019 .
jurisdiction by reason of a federal question.
(D.I. 2) .
The Court proceeds to review and screen
the Complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
Plaintiff alleges that on November 1, 2017 , the Mobile Crisis Intervention team
arrived at his house in response to a Facebook post Plaintiff had made earlier in the
(D.I. 2 at 2) . The Facebook post, as described in the Complaint, was
The team determined that Plaintiff was schizophrenic, removed him from
his home, placed him in confinement, and medicated him with antipsychotic
Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Officer William Thomas is an employee of a
municipality in the State of Delaware, which I interpret to mean that Officer Thomas
works for a local police department.
(Id. at 1). He alleges that Defendant: (1)
censored his First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of the press; (2)
misdiagnosed him in violation of 18 U.S.C. §1035 ; (3) caused assault and battery when
he was medicated unnecessarily for a disease he does not have; and (4) risked harm
on his mother's life by removing Plaintiff (his mother's caregiver) from his mother's life.
(Id. at 2-3). The Complaint describes schizophrenia in great detail.
(Id. at 3-6) .
Plaintiff indicates that he raises his claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28
U.S.C. § 2674 , as well as 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (D .I. 2 at 7) . He also refers to immunity
under Delaware's County and Municipal Tort Claims Act, 10 Del. C. § 4011 (a).
alleges that as a direct and proximate result of the negligent conduct of Defendant, he
has suffered serious bodily injury. He sees two million dollars in compensatory
A federal court may properly dismiss an action sua sponte under the screening
provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(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. " Ba// v. Famiglio , 726 F.3d 448 , 452 (3d
Cir. 2013) ; see also 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) (in forma pauperis actions). The Court
must accept all factual allegations in a complaint as true and take them in the light most
favorable to a prose plaintiff. Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 229 (3d
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), 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 U.S . at 327-28 ; Wilson v. Rackmi/1, 878 F.2d 772 , 774 (3d Cir. 1989).
The legal standard for dismissing a compla int for failure to state a claim pursuant
to§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) 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).
before dismissing a complaint or claims for failure to state a claim upon which relief may
be granted pursuant to the screening provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915, the Court must
grant Plaintiff leave to amend his complaint unless amendment would be inequitable or
See Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103, 114 (3d Cir. 2002) .
Plaintiff proceeds prose and , therefore , his pleading is liberally construed and his
amended complaint, "however inartfully pleaded , must be held to less stringent
standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers."
Erickson v. Pardus , 551 U.S. 89 ,
Under Rule 12(b)(6), a motion to dismiss may be granted only if, accepting
the well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and viewing them in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff, a court concludes that those allegations "could not raise a
claim of entitlement to relief. " Bell At/. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 , 558 (2007) .
"Though 'detailed factual allegations' are not required , a complaint must do more than
simply provide 'labels and conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the elements of a
cause of action. "' Davis v. Abington Mem 'I Hosp., 765 F.3d 236 , 241 (3d Cir. 2014)
(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555) . In addition , a plaintiff must plead facts sufficient to
show that a claim has substantive plausibility.
See Johnson v. City of Shelby, 574 U.S.
10 (2014) . A complaint may not be dismissed , however, for imperfect statements of
the legal theory supporting the claim asserted . See id. at 10.
When reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint, a court should follow a three-step
(1) consider the elements necessary to state a claim ; (2) identify allegations
that are merely conclusions are therefore are not well-pleaded factual allegations; and
(3) accept any well-pleaded factual allegations as true and determine whether they
plausibly state a claim . See Connelly v. Lane Constr. Corp., 809 F.3d 780 , 787 (3d Cir.
2016) ; Williams v. BASF Catalysts LLC, 765 F.3d 306 , 315 (3d Cir. 2014).
whether a claim is plausible will be a "context-specific task that requires the reviewing
court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense ." Id.
Plaintiff attempts to raise a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act.
Federal Tort Claims Act allows a plaintiff to seek damages from the United States for
certain torts committed by federal employees . See 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b). There are no
named federal defendants. Thus , the claim fails as a matter of law.
Plaintiff also attempts to raise a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of his
constitutional rights . 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) . In
addition , mere negligence in and of itself does not violate one's constitutional rights .
See e.g. , Daniels v. Williams , 474 U.S. 327 , 330-30 (1986) . Since all Plaintiff alleges is
negligence, he does not state a § 1983 claim against Officer Thomas.
Further, Plaintiff alleges the acts of Officer Thomas in a conclusory manner.
Defendant's negligence includes that he "misdiagnosed" schizophrenia.
does the Complaint suggest how or why a police officer would be making medical
diagnoses. Nor is there any factual support for the assertion that Officer Thomas
censored Plaintiff. Risking harm to Plaintiffs mother (besides for not being the basis
for Plaintiff to assert a claim) is at most negligence.
The Complaint provides no basis
in fact to support a claim against Defendant.
In addition , it seems that Plaintiff attempts to raise claims under state law, but the
Complaint simply does not provide sufficient facts to support any potential state law
claims. In any event, without a plausible federal law violation , there would be no basis
for supplemental jurisdiction.
As pied , the Complaint fails to allege any federal violations or state law claims.
Therefore, the Complaint will be dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).
Perhaps Plaintiff could adequately state claims if given another opportunity. Therefore ,
he will be given leave to amend .
For the above reasons , the Court will dismiss the Complaint pursuant to 28
U.S.C. §1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) .
Plaintiff will be given leave to amend .
An appropriate order will be entered .
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