Smith v. SpringHill Suites
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Richard G. Andrews on 5/6/2022. (nms)
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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF DELAWARE
FREDERICK W. SMITH, JR.,
: Civil Action No. 22-323-RGA
Frederick W. Smith, Jr., Sussex Correctional Institution, Georgetown, Delaware.
Pro Se Plaintiff.
May 6, 2022
Case 1:22-cv-00323-RGA Document 8 Filed 05/06/22 Page 2 of 4 PageID #: 57
/s/ Richard G. Andrews
ANDREWS, U.S. District Judge:
Plaintiff Frederick W. Smith, Jr., an inmate at Sussex Correctional Institution in
Georgetown, Delaware, filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (D.I. 3). Plaintiff
appears pro se and proceeds in forma pauperis. The Court proceeds to screen the
Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
The following facts are taken from the Complaint and assumed to be true for
purposes of screening the Complaint. See Umland v. PLANCO Fin. Servs., Inc., 542
F.3d 59, 64 (3d Cir. 2008). On February 14, 2021, Plaintiff sustained injuries when he
slipped and fell down a hill on property located at Defendant Springhill Suites Hotel in
Newark, Delaware. (D.I. 3 at 5-6) Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
(Id. at 8).
SCREENING OF COMPLAINT
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.” Ball 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 pro se plaintiff. Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 229 (3d
Cir. 2008); Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007). Because Plaintiff proceeds pro
se, his pleading is liberally construed and his Complaint, “however inartfully pleaded,
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must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.”
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. at 94.
A complaint is not automatically frivolous because it fails to state a claim. See
Dooley v. Wetzel, 957 F.3d. 366, 374 (3d Cir. 2020). “Rather, a claim is frivolous only
where it depends ‘on an “indisputably meritless legal theory” or a “clearly baseless” or
“fantastic or delusional” factual scenario.’” Id.
The legal standard for dismissing a complaint 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). However, 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 futile.
See Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103, 114 (3d Cir. 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 of Shelby, 574 U.S.10 (2014). A complaint may not
dismissed, however, for imperfect statements of the legal theory supporting the claim
asserted. See id. at 11.
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, assume their veracity and then
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determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief. Connelly v. Lane
Constr. Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 787 (3d Cir. 2016). 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 sense.” Id.
The Complaint will be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. I have reviewed the
Complaint and it does not raise a federal civil claim for violations of the United States
Constitution or federal statutes. See 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Although Plaintiff invokes 42
U.S.C. § 1983, Defendant is not a state actor, a necessary element for claims under §
1983. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).
In addition, both parties are in domiciled in Delaware and, therefore, there is no
diversity of citizenship as required for diversity jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
The Court does not have jurisdiction over this matter. Therefore, the case will be
For the above reasons, the Court will the dismiss the Complaint for want of
jurisdiction. The Court finds amendment futile.
An appropriate Order will be entered.
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