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LOPEZ v. MERLINE

May 9, 2005.

JONATHAN LOPEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
WARDEN GARY MERLINE, et al., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBERT KUGLER, Magistrate Judge

OPINION

Plaintiff Jonathan Lopez, a prisoner currently confined at Northern State Prison, seeks to bring this action in forma pauperis pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of his constitutional rights. Based on his affidavit of indigence and the absence of three qualifying dismissals within 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g), the Court will grant Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) and order the Clerk of the Court to file the Complaint.

  At this time, the Court must review the Complaint to determine whether it should be dismissed as frivolous or malicious, for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or because it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

  I. BACKGROUND

  The following faual allegations are taken from Plaintiff's Complaint and are accepted as true for purposes of this review.

  On or about August 20, 2004, Plaintiff was taken from a state prison to the Atlantic County Justice Facility to await an appearance in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Atlantic County.

  Upon arrival, Plaintiff was placed into the general population, consisting primarily of pre-trial detainees. Plaintiff contends that his placement into the general population, rather than into protective segregation, was done with reckless disregard for his personal safety, despite his numerous requests to be placed in protective segregation.

  From August 20, 2004 to September 2, 2004, Plaintiff vigorously complained to the defendants about his mental state and suicidal thoughts. Plaintiff asked for an opportunity to talk with a psychiatrist or to receive appropriate medical treatment. On September 3, 2004, Plaintiff attempted suicide by overdosing on prescription pills obtained from pretrial detainees. While unconscious, Plaintiff was left in a cell for approximately 20 minutes, after which he was transported to a local hospital for treatment.

  Plaintiff also complains that while confined at Atlantic County Justice Facility he was denied access to the law library and legal supplies.

  Plaintiff names as Defendants Warden Gary Merline, Social Worker Adrienne Landgraf, and Sgt. Hall, as well as John Does. He seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

  II. STANDARDS FOR A SUA SPONTE DISMISSAL

  This Court must dismiss, at the earliest practicable time, certain in forma pauperis and prisoner actions that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim, or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) (in forma pauperis 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).

  In determining the sufficiency of a pro se complaint, the Court must be mindful to construe it liberally in favor of the plaintiff. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); United States v. Day, 969 F.2d 39, 42 (3d Cir. 1992). The Court must "accept as true all of the allegations in the complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom, and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Morse v. Lower Merion School Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997). The Court need not, however, credit a pro se plaintiff's "bald assertions" or "legal conclusions." Id.

  A pro se complaint may be dismissed for failure to state a claim only if it appears "`beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief.'" Haines, 404 U.S. at 521 (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957)); Milhouse v. Carlson, 652 F.2d 371, 373 (3d Cir. 1981). Where a complaint can be remedied by an amendment, a district court may not dismiss the complaint with prejudice, but must permit the amendment. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 34 (1992); Grayson v. Mayview State Hospital, 293 F.3d 103, 108 (3d Cir. 2002) (dismissal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)); Shane v. ...


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