The opinion of the court was delivered by: WILLIAM BASSLER, District Judge
Plaintiff, Rodney L. Edwards ("Edwards"), a state prisoner
currently confined at Northern State Prison in Newark, New
Jersey, seeks to bring this action in forma pauperis
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Based on plaintiff's affidavit of
indigence, the Court grants the application to proceed in
forma pauperis and directs the Clerk of the Court to file the
Complaints without pre-payment of the filing fee.
Having reviewed the Complaint to identify cognizable claims
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A, the Court
concludes that the Complaint should proceed in part. I. BACKGROUND
The following factual allegations are taken from the Complaint
and are accepted as true for purposes of this review. In his
Complaint, Edwards asserts claims that he was denied medical care
claim and that defendants were negligent in failing to treat him.
The named defendants are: Lingping Gu, M.D., at Central Reception
and Assignment Facility ("CRAF"); John Godinsky, M.D., at
Northern State Prison ("NSP"); Dr. Bucholtz, at NSP; Bruce Hauck,
Administrator at CRAF; and Lydell Sherrer, Administrator at NSP.
Edwards alleges that, on January 10, 2005, after being treated
for a fever, he complained to Dr. Gu about lower back pain. Dr.
Gu prescribed aspirin to alleviate the pain and a medical slip
for a lower bunk privilege. When Edwards complained to Dr. Gu
that the aspirin was not helping with his pain, Dr. Gu explained
that Correctional Medical Services at CRAF only referred outside
consultation and treatment for inmates assigned to CRAF. Since
Edwards was temporarily housed in CRAF until his prison
assignment was designated, he would not be there long enough to
schedule an outside appointment. Edwards remained at CRAF for 49
days, until February 28, 2005, when he was transferred to
Northern State Prison.
On March 24, 2005, while at NSP, Edwards filled out a medical
request form, complaining of intense pain in his lower back and down his left leg. He was seen by Dr. Bucholtz on March
31, 2005, who prescribed Naproxen (500 MG) and ordered x-rays.
The x-rays were negative and Dr. Bucholtz diagnosed plaintiff's
condition as muscle spasms. Edwards insisted that the Naproxen
did not work for him in the past, and that his lower back has
become inflamed and the pain in his lower back and left leg more
intense and severe.
On May 23, 2005, Edwards was examined by Dr. Godinsky for his
complaints of lower back and left leg pain. Dr. Godinsky
diagnosed plaintiff's condition as sciatica. Dr. Godinsky also
explained to plaintiff that an MRI and neurological surgery was
not indicated, and instead prescribed Prednisone, Chlorzoxazone,
and Motrin for pain.
Edwards filed grievances with both Hauck and Sherrer, the
Administrators at CRAF and NSP, respectively, which went
unanswered. Edwards seeks injunctive relief directing defendants
to provide medical treatment. He also asks for money damages,
$5million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive
II. STANDARDS FOR A SUA SPONTE DISMISSAL
The Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"), Pub.L. No. 1041-34,
§§ 801-810, 110 Stat. 1321-66 to 1321-77 (April 26, 1996),
requires a district court to review a complaint in a civil action
in which a prisoner is proceeding in forma pauperis or
seeks redress against a governmental employee or entity. The Court is
required to identify cognizable claims and to sua sponte
dismiss any claim that is frivolous, 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.
28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A.*fn1
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 complaint is frivolous if it "lacks an arguable basis either
in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325
(1989) (interpreting the predecessor of § 1915(e)(2), the former § 1915(d)). The standard for evaluating whether a
complaint is "frivolous" is an objective one. Deutsch v. United
States, 67 F.3d 1080, 1086-87 (3d Cir. 1995).
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); Alston v. Parker, 363 F.3d 229 (3d Cir. 2004)
(complaint that satisfied notice pleading requirement that it
contain short, plain statement of the claim, but lacked
sufficient detail to function as a guide to discovery, was not
required to be dismissed for failure to state a claim; district
court should permit a curative amendment before dismissing a
complaint, unless an amendment would be futile or inequitable);
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.