The opinion of the court was delivered by: WILLIAM MARTINI, District Judge
Plaintiff, Leon Woodson ("Woodson"), currently confined at the
Northern Regional Unit ("NRU") in Kearny, New Jersey, seeks to
bring this action in forma pauperis pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983.*fn1 Based on his affidavit of indigence, the Court
will grant Woodson'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.*fn2 For the reasons stated below, the
Court finds that the Complaint should be dismissed.*fn3
The following factual allegations are taken from the Complaint
and are accepted as true for purposes of this review.
Woodson brings this § 1983 action against defendants, Dr. Glenn
Ferguson and Dr. Merrill Mean. Dr. Ferguson is the Clinical
Director at the Special Treatment Unit ("STU") in the NRU in
Kearny, New Jersey. Dr. Mean is a psychologist and a member of
plaintiff's treatment team at the STU.
Woodson alleges that, on November 19, 2002, Dr. Ferguson
violated plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment rights by failing to protect Woodson from harm. Specifically, Woodson was assaulted on
that date by three residents as Woodson lay in bed watching
television. He was taken to St. Francis Hospital for treatment of
his injuries. Woodson alleges that Dr. Ferguson was aware of the
residents' violent behavior from past disciplinary proceedings,
but failed to take the appropriate safety and preventative
measures to keep such conduct from happening again. Thereafter,
Woodson was placed on involuntary protective custody and sent to
a lock-up cage. (Complaint, ¶¶ 4b, 6).
Woodson also relates that he came to the STU in 1999. At that
time, he had participated in a treatment orientation with Dr.
Ferguson in which Dr. Ferguson handed out lessons to the
residents. Woodson looked at the lesson and attempted to hand it
back to Dr. Ferguson. Dr. Ferguson gave a forceful push of his
hand, as a show of force to plaintiff. (Compl., ¶ 4b).
Next, Woodson alleges that Dr. Mean unlawfully restrained
plaintiff and placed him in a stripped room in the lock-up area
on November 24, 2003. Woodson contends that Dr. Mean's actions
were done with deliberate indifference to plaintiff's civil
rights, and for the purpose of punishment without reason.
(Compl., ¶¶ 4c, 6).
Woodson seeks monetary damages in the amount of $50,000.00. He
also asserts supplemental state law claims under New Jersey's
civil rights act for civilly committed persons, N.J.S.A. 30:4-24; New Jersey's Patients Bill of Rights, N.J.S.A. 30:4-24.2; medical
negligence; and violations of New Jersey's constitutional right
to adequate mental health treatment. Finally, Woodson asserts a
general claim under the American with Disabilities Act ("ADA")
and Rehabilitation Act based on defendant's failure to reasonably
accommodate plaintiff's handicap and denying treatment for health
and mental illnesses.
II. STANDARDS FOR A SUA SPONTE DISMISSAL
This Court must dismiss, at the earliest practicable time,
certain in forma pauperis 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).
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); 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. Fauver, 213 F.3d 113, 116-17 (3d Cir.
2000) (dismissal pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1)); Urrutia
v. Harrisburg County Police Dept., 91 F.3d 451, 453 (3d Cir.
III. SECTION 1983 ACTIONS
A plaintiff may have a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
for certain violations of his constitutional rights. Section 1983
provides in relevant part: Every person who, under color of any statute,
ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State
or Territory . . . subjects, or causes to be
subjected, any citizen of the United States or other
person within the jurisdiction thereof to the
deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities
secured by the Constitution and ...