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Coley v. Sulayman

August 7, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hillman, District Judge


This matter has come before the Court on Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiff's claims that Defendants violated his Eighth Amendment right to adequate medical care. For the reasons expressed below, Defendants' motion will be granted.


In his Complaint, pro se Plaintiff, Leroy Coley, a prisoner at FCI Fort Dix, claims that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical condition--a branchial cyst on the right side of his neck--in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution.*fn1 Plaintiff has asserted his claims against John Nash, former warden of FCI Fairton, Charles E. Samuels, Jr., current Warden, Charleston Iwuagwu, Health Services Administrator, Pradip Patel, Clinical Director, Tushar Patel, Assistant Health Services Administrator, Frederick Durr, Lieutenant USPHS, Assistant Health Services Administrator, and Harold Slevin, M.D. All defendants except for Dr. Slevin were served by waiver of service. Dr. Slevin was never served.

Defendants have moved to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint pursuant to Federal Civil Procedure Rule 12(b)(6) for four reasons: 1) Defendant Durr is immune from suit; 2) Plaintiff has failed to state a claim because he does not assert any specific allegations against any defendant; 3) Plaintiff's Complaint must be dismissed against defendants Inwuagwu, Tushar Patel, Durr, Nash, and Samuels because the doctrine of respondeat superior does not apply in a Bivens action; 4) Plaintiff's claim does not rise to a constitutional violation; and 5) all Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity. Plaintiff has opposed Defendants' motion.


A. Standard for Motion to Dismiss

When considering a motion to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), a court must accept all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Evancho v. Fisher, 423 F.3d 347, 351 (3d Cir. 2005). It is well settled that a pleading is sufficient if it contains "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Under the liberal federal pleading rules, it is not necessary to plead evidence, and it is not necessary to plead all the facts that serve as a basis for the claim. Bogosian v. Gulf Oil Corp., 562 F.2d 434, 446 (3d Cir. 1977). However, "[a]lthough the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not require a claimant to set forth an intricately detailed description of the asserted basis for relief, they do require that the pleadings give defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Baldwin County Welcome Ctr. v. Brown, 466 U.S. 147, 149-50 n.3 (1984) (quotation and citation omitted).

A district court, in weighing a motion to dismiss, asks "'not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claim.'" Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1969 n.8 (2007) (quoting Scheuer v. Rhoades, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974)). A court need not credit either "bald assertions" or "legal conclusions" in a complaint when deciding a motion to dismiss. In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1429-30 (3d Cir. 1997). The defendant bears the burden of showing that no claim has been presented. Hedges v. U.S., 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005) (citing Kehr Packages, Inc. v. Fidelcor, Inc., 926 F.2d 1406, 1409 (3d Cir. 1991)).

Finally, a court in reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion must only consider the facts alleged in the pleadings, the documents attached thereto as exhibits, and matters of judicial notice. Southern Cross Overseas Agencies, Inc. v. Kwong Shipping Group Ltd., 181 F.3d 410, 426 (3d Cir. 1999). A court may consider, however, "an undisputedly authentic document that a defendant attaches as an exhibit to a motion to dismiss if the plaintiff's claims are based on the document." Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993). If any other matters outside the pleadings are presented to the court, and the court does not exclude those matters, a Rule 12(b)(6) motion will be treated as a summary judgment motion pursuant to Rule 56. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b).

B. Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint for Failure to State a Claim

Plaintiff's Complaint can be construed as having been brought pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), which provides that a right of action against federal officials exists parallel to the right of action against state actors under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Couden v. Duffy, 446 F.3d 483, 491 (3d Cir. 2006); see also Carlson v. Green, 446 U.S. 14, 20 (1980) (holding that Bivens provides a remedy for violations of the Eighth Amendment for the deliberate indifference to a serious medical need).*fn2

The Eighth Amendment proscription against cruel and unusual punishment requires that inmates are provided with adequate medical care. To establish a violation of his Eighth Amendment right to adequate medical care, Plaintiff must show (1) a serious medical need, and (2) acts or omissions by prison officials that indicated deliberate indifference to that need. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 ...

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