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Miller v. C.M.S. Correctional Medical Service

March 16, 2010

BRYAN MILLER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
C.M.S. CORRECTIONAL MEDICAL SERVICE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

OPINION

This matter comes before the Court on the motion of Defendant Correctional Medical Services, Inc. ("CMS") to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint. For the reasons expressed below, Defendant's Motion will be granted, and Plaintiff's Complaint will be dismissed.

BACKGROUND

At the time of the filing of his Complaint, Plaintiff was an inmate at River Front State Prison in Camden, New Jersey. At all times relevant to this action, however, Plaintiff was serving his sentence at South Woods State Prison in Bridgeton, New Jersey. Plaintiff's son, Darnell Miller ("Decedent"), was also serving his prison sentence at South Woods State Prison at the same time. Plaintiff alleges that in March 2007 his son was being harassed by a corrections officer, identified only as "Cortez," over the condition of his cell. At some point during their conversation, Cortez suddenly signaled a distress code. In response, corrections officers allegedly descended on Decedent's cell and began beating him. Following the beating, Plaintiff alleges that he sought medical assistance from both the corrections officers and the medical department for Decedent, but they would not respond to or investigate Decedent's condition. Ultimately, Decedent died from his injuries.

On October 20, 2008, Plaintiff who is representing himself pro se, filed a civil rights Complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff also named the State of New Jersey and South Woods State Prison as defendants although both were subsequently dismissed sua sponte on October 28, 2008. Accordingly, CMS is the only remaining Defendant.

CMS now argues that Plaintiff's Complaint should be dismissed because, inter alia, he has no standing under New Jersey law to pursue a cause of action for the alleged violations of Decedent's civil rights or his wrongful death.*fn1

DISCUSSION

A. Jurisdiction

This Court has jurisdiction over Plaintiff's federal claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff's state law claims, to the extent any are plead, under 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

B. 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, 550 U.S. 544, 562 n.8 (2007) (quoting Scheuer v. Rhoades, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974)); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1953 (2009) ("Our decision in Twombly expounded the pleading standard for 'all civil actions' . . . ."); Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (stating that the "Supreme Court's Twombly formulation of the pleading standard can be summed up thus: 'stating ... a claim requires a complaint with enough factual matter (taken as true) to suggest' the required element. This 'does not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage,' but instead 'simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of' the necessary element"). 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, when a plaintiff proceeds pro se his pleading is liberally construed and his complaint, "however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976) (citation omitted). A pro se complaint "can only be dismissed for failure to state a claim 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." Id. (internal citation and quotations omitted). However, pro se litigants "must still plead the essential elements of [their] claim and [are] not excused from conforming to the standard rules of civil procedure." McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. ...


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