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William Coleman v. Monmouth Medical Center

December 30, 2010

WILLIAM COLEMAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MONMOUTH MEDICAL CENTER, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

Plaintiff, William Coleman, a state inmate confined at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution in Freehold, New Jersey, when he submitted this Complaint for filing, seeks to bring this action in forma pauperis. Based on the affidavit of indigence, the Court will grant the 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.

The Court must now review the Complaint, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A, 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. For the reasons set forth below, the Complaint will be dismissed.

BACKGROUND

Coleman brings this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Monmouth Medical Center and All Jane and John Does 0-100 (fictitious medical staff at Monmouth Medical Center). (Complaint, Caption and ¶ 4b). The following factual allegations are taken from the Complaint, and are accepted for purposes of this screening only. The Court has made no findings as to the veracity of the allegations.

Coleman alleges that, on December 8, 2009, he was taken to the Monmouth Medical Center by police officers after he was beaten by them.*fn1 The medical staff attempted to take a CT scan of Coleman, but he was unable to hold his head still because he was choking from blood and saliva. The police officers attempted to keep him still by forcing his head down, and pulling his hair from the opening of the scanner. The officers also cursed about having to stay at the hospital. The officers then searched Coleman's pockets and down his pants, in front of the medical staff, despite his cries from back pain. (Compl., ¶ 6).

Coleman alleges that the hospital and the medical staff failed to provide proper medical care because they did not intervene to stop the police from handling him at the hospital. He also claims they were part of a "vindictive" and "unethical" attempt to assist the police in covering up the assault. (Id.). He seeks more than $5 million dollars in punitive, compensatory and emotional damages because he suffered from mental, physical and emotional damage from the defendants' inaction.

STANDARDS FOR A SUA SPONTE DISMISSAL

The Court must 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 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. This action is subject to screening for dismissal under both 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) and § 1915A.

In determining the sufficiency of a pro se complaint, the Court must be mindful to construe it liberally in a plaintiff's favor. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007) (following Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976) and Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972)); see also 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 Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997). But the Court need not 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 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)); see Erickson, 551 U.S. at 93-94 (in pro se prisoner civil action, the Court reviewed whether complaint complied with pleading requirements of Rule 8(a)(2)).

In Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (2009), the issue presented was whether Iqbal's civil rights complaint adequately alleged defendants' personal involvement in discriminatory decisions regarding Iqbal's treatment during detention that, if true, violated his constitutional rights. Id. The Court examined Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), which provides that a complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief".*fn2 Citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007), for the proposition that "[a] pleading that offers 'labels and conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the ...


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