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Allen J. Farmer v. Brian Riordan

February 24, 2011

ALLEN J. FARMER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BRIAN RIORDAN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

Plaintiff, Allen J. Farmer ("Plaintiff"), a state pretrial detainee confined at the Union County Jail in Elizabeth, New Jersey at the time he submitted this Complaint for filing, seeks to bring this action in forma pauperis. Based on his affidavit of indigence, the Court will grant plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP") pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) (1998) and order the Clerk of the Court to file the Complaint.

At this time, the Court must 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 Court concludes that the Complaint should proceed in part.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff brings this civil action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against the following defendants: Brian Riordan, Director of Union County Corrections; Sergeant Kenny Houston, Union County Jail Corrections Officer; Sharon Reagan, Union County Jail Registered Nurse; Sergeant Hector Ospence, Union County Jail Corrections Officer; E. Brooks, Union County Jail Corrections Officer; and K. McClave, Union County Jail Corrections Officer.*fn1 (Complaint, Caption and ¶ 4b, c.) 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 Plaintiff's allegations.

Plaintiff alleges that on July 27, 2010, he was being housed in an upper tier pod. On July 28, 2010, he informed unit officers and the sergeant of his medical conditions and his restriction to the lower level. Classification was notified and Plaintiff was informed that he would be moved. On August 2, 2010, Plaintiff slipped on stairs in the unit. On August 3, 2010, while awaitingmedical treatment, Plaintiff was assaulted by two correctional officers, in the presence of the area sergeant, who put their knees into his back while he was lying on the ground, unable to stand or walk due to the injury to his back and a previous injury. Plaintiff was made to lay on the ground for two hours and denied medical treatment until he was discovered by an employee from mental health services. (Compl., ¶ 6.)

Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages in the amount of $100,000 from each defendant. (Compl., ¶ 7.)

II. DISCUSSION

A. Legal Standard

1. Standards for a Sua Sponte Dismissal

The Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub.L. No. 104-134, §§ 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. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A. This action is subject to sua sponte screening for dismissal under both 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) (B) and 1915A, because Plaintiff is a prisoner and is proceeding as an indigent.

In determining the sufficiency of a pro se complaint, the Court must be mindful to construe it liberally in favor of the plaintiff. 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).

Recently, the Supreme Court refined the standard for summary dismissal of a complaint that fails to state a claim in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (2009). The Court examined Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure which provides that a complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Citing its opinion in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), for the proposition that "[a] pleading that offers 'labels and conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do,'" Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555), the Supreme Court held that, to prevent a summary dismissal, a civil complaint must now allege "sufficient factual matter" to show that the claim is facially plausible. This then "allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." See id. at 1948. ...


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