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United States of America et al v. Mario Ochoa Castro

May 31, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert B. Kugler United States District Judge



1. On October 8, 2010, the Clerk received Plaintiff's civil complaint ("Complaint"), which arrived unaccompanied by either Plaintiff's in forma pauperis ("IFP") application or by prepayment of his filing fee. See Docket Entry No. 1. The Clerk, therefore, initiated the instant matter, designating "Cause" as "42 [U.S.C. §] 1983," because Plaintiff was an inmate, whose Complaint alleged denial of medical care. See id.

2. In light of Plaintiff's failure to submit his IFP application or to prepay his filing fee, this Court issued an order, dated October 20, 2010 ("October Order"): (a) directing Plaintiff to submit his IFP application or his filing fee; and (b) directing the Clerk to administratively terminate this matter, subject to reopening upon timely receipt of Plaintiff's IFP or filing fee. See Docket Entry No. 2. Since the Court was mindful of Plaintiff's potential concerns as to the effect the administratively termination might have on timeliness of Plaintiff's challenges, the Court's October Order included the following clause:

ORDERED that administrative termination is not a "dismissal" for purposes of the statute of limitations, and that if this § 1983 case is reopened pursuant to the terms of this Order, it is not thereby subject to the statute of limitations bar, provided the original Complaint was timely. See Houston v. Lack, 487 U.S. 266 (1988); McDowell v. Delaware State Police, 88 F.3d 188, 191 (3d Cir. 1996); Williams-Guice v. Board of Education, 45 F.3d 161, 163 (7th Cir. 1995).

Docket Entry No. 2, at 3.*fn1

The October Order was duly served on Plaintiff.

3. On November 1, 2010, the Clerk received Plaintiff's IFP application. See Docket Entry No. 3.

4. In addition, also on November 1, 2010, the Clerk received a letter from Plaintiff, titled "LETTER/MOTION CLARIFYING PLAINTIFF'S TYPE OF ACTION." Docket Entry No. 4, at 1 ("Letter/Motion") (emphasis supplied). In that Letter/Motion, Plaintiff expressly criticized the Court for referring to his Complaint as a civil rights pleading, opening his Letter/Motion with the statement:

The instant letter/motion is presented with the intention of notifying the Honorable Court how the timely submitted Complaint for medical negligence is a tort action, pursuant Title 28 U.S.C §2401(b), as opposed to the Court's assertion of the above mentioned Complaint being a "1983 case[,]" see . . . Court's Order, dated Oct. 20, 2010.

Id.*fn2 Plaintiff's Letter/Motion stressed Plaintiff's complete lack of interest in instituting a civil rights action and requested this Court to construe his complaint as raising solely tort claims. See id. Specifically, Plaintiff's Letter/Motion stated, in pertinent part, that [B]ecause . . . Plaintiff was compelled to file [this] tort action for medical negligence, . . . WHEREFORE, based on the submitted Complaint and the instant Letter/Motion, Plaintiff asks the Court to correctly treat the mentioned Complaint as a timely filed tort action, as expressed in the Complaint, as opposed to the Complaint being treated as 28 U.S.C. § 1983case.

Id. at 2 (emphasis supplied).

5. On November 15, 2010, this Court issued a Memorandum Opinion and Order ("November Order") dismissing Plaintiff's Complaint. See Docket Entry No. 5. Since the November Order is in the docket, and a copy of the November Order was duly served by the Clerk upon Plaintiff, the content of the November Order is readily available to the reader and requires no recital herein. Therefore, a brief summary of the Court's discussion of facts and law provided in the November Order appears sufficient:

a. In light of Plaintiff's express request to examine his Complaint not as a civil rights pleading but as a pleading filed in a "tort action" and asserting negligence, the Court opened its discussion in the November Order by stating that it would comply with Plaintiff's express wishes to not have his Complaint construed not as a civil rights application. See id. at 2 and n. 2 (citing Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987) (explaining that a plaintiff is "the master of [his] claim); Kline v. Sec. Guards, Inc., 386 F.3d 246, 252 (3d Cir. 2004) (same); and Pliler v. Ford, 542 U.S. 225, 231-32 (2004) ("District judges have no obligation to act as counsel or paralegal [even] to pro se litigants")).

b. The Court than detailed the allegations made in the Complaint, which: (i) asserted claims against a prison surgeon (who, allegedly, negligently operated on Plaintiff's eyes); and (ii) demanded "judgment against the defendant for $5,000,000.00 dollars, plus costs." See id. at 2-3 (citations to Plaintiff's Complaint omitted).

c. Following that summary, the Court detailed the content of the multiple exhibits attached to the Complaint; these exhibits showed that Plaintiff was provided with extensive surgical and post-surgical care but, being dissatisfied with the "sandy sensation" in his eyes and sensitivity to light that he experiences during post-surgical period, he deduced that his eye surgeries must have been performed negligently and began administrative actions expressing his displeasures. See id. at 3-6 (extensively quoting the content of Plaintiff's administrative submissions, his demands for administrative ...

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