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Joseph Nathan Singletary, Iii v. Burlington County Jail et al

July 14, 2011

JOSEPH NATHAN SINGLETARY, III, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BURLINGTON COUNTY JAIL ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

Plaintiff Joseph Nathan Singletary, III ("Plaintiff"), an inmate confined at the Southern State Correctional Facility, Delmont, New Jersey, seeks to bring this action in forma pauperis, alleging violations of his constitutional rights, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Based on his affidavit of indigence and the absence of three qualifying dismissals within 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g), the Court will grant Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a), and order the Clerk to file the Complaint.

At this time, the Court must review the Complaint 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.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff named the following entities and persons as Defendants in this matter: Burlington County Jail, Warden Cox, Captain Larkin, Captain Artist, Lieutenant Laaf, Lieutenant Farria, Sergeant Zoll, Sergeant Nunn, Sergeant Eddy, Medical Department (of, presumably, Burlington County Jail), a certain Stacy (whose last name is unknown to Plaintiff), a certain Susan (whose last name is unknown to Plaintiff), a certain Tom (whose last name is unknown to Plaintiff), a certain Roxxano (whose last name is unknown to Plaintiff), a certain Addrianna (whose last name is unknown to Plaintiff), a certain Nicole (whose last name is unknown to Plaintiff) and a certain Maurice (whose last name is unknown to Plaintiff). See Docket Entries Nos. 1 and 1-3.

The Complaint states that the Warden was named as a Defendant because he is "in charge" of Burlington County Jail, while Captains Larkin and Artist were named as Defendants because they were, allegedly, aware of a certain incident and Plaintiff, allegedly gave them his "medical slips" (which, the Court presumes, were Plaintiff's requests to be seen by medical personnel) and his administrative grievances. See Docket Entry No. 1, at 4.

A page submitted jointly with the Complaint: (a) states that one of Plaintiff's fingers is in pain, that a certain doctor stated that it is/was broken "in more place's than one," and that x-rays of that particular finger show that the amount of "breaks" keeps increasing from one x-ray to another, see Docket Entry No. 1-3, at 1; and (b) clarifies that Lieutenant Laaf was named as a Defendant because he was informed of Plaintiff's submission of requests for medical attention, Lieutenant Farria was named as a Defendant because he was the person through whom Plaintiff submitted administrative grievances, Sergeant Zoll was named as a Defendant because he was the person through whom Plaintiff submitted his medical slips, Sergeants Nunn and Eddy were named as Defendants because they were aware of a certain fight and saw Plaintiff's finger swell but did not take Plaintiff to a medical department, and Maurica, Stacy and Addrianna were named as Defendants because, upon examination of Plaintiff's swollen finger, they provided him with an ice pack rather than calling for a doctor and/or registering Plaintiff for a "sick-call" (which, the Court presumes, implies either a visit by a doctor to Plaintiff's cell or Plaintiff being called for a doctor examination to the Jail's medical services department). See Docket Entry No. 1-3.

From the foregoing, the Court deduces that, on a certain unspecified date, Plaintiff, while being housed at Burlington County Jail, got engaged in a fight (with either other inmates or prison officials) and, during that fight, seemingly injured his finger. The finger apparently became swollen as a result of the injury. Apparently, Plaintiff wishes to allege that the fight was observed by Sergeants Nunn and Eddy, who might have seen that Plaintiff's finger got swollen but who, seemingly, did not accompany Plaintiff to the medical services department. Therefore, Plaintiff, it seems, went to the medical department on his own and, there, he was, apparently, seen by a certain nursing staff, who examined his finger and, allegedly, concluded that the finger was merely bruised, which prompted these staffers to recommend Plaintiff to apply ice to his finger in order to reduce swelling, while Plaintiff would have preferred to have his finger examined by a doctor.

In also appears that Plaintiff wishes to assert that his finger remained either swollen or in pain, or both, and therefore he submitted requests to be seen by a medical professional other than a nurse. When his requests to be seen were, allegedly, denied, Plaintiff submitted administrative grievances. Eventually, it seems, Plaintiff's finger was examined by a doctor, who determined that the bone within the finger was fractured. X-rays of Plaintiff's finger were taken on a continuous basis ever since to monitor the heeling of the fracture.*fn1

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

In determining the sufficiency of a complaint, the Court must be mindful to construe the facts stated in the complaint liberally in favor of the plaintiff. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89 (2007); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972); United States v. Day, 969 F.2d 39, 42 (3d Cir. 1992). Indeed, it is long established that a court should "accept as true all of the [factual] allegations in the complaint and reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom, and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Morse v. Lower Merion School Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997). However, while a court will accept well-pled allegations as true, it will not accept bald assertions, unsupported conclusions, unwarranted inferences, or sweeping legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations. See id.

Addressing the clarifications as to the litigant's pleading requirement stated in the United States Supreme Court in Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit provided the courts in this Circuit with detailed and careful guidance as to what kind of allegations qualify as pleadings sufficient to pass muster under the Rule 8 standard. See Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 230-34 (3d Cir. 2008). Specifically, the Court of Appeals observed as follows:

"While a complaint . . . does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation [is] to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitle[ment] to relief' [by stating] more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action . . . ." Twombly, 127 S. Ct. at 1964-65 . . . Rule 8 "requires a 'showing,' rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief." Id. at 1965 n.3. . . . "[T]he threshold requirement of Rule 8(a)(2) [is] that the 'plain statement [must] possess enough heft to 'sho[w] that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Id. at 1966. [Hence] "factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. at 1965 & n.3. . . . [Indeed, it is ...


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