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Zartin v. Baliga

United States District Court, Third Circuit

May 6, 2013

ELIZABETH T. ZARTIN, Plaintiff,
v.
DR. RAVI BALIGA, Psychiatrist, DR. CAROLYN FARRALES, Psychiatrist, DR. LUNA HARRIS, Psychologist, MS. FLORA ADEDEJI, Supervising Nurse, MS. LAURA EURO, Social Worker, GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE, STATE OF NEW JERSEY, MS. JANET MONROE, Chief Executive Officer, GREYSTONE HOSPITAL, and MS. TIONKA ATKINS, Defendants.

OPINION

WILLIAM J. MARTINI, District Judge.

THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Defendants Dr. Ravi Baliga, Dr. Carolyn Farrales, Dr. Luna Harris, Ms. Flora Adeji and Ms. Laura Euro's (the "Remaining Defendants'") motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Plaintiff Elizabeth Zartin opposes the motion. Presently, the Court will deny the motion.

I. BACKGROUND

In denying the Remaining Defendants' motion, the Court notes the following:

(1) In determining whether Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal for failure to state a claim is appropriate, the Court considers whether, when accepting the allegations in the complaint as true, a plaintiff has pled "factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007)) (the " Iqbal/Twombly Standard").

(2) That Plaintiff initiated this action pro se [1] on November 11, 2011, and that at that time, Plaintiff applied to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915;

(3) That as a result, the Court has already reviewed the sufficiency of Plaintiff's Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), and that in so doing, has already considered the propriety of dismissal of the claims in that pleading, for, among other reasons, failure to state a claim under the Iqbal / Twombly Standard (the "Initial Screening");

(4) That as a result of the Initial Screening, on May 29, 2012, this Court issued an Opinion and Order in which it made the following determinations:

First, that when accepting the claims in Plaintiff's Complaint as true, Plaintiff alleges the following facts: "Plaintiff is currently involuntarily committed for treatment... Plaintiff [suffered physical harm when she] was attacked by her roommate at Greystone Psychiatric Hospital, Ms. Tionka Atkins, on November 6, 2011.... [The Remaining Defendants] knew about Ms. Atkins' behavior problems and they should have transferred her to a more restrictive environment. About a month prior to Ms. Atkins' attack upon Plaintiff, Plaintiff had informed [the Remaining Defendants] that she felt threatened by Ms. Atkins because Ms. Atkins had just threatened to kill Plaintiff.... [The Remaining Defendants] concluded that Plaintiff was not in any imminent danger from Ms. Atkins and the two would still room together [even though the Remaining Defendants] were aware that Ms. Atkins had previously attacked other patients and staff." (May 29, 2012 Op. 2-3, ECF No. 5);
Second, that 42 U.S.C. § 1983 provides, in relevant part, that: "Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or territory... subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizens of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress...." ( Id. at 5);
Third, that Plaintiff's Complaint includes a § 1983 claim against the Remaining Defendants for violating "her Fourteenth Amendment right not to be deprived of liberty without due process." (hereinafter Plaintiff's "§ 1983 Due Process Liberty Claim") ( Id. at 6);
Fourth, that Plaintiff's Complaint sufficiently states a § 1983 Due Process Liberty Claim under the Iqbal / Twombly Standard, as there are sufficient facts alleged by Plaintiff to suggest that the Remaining Defendants willfully disregarded her constitutionally protected right to safety and failed "to take any action to protect Plaintiff against threats made by another patient with a history of violent behavior." ( Id. at 4-8);
And fifth, that Plaintiff's § 1983 Due Process Liberty Claim is the only claim in Plaintiff's Complaint which the Court determined was sufficiently alleged, and thus, is the only claim that the Court did not dismiss on May 29, 2012 (May 29, 2012 Order, ECF No. 6);

(5) That Plaintiff has never filed an amended pleading and accordingly, Plaintiff's Complaint - which sets forth the only claims and allegations that have ever been before the Court in this matter - remains the controlling pleading, and that Plaintiff's § 1983 Due Process Liberty Claim - which the Court already ruled is the only claim sufficiently alleged ...


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