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CARTER v. FCI Fort Dix Medical Director & Warden

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

March 23, 2017

CURTIS CARTER, Plaintiff,
v.
FCI FORT DIX MEDICAL DIRECTOR & WARDEN, dba FORT DIX MEDICAL DEPARTMENT; FBOP NE REGIONAL DIRECTOR, dba FBOP REGIONAL OFFICE, Defendants.

          Curtis Carter, Plaintiff Pro Se

          OPINION

          JEROME B. SIMANDLE, CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Before the Court is Plaintiff Curtis Carter's (“Plaintiff”) submission of a civil rights complaint pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), Docket Entry 1; motion to quash delay of service, Docket Entry 8; and motion to appear via telephone conference, Docket Entry 9. 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. For the reasons set forth below, the Court concludes that the complaint will proceed in part. Plaintiff's motion to quash delay of service and motion to appear via telephone conference are dismissed as moot and denied, respectively.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff brings this civil rights action against the warden and medical director of FCI Fort Dix, New Jersey, and the Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) Northeast Regional Director. 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 truth of Plaintiff's allegations.

         Plaintiff is a convicted and sentenced federal prisoner previously confined at Fort Dix. At the time he entered the BOP's custody, Plaintiff had “a preexisting condition from an Accident which caused him debilitating pain and suffering until he received chiropractic care on his own dime from professionals and his own Physician.” Complaint ¶ 2. He requested continuance of his chiropractic care upon his arrival at Fort Dix. Id. ¶ 3. In an affidavit attached to the complaint, he states his physician, Dr. Dunlop, recommended continuous chiropractic therapy due to degeneration in Plaintiff's spine. Affidavit, Complaint at 13. His physician “made a professional recommendation to have [Plaintiff] seen by a contract chiropractic practitioner based on his training and knowledge of [Plaintiff's] serious medical needs. . . . For his recommendation, Dr. Dunlop was vehemently admonished and reprimanded by a Regional official . . . .” Id. Plaintiff further alleges the medical staff at Fort Dix “gave him a lot of run-around but never quite got around to actually providing him the care and treatment that he so desperately needed, ” id. ¶ 4, and that he was “scheduled for procedures which Fort Dix avoided providing and because of that they relied on the pretense that those procedures they refused to take care of had to be done before he could move to the next step in the evaluation.” Id. ¶ 5. Plaintiff indicates he submitted grievances to the Northeast Regional Office but “they simply overlooked it or are and were too backlogged and bogged down to give the matter the attention deserved and he went without such aid to date suffering.” Id. ¶ 6.

         Plaintiff began receiving chiropractic treatments after being transferred to FCI Elkton, Ohio. Id. ¶ 13. He states that he was informed by a “medical Staffer” that “basically the regional authorities strongly discouraged him ever again putting an inmate in for such therapy with little explanation of what legitimate penological or medical restriction purpose was related to their wanting to refuse such therapy to those who might need it whether they require it or not.” Id. ¶ 14. He alleges “[o]n information and belief all along it has been the unspoken policy of regional administration under and affiliated with the FBOP NE REGIONAL OFFICE and its DIRECTOR(s) to refuse proper medical attention even though an inmate will be left to suffer indefinitely without it.” Id. ¶ 15.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A. Standards for a Sua Sponte Dismissal

         Per the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. No. 104-134, §§ 801-810, 110 Stat. 1321-66 to 1321-77 (April 26, 1996) (“PLRA”), district courts must review complaints in those civil actions in which a prisoner is proceeding in forma pauperis, see 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), seeks redress against a governmental employee or entity, see 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), or brings a claim with respect to prison conditions, see 42 U.S.C. § 1997e. The PLRA directs district courts to sua sponte dismiss any claim that is frivolous, is 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. This action is subject to sua sponte screening for dismissal under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915, 1915A and 42 U.S.C. § 1997e because Plaintiff is a prisoner proceeding in forma pauperis and is seeking redress from government officials about the conditions of his confinement.

         According to the Supreme Court's decision in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, “a pleading that offers ‘labels or conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'” 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). To survive sua sponte screening for failure to state a claim, [1] the complaint must allege “sufficient factual matter” to show that the claim is facially plausible. Fowler v. UPMS Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009) (citation omitted). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Fair Wind Sailing, Inc. v. Dempster, 764 F.3d 303, 308 n.3 (3d Cir. 2014) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). Moreover, while pro se pleadings are liberally construed, they “still must allege sufficient facts in their complaints to support a claim.” Mala v. Crown Bay Marina, Inc., 704 F.3d 239, 245 (3d Cir. 2013) (citation omitted) (emphasis added).

         B. Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics

         In Bivens, the Supreme Court created a federal counterpart to the remedy created in 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Egervary v. Young, 366 F.3d 238, 246 (3d Cir. 2004) (“Bivens actions are simply the federal counterpart to § 1983 claims brought against state officials”), cert. denied, 543 U.S. 1049 (2005). In order to state a claim under Bivens, a plaintiff must allege: (1) a deprivation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States; and (2) that the deprivation of the right was caused by a person acting under color of federal law. See Couden v. Duffy, 446 F.3d 483, 491 (3d Cir. 2006); see also Collins v. F.B.I., Civ. No. 10-3470, 2011 WL 1627025, at *6 (D.N.J. Apr. 28, 2011) (“The Third Circuit has recognized that Bivens actions are simply the federal counterpart to § 1983 claims brought against state officials and thus the analysis established under one type of claim is applicable under the other.”).

         IV. ANALYSIS

         Plaintiff brings his claims against the Fort Dix Warden, Fort Dix Medical Director, and the BOP NE Regional Director. He alleges ethics and “corrections professional laws” violations; unconstitutional conditions of confinement due to overcrowding; medical malpractice ...


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