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Blackwell v. Cohen

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

August 31, 2017

INSPIRATION BLACKWELL, Plaintiff,
v.
WARDEN GERALDINE COHEN; ATLANTIC COUNTY JUSTICE FACILITY MEDICAL STAFF; ATLANTIC COUNTY FREEHOLDERS; DENNIS LEVISON; FRANK FORMICA; CFG, Defendants.

          Inspiration Blackwell, Plaintiff Pro Se #245280 Atlantic County Justice Facility

          OPINION

          JEROME B. SIMANDLE U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Before the Court is Plaintiff Inspiration Blackwell's (“Plaintiff”), submission of a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Complaint, Docket Entry 1. Plaintiff is currently confined at Atlantic County Justice Facility (“ACJF”). He also requests the appointment of pro bono counsel.

         At this time, the Court must review the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) 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 the complaint may proceed in part.

         11. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed this complaint against ACJF Warden Geraldine Cohen, the ACJF Medical Staff, the Atlantic County Freeholders, Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levison, Freeholder Chairman Frank Formica, and CFG[1] (collectively “Defendants”). Complaint ¶ 3. 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 alleges he broke his right hand on June 26, 2016 when he slammed it into a door. Id. ¶ 4. Medical staff examined him approximately an hour later and transported him to a hospital. Id. He was released from the hospital and taken back to ACJF “where no compliance was with the hospital's orders, I complain, stay in pain . . . .” Id. He returned to the hospital a few weeks later where his hand was rebroken “because proper care had not been applied . . . .” Id. He was prescribed “therapy, ” but he never received it. He states he was placed in solitary confinement for complaining. Id. Plaintiff further states he wrote to the warden, spoke with officers, and tried to speak with the director, but he was “thrown out of medical.” Id. He also states the facility “stopped [his] communication.” Id.

         Plaintiff alleges Defendants were negligent in treating his hand and violated his constitutional rights. Id. He seeks $500, 000 in damages. Id. ¶ 5.

         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(e)(2)(b) and 1915A because Plaintiff is a prisoner proceeding in forma pauperis and is seeking relief from governmental employees, and under § 1997e because Plaintiff is bringing claims regarding 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, [2] 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).

         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)); see also United States v. Day, 969 F.2d 39, 42 (3d Cir. 1992). However, pro se litigants “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).

         B. ...


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