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McKinney v. Hemsley

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

September 28, 2017

IVAN G. McKINNEY, Plaintiff,
DR. HEMSLEY, et al., Defendants.




         The plaintiff, Ivan G. McKinney, is proceeding pro se with a civil rights complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Presently pending before this Court is the motion of defendants Davies, Bigott, Pickel, and Pawson to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), or for a more definite statement pursuant Rule 12(e). For the following reasons, the motion to dismiss will be granted. Mr. McKinney's federal claims against these four defendants will be dismissed without prejudice and this Court will decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Mr. McKinney's state law claims. Mr. McKinney's request for default judgment against Davies will also be denied, as will his request for an emergency injunction.


         Previously, this Court severed claims from Mr. McKinney's complaint into separate actions. The severed allegations in this action arise from Mr. McKinney's prior incarceration at the Bergen County Jail (he was subsequently transferred to New Jersey State Prison). This Court initially permitted claims against Davies, Bigott, Pickel and Pawson to proceed past screening. Mr. McKinney alleges, inter alia, that the defendants failed to respond to his grievances with respect to denial of medical care, and specifically that Pawson failed to respond to his letter complaining about being refused a medical appointment by Dr. Hemsley.[1]

         The complaint alleges that, while incarcerated at the Bergen County Jail, McKinney was suffering from a tear in his left knee meniscus, lower back bulge, herniated neck discs, and a hernia. Before his incarceration, in 2010, Mr. McKinney received a prescription to have hernia surgery. His incarceration began in February 2011 without the surgery having occurred. Dr. Hemsley (not part of this motion this dismiss) allegedly refused to authorize surgery. On September 9, 2012, McKinney wrote a letter to Pawson to complain about Hemsley's refusal.

         Defendant Pawson is alleged to be in charge of the medical department at the Bergen County Jail. Mr. McKinney states that Pawson has never responded to his medical grievances. Mr. McKinney also alleges that Pawson did nothing about the condition of his mattress or the fact that he was confined to his cell for 21 hours per day.. (See Dkt. No. 4 at p. 16)

         Defendant Pickel, too, allegedly failed to respond to McKinney's grievances, except one the he was being double-charged for an "entrance fee of $55.00."[2] (Id. at p. 17)

         Defendant Bigott was the warden of the Bergen County Jail when Mr. McKinney made the complaints described above. McKinney states that he sent Bigott a request regarding his medical issues, but that Warden Bigott chose to "turn his head" from his medical department. (See id.) Mr. McKinney also appears to raise allegations regarding his thin mattress and his 21-hour lockdown, stating that Bigott did nothing about them.

         Finally, Mr. McKinney alleges that defendant Davies placed him in 21-hour lockdown. He claims that Davies never came to where Mr. McKinney was incarcerated. (See Id. at p. 18) Mr. McKinney states that he has written Davies on several occasions to no avail.

         Mr. McKinney seeks monetary damages in his complaint.


         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal of a complaint, in whole or in part, if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The moving party bears the burden of showing that no claim has been stated. See Hedges v. United States, 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005). In deciding a motion to dismiss, a court must take all allegations in the complaint as true and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Worth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 501 (1975); Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts, Inc. v. Mirage Resorts Inc., 140 F.3d 478, 483 (3d Cir. 1998); see also Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008) ("reasonable inferences" principle not undermined by later Supreme Court Twombly case, infra).

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) does not require that a complaint contain detailed factual allegations. Nevertheless, "a plaintiffs obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his "entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Thus, the factual allegations must be sufficient to raise a plaintiffs right to relief above a speculative level, such that it is "plausible on its face." See Id. at 570; see also Umland v. PLANCO Fin. Serv., Inc., 542 F.3d 59, 64 (3d Cir. 2008). 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." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). While "[t]he plausibility standard is not akin to a 'probability requirement' ... it asks for more than a sheer possibility." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (2009).

         As Mr. McKinney is proceeding pro se, the complaint is "to be liberally construed, " and, "however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007). Nevertheless, it must meet some minimal standard. "While a litigant's pro se status requires a court to construe the allegations in the complaint liberally, a litigant is not absolved from complying with Twombly and the federal pleading requirements merely because s/he proceeds pro se." Thakar v. Tan, 372 F.App'x 325, 328 (3d Cir. 2010) (citation omitted).


         A. Captain Davies ...

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