United States District Court, D. New Jersey
SHARIF ST. CLAIRE, Plaintiff,
NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, et a!., Defendants.
LINARES, CHEF JUDGE
before the Court is the amended complaint (ECF No. 4) of
Plaintiff Sharif St. Claire raising claims against various
prison officials pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. As the
Court has previously granted Plaintiff in forma
pauperis status (see ECF No. 3), this Court is
required to screen his amended complaint pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). Pursuant to the statute, this
Court must dismiss Plaintiffs claims if they are frivolous,
malicious, fail to state a claim for relief, or seek damages
from a defendant who is immune. For the reasons set forth
below, this Court will dismiss Plaintiffs amended complaint
as time barred.
Court summarized the Plaintiffs basic factual contentions in
its previous opinion as follows:
Plaintiff, Sharif St. Claire, is a former state prisoner.
(ECF No. 1 at 2-3). According to Plaintiff, he was placed
back into prison based on a violation of parole on August
25, 2012. (Id. at 3).
Plaintiff asserts that, upon his incarceration, he informed
prison officials of mental health issues which he had
suffered throughout his life, which apparently included
depression and schizophrenia. (Id.). In September
2012, Plaintiff began to hear voices whose commands were
"uncontrollable, " leading to him fighting with
other inmates. (Id.). Plaintiff told medical staff
about the voices, but received no treatment.
(Id.). He was thereafter moved to solitary
confinement following the fighting charge. (Id.).
While there, Plaintiff continued to tell prison officials
that he was hearing voices, and began to display odd
behavior, ultimately resulting in his being moved to a
different facility and placed under video monitoring.
Plaintiff thereafter suffered a further mental break,
repeatedly asked for help and received none, and began
exhibiting serious psychological issues, resulting in his
being moved to the Anne Klein Forensic Center in October
2012. (Id. at 5). While in Anne Klein, Plaintiff
continued to deteriorate and received little in the way of
real treatment. (Id. at 6-7). Plaintiff states
that, after his mental issues went untreated, he was sent
back to prison in November 2012, where he was threatened
and mistreated by guards, continued to receive no
medication or treatment for his mental issues, and
continued to deteriorate mentally. (Id. at 7-8). A
week later, he was moved to a dry cell, abused, and
attacked by prison guards. (Id. at 8). According
to Plaintiff, the abuse he suffered and lack of treatment
resulted in his suffering a stroke, after which he was
moved to a hospital for treatment including emergency brain
surgery. (Id. at 9). At the hospital, he was
apparently told that he was badly dehydrated, and was lucky
to have survived. (Id.).
Plaintiff was thereafter sent back to prison in Trenton.
(Id. at 9-10). Plaintiff continued to be
mistreated and to not receive proper mental health
treatment, but was moved to Northern State Prison ninety
days later. (Id. at 10). In April 2013, Plaintiff
again reported hearing voices and suffered a mental
breakdown, resulting in his being placed back under video
monitoring. (Id. at 11). Plaintiff continued to
act out based on his mental problems for another twenty
five days. (Id.). Because Plaintiffs issues did
not abate, he was then moved back to Anne Klein, where he
finally received mental health treatment and medication,
which apparently caused his mental health issues to abate.
(Id.). Based on the facts alleged in Plaintiffs
complaint, it appears that all of the mistreatment and
abuse he alleges he suffered occurred in 2012 and 2013, and
that he began receiving proper treatment in mid-2013.
(Id. at 11-13).
(ECF No. 2 at 1-3).
November 28, 2017, this Court dismissed Plaintiffs original
complaint in this matter without prejudice as time barred.
(ECF No. 2-3). A month later, Plaintiff filed his amended
complaint. (ECF No. 4). In his amended complaint, Plaintiff
essentially repeats the factual assertions of his original
complaint. (Id.). In addition to these factual
allegations, however, Plaintiff also uses his amended
complaint to assert that he has suffered from various mental
illnesses throughout his life, has continued to suffer mental
illness since he became cogent again in 2013, and was
hospitalized for a few weeks in late 2017 because of his
mental illness. (ECF No. 4 at 3-5). Plaintiff provides
various documents that he asserts establish his continual
state of mental illness, and through these documents argues
that his statute of limitations should be tolled because of
mental illness. (Id.; see also Documents 1-2
attached to ECF No. 4). Unfortunately for Plaintiff, the
documents he has submitted only concern two periods of time -
when he was in prison during the events in question, and
during the period between May and December 2017 during which
he was attending therapy and eventually became hospitalized.
(Id.). Although the documents do suggest that
Plaintiff suffers from schizophrenia, and has suffered for
many years, they also state that his symptoms abate to some
extent when he is properly medicated, and are silent as to
his mental state and ability to understand his rights between
2013 and May 2017. (Documents 1-2 attached to ECF No. 4).
Only two documents that Plaintiff has submitted cover the
period between 2013 and May 2017. In one, a doctor in East
Orange states that Plaintiff has received treatment since
2015, but is otherwise silent as to Plaintiffs ability to
understand his rights and recourses, and the other is a
letter from Plaintiffs sister providing her personal opinion
that Plaintiff is "Mentally Incompetent."
(Id.). Although Plaintiff provides records showing
that he has been on medications since 2014, he provides no
information that would suggest that his being medicated
affected his ability to understand his rights.
to the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 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), or seeks damages from a state employee,
see 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. 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) because Plaintiff has been
granted in forma pauperis status.
to the United States 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
Ail. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). To
survive sua sponte screening for failure to state a
claim, the complaint must allege "sufficient factual
matter" to show that the claim is facially plausible.
Fowler v. UPMC 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, "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) (emphasis
Court explained in its prior opinion,
Plaintiffs [amended] complaint presents various claims
arising under the Eighth Amendment including excessive
force, deliberate indifference to medical needs, and claims
for failure to treat his mental health issues. All of
Plaintiffs claims, however, arise out of events which
occurred between August 2012 and mid-2013. Actions brought
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in New Jersey are subject
to a two year statute of limitations. See, e.g.,
Patyrak v. Apgar,511 Fed.Appx. 193, 195 (3d Cir.
2013). "Under federal law, a cause of action accrues
and the statute of limitations begins to run when the
plaintiff knew or should have known of the injury upon
which its action is based." Kach v. Hose, 589
F.3d 626, 634 (3d Cir. 2009).
In this matter, Plaintiff raises claims based on abuse
and failed treatments he received in 2012 and 2013. According
to Plaintiffs complaint, Plaintiff recovered his faculties
almost "immediately" upon being transferred back to
Anne Klein in mid-2013, and all of the events giving rise to
his claims occurred before that point. Plaintiff, then, was
aware of his injuries at the latest in mid-2013. Plaintiffs
various claims had therefore accrued at that ...