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Reaves v. UMDNJ

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

February 9, 2018

STACY REAVES, Plaintiff,
UMDNJ, Defendant.




         Plaintiff, Stacy Reaves, is currently confined at the Cape May County Correctional Center in Cape May, New Jersey. He is proceeding pro se with a civil rights complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. At this time, this Court must screen the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) 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 suit. For the following reasons, the complaint will be permitted to proceed in part. In addition, Plaintiff's motions for the appointment of pro bono counsel are denied without prejudice.


         The allegations of this complaint will be construed as true for purposes of this screening opinion. Plaintiff seeks to bring a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendant University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey (“UMDNJ”) for denial of medical services. (See Dkt. No. 1 at p. 4). Plaintiff also names the following individuals and entities as defendants in an exhibit to his complaint: 1) Chris Christie, the Governor of New Jersey; 2) Gary Lanigan, Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Corrections (“NJDOC”); 3) Robert Buechele, Administrator at South Woods State Prison (“SWSP”); 4) Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care (“Rutgers”); 5) Dan DiBenedetti, Corrections Ombudsman; 6) Connie Karch, Assistant Corrections Ombudsman; 7) Dr. Ralph Woodward; 8) Margret Reed, Acting Statewide Medical Patient Advocate; 9) Mr. Thomas, a nurse practitioner; and 10) Ms. “T, ” a nurse practitioner.[1] (See Dkt. No. 1 at p. 16).

         Plaintiff's allegations arise from the treatment he received between August 31, 2014 and November 11, 2014 while he was incarcerated at South Woods State Prison in Bridgeton, New Jersey. (See Id. at pp. 13-15). Plaintiff suffers from spina bifida and requires a urethral catheter to empty his bladder multiple times throughout the day. (See Id. at p. 13). Plaintiff also has a medical order stating that his condition requires that he be placed in a lower bunkbed. (See id.).

         Plaintiff claims that on August 31, 2014, he was placed in detention for a disciplinary charge. (See id.). Plaintiff alleges that despite informing numerous officers and the social worker about his medical condition, he was assigned to the top bunk in Cell 1042. (See id.). Plaintiff claims that he was forced to sleep on the floor because he was unable to climb up to the top bunk. (See id.). Plaintiff was not moved to a lower bunk until September 11, 2014. (See id.).

         Plaintiff also alleges that the medical staff did not provide him with catheters during his time in detention. (See id.). Specifically, Plaintiff details numerous occasions from September 1 to September 18, 2014 where he went approximately 8-12 hours without receiving catheters from the medical staff, forcing Plaintiff's bladder to be at maximum capacity for an extended amount of time and causing Plaintiff severe pain. (See Id. at pp. 13-15). Plaintiff filed several grievances and requests for catheters. (See Id. at pp. 14, 32-33).

         Plaintiff further alleges that on or about October 24, 2014, his genitals severely swelled and a nurse entered his cell to obtain a urine sample. (See Id. at p. 15). Thereafter, on October 27th and 29th, medical staff informed Plaintiff that they would refer him to the medical unit for treatment of his swollen genitalia. (See id.). Plaintiff was not transferred to the medical unit until November 3, 2014. (See id.). Plaintiff was ultimately diagnosed with a urinary tract infection (“UTI”). (See id.).

         Finally, on November 11, 2014, Plaintiff claims that he asked a nurse practitioner known as Ms. “T” for catheters so that he could use the bathroom. (See Id. at pp. 15-16). Plaintiff alleges that Ms. “T” explicitly informed Plaintiff that she would not provide him with catheters and that she never returned to his cell with any catheters later that day. (See Id. at p. 16).

         Plaintiff seeks damages for pain and suffering in an amount to be determined by the Court. (See Id. at p. 6). Plaintiff also seeks punitive and exemplary damages against the Defendants. (See id.). Additionally, Plaintiff filed has filed two motions seeking the appointment of pro bono counsel. (See Dkt. Nos. 5 and 9).


         Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. 104-134, §§ 801-810, 110 Stat. 1321-66 to 1321-77 (Apr. 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. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         “The legal standard for dismissing a complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is the same as that for dismissing a complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).” Schreane v. Seana, 506 F. App'x 120, 122 (3d Cir. 2012) (citing Allah v. Seiverling, 229 F.3d 220, 223 (3d Cir. 2000)); Mitchell v. Beard, 492 F. App'x 230, 232 (3d Cir. 2012) (discussing 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1)); Courteau v. United States, 287 F. App'x. 159, 162 (3d Cir. 2008) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)). To survive the court's screening for failure to state a claim, the complaint must allege “sufficient factual matter” to show that the claim is facially plausible. See 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 Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). “[A] pleading that offers ‘labels or conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).

         “[A] court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint.” Id. Legal conclusions, together with threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, do not suffice to state a claim. See Id. Thus, “a court considering a motion to dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth.” Id. at 679. “While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations.” Id. If a complaint can be remedied by an ...

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