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Jamison v. Hollingsworth

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

March 12, 2018

DEMETRIUS JAMISON, Plaintiff,
v.
WARDEN HOLLINGSWORTH, et al., Defendants.

          APPEARANCE: Demetrius Jamison Fairton Federal Correctional Institution Plaintiff Pro se

          OPINION

          NOEL L. HILLMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Fairton Federal Correctional Institution Fairton, N.J. 08320 Plaintiff Pro se HILLMAN, District Judge The plaintiff, Demetrius Jamison, is a federal prisoner incarcerated at Fairton Federal Correctional Institution in Fairton, New Jersey. He is proceeding pro se seeking monetary relief for alleged violations of his rights pursuant to the Fifth Amendment and Eighth Amendment, the Federal Tort Claims Act and Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). (ECF No. 1 at 11).

         Plaintiff submitted an application to proceed in forma pauperis on December 12, 2016. (ECF No. 1). In an order dated December 30, 2016, the Court denied Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF No. 4). Plaintiff subsequently paid the filing fee on January 17, 2017.

         At this time, the Court must screen 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 suit pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. For the reasons set forth below, this Court will dismiss with prejudice Plaintiff's claims against Defendants Hollingsworth, Ibe, Bynum and Wilk in their official capacity. Additionally, the claims against Defendants Hollingsworth, Ibe, Bynum, and Wilk, in their individual capacity, are dismissed without prejudice. The Federal Tort Claims Act claims against Defendants Hollingsworth, Ibe, Bynum, and Wilk are dismissed with prejudice. Finally, the Federal Tort Claims Act claim against the United States of America is dismissed without prejudice.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff was formally incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution at Fort Dix, New Jersey (“FCI”). (ECF No. 1 at 16-18). The allegations of the complaint will be construed as true for purposes of this screening opinion. The complaint names five defendants: (1) Warden Hollingsworth -Warden at FCI; (2) Chigozie Ibe - IDC/IOP at FCI; (3) M. Bynum - RN at FCI; (4) Jeff Wilk - EMT at FCI; and (5) the United States of America.

         In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges inter alia the following. The prison's failure to provide prompt and adequate medical care after Plaintiff was assaulted by another inmate on April 10, 2016, was in violation of his Constitutional rights. Plaintiff alleges that on April 10, 2016, an inmate struck Plaintiff with a “lock-in-a-sock” that left the Plaintiff unconscious. (ECF No. 1 at 17). Plaintiff was examined by prison medical staff and determined to be “okay” although Plaintiff thought otherwise. (Id.)

         Plaintiff was subsequently assigned to the Segregated Housing Unit (“SHU”), for almost three months. While in the SHU, Plaintiff complained of bleeding from his left nostril, which he claims went ignored, other than the administration of “a few pills”, despite Plaintiff filing several administrative grievances. (Id.) Plaintiff posits that a medical staff deficiency at the facility resulted in the inadequate response to his complaints about excessive bleeding. (Id.) Plaintiff was taken to the hospital on June 15, 2016, and returned the next day. The complaint is silent about what kind of care he received during his hospital visit but Plaintiff makes clear that he did not undergo surgery. (Id.)

         Two weeks later, Plaintiff was transferred to Fairton Federal Correctional Institution. A day later he was taken to the hospital, where a “left parital [sic] craniotomy was performed to remove [a] subacute subdural hematoma.” (Id.) Plaintiff remained in the hospital for an additional two weeks until his transfer to a rehabilitation center. (ECF No. 1 at 18). Upon his transfer to Fairton, Plaintiff initiated his administrative remedies. (Id.)

         Plaintiff brings claims alleging violations of the Federal Tort Claims Act and his Fifth and Eighth Amendment rights. (ECF 1 at 4). He argues that Defendants' actions resulted in his physical and mental suffering, which includes symptoms such as altered mental status, dizziness, nightmares, vision loss/changes, headaches, etc. (ECF No. 1 at 10). He seeks relief in the form of monetary damages totaling an amount of 15 million dollars. (Id.)

         I. STANDARDS OF REVIEW

         A. Sua Sponte Dismissal

         The legal standard for dismissing a complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to § 1915 (A)(b)(1) is identical to the legal standard used when ruling on Rule 12(b)(6)motions. Courteau v. United States, 287 F. App'x 159, 162 (3d Cir. 2008)(discussing legal standard applied to both § 1915(A)and § 12(b)(6)). Every complaint must comply with the pleading requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 8(a)(2) requires that a complaint contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” “Specific facts are not necessary; the statement need only ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the ... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93(2007) (citations omitted).

         While a complaint ... does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the “grounds” of his “entitle[ment] to relief” requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do .... Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . . ” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citations omitted).

         That is, a complaint must assert “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 570. “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)). “The plausibility determination is ‘a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.'” Connelly v. Lane Const. Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 786-87 (3d Cir. 2016) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679); see also Bistrian v. Levi, 696 F.3d 352, 365 (3d Cir. 2012) (citations omitted). Thus, a court is “not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation, ” and “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citations omitted).

         In general, where a complaint subject to statutory screening can be remedied by amendment, a district court should not dismiss the complaint with prejudice, but should permit the amendment. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 34 (1992); Grayson v. Mayview State Hospital, 293 F.3d 103, 108 (3d Cir. 2002) (noting that leave to amend should be granted “in the absence of undue delay, bad faith, dilatory motive, unfair prejudice, or futility of amendment”), cited in Thomaston v. Meyer, 519 F. App'x 118, 120 n.2 (3d Cir. 2013); Urrutia v. Harrisburg County Police Dept., 91 F.3d 451, 453 (3d Cir. 1996).

         Finally, in determining the sufficiency of a pro se complaint, the Court must be mindful to accept its factual allegations as true, see James v. City of Wilkes-Barre, 700 F.3d 675, 679 (3d Cir. 2012), and to construe it liberally in favor of the plaintiff. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); United States v. Day, 969 F.2d 39, 42 (3d Cir. 1992). Nevertheless, “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. Bi ...


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