United States District Court, D. New Jersey
MATTHEW J. BLACKSTONE, Plaintiff,
WARDEN DAVID ORTIZ, et al., Defendants.
B. KUGLER United States District Judge
Matthew J. Blackstone, is a federal prisoner currently
incarcerated at FCI Fort Dix, New Jersey. Plaintiff was
previously incarcerated at FCI McDowell in Welch, West
Virginia. He is proceeding pro se with a civil
complaint filed pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named
Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388
(1971). 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 reasons set forth
below, Plaintiffs claims against the FCI McDowell Defendants
will be severed and transferred to the United States District
Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. Plaintiffs
remaining claims against the FCI Fort Dix Defendants will be
dismissed without prejudice for failure to state a claim.
allegations of the complaint will be construed as true for
purposes of this screening opinion. Plaintiff names the
following individuals as defendants: (1) David Ortiz, Warden
at FCI Fort Dix; (2) Ashley Stark, PA-C, Health Services, FCI
McDowell; (3) Sherri Lilly, PA-C, Health Services, FCI
McDowell; (4) Ms. Smith, Associate Warden, FCI McDowell; (5)
Kelly Lucas, Health Services Administrator, FCI McDowell; (6)
Dr. Isaac Alexis, Clinical Director, FCI McDowell; (7) Bart
Masters, Warden, FCI McDowell; (8) Mr. Collins, Associate
Warden, Operations, FCI McDowell; (9) C. Eichenlaub,
Mid-Atlantic Regional Director, Federal Bureau of Prisons
("BOP"); (10) Ian Connors, National Inmate Appeals
Administrator, Central Office, BOP; (11) William Goode, PA-C,
FCI McDowell; (12) Dr. Jorge Vazquez-Velazquez, Acting
Clinical Director, FCI McDowell; (13) Chandra Carothers,
PA-C, FCI McDowell; (14) Dr. Pradip Patel, FCI Fort Dix; (15)
Dr. Michael S. Cohen, St. Francis Medical Center; (16) R.
Newbury, R.N., FCI Fort Dix; (17) Dr. S. Doneputi, FCI Fort
Dix; (18) Rolando Newland, Clinical Director, FCI Fort Dix;
(19) Ja'Nay Shelton, PA-C, FCI Fort Dix; (20) Dr. Louis
G. Fares, F.A.C.S., FCI Fort Dix; (21) Steven Esposito, MLP,
FCI Fort Dix; (22) N. West, R.N., FCI Fort Dix; (23) Vicente
Elias, MLP, FCI Fort Dix; (24) Phillip Wawrzyniak, NREMT-P,
FCI Fort Dix; (25) Dr. Nicoletta Turner-Foster, FCI Fort Dix;
(26) Dr. Jeffrey Steinig, FCI Fort Dix; and (27) John Doe(s).
complaint arises from the medical treatment he received for
his umbilical hernia while incarcerated at FCI McDowell and
FCI Fort Dix. (See ECF No. 1 at p. 4). Plaintiff
claims that his medical condition began in December 2013,
while he was incarcerated at FCI McDowell. (See
id.). Plaintiff states that the Medical Health Services
Department ("Medical Services") first diagnosed him
with an umbilical hernia on February 4, 2014. (See
id.). On July 7, 2014, physician assistant Sherri Lilly
evaluated Plaintiff and ordered a request for an outside
consultation for Plaintiffs hernia. (See Id. at pp.
23, 2014, Plaintiff completed an inmate request form directed
to Associate Warden Smith wherein he requested the status of
his hernia consultation. (See Id. at p. 5). In
response to Plaintiffs request, Associate Warden Smith
responded that "a consult (consultation) was submitted
for [his] hernia to be reviewed at the Utilization Review
Committee. If approved this will have to go to the Region
(Mid-Atlantic Regional Office) for approval." (See
id.). On July 31, 2014, Plaintiff received
correspondence from the Utilization Review Committee advising
that his case had been "tabled at this time" and
that he would be scheduled for additional in-house tests and
evaluations, which would be presented to the Utilization
Review Committee at a later date. (See id.).
August 28, 2014, Ashley Stark, a physician assistant,
evaluated Plaintiff and noted that his abdominal inspection
was within normal limits. (See Id. at p. 6).
Following this examination, Plaintiff sent e-mail
correspondence through the TRULINKS computer system to Dr.
Isaac Alexis on September 29, 2014, Associate Warden Collins
on October 3, 2014, and Warden Bart Masters on October 17,
2014, documenting his pain and requesting assistance.
(See id.). On October 31, 2014, Plaintiff was
evaluated by physician assistant William Goode, who failed to
include specific observations regarding Plaintiffs hernia in
his medical records. (See Id. at p. 7).
October 31, 2014, Plaintiff received correspondence from the
Utilization Review Committee approving Plaintiff to undergo
additional diagnostic testing and evaluation by an outside
urologist. (See Id. at pp. 7-8). On November 5,
2014, Plaintiff received an e-mail from Warden Masters
stating that on October 31, 2014 "All [Plaintiffs] vital
signs were within normal limits. Due to [his] recurring
abdominal pain, new labs (lab tests) were ordered and a
consult (consultation) for a urologist was written."
(See Id. at pp. 6-7).
December 15, 2014, Plaintiff was treated by physician
assistant Chandra Carothers, who failed to address Plaintiffs
complaints of hernia and shoulder pain. (See Id. at
p. 8). Thereafter, Plaintiff made two requests for
preventative healthcare visits, complaining of pain in his
feet, legs, and hernia. (See id.). On January 7,
2015, Plaintiff underwent a preventative healthcare visit
with Ms. Carothers and was issued an abdominal binder for his
umbilical hernia and arch supports for his feet. (See
Id. at p. 9). Additionally, Ms. Carothers noted that
Plaintiffs rheumatoid factor results came back as negative.
(See id.). On January 13, 2015, Plaintiff had a
second preventive healthcare visit, wherein Ms. Carothers
noted that she was requesting a general surgery consultation
for Plaintiffs hernia. (See Id. at pp. 9-10).
January 21, 2015, Plaintiff requested and received an update
from Medical Services advising that his urology and
orthopedic consultations were pending scheduling and that his
general surgery consultation was disapproved. (See
Id. at p. 10). On March 24, 2015, Plaintiff submitted a
sick call request to Medical Services complaining of pain in
his shoulder, calves, knees, legs, feet, prostate, and
hernia. (See Id. at pp. 10-11). On May 20, 2015,
Plaintiff completed an inmate request form stating that he
went to the urologist but was advised that he was sent to the
wrong doctor and inquiring what was being done about his
medical conditions. (See Id. at p. 11).
mid-June 2015, Plaintiff was transferred from FCI McDowell to
FCI Fort Dix. (See id.). On July 2, 2015, Plaintiff
had an initial evaluation at FCI Fort Dix by Dr. Pradip
Patel, who diagnosed Plaintiff as having a mild umbilical
hernia. (See Id. at pp. 11-12). On September 17,
2015, Plaintiff was taken to St. Francis Medical Center for a
consultation. (See Id. at p. 12). There, Dr. Michael
Cohen recommended surgery for Plaintiff s umbilical hernia.
(See id.). On December 22, 2015, Plaintiff underwent
a surgical consultation for his umbilical hernia with Dr.
Louis G. Fares. (See Id. at p. 14). On March 8,
2016, Plaintiff completed an inmate request form requesting
his ultrasound and x-ray results and inquiring about the
status of his hernia surgery. (See Id. at p. 15).
Nearly eight months after his consultation, Plaintiff
underwent umbilical hernia surgery on August 8, 2016.
(See Id. at p. 17).
now raises Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claims
against the individual Defendants, alleging that the
Defendants knew of Plaintiff s serious medical need and
failed to reasonably respond. (See Id. at p. 19).
Plaintiff also asserts a state law claim for intentional
infliction of emotional distress. (See Id. at p.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
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 pauper is, 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. §
determining the sufficiency of a complaint, the court must be
mindful to construe it liberally in favor of the plaintiff.
See United States v. Day,969 F.2d 39, 42 (3d Cir.
1992). The court should "accept as true all of the
allegations in the complaint and all reasonable inferences
that can be drawn therefrom, and view them in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff." Morse v. Lower Merion
School Dist,132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997). Thus,
"[a] pro se complaint may be dismissed for failure to
state a claim only if it appears 'beyond doubt that the
plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim