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Almonte v. United States

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

May 19, 2018





         This matter has been opened to the Court by Plaintiffs filing of an Amended Complaint, an application to proceed in forma pauper is ("IFP"), and a motion for pro bono counsel. The Court previously denied without prejudice Plaintiffs IFP application, found that his Complaint failed to state a claim for relief under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), and provided him with leave to submit an Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 5.) The Court subsequently dismissed the matter because Plaintiff failed to submit an Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 6.) On the same day, Plaintiff resubmitted his IFP application with an Amended Complaint and a motion for pro bono counsel. (ECF Nos. 7-8.) At this time, the Court will grant Plaintiffs IFP application and screen the Complaint for dismissal. For the reasons explained below, the Court will dismiss Plaintiffs claims for relief, as described in this Opinion, as to all Defendants pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). Unless otherwise stated, the dismissal is without prejudice, and Plaintiff may file a second amended complaint within 30 days to the extent he can cure the deficiencies in his claims. Having dismissed the Amended Complaint, the Court will also deny without prejudice the motion for pro bono counsel.


         Plaintiffs Amended Complaint alleges that he "lost an organ (gal[l] bladder) d[ue] to improper treatment and attendant [sic] from medical practioner [sic]." (Am. Compl. at 3.) The events at issue occurred during May-July 2015 while he was incarcerated at Hudson County Correctional Facility. (Id.) Plaintiff further contends that

The facility's Nursing Center for Inmate's Medical Practioner [sic] named (Denis). She only provided me my medication for my pressure that was provided to me before I got arrested. Never was I atended [sic] for my side pains was only given antibiotics for infection for I week. Pain came back within a couple of days after my treatment with antibiotics.
Sait [sic] Luke's Emergency Doctors Hospital was where I had to get Emergency Surgery for my (gal [sic] bladder). Now hospital change and is now called Mount Sinai. This was taken place once I was released from Hudson County Correctional. Was released two weeks prior to my emergency surgery.

Id. Plaintiff states that he is seeking "proper treatment's [sic] and supervision in the Hudson County Correctional Facility", and also seeks monetary damages for the loss of his gall bladder. (Id. at 4.)


         Pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. No. 104-134, §§ 801-810, 110 Stat. 1321-66 to 1321-77 (April 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. § l9l5A(b), or brings a claim with respect to prison conditions, see 42 U.S.C. § l997e. 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. "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 Fed.Appx. 120, 122 (3d Cir. 2012) (citing Allah v. Seiverling, 229 F.3d 220, 223 (3d Cir. 2000)); Mitchell v. Beard, 492 Fed.Appx. 230, 232 (3d Cir. 2012) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1)); Courteau v. United States, 287 Fed.Appx. 159, 162 (3d Cir. 2008) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b))

         Here, Plaintiffs Amended Complaint is subject to screening under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). When reviewing a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), courts first separate the factual and legal elements of the claims, and accept all of the well-pleaded facts as true. See Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009). All reasonable inferences must be made in the plaintiffs favor. See In re Ins. Brokerage Antitrust Litig., 618 F.3d 300, 314 (3d Cir. 2010). The Complaint must also allege "sufficient factual matter" to show that the claim is facially plausible. Fowler v. UP MS 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).

         Courts are required to liberally construe pleadings drafted by pro se parties. Tucker v. Hewlett Packard, Inc., No. 14-4699 (RBK/KMW), 2015 WL 6560645, at *2 (D.N.J. Oct. 29, 2015) (citing Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972)). Such pleadings are "held to less strict standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Id. Nevertheless, pro se litigants must still allege facts, which if taken as true, will suggest the required elements of any claim that is asserted. Id. (citing Mala v. Crown Bay Marina, Inc., 704 F.3d 239, 245 (3d Cir. 2013)). To do so, [a plaintiff] must plead enough facts, accepted as true, to plausibly suggest entitlement to relief." Gibney v. Fitzgibbon, 547 Fed.Appx. 111, 113 (3d Cir. 2013) (citing Bistrian v. Levi, 696 F.3d 352, 365 (3d Cir. 2012)). Furthermore, "[l]iberal construction does not, however, require the Court to credit a pro se plaintiffs 'bald assertions' or 'legal conclusions.' Id. (citing Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997)). That is, "[e]ven a pro se complaint may be dismissed for failure to state a claim if the allegations set forth by the plaintiff cannot be construed as supplying facts to support a claim entitling the plaintiff to relief. Id. (citing Milhouse v. Carlson, 652 F.2d 371, 373 (3d Cir. 1981)).

         IV. ANALYSIS

         a. ...

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