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Quinones v. County of Camden

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

July 23, 2018

JOSE L. QUINONES, Plaintiff,
v.
COUNTY OF CAMDEN, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          ROBERT B. KUGLER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff, Jose Quinones, is currently confined at South Woods State Prison in Bridgeton, 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 dismissed without prejudice for failure to state a claim. In addition, Plaintiff's motion for the appointment of pro bono counsel is denied without prejudice.

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         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 Defendants County of Camden, Camden County Freeholders, Camden County Jail Medical Department, Cooper Hospital, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, UMDNJ, and various John Does for failure to provide proper medical care. (See ECF No. 1 at pp. 5-6).

         Plaintiff claims that on May 24, 2013, he was arrested and taken to Cooper Hospital for a knife wound. (See id. at p. 6). While at the hospital, Plaintiff alleges that medical staff gave him a blood thinner. (See id.). After being treated for his wounds, Plaintiff was transported to Camden County Correctional Facility (“CCCF”), where medical staff increased his dosage of the medication. (See id.). Plaintiff alleges that after approximately two years of taking the blood thinner, he began to lose his eyesight. (See id.). In April 2017, Plaintiff was informed that he would never regain his eyesight. (See id.).

         Based on this factual background, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants' incompetence violated his rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. (See id. at pp. 6-7). Specifically, Plaintiff claims that the medical staff at Cooper Hospital gave him the wrong blood thinner medication and that the medical staff at CCCF increased the dosage without cause and without informing Plaintiff, causing him to lose his eyesight. (See id. at p. 7). Plaintiff also alleges a medical malpractice claim under New Jersey law. (See id.). As relief, Plaintiff seeks damages in an amount to be determined at a later time. (See id. at p. 8). Further, Plaintiff has filed a motion seeking the appointment of pro bono counsel. (See ECF No. 2).

         III. STANDARD FOR SUA SPONTE DISMISSAL

         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 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 42 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)). 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 amendment, a district court may not dismiss the complaint with prejudice, but must permit the amendment. Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103, 108 (3d Cir. 2002).

         Courts must liberally construe pleadings that are filed pro se. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)). Thus, “a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). “Court personnel reviewing pro se pleadings are charged with the responsibility of deciphering why the submission was filed, what the litigant is seeking, and what claims she may be making.” See Higgs v. Atty. Gen. of the U.S., 655 F.3d 333, 339-40 (3d Cir. 2011) (internal citations omitted).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. To state a claim for relief under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege, first, the violation of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States and, second, that the alleged deprivation was committed or caused by a person acting under color of state law. West v. ...


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