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Battle v. McGann

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

October 17, 2018

J.P. BATTLE, Plaintiff,
v.
DR. MCGANN, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          ROBERT B. KUGLER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff, J.P. Battle, is a federal prisoner currently incarcerated at FCI Fairton, in Fairton, New Jersey. He is proceeding pro se with a civil complaint pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). (See ECF No. 1-3). For the purposes of this opinion, the Court will also consider Plaintiff's “supplemental complaint” (ECF No. 9), along with his initial complaint, as one pleading. For the reasons stated in this Opinion, the Court will dismiss Plaintiff's complaint, declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over his claims arising under state law, and denies his motions for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction and for appointment of counsel. Additionally, the Court denies Plaintiff's motions for a writ of mandamus as moot.

         II. BACKGROUND

         The Court will construe the allegations of the complaint as true for the purpose of this Opinion. Plaintiff names the following individuals and entities as Defendants: (1) Dr. McGann, Clinical Medical Director at FCI Fairton; (2) Dr. Peter A. Sarkos, Orthopedic Specialist Contractor for FCI Fairton; and (3) the United States of America. Although vague, the Court will interpret the complaint as asserting claims against the individual Defendants in both their individual and official capacities.[1]

         This case arises from Plaintiff's medical treatment while incarcerated at FCI Fairton, for his shoulder injuries. (ECF No. 1-3). According to the complaint, Plaintiff reported experiencing shoulder pain on June 10, 2016. (Id. at 2). Plaintiff received a cortisone injection on June 22, 2016, an x-ray of his right shoulder on June 26, 2016, and a second steroid injection on July 22, 2016. (Id.). Nearly eight months later, on June 5, 2017, Dr. Sarkos performed another evaluation, diagnosed Plaintiff with a bilateral partial acute rotator cuff tear, and provided Plaintiff with another cortisone injection. (Id.). On July 5, 2017, Plaintiff received another evaluation and complained that the injections did not relieve his pain. (Id.). Finally, on August 15, 2017, Dr. McGann provided Plaintiff with another cortisone injection. (Id.).

         At unspecified times thereafter, Plaintiff “submitted repeated sick-call slip request[s]” and grievances requesting a magnetic resonance imaging scan (“MRI”). (Id. at 3). Plaintiff “exhausted all [of] his administrative remedies” (ECF No. 1-3, at 3; ECF No. 9, at 3) and alleges that Dr. Sarkos, his orthopedist, and Dr. McGann, as the final medical decision maker at the prison, denied his requests for an MRI “due to cost.” (ECF No. 1-3, at 3). Plaintiff also implies that the refusal to provide him with an MRI is due to “racial discrimination and prejudice, ” alleging that white inmates at FCI Fairton, with similar injuries, “were taken to area hospitals.” (ECF No. 9, at 3).

         Plaintiff contends that Drs. Sarkos and McGann have misdiagnosed him and that his shoulder injury is getting worse and risks permanent disability. (Id.). Plaintiff now raises Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claims against the Defendants, alleging that the Defendants refused to perform an MRI, and as a result, have not properly treated his rotator cuff injury. Additionally, Plaintiff raises state law claims for ordinary negligence and medical malpractice. Plaintiff also seeks a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to order Defendants to provide him with an MRI and proper treatment.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A. Standard for Sua Sponte Dismissal

         District courts must review complaints in civil actions in which a plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). District courts may 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 Id. According to the Supreme Court's decision in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, “a pleading that offers ‘labels or conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'” 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).

         To survive sua sponte screening for failure to state a claim, [2] 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). “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 [alleged] misconduct.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Moreover, while courts liberally construe pro se pleadings, “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. Bivens Actions

         Section 1983 of Title 42 created a remedy for monetary damages when a person acting under color of state law injures another, but “Congress did not create an analogous statute for federal officials. Indeed, in the 100 years leading up to Bivens, Congress did not provide a specific damages remedy for plaintiffs whose constitutional rights were violated by agents of the Federal Government.” Ziglar v. Abbasi, 137 S.Ct. 1843, 1854 (2017). The Supreme Court created an implied cause of action in Bivens when federal officers violated a person's Fourth Amendment rights. Bivens, 403 U.S. at 397. The Court extended the Bivens remedy twice more in: Davis v. Passman, 442 U.S. 228 (1979) (holding administrative assistant fired by Congressman had a Bivens remedy for her Fifth Amendment gender discrimination claim), and Carlson v. Green, 446 U.S. 14 (1980) (holding that prisoner's estate had a Bivens remedy against federal jailers for failure to treat his asthma under the Eighth Amendment). “These three cases-Bivens, Davis, and Carlson-represent the only instances in which the Court has approved of an implied damages remedy under ...


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