United States District Court, D. New Jersey
L. Wolfson United States District Judge
Ruben Jones (“Jones” or “Plaintiff”),
is a state prisoner presently incarcerated at Northern State
Prison, in Newark, New Jersey. He is proceeding pro
se with a civil rights complaint filed under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. After granting Jones leave to proceed in
forma pauperis, the Court previously dismissed his
Complaint upon screening for failure to state a claim upon
which relief could be granted. (ECF Nos. 3 & 4.) Jones
subsequently submitted an Amended Complaint, and the Court
now screens that pleading under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), 28
U.S.C. § 1915A, and 42 U.S.C. § 1997e 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 Amended
Complaint is again dismissed.
original Complaint, Jones alleged claims for inadequate
medical treatment against defendants St. Francis Medical
Center (“St. Francis”), Steven Paloni, M.D.
(“Paloni”), Helmi Saud Do, M.D. (“Saud
Do”), and Scott D. Miller, M.D. (“Miller”).
(Compl., ECF No. 1.) He alleged that, after undergoing knee
surgery involving Miller and Paloni in November 2006, he
experienced “excruciating pain and swelling in his knee
and ankle.” (Id. ¶¶ 12-20.) Jones
recounted that he returned to St. Francis in December 2006,
where Saud Do ordered an ultrasound scan of Jones's right
leg and foot, which did not reveal any problems.
(Id. ¶¶ 21-22.) Jones alleged that he
continued to suffer excruciating pain, and that, in February
2014, an x-ray taken at a podiatry clinic revealed a metal
object in his right foot. (Id. ¶¶ 23-25.)
He returned to St. Francis to have the object removed on June
6, 2014. (Id. ¶ 26.)
Court dismissed the Complaint upon an initial screening,
finding that the claims were untimely and, in any case, that
Jones had failed to allege facts showing that Defendants had
acted with deliberate indifference. (ECF Nos. 3 & 4.)
Specifically, I found that, even applying the discovery rule
to toll accrual of the claim until February 2014, when Jones
learned of the object in his foot, he still filed his
Complaint over a year after the two-year limitations period
had expired. (ECF No. 3 at 6.) I noted that Jones had not
made any allegations in support of statutory or equitable
tolling. (Id. at 6-8.) I additionally concluded
that, even had the Complaint been timely filed, its factual
allegations supported, at most, a finding of medical
negligence, not deliberate indifference. (Id. at
dismissing the Complaint without prejudice, I granted Jones
leave to file an Amended Complaint in an attempt to cure the
identified deficiencies. (Id. at 10-11; ECF No. 4.)
Jones thereafter filed an Amended Complaint, (ECF No. 7), and
the Court now screens that pleading.
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
prisoner complaints when the prisoner (1) is proceeding
in forma pauperis, see 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B), (2) seeks redress against a governmental
employee or entity, see 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, or
(3) asserts a claim concerning prison conditions,
see 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c). The PLRA directs
district courts to sua sponte dismiss claims that
are frivolous or malicious, that fail to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief
from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See
28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B), 1915A(b); 42 U.S.C.
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); see
also 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)). That standard is set
forth in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), and
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007).
To survive the Court's screening, the complaint must
allege “sufficient factual matter to show that the
claim is facially plausible.” Fowler v. UPMC
Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009) (internal
quotation marks 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.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; see also Fair Wind
Sailing, Inc. v. Dempster, 764 F.3d 303, 308 n.3 (3d
Cir. 2014). “A pleading that offers ‘labels and
conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do.'”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555).
se pleadings, as always, will be liberally construed.
See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972);
Glunk v. Noone, 689 Fed.Appx. 137, 139 (3d Cir.
2017). 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).
the running of the statute of limitations is ordinarily an
affirmative defense, where that defense is obvious from the
face of the complaint and no development of the record is
necessary, a court may dismiss a time-barred complaint
sua sponte under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii)
for failure to state a claim.” Ostuni v. Wa
Wa's Mart, 532 Fed.Appx. 110, 111- 12 (3d Cir.
2013); see also Hunterson v. Disabato, 244 Fed.Appx.
455, 457 (3d Cir. 2007) (“[A] district court may
sua sponte dismiss a claim as time-barred under 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1) where it is apparent from the
complaint that the applicable statute of limitations has
examination of the Amended Complaint reveals that Jones has
failed to cure the defects that led to the dismissal of the
original Complaint. With regards to timeliness, Jones now
alleges that unidentified medical staff “did not inform
Plaintiff that the metallic foreign body was the result of
any medical error performed before and/or during his
surgery” until it was removed on June 6, 2014. (ECF No.
7 ¶¶ 17-18.) Even if the discovery rule operated to
toll the accrual of Jones's claim until that date,
however, the applicable, two-year limitations period would