United States District Court, D. New Jersey
R. Martinotti, United States District Judge.
this Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by
Defendant Charles Ellis (“Ellis”), Warden of
Mercer County Correction Center (ECF No. 59); and a Motion
for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Bucks County
Department of Corrections, Corrections Officer Andrew
Amaroso, Corrections Officer Laws, Lieutenant Burkhart,
Investigator Anthony Disandro, Lieutenant Robert Gorman,
Bucks County Department of Corrections Chief Operating
Officer Brian Hessenthaler, Bucks County Correctional
Facility Warden Paul K. Lagana and Bucks County Department of
Corrections Director Christopher Pirolli (collectively,
“Bucks Defendants”) (ECF No. 60). Plaintiff James
Covington (“Plaintiff”) filed Opposition to both
Motions. (ECF Nos. 66, 68.) Having reviewed the parties'
submissions filed in connection with the Motions and having
declined to hold oral argument pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 78(b), for the reasons set forth below, and
for good cause shown, the claims against Defendant Ellis are
DISMISSED and the Court will permit further
briefing before addressing the Bucks Defendants' Motion.
was incarcerated at the Bucks County Correctional Facility in
Bucks County, Pennsylvania (“BCCF”) from
September 7, 2017, until October 11, 2017. (Pl.'s
Counter-Statement of Undisputed Material Facts
(“SUMF”) (ECF No. 68-2) ¶ 1.) On October 11,
2017, Plaintiff was transferred to Mercer County Correction
Center (“MCCC”) and then back to BCCF on October
27, 2017. (Id.) He was transferred to Montgomery
County Correctional Facility on November 2, 2017.
an incident with a BCCF corrections officer on October 4,
2017, Plaintiff sustained a “very serious
fracture” to his collarbone. (Compl. (ECF No. 1) ¶
5.) He alleges the BCCF officers used unreasonable and
excessive force against him. (Id. ¶ 6.) After
the incident, he was transferred to Mercer County Corrections
Center, who then sent him to an orthopedic specialist.
(Id. ¶ 14.) Plaintiff alleges he was supposed
to receive the surgery recommended by the specialist on
November 1, 2017, but BCCF jail officials refused to comply.
(Id. ¶ 16.)
November 7, 2017, Plaintiff filed the Complaint seeking
injunctive relief in the form of surgery, as well as damages.
(ECF No. 1.) On November 13, 2017, he filed an emergency
Motion for an Order to Show Cause to obtain the surgery. (ECF
No. 4.) The Court denied the request on November 20, 2017,
because Plaintiff had since been released from jail.
(Id.) In December 2017, Defendants Ellis, Bucks
County Department of Corrections, Brian Hessenthaler, Paul K.
Lagana and Christopher Pirolli filed Motions to Dismiss on
various grounds, including Plaintiff's failure to exhaust
administrative remedies. (ECF Nos. 16, 21.) The Court denied
the Motions without prejudice but permitted Defendants to
re-file as summary judgment motions. (ECF No. 54.) These
Motions from Defendants Ellis and the Bucks County Defendants
followed. (ECF Nos. 59, 60.)
Motion filed by Defendant Ellis is labeled as one for summary
judgment and includes a statement of material facts as
required. However, while his arguments regarding exhaustion
rely on other documents, and are properly considered under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, his substantive argument
is based on the insufficiency of the factual allegations in
the Complaint. As such, the Court will consider that portion
of his Motion as one for judgment on the pleadings under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c). See Iudici v.
Passaic Cty. Sheriff's Dep't, No. 12-3466, 2018
WL 3000332, at *2 (D.N.J. June 15, 2018) (treating a motion
labeled as a summary judgment as a motion for judgment on the
pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c));
Meleika v. City of Jersey City, No. 17-1959, 2018 WL
4522046, at *2 (D.N.J. Sept. 21, 2018) (“This motion,
although styled as one for summary judgment, might fit within
the confines of a motion for judgment on the pleadings under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c).”).
motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule
12(c) is identical to one filed under Rule 12(b)(6), except
that Rule 12(c) allows for the motion to be filed after the
filing of an answer, while Rule 12(b)(6) allows for the
motion to be made in lieu of an answer.” Wellness
Pub. V. Barefoot, 2008 WL 108889, at *6 (D.N.J. Jan. 9,
2008); see also Turbe v. Virgin Islands, 938 F.2d
427, 428 (3d Cir. 1991).
deciding a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a district court is “required
to accept as true all factual allegations in the complaint
and draw all inferences in the facts alleged in the light
most favorable to the [plaintiff].” Phillips v.
Cty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 228 (3d Cir. 2008).
“[A] complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to
dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations.”
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007) (citations omitted). However, the plaintiff's
“obligation to provide the ‘grounds' of his
‘entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels
and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements
of a cause of action.” Id. (citing Papasan
v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)). A court is
“not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched
as a factual allegation.” Papasan, 478 U.S. at
286. Instead, assuming the factual allegations in the
complaint are true, those “[f]actual allegations must
be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state
a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.'”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). “A claim has facial
plausibility when the pleaded factual content allows the
court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is
liable for misconduct alleged.” Id. This
“plausibility standard” requires the complaint
allege “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant
has acted unlawfully, ” but it “is not akin to a
probability requirement.'” Id. (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “Detailed factual
allegations” are not required, but “more than an
unadorned, the defendant-harmed-me accusation” must be
pled; it must include “factual enhancements” and
not just conclusory statements or a recitation of the
elements of a cause of action. Id. (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557).
whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief [is]
. . . a context-specific task that requires the reviewing
court to draw on its judicial experience and common
sense.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. “[W]here
the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more
than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has
alleged-but it has not ‘show[n]'-‘that the
pleader is entitled to relief.'” Id. at
679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).
courts are “not compelled to accept ‘unsupported
conclusions and unwarranted inferences, '”
Baraka v. McGreevey, 481 F.3d 187, 195 (3d Cir.
2007) (quoting Schuylkill Energy Res. Inc. v. Pa. Power
& Light Co., 113 F.3d 405, 417 (3d Cir. 1997)), nor
“a legal conclusion couched as a factual
allegation.” Papasan, 478 U.S. at 286.