United States District Court, D. New Jersey
G. SHERIDAN, U.S.D.J.
matter comes before the Court on the Court's sua
sponte screening of Plaintiff Derrick Parks'
complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B)
and 1915A. For the following reasons, the Monmouth County
Jail shall be dismissed from this action with prejudice, and
Plaintiffs remaining federal claims shall be dismissed
Plaintiff, Derrick Parks, Jr., was in county custody at the
Monmouth County Jail in May 2016, Plaintiff developed a
benign tumor in his throat which began to impede his airway.
(ECF No. 1 at 2). Upon the discovery of this tumor, medical
staff at the jail determined that surgery was necessary, and
the tumor was surgically removed on or around June 16, 2016.
(Id. at 2-3). Plaintiff was told that the surgery
had gone well and that there had been no complications.
(Id. at 3). In August 2016, however, Plaintiff began
to experience a leaking of fluids from his chin related to a
plate that had apparently been placed there during Plaintiffs
throat surgery. (Id. at 3-4). Plaintiff complained
about this leaking, and while the jail initially ignored the
issue, Plaintiff eventually began receiving daily cleanings.
(Id. at 3). Plaintiff was taken to see Defendant Dr.
Shay who examined him and told him that "everything was
fine." (Id. at 3-4).
February 2017, Plaintiff was transferred to the Yardville
Youth Correctional Facility.In June 2017, Plaintiff was taken
to University Hospital, where it was determined that the
plate in his chin had become infected, resulting in Plaintiff
losing several teeth. (Id. at 4). Although Plaintiff
was initially told he would receive replacements through the
UMDNJ Dental School, the New Jersey Department of Corrections
would not allow UMDNJ to replace the teeth which were removed
during the surgical procedure as he "did not lose enough
teeth." (Id. at 4-5). Plaintiff contends in his
complaint that the "negligence" of the staff of the
Monmouth County Jail and the "negligent surgery"
performed by the John and Jane Doe Defendants who performed
his surgery caused him considerable pain, suffering, and
embarrassment. (Id. at 5).
Plaintiff has been granted in forma pauperis status,
and because Plaintiff is a state prisoner, this Court is
required to screen his complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915 A. Pursuant to these
statutes, this Court must sua sponte dismiss any
claim that is frivolous, 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. Id.
"The legal standard for dismissing a complaint for
failure to state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) [or § 1915 A] 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)).
deciding a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
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. Cnty. of
Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 228 (3d Cir. 2008). "[A]
complaint attacked by a ... motion to dismiss does not need
detailed factual allegations." Bell Atlantic v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). However, the
Plaintiffs "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 will not do." 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.
"Determining whether the allegations in a complaint are
plausible is a context-specific task that requires the
reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common
sense." Id. 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.
(citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).
while pro se pleadings are liberally construed,
"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) (emphasis added).
complaint Plaintiff asserts claims for denial of medical care
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. "To establish a claim
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must demonstrate a
violation of a right protected by the Constitution or laws of
the United States that was committed by a person acting under
the color of state law." Nicini v. Morra, 212
F.3d 798, 806 (3d Cir. 2000); see also Woodyardv. Cnty.
of Essex, 514 Fed.Appx. 177, 180 (3d Cir. 2013) (section
1983 provides "private citizens with a means to redress
violations of federal law committed by state [actors]").
"The first step in evaluating a section 1983 claim is to
'identify the exact contours of the underlying right said
to have been violated' and to determine 'whether the
plaintiff has alleged a deprivation of a constitutional right
at all.'" Nicini, 212 F.3d at 806 (quoting
County of Sacramento v. Lewis, 523 U.S. 833, 841 n.
5 (1998)). As Plaintiff asserts in his complaint that he is
seeking relief for violations of his Eighth Amendment rights
resulting from the allegedly inadequate medical care he
received at Monmouth County Jail and later in state
correctional facilities, this Court construes his complaint
to be raising claims for deliberate indifference to his
serious medical needs against Defendants the Monmouth County
Jail, Dr. Shay, Rutgers University, and the John and Jane Doe
medical defendants who performed his surgeries.
the Court finds that the Monmouth County Jail is not a proper
Defendant in a federal civil rights action. Section 1983
claims may only be brought against "persons," and a
New Jersey county jail is not a "person" amenable
to suit under the statute as it is merely an arm of the
county which operates the jail. See, e.g., Harris v.
Hudson Cnty. Jail, No. 14-6284, 2015 WL 1607703, at *5
(D.N.J. April 8, 2015). The correct Defendant in a §
1983 complaint would instead be the county itself. As
Plaintiffs complaint does not appear to be asserting any
viable claims against the County, and as the jail is not a
proper Defendant, the Monmouth County Jail is dismissed from
this matter with prejudice. Id.
remaining claims, Plaintiff seeks to hold Defendants liable
for denying him proper medical care in violation of the
Eighth Amendment. Generally, a Plaintiff can make out an
Eighth Amendment claim based on deficient medical care in a
prison setting by pleading facts which, if proven, would show
that the defendants were deliberately indifferent to his
serious medical needs. King v. Cnty. of Gloucester,302 Fed.Appx. 92, 96 (3d Cir. 2008) (citing City of
Revere v. Mass. Gen. Hosp.,463 U.S. 239, 243-44
(1983)); see also Estelle v. Gamble,429 U.S. 97,
104 (1976). This requires both that the Plaintiff plead a
sufficiently serious medical need, King, 302 F
App'x at 97, and acts or omissions which indicate that
the defendants were deliberately indifferent to that need -
i.e. that the defendants acted with a reckless disregard for
a substantial risk of harm. See Farmer v. Brennan,511 U.S. 825, 837-38 (1994); Everett v. Nort, 547
Fed.Appx. 117, 121 (3d Cir. 2013). "Deliberate
indifference requires more than inadequate medical attention
or incomplete medical treatment," King, ...