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Green v. Slaughter

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

August 29, 2019

CARLTON GREEN, Plaintiff,
v.
J. SLAUGHTER, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          MADELINE COX ARLEO, U.S.D.J.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Carlton Green, currently confined at the Special Treatment Unit ("STU") in Avenel, New Jersey[1], has filed the instant Complaint, alleging violations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff also filed a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP"). The Court will grant Plaintiffs IFP application.

         At this time, the Court must also screen the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) 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 such relief. For the reasons explained below, the Court will dismiss the Complaint's federal claims for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted under § 1915(e)(2)(B) and decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims. The Court will grant Plaintiff leave to submit a proposed Amended Complaint that would also be subject to screening within 30 days with respect to those claims that are dismissed without prejudice.

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff has sued the following individuals employed by the STU in their individual and official capacities: STU Administrator J. Slaughter; STU Associate Administrator Keisha Fisher; STU Assistant Superintendent C. Raupp; Senior Corrections Officer ("SCO") Amaker; Dr. Sumulatha Mannava; and Medical Director Hesham Soliman, as well as nurses Yvonne P. Paden and Jane Doe. Plaintiff seeks declaratory judgment and monetary damages from each defendant. (ECF No. 1, Complaint at ¶ 155.) Plaintiff also seeks injunctive relief from Defendants Slaughter, Fisher, and Raupp in the form of repairs to the elevator in the STU. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that on or about April 29, 2017 at around 5:45 a.m., he began to suffer from chills and shakes while in his cell. (Id. at ¶ 42.) Plaintiff states that when he attempted to use the bathroom, he lost consciousness and fell to the floor. (Id. at ¶¶ 42-44.) Plaintiff contends that although Defendant Amaker was supposed to conduct security rounds at approximately 6:00 a.m., Defendant Amaker never passed by Plaintiffs cell. (Id. at ¶ 47.) As a result, Plaintiff states he remained sprawled on the floor until another resident noticed him at around 8:25 a.m. and alerted Defendant Amaker to Plaintiffs condition. (Id. at ¶¶ 48-50) Defendant Amaker then summoned medical personnel. (Id. at ¶ 50.)

         When Defendant Paden arrived at Plaintiffs cell, Plaintiff was largely unresponsive. (Id. at ¶¶ 52-53.) Defendant Amaker subsequently enlisted two other STU residents to place Plaintiff in a wheelchair and carry him down the stairs to the medical unit. (Id. at ¶ 54.) Plaintiff states that because the elevator in the STU was in disrepair, the other residents were forced to carry him down the stairs in the wheelchair. (Id. at ¶¶ 54-58.) Plaintiff alleges that due to the combined weight of the wheelchair and his person, the residents assisting him lost their grip, dropping the wheelchair. (Id. at ¶ 56.) Plaintiff states he "almost" fell out of the wheelchair and down the remaining stairs. (Id. at ¶ 57.)

         At the STU's medical unit, Plaintiffs vital signs were taken, he was provided with oxygen, and medical personnel called 9-1-1. (Id. at ¶¶ 67-68.) Plaintiff states Defendant Paden then administered three doses of Narcan to him. (Id. at ¶ 69.) Plaintiff admits he was temporarily revived, but only because the Narcan caused him to feel as though he was drowning, (Id.) Once Plaintiff was taken to the hospital, medical staff determined he was suffering from sepsis due to a complication from a urinary tract infection ("UTI"). (Id. at ¶ 73.) Plaintiff alleges hospital medical staff indicated he had been suffering from a UTI for a prolonged period of time. (Id. at ¶74.)

         Plaintiff further alleges that prior to the events of April 29, 2017, he had been chronically ill and seen by Defendant Mannava at least three times. (Id. at ¶ 76.) Each time, Plaintiff states he complained of abdominal pain and difficulty urinating and he requested to visit with a urologist. (Id. at ¶ 77.) Plaintiff alleges Defendant Mannava did not send him to a urologist, but rather had Plaintiffs blood drawn and tested on each of those three visits. (Id. at ¶¶ 78-79.) Plaintiff states that at no time did Defendant Mannava diagnose him as suffering from a UTI. (Id. at ¶ 79.)

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Under the Prisoner Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"), district courts must review complaints in those civil actions in which a person is proceeding in forma pauperis. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). 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. Id. "The legal standard for dismissing a complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § l9l5(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)); Courteau v. United States, 287 Fed.Appx. 159, 162 (3d Cir. 2008) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)).

         Here, Plaintiffs Complaint is subject to screening under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). When reviewing a complaint under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), courts first separate the factual and legal elements of the claims and accept all of the well-pleaded facts as true. See Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009). All reasonable inferences must be made in the plaintiffs favor. See In re Ins. Brokerage Antitrust Litig., 618 F.3d 300, 314 (3d Cir. 2010). The complaint must also allege "sufficient factual matter" to show that the claim is facially plausible. Fowler, 578 F.3d at 210. "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) (citation omitted).

         Courts are required to liberally construe pleadings drafted by pro se parties. See Tucker v. Hewlett Packard, Inc., No. 14-4699, 2015 WL 6560645, at *2 (D.N.J. Oct. 29, 2015) (citing Haines v. Kerner,404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972)). Such pleadings are "held to less strict standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Id. Nevertheless, pro se litigants must still allege facts, which if taken as true, will suggest the required elements of any claim that is asserted. Id. (citing Mala v. Crown Bay Marina, Inc., 704 F.3d 239, 245 (3d Cir. 2013)). To do so, [a plaintiff] must plead enough facts, accepted as true, to plausibly suggest entitlement to relief." Gibney v. Fitzgibbon, 547 Fed.Appx. 111, 113 (3d Cir. 2013) (citing Bistrian v. Levi,696 F.3d 352, 365 (3d Cir. 2012)). "Liberal construction does not, however, require the Court to credit a pro se plaintiffs 'bald assertions' or 'legal conclusions."' Id. (citing Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist.,132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997)). That is, "[e]ven a pro se complaint may be ...


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