YURATOVICH v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION FILED. Signed by Judge Noel L. Hillman on 9/7/17. (js)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
U.S. DEP’T OF JUSTICE, et al.,:
JAMES P. YURATOVICH,
Civ. No. 13-5651 (NLH)
IT APPEARING THAT:
Plaintiff James Yuratovich (“Plaintiff”), an inmate
currently confined at the Federal Correctional Institution in
Fort Dix, New Jersey, filed this civil action, alleging an
Eighth Amendment claim pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named
Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971),
based on the denial of medical treatment for neurological issues
affecting his arms, legs and spine since 2011.
(ECF Nos. 1, 49,
Plaintiff is seeking only injunctive relief;
specifically, that he be evaluated by a neurosurgeon at a
university based medical center and receive any and all
(ECF Nos. 49, 64).
After conducting its initial screening, the Court
permitted Plaintiff’s original Complaint to proceed.
Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 24), which
the Court denied in December 2015 (ECF Nos. 27, 28).
September 2016, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Amend the Complaint,
to which Defendants consented.
(ECF Nos. 49, 55.)
On November 14, 2016, Defendants filed a Motion to
Dismiss the Amended Complaint.
(ECF No. 57.)
Plaintiff did not
oppose the Motion, but instead filed a Motion for Leave to File
a Second Amended Complaint.
(ECF No. 64.)
Plaintiff’s Motion (ECF No. 65) and Plaintiff filed a Reply (ECF
Plaintiff also filed a motion for injunctive relief.
(ECF No. 67.)
In their Opposition to Plaintiff’s motion for
injunctive relief, Defendants provided a certification from
Kevin Cassano, an Assistant Health Services Administrator with
the Bureau of Prisons.
(ECF No. 68-1.)
In that May 22, 2017
Certification, Mr. Cassano stated that Plaintiff was scheduled
to have the requested surgery by Dr. Hanft, a university-based
physician, within seven days.
(Id. at ¶ 4.)
In a subsequent
letter dated June 9, 2017, counsel for Defendants informed the
Court that “Simon J. Hanft, M.D., a neurosurgeon, performed a
laminectomy on plaintiff at Robert Wood Johnson University
Hospital, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, on May 24, 2017.”
Because it appeared that said surgery, performed by a
surgeon at a university-based hospital, provided Plaintiff with
the only relief he was seeking, the Court gave Plaintiff sixty
days to show cause why this case should not be dismissed as
(ECF No. 71.)
As of this date, Plaintiff has not responded to that
Order and has failed to show cause why this case should not be
dismissed as moot.
It is axiomatic that “federal courts are without power
to decide questions that cannot affect the rights of litigants
in the case before them.”
North Carolina v. Rice, 404 U.S. 244,
This inability to decide moot cases derives from
the requirement of Article III of the U.S. Constitution under
which the exercise of judicial power depends upon the existence
of a “case or controversy.”
DeFunis v. Odegaard, 416 U.S. 312
(1974) (citations omitted).
Where an inmate seeks injunctive relief in the form of
an order compelling medical treatment, the claim is mooted by
the delivery of the requested medical care during the pendency
of the litigation.
Orozco-Barajas v. Zickefoose, No. 11-3628,
2013 WL 2096501, at *8 (D.N.J. May 14, 2013); see also
Williamson v. Corr. Med. Serv., Inc., No. 07–4425, 304 F. App’x
36, 37 (3d Cir. Dec. 23, 2008) (claim for order compelling knee
surgery and dental care); McKeithan v. Iannuzzi, Civil Action
No. 10–1751, 2012 WL 2308620, *5 (M.D. Pa. June 18, 2012)
(request for treatment of ingrown toenail); Harris v. Ebbert,
No. 08-2304, 2009 WL 3769776, at *2 (M.D. Pa. Nov. 10, 2009)
(prisoner’s request for injunctive relief to obtain operation is
moot when operation is received).
Therefore, because Plaintiff has received the only
relief sought in his Amended Complaint, and has failed to
respond to the Court’s Order to Show Cause, the Court will
dismiss this case as moot. 1
An appropriate order follows.
Dated: September 7, 2017
At Camden, New Jersey
s/ Noel L. Hillman
NOEL L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.
The Court notes that this case does not meet the narrow exception
to mootness of “a question that is capable of repetition, yet
evading review.” See Abdul-Akbar v. Watson, 4 F.3d 195, 206 (3d
Cir. 1993) (the “capable of repetition” doctrine is limited to
cases presenting two elements: “(1) the challenged action was in
its duration too short to be fully litigated prior to its cessation
or expiration, and (2) there [is] a reasonable likelihood that the
same complaining party would be subjected to the same action
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