GILLIE v. ESPOSITO et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION FILED. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 12/22/16. (js)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
DONTA TYRONE GILLIE,
No. 14-3704 (JBS-JS)
STEVEN ESPOSITO, et al.,
SIMANDLE, Chief District Judge
This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Donta
Tyrone Gillie’s (“Plaintiff”) Motion to Amend the Complaint,
Motion for Leave to Amend, Docket Entry 15. This motion is being
considered on the papers pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 78(b).
On June 10, 2014, Plaintiff submitted a civil
complaint alleging his Eighth Amendment right to adequate
medical care was violated by three employees of FCI Fort Dix:
physician’s assistant Steven Esposito, Dr. Pradip Patel, and
Clinical Director Abigail Lopez de Lasalle. Complaint, Docket
Entry 1. He alleged Esposito had failed to adequately treat his
injured left wrist, which was later diagnosed as being a
“nondisplaced scaphoid waist [sic] fracture.” Id. ¶ 10.
Plaintiff later had surgery on his wrist and needed a bone graft
and bone marrow from his hip for his wrist. Id. at 15. Plaintiff
alleges that he has lost full range of motion in his wrist due
to the delay in treatment.
Plaintiff further alleged Dr. Patel and Ms. de Lasalle
were liable for failing to supervise Esposito and failing to
supervise and train the medical staff, respectively.
The Court granted Plaintiff’s motion to proceed in
forma pauperis, and screened the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
The Court concluded that “Plaintiff’s complaints about
the adequacy of treatment and Esposito’s alleged
unprofessionalism are negligence and medical malpractice claims,
not constitutional violations.” Slip Opinion, Docket Entry 11 at
9. It further found that Plaintiff had not sufficiently alleged
constitutional violations against Dr. Patel and Ms. de Lasalle
for failure to train and supervise, id., and that any claim
under the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”) could not proceed at
that time as Plaintiff had not submitted a notice of claim form,
id. at 12. The Court dismissed the complaint without prejudice
for failure to state a claim, but granted Plaintiff leave to
Plaintiff submitted a motion to amend the complaint on
April 6, 2016, as well as a proposed amended complaint. Amended
Complaint, Docket Entry 15. As Plaintiff is a prisoner
proceeding in forma pauperis and is raising conditions of
confinement claims against government employees, the proposed
amended complaint is subject to screening by this Court. See 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).
Leave to amend a pleading may be denied where the
court finds: (1) undue delay; (2) undue prejudice to the nonmoving party; (3) bad faith or dilatory motive; or (4) futility
of amendment. Shane v. Fauver, 213 F.3d 113, 115 (3d Cir. 2000).
“‘Futility’ means that the complaint, as amended, would fail to
state a claim upon which relief could be granted.” Id.
After reviewing the proposed amended complaint, the
Court concludes that only the FTCA claim against the United
States may proceed at this time. 1
Plaintiff asserts Esposito, Patel, and Lasalle
(collectively “individual defendants”) violated his Eighth
Amendment right to adequate medical care. The facts set forth in
the proposed amended complaint are substantially identical to
the facts in the original complaint, however, and are
insufficient to meet the pleading standards for Eighth Amendment
violations for the same reasons set forth in this Court’s prior
The United States is immune from suits for monetary damages in
actions brought pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents
of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). The FTCA
“operates as a limited waiver of the United States's sovereign
immunity.” White–Squire v. U.S. Postal Serv., 592 F.3d 453, 456
(3d Cir. 2010).
Opinion and Order. The proposed amendment to assert an Eighth
Amendment constitutional violation would thus be futile.
Additionally, Plaintiff consistently asserts the
individual defendants acted “negligently” and “[f]ailed to
provide treatment to Plaintiff in a manner consistent with
current medical knowledge and consistent with accepted community
standards.” Amended Complaint at 5. “Claims of negligence,
without some more culpable state of mind, do not constitute
‘deliberate indifference.’” Owens v. Coleman, 629 F. App'x 163,
167 (3d Cir. 2015); see also Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106
(1976) (“[A] complaint that a physician has been negligent in
diagnosing or treating a medical condition does not state a
valid claim of medical mistreatment under the Eighth
Amendment.”). He also does not allege facts suggesting the
individual defendants were personally involved in the failure to
prescribe medication post-surgery or placing him on the first
floor. Amended Complaint at 16 ¶ 16.
The proposed amended complaint also does not address
the deficiencies noted by the Court in Plaintiff’s failure to
train and failure to supervise claims. 2
Plaintiff alleges Dr. Patel and Ms. Lasalle were deliberately
indifferent to his condition as they were aware of unspecified
“deficiencies” in Fort Dix’s medical services. Amended Complaint
at 8. He cites no facts in support of his allegations, but
asserts a Freedom of Information Act request he submitted “will
Plaintiff has sufficiently alleged tort claims under
the FTCA, however, and has provided a notice of claim with his
amended complaint. Amended Complaint at 18. As FTCA claims may
only proceed against the United States, CNA v. United States,
535 F.3d 132, 138 n.2 (3d Cir. 2008), the complaint will be
dismissed as to all the individual defendants 3 and will proceed
against only the United States.
An appropriate Order follows.
December 22, 2016
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
Chief U.S. District Judge
conclusively show that administrators were aware of the
deficiencies and did nothing to correct them.” Id. In the
absence of any factual support, the claims against Dr. Patel and
Ms. Lasalle cannot proceed at this time. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
3 To the extent Plaintiff asks the Court to enter a declaratory
judgment of negligence against the individual defendants, the
Court will dismiss those claims as well. “The purpose of a
declaratory judgment is to ‘declare the rights of litigants.’
The remedy is thus by definition prospective in nature.” CMR
D.N. Corp. v. City of Phila., 703 F.3d 612, 628 (3d Cir. 2013)
(quoting Wilton v. Seven Falls Co., 515 U.S. 277, 286 (1995)).
Plaintiff “cannot obtain declaratory relief for past alleged
wrongs.” Capozzi v. Bledsoe, 560 F. App'x 157, 159 (3d Cir.
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