CAPERS v. LANIGAN
OPINION. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 12/23/2016. (TH, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
KEITH MICHAEL CAPERS,
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
No. 15-3279 (JBS-KMW)
GARY M. LANIGAN, et al.,
Keith Michael Capers, Plaintiff Pro Se
South Woods State Prison
215 Burlington Road South
Bridgeton, NJ 08302
SIMANDLE, Chief Judge:
Before the Court is Plaintiff Keith Michael Capers’
(“Plaintiff”), submission of a proposed second amended civil
rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. SAC, Docket Entry
Plaintiff is a convicted and sentenced state prisoner
currently confined at South Woods State Prison (“SWSP”),
Bridgeton, New Jersey. By Order dated May 27, 2015, this Court
dismissed Plaintiff’s original complaint for failure to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted, 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii), and for seeking monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief, 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B)(iii). The Court also granted leave to file a
proposed amended complaint within 30 days, which Plaintiff
submitted on June 30, 2015. First Amended Complaint (“FAC”),
Docket Entry 5. The Court dismissed the FAC for failure to state
a claim on September 30, 2015, but granted Plaintiff another
opportunity to amend his complaint. Plaintiff submitted his SAC
on December 7, 2015.
For the reasons set forth below, the second amended
complaint will be dismissed with prejudice for failure to state
a claim, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).
According to the SAC, Dr. Javier Taboada, a neurology
consultant, prescribed Plaintiff physical therapy and Botox
injections to treat a stroke he suffered in 2010 while he was
confined in the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center (“ADTC”).
SAC at 7. Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff was transferred to SWSP
for treatment. Id.
On June 12, 2011, Nurse Renee Mills “released Capers from
SWSP-ECU without any medical treatment and physical therapy.”
Id. The SWSP Classification Committee thereafter assigned him to
the “cell sanitation/Temp Med.” work detail on June 16, 2011.
Id. He was transferred back to the ADTC on September 20, 2011.
Id. Officer Martinzes confiscated his “medical devices” on
September 13, 2013, before sending Plaintiff back to SWSP. Id.
at 7-8. Plaintiff complained about not receiving his treatment
and therapy and the confiscation of his medical devices. A few
months later, he received his blood-pressure medication and
vitamins as well as his “personal property.” Id. He was placed
on the waiting list for physical therapy and the Department of
Corrections approved the replacement of his medical devices. Id.
He has not received his Botox treatments, however. Id.
Plaintiff asks this Court to order Defendants to pay for
Plaintiff’s Botox treatment and therapy, attorneys fees and
costs, and compensatory and punitive damages. Id. at 9.
A. Standards for a Sua Sponte Dismissal
Per the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. No. 104-134,
§§ 801-810, 110 Stat. 1321-66 to 1321-77 (April 26, 1996)
(“PLRA”), district courts must review complaints in those civil
actions in which a prisoner is proceeding in forma pauperis, see
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), seeks redress against a governmental
employee or entity, see 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), or brings a claim
with respect to prison conditions, see 42 U.S.C. § 1997e. 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. This action is subject
to sua sponte screening for dismissal under 28 U.S.C. §§
1915(e)(2)(b) and 1915A because Plaintiff is a prisoner
proceeding in forma pauperis and is seeking relief from a
In determining the sufficiency of a pro se complaint, the
Court must be mindful to construe it liberally in favor of the
plaintiff. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93–94 (2007)
(following Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)); see also
United States v. Day, 969 F.2d 39, 42 (3d Cir. 1992).
According to the Supreme Court’s decision in Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, “a pleading that offers ‘labels or conclusions’ or ‘a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). To survive sua sponte
screening for failure to state a claim, 1 the complaint must
allege “sufficient factual matter” to show that the claim is
facially plausible. Fowler v. UPMS Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210
(3d Cir. 2009) (citation omitted). “A claim has facial
“The legal standard for dismissing a complaint for failure to
state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(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 F. App’x
120, 122 (3d Cir. 2012) (citing Allah v. Seiverling, 229 F.3d
220, 223 (3d Cir. 2000)); Mitchell v. Beard, 492 F. App’x 230,
232 (3d Cir. 2012) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1));
Courteau v. United States, 287 F. App’x. 159, 162 (3d Cir. 2008)
(discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)).
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)
(quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). Moreover, while pro se
pleadings are liberally construed, they “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)
B. Section 1983 Actions
A plaintiff may have a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 for certain violations of his constitutional rights.
Section 1983 provides in relevant part:
Every person who, under color of any statute,
ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State
or Territory ... subjects, or causes to be subjected,
any citizen of the United States or other person
within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of
any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the
Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party
injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other
proper proceeding for redress ....
42 U.S.C. § 1983. Thus, to state a claim for relief under §
1983, a plaintiff must allege, first, the violation of a right
secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States and,
second, that the alleged deprivation was committed or caused by
a person acting under color of state law. See West v. Atkins,
487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Malleus v. George, 641 F.3d 560, 563 (3d
Cir. 2011); Piecknick v. Pennsylvania, 36 F.3d 1250, 1255-56 (3d
The SAC, like the two previously filed complaints, fails to
sufficiently allege violations of Plaintiff’s constitutional
right to adequate medical care. In order to set forth a
cognizable claim for violations of this right, an inmate must
allege: (1) a serious medical need; and (2) behavior on the part
of prison officials that constitutes deliberate indifference to
that need. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). Accepting
the allegations in the complaint as true for screening purposes,
there are sufficient facts for the Court to infer Plaintiff’s
stroke left him with medical needs for which a doctor prescribed
Botox treatments. However, the complaint does not sufficiently
allege any deliberate indifference to those needs by the
Deliberate indifference involves the “wanton infliction of
unnecessary pain.” Id. at 105. It is more than mere negligence,
and may be found where the prison official (1) knows of a
prisoner's need for medical treatment but intentionally refuses
to provide it; (2) intentionally delays necessary medical
treatment based on a non-medical reason; or (3) deliberately
prevents a prisoner from receiving needed medical treatment. See
Pierce v. Pitkins, 520 F. App’x 64, 66 (3d Cir. 2013) (citing
Rouse v. Plantier, 182 F.3d 192, 197 (3d Cir. 1999)). The SAC
does not contain facts that would support a reasonable inference
any of the Defendants had the necessary state of mind for
deliberate indifference. A conclusory statement that Plaintiff
has not received his Botox treatment is not enough. Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)(“Threadbare recitals of the
elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, do not suffice.”); see also Fowler v. UPMC
Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 211 (3d Cir. 2009)(“[A] complaint must
do more than allege the plaintiff's entitlement to relief. A
complaint has to 'show' such an entitlement with its facts.”).
There must be specific facts that indicate Defendants were
personally involved in denying Plaintiff his treatment and that
they did so intentionally. In the absence of such facts, the SAC
must be dismissed at this time.
The SAC is also deficient as Plaintiff’ claims against
Nurse Mills appear to be barred by the statute of limitations.
Claims under § 1983 are governed by New Jersey’s two-year
statute of limitations on personal injury claims. Green v. New
Jersey, 625 F. App'x 73, 76 (3d Cir. 2015). Plaintiff states
Nurse Mills released him from the medical unit of SWSP without
any treatment on June 12, 2011. SAC at 7. Even if there were
sufficient facts to make out a deliberate indifference claim,
the statute of limitations expired on June 12, 2013, well before
the original complaint was filed on May 12, 2015.
Finally, the factual portion of the complaint is entirely
silent as to the allegedly unconstitutional actions of Officers
Ottaviano and Christy. Id. at 4-5. Plaintiff only states that
Ottaviano “confined Plaintiff to detention and caused further
injury as a result of an acute cerebrovascular accident while at
the state prison,” and that Christy “imposed disciplinary
sanctions on Plaintiff and inflicted further injury as a result
of an acute cerebrovascular accident while at the state prison.”
Id. These statements are too vague for the Court to discern what
claims Plaintiff is attempting to set forth and the factual
underpinnings of the claims. Plaintiff must be able to set forth
the specific injuries allegedly inflicted and other facts that
show “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully.” Connelly v. Lane Const. Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 786
(3d Cir. 2016) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).
Plaintiff has already been given two additional
opportunities to cure the deficiencies of his original
Complaint. On both occasions, the Court explained the legal
standard for claiming a violation of the Eighth Amendment right
to adequate medical care. The Court can only conclude that
Plaintiff is unable to allege facts sufficient to state a claim
for an Eighth Amendment violation. Accordingly, the Court
concludes that permitting further amendment would be futile and
will dismiss the Second Amended Complaint with prejudice. See
Hoffenberg v. Bumb, 446 F. App'x 394, 399 (3d Cir. 2011); Rhett
v. N.J. State Superior Court, 260 F. App'x 513, 516 (3d Cir.
2008) (affirming dismissal with prejudice after District Court
gave pro se plaintiff several opportunities to comply with Rule
For the reasons stated above, the second amended complaint is
dismissed for failure to state a claim. An appropriate order
December 23, 2016
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
Chief U.S. District Judge
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