United States District Court, D. South Carolina
Darell Andre Fuller Plaintiff, pro se.
Elizabeth Ann Pascal Office of the United States Attorney Counsel for Defendants.
NOEL L. HILLMAN, United States District Judge.
This matter is before the Court upon a motion by Defendants seeking dismissal of certain defendants for lack of jurisdiction. (ECF No. 39). Plaintiff has not filed an opposition. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.
I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On or about June 20, 2012, Plaintiff Darell Andre Fuller submitted a complaint pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Fed. Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388, 91 S.Ct. 1999, 29 L.Ed.2d 619 (1971), alleging that he received inadequate medical care for injuries to his wrist and knee while incarcerated at six different federal correctional institutions. (ECF No. 1).
On June 20, 2012, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granted Plaintiff’s application to proceed in forma pauperis and issued an Order to Answer. (ECF No. 2). On October 10, 2012, the Honorable Michael M. Baylson determined that venue was not proper in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania because none of the institutions identified in Plaintiff’s Complaint were located in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. See 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2). Because the most recent events giving rise to Plaintiff’s claims occurred at the Federal Correctional Institution (“FCI”) in Fairton, New Jersey, Judge Baylson ordered that the case be transferred from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to the District of New Jersey. (ECF No. 9).
In light of the previously issued order to answer, this Court issued summons and directed Defendants to file a responsive pleading on December 3, 2012. (ECF No. 11). On April 1, 2013, the Court denied Plaintiff’s Motion to Appoint Pro Bono Counsel. (ECF No. 16). Plaintiff, who has been released from prison since the filing of this Complaint, filed another application to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 26), and on December 8, 2014, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss and for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 32). In an Order dated August 24, 2015, this Court granted Plaintiff’s request to proceed in forma pauperis; and denied without prejudice Plaintiff’s request for pro bono counsel. (ECF No. 35). The Court also dismissed Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss and for Summary Judgment as procedurally improper, and informed Defendants that they could refile their motions a separate, procedurally appropriate filings. (ECF No. 35). On September 30, 2015, Defendants filed a new motion seeking partial dismissal of the Complaint for lack of jurisdiction. (ECF No. 39). To date, Plaintiff has not filed a response.
A. Allegations of the Complaint
In his Complaint, Plaintiff asserts that the events which give rise to his claims occurred at “FCI Manchester, FCI Edgefield, FCI Williamsburg, FCI Jesup, FCI Bennettsville, [and] FCI Fairton.” (Compl. 3, ECF No. 3). Specifically, Plaintiff explains that in 2002, while incarcerated at FCI Manchester, he sustained an injury to his right knee for which he sought treatment from health services. Plaintiff states that his knee was inspected by the physician’s assistant (“PA”) on duty who instructed Plaintiff to keep ice on it. Sometime thereafter, Plaintiff states that he requested to have an MRI done because he had heard the knee pop and it was still causing him chronic pain. (Compl. 11, ECF No. 3). Plaintiff states that he was “going back and forth with medical staff and the clinic director” when he was transferred to FCI Edgefield in 2002. (Id.).
At FCI Edgefield, Plaintiff states that he spoke with the clinic director regarding his pain in the right knee. He further asserts that he was denied the use of a special knee brace and, as a result, experienced unnecessary pain and suffering. Plaintiff states that an orthopedic specialist ordered an MRI which reported two tears in his right meniscus. (Id.). Plaintiff complained about chronic pain and wanted to undergo surgery to repair the damaged knee. However, Plaintiff was transferred to FCI Williamsburg in 2005 and began the process anew.
At FCI Williamsburg, Plaintiff was given a “sleeve knee brace” to wear on his right knee. (Id.). Plaintiff states that when he explained to the clinic director at FCI Williamsburg about his previous MRIs and his desired treatment, the doctor refused to listen. Accordingly, Plaintiff states that he started the grievance process in 2007. (Compl. 12, ECF No. 3). In response to the grievance, the clinic doctor at FCI Williamsburg reported that Plaintiff did not exhibit any tears or problems with his right knee. Plaintiff asserts that this diagnosis was given without the clinic director reviewing the MRI report in Plaintiff’s medical file. Plaintiff states that the clinic director changed Plaintiff’s care level from “care level one to care level two to transfer Plaintiff to FCI Jesup in 2007.” (Id.).
At FCI Jesup, Plaintiff states he started the medical process over again by going to sick call and the chronic care clinic to request treatment for his knee. Plaintiff states that he was given another “sleeve knee brace” and he received another MRI examination. The new MRI also revealed two tears in the right knee meniscus. Plaintiff requested to be examined by an orthopedic doctor for his pain. However, after talking with medical staff - including “Dr. Chip [and] PA Wicker” - Plaintiff’s care level was changed from care level two to care level one and he was transferred to FCI Bennettsville in 2008. (Id.).
At FCI Bennettsville, Plaintiff again requested surgery. Plaintiff states that the clinic director told Plaintiff that the surgery he requested “is elective surgery for a knee injury.” (Compl. 12, ECF No. 3). Plaintiff states that he started to file a tort claim regarding his knee injury, at which point his care level was changed from one, back to two, and he was transferred back to FCI Jesup in 2008. (Compl. 13, ECF No. 3).
At FCI Jesup, Plaintiff again returned to sick call and to the chronic care clinic to seek treatment for his knee. He also informed PA Wicker of a new injury to his left wrist. Plaintiff received an x-ray of his wrist in 2009 which resulted in a diagnosis of “slack wrist.” (Compl. 13, ECF No. 3). PA Wicker issued Plaintiff a left wrist brace and sent Plaintiff to see the orthopedic doctor in December of 2009. Plaintiff states that the orthopedic doctor ordered surgery on the right knee meniscus. Plaintiff further states that PA Wicker told him that the paperwork ordering the surgery would follow him to the drug program at FCI Fairton. Plaintiff indicated that he wanted to have the surgery immediately, before he had to leave FCI Jesup. However, the surgery was not performed, and PA Wicker informed Plaintiff that there was nothing that could be done about the slack left wrist. Plaintiff asserts that “PA Wicker and the clinic director put elective surgery in Plaintiff[‘s] medical file[.]” (Compl. 13, ECF No. 3).
After Plaintiff arrived at FCI Fairton in 2010, Plaintiff reported to sick call and requested to have the surgery on his right knee, and sought treatment for his left wrist. Plaintiff states that the clinic director, Dr. Morales, told him that FCI Fairton does not perform knee or wrist surgery because it is elective. (Id.). Plaintiff states that, at this time, he also had carpal tunnel syndrome in his right wrist. An “EMG” was ordered on both of Plaintiff’s wrists in 2010. (Compl. 14, ECF No. 3). Nevertheless, Plaintiff states he filed grievances for the chronic pain in his right knee and wrist. In 2011, an EMG was performed on Plaintiff which confirmed carpal tunnel syndrome in Plaintiff’s right wrist. Plaintiff states that he returned to the chronic care clinic and requested to have an MRI done on his left wrist and right knee. Instead, Plaintiff explains that an x-ray was performed because Dr. Morales “[did] not believe in MRI and [did] not believe in knee surgery.” (Id.). Plaintiff told Dr. Morales about his chronic pain; specifically, the pain he was experiencing while sleeping and walking. However, Plaintiff did not receive the surgery he desired.
In conclusion, Plaintiff asserts that the medical professionals named in his Complaint improperly delayed or denied surgery on his right knee and denied him medical treatment on his wrists in violation of his rights under the Eighth Amendment. (Compl. 14-15, ECF No. 3). Plaintiff further implies that he was denied “due process of law under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment[s]” (Compl. 15, ECF No. 3), though he does not elaborate on this claim.
Plaintiff names as Defendants the “clinic directors” at the six Federal Correction Institutions in which he was incarcerated; namely, the Clinical Directors at FCI Manchester, FCI Edgefield, FIC Williamsburg, FCI Jesup, FCI Bennettsville, and FCI Fairton. He also names ...