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Joseph Anthony Brown v. United States of America

November 28, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael J. Seng United States Magistrate Judge



Plaintiff Joseph Anthony Brown, a federal prisoner proceeding pro se, filed this action on September 15, 2011 pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). (Compl., ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction. (Consent, ECF No. 6.)

Plaintiff's Complaint was screened by the Court and dismissed for failure to state a claim, but Plaintiff was given leave to file an amended complaint. (Order Dismiss Compl., ECF No. 12.)

On March 28, 2012, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint (First Am. Compl., ECF No. 16) which the Court screened and dismissed, with leave to amend, for failure to state a claim. (Order Dismiss. First Am. Compl., ECF No. 22.) Plaintiff filed a Third Amended Complaint (Third Am. Compl., ECF No. 42) prior to screening of his lodged Second Amended Complaint. (Second Am. Compl., ECF No. 34.) He then lodged a Third Amended Complaint (Lodged Third Amended Complaint, ECF No. 51) prior to the screening of his previously filed Third Amended Complaint. The Court ordered the Lodged Third Amended Complaint be filed as the Fourth Amended Complaint. (Order Directing Clerk, ECF No. 52.) The Fourth Amended Complaint (Fourth Am. Compl., ECF No. 53) is now before the Court for screening.


The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally "frivolous, malicious," or that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1),(2). "Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . the action or appeal . . . fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

Section 1983 "provides a cause of action for the 'deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws' of the United States." Wilder v. Virginia Hosp. Ass'n, 496 U.S. 498, 508 (1990), quoting 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Section 1983 is not itself a source of substantive rights, but merely provides a method for vindicating federal rights conferred elsewhere. Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 393-94 (1989).


Plaintiff is in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons ("FBP") at the United States Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. He claims Defendants, mental health professionals at various FBP facilities, were deliberately indifferent and negligent as to his mental illnesses and denied him care and treatment.

In 2009, Plaintiff was examined by a non-FBP criminal defense psychiatrist who, according to Plaintiff, opined Plaintiff suffered from "a pyschotic condition of chronic post-traumatic stress disorder" exacerbated by years of isolated confinement and housing in the Segregated Housing Unit ("SHU").*fn1 (Fourth Am. Compl. at 3, 7-15.)

Plaintiff alleges that at unspecified times and at various FBP facilities he told Defendants of his underlying traumatic events. Nevertheless, Defendants failed to properly diagnose and treat his serious mental condition in violation of his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. (Id. at 3.)

He claims injuries that include flashbacks, nightmares, depression, sleeplessness, mood swings, amnesia, self-inflicting behavior, mental imbalance, suicidal thoughts, and impairment of mental functions. (Id.)

He names the following Defendants (1) Slate, Psy.D., Edgefield FCI, (2) Mitchell, Psy.D., Allenwood, USP, (3) Duncan, Psy.D., Atlanta USP, (4) Pinnix-Hall, Psy.D., Atlanta USP, (5) Jaszkowiak, Psy.D., Beaumont USP, (6) Schlak, Psy.D., Edgefield FCI, (7) Fernandez, Ph.D., Atlanta USP, (8) Oliver, Psy.D., Atlanta USP, (9) Hauser, Psy.D., Atlanta USP, (10) Ray, Psy.D., Victorville, USP, (11) Pacheco, Psy.D., Victorville USP, (12) Smith, Psy.D., Beaumont USP, (13) Grimm, Psy.D., Hazelton USP.*fn2 (Id.)

He seeks monetary compensation. (Id.)


A. Pleading Requirements Generally

A complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief . . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009), citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A plaintiff must set forth "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim that is plausible on its face.'" Id. Facial plausibility demands more than the mere possibility that a defendant committed misconduct and, while factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id. at 1949--50.

Under Bivens, a plaintiff may sue a federal officer in his or her individual capacity for damages for violating the plaintiff's constitutional rights. See Bivens 403 U.S. at 397. To state a claim a plaintiff must allege: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution of the United States was violated, and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a federal actor.*fn3

B. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 18(a)

"Fed. R. Civ. P. 18(a) [states that]: A party asserting a claim to relief as an original claim, counterclaim, cross-claim, or third-party claim, may join, either as independent or as alternate claims, as many claims, legal, equitable, or maritime, as the party has against an opposing party. Thus multiple claims against a single party are fine, but Claim A against Defendant 1 should not be joined with unrelated Claim B against Defendant 2. Unrelated claims against different defendants belong in different suits, not only to prevent the sort of morass [a multiple claim, multiple defendant] suit produce[s], but also to ensure that prisoners pay the required filing fees - for the Prison Litigation Reform Act limits to 3 the ...

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