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Oscar Caesar v. Ronnie Holt

July 23, 2012

OSCAR CAESAR,
PLAINTIFF
v.
RONNIE HOLT, ET AL., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Martin C. Carlson United States Magistrate Judge

Magistrate Judge Carlson

Judge Jones

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

I. Statement of Facts and of the Case

The plaintiff is a federal prisoner housed in the United States Penitentiary, Canaan. Liberally construed, in his complaint, the plaintiff brings a Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA") lawsuit, 28 U.S.C. § 2401, et seq. and 28 U.S.C. § 2675, et seq., against three individual prison officials,*fn1 alleging that the defendants failed to provide him with adequate food and medical care. (Doc. 1.) Specifically, the plaintiff's pro se complaint recites that, on June 25, 2011, the prison served inmates chicken fajitas. (Doc. 1.)

According to the plaintiff, the chicken was bad, and was tainted with salmonella bacteria. (Id.) Consequently, the plaintiff contracted food poisoning, and suffered excruciating pain and symptoms which included headaches, diarrhea, abdominal pains, nausea, chills, vomitting, inability to eat and profuse sweating. (Id.) Alleging negligence on behalf of the defendant prison officials in the preparation and service of this food, as well as in their medical care for the plaintiff once he suffered from salmonella food poisoning, Caesar 's complaint seeks $50,000 in compensatory and punitive damages from each defendant. (Id.) While couched as an action brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2675, et seq., the plaintiff's complaint only names individual prison officials as defendants. No claims are brought by the plaintiff against the United States.

Along with this complaint, the plaintiff has filed a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. 2.) For the reasons set forth below, we will grant this motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, (Doc. 2.), but as part of our legally mandated screening process for pro se, in forma pauperis complaints we recommend that the Federal Tort Claim Act claims set forth against the individual defendants be dismissed.

II. Discussion

A. Screening of Pro Se Prisoner Complaints--Standard of Review

This Court has a statutory obligation to conduct a preliminary review of pro se complaints filed by prisoners who seek leave to proceed in forma pauperis which seek redress against government officials. Specifically, we are obliged to review the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A which provides, in pertinent part:

(a) Screening. - The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.

(b) Grounds for dismissal. - On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or

(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

Under Section 1915A, the court must assess whether a pro se complaint "fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." This statutory text mirrors the language of Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which provides that a complaint should be dismissed for "failure ...


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