United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
Milton Younge, Judge
Staymar Richard Miller, a prisoner incarcerated at George W.
Hill Correctional Facility (“GWH”), has filed a
civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and
a Motion for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis.
Named as Defendants are unidentified “Keystone Chester
Crozer Hospital Medical Personnel” and Chester Police
Department Officers Kevin Schieler, Walter R. Omlor, L Mack,
and Fraim. For the following reasons, Miller will be
permitted to proceed in forma pauperis, and the
Complaint will be dismissed in part with prejudice and in
part without prejudice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
Complaint in this case is quite brief. Miller asserts that on
February 10, 2019, he was involved in a traffic accident that
led to his being arrested by Chester police
officers. He alleges he was denied medical treatment
at Keystone Chester Crozer Hospital and taken to the Chester
police headquarters. (ECF No. 3 at 3.) He asserts that
he was treated unfairly and assaulted by Schieler, Omlor,
Omlor's son Thomas,  and two or three other officers he is
unable to identify. He seeks damages in the amount of $350,
000 for pain and suffering. (Id. at 7-8.)
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Miller appears to be unable to pay the filing fee in this
matter, the Court will grant him leave to proceed in
forma pauperis. Accordingly, 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) applies, which requires the Court to
dismiss the Complaint if it fails to state a claim. Whether a
complaint fails to state a claim under §
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is governed by the same standard applicable
to motions to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6), see Tourscher v. McCullough, 184 F.3d 236,
240 (3d Cir. 1999), which requires the Court to determine
whether the complaint contains “sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quotations omitted). Conclusory
allegations do not suffice. Id.
a complaint may be dismissed for failing to comply with
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8. Garrett v. Wexford
Health, 938 F.3d 69, 91 (3d Cir. 2019). To conform to
Rule 8, a pleading must contain a short and plain statement
showing that the plaintiff is entitled to relief. See
Travaline v. U.S. Supreme Court, 424 Fed.Appx. 78, 79
(3d Cir. 2011). The Third Circuit recently explained that in
determining whether a pleading meets Rule 8's
“plain” statement requirement, the Court should
“ask whether, liberally construed, a pleading
‘identifies discrete defendants and the actions taken
by these defendants' in regard to the plaintiff's
claims.” Garrett, 938 F.3d at 93 (citation
omitted). A pleading may still satisfy the
“plain” statement requirement “even if it
is vague, repetitious, or contains extraneous
information” and “even if it does not include
every name, date, and location of the incidents at
issue.” Id. at 93-94. The important
consideration for the Court is whether, “a pro se
complaint's language . . . presents cognizable legal
claims to which a defendant can respond on the merits.”
Id. at 94.
“a pleading that is so ‘vague or ambiguous'
that a defendant cannot reasonably be expected to respond to
it will not satisfy Rule 8.” Id. at 93;
see also Fabian v. St. Mary's Med. Ctr., Civ. A.
No. 16-4741, 2017 WL 3494219, at *3 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 11, 2017)
(“Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 requires that
pleadings provide enough information to put a defendant on
sufficient notice to prepare their defense and also ensure
that the Court is sufficiently informed to determine the
issue.”) (quotations omitted). Dismissals under Rule 8
are “‘reserved for those cases in which the
complaint so confused, ambiguous, vague, or otherwise
unintelligible that its true substance, if any, is well
disguised.'” Garrett, 938 F.3d at 94
(quoting Salahuddin v. Cuomo, 861 F.2d 40, 42 (2d
Cir. 1988)). As Miller is proceeding pro se, the
Court construes his allegations liberally. Higgs v.
Att'y Gen., 655 F.3d 333, 339 (3d Cir. 2011).
state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the
violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of
the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation
was committed by a person acting under color of state
law.” West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).
The claim against the Keystone medical personnel must be
dismissed because private hospitals and their employees are
is not “state actors” subject to liability under
§ 1983. See Carver v. Plyer, 115 Fed.Appx. 532,
537 (3d Cir. 2004) (holding that private hospital is not a
state actor under applicable legal tests); Chrupcala v.
Chester Cty. Hosp., Civ. A. No. 00-6027, 2003 WL
21088476, at *3-5 (E.D. Pa. Jan. 29, 2003) (same); Klavan
v. Crozer-Chester Med. Ctr., 60 F.Supp.2d 436, 441 (E.D.
Pa. 1999) (holding that private hospital and its employees
are not state actors under applicable tests). The applicable
tests are the “symbiotic relationship” test and
the “close nexus” test. Klavin, 60
F.Supp.2d at 441-42. Under the “symbiotic
relationship” test, “a private party will be
deemed a state actor if ‘the State has so far
insinuated itself into a position of interdependence [with
the private party] that it must be recognized as a joint
participant in the challenged activity, which, on that
account, cannot be considered to have been so “purely
private” as to fall without the scope of the Fourteenth
Amendment.'” Id. (quoting Burton v.
Wilmington Parking Auth., 365 U.S. 715, 725 (1961)).
Under the “close nexus” test, the inquiry is
‘“whether there is a sufficiently close nexus
between the State and the challenged action of the regulated
entity so that the action of the latter may be fairly treated
as that of the State itself.'” Id.
(quoting Jackson v. Metropolitan Edison Co., 419
U.S. 345, 351 (1974). Miller's allegation that Keystone
employees denied him medical treatment is insufficient to
state a plausible claim that they are state actors.
Accordingly, the § 1983 claim against the Keystone
medical personnel is dismissed.
balance of the allegations in Miller's Complaint are far
too vague and conclusory to state a claim. The allegations
against Defendants Schieler, Omlor, L. Mack and Fraim consist
of the conclusory assertions that they committed assault
and/or treated Miller unfairly. While Miller may be
attempting to raise a constitutional claim based on excessive
force, the conclusory allegations are insufficient to place
the Defendants on notice of the claim asserted against them
and to allow the Court to be properly informed to screen the
claims Miller seeks to raise. Accordingly, the Complaint will
be dismissed without prejudice and Miller will be permitted
an opportunity to file an amended complaint if he is able to
cure the defects the Court has identified.
appropriate Order follows.