Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

JORDAN v. NEW JERSEY DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS

March 31, 1995

STEVEN JORDAN, Plaintiff,
v.
NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, WILLIAM H. FAUVER, DONALD E. LEWIS, GEORGE SCHLEY, GREGORY RIGGS, DAVID KERSHAW, WILLIAM VARELL, ANTHONY MUNS, LINDA LINGO, DONALD WILLIAMS, JEFFERY FOWLER, RICKY SANTOS, BLAINE E. DAWSON, ANDY JIMINEZ, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOSEPH H. RODRIGUEZ

 RODRIGUEZ, District Judge:

 This matter is before the court on the motion of defendants New Jersey Department of Corrections ("DOC") and William Fauver to dismiss plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Also before the court is the motion of defendants DOC, Fauver, Donald Lewis, Gregory Riggs, David Kershaw, William Varell, Anthony Muns, Linda Lingo, Jeffrey Fowler, Ricky Santos, Blaine Dawson and Andy Jiminez to dismiss plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and/or for summary judgment. For the following reasons, the court will grant defendants' motions to dismiss and/or for summary judgment.

 I. BACKGROUND

 Plaintiff pro se Steven Jordan is a New Jersey state prisoner currently incarcerated at East Jersey State Prison in Rahway, New Jersey. From July 12, 1993 until sometime in September 1994, plaintiff was incarcerated at Riverfront State Prison in Camden, New Jersey. On May 12, 1994, plaintiff filed a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that prison officials at Riverfront were violating plaintiff's constitutional rights in a variety of ways.

 Specifically, plaintiff's complaint contains five distinct allegations of constitutional violations by prison officials at Riverfront. First, plaintiff claims that his Eighth Amendment right to freedom from cruel and unusual punishments was violated by defendants Riggs, Kershaw, Dawson, Lewis, Schley, Williams, Varell, Muns, Lingo, Fowler, Santos and Jiminez when plaintiff was housed with a series of cellmates who were cigarette smokers. *fn1" Second, plaintiff alleges that those defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs which resulted from his exposure to excessive second-hand smoke, also in violation of the Eighth Amendment. *fn2" Third, plaintiff claims that his First Amendment right of access to the courts was violated by defendants Williams and Fowler, who allegedly read plaintiff's legal mail on separate occasions. Fourth, plaintiff claims that his First Amendment right of access to the courts was violated when his legal mail was allegedly mishandled by personnel in the prison business office. Finally, plaintiff claims that his Eighth Amendment right to freedom from cruel and unusual punishment was violated when he was housed in a unit with an allegedly high noise level. Plaintiff has brought these claims against all named defendants in both their official and individual capacities. Plaintiff seeks compensatory, punitive and exemplary damages in the amount of $ 1 million dollars, plus injunctive relief.

 On July 28, 1994, defendants DOC and Fauver filed the first motion to dismiss plaintiff's complaint, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. On August 15, 1994, defendants DOC, Fauver and the other defendants filed the second motion to dismiss plaintiff's complaint, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, and/or for summary judgment, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56.

 II. DISCUSSION

 A. Standard on Motion to Dismiss

 A district court considering a motion to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) may not grant the motion "unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236, 40 L. Ed. 2d 90, 94 S. Ct. 1683 (1974) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 2 L. Ed. 2d 80, 78 S. Ct. 99 (1957). The court must accept as true the facts pleaded in the complaint and any and all reasonable inferences that may be drawn from those facts. Unger v. National Residents Matching Program, 928 F.2d 1392, 1400 (3d Cir. 1991); Glenside West Corp. v. Exxon Co. U.S.A., 761 F. Supp. 1100, 1107 (D.N.J. 1991); Gutman v. Howard Sav. Bank, 748 F. Supp. 254, 260 (D.N.J. 1990).

 To state a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege a violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States committed by a person or persons "acting under color of State law." West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48, 101 L. Ed. 2d 40, 108 S. Ct. 2250 (1988). The Third Circuit requires "that a civil rights complaint under § 1983 must set forth with factual specificity the conduct of the plaintiffs alleged to have caused harm to the plaintiff." Darr v. Wolfe, 767 F.2d 79, 80 (3d Cir. 1985). However, pro se submissions "must be held to 'less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'" Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106, 50 L. Ed. 2d 251, 97 S. Ct. 285 (1976), reh'g denied, 429 U.S. 1066, 50 L. Ed. 2d 785, 97 S. Ct. 798 (1977) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. at 45-46). A court must assume a pro se plaintiff's factual allegations are true and construe his claim liberally. See Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 330 n.9, 104 L. Ed. 2d 338, 109 S. Ct. 1827 (1989); Roman v. Jeffes, 904 F.2d 192, 197 (3d Cir. 1990).

 B. Standard on Motion for Summary Judgment

 The entry of summary judgment is appropriate only when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986). If a disputed fact exists that, under the controlling law, might affect the outcome of the suit, the entry or summary judgment is precluded. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986).

 The moving party has the initial burden of demonstrating that no genuine issue of material fact exists. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. Once the moving party has met its opening burden, the non-moving party must present affirmative evidence that a material fact is genuine. Id. at 324. An issue is "genuine" if it is supported by evidence such that a reasonable jury might return a verdict in the non-moving party's favor. Equimark Comm. Fin. Co. v. C.I.T. Fin. Co., 812 F.2d 141, 144 (3d Cir. 1987).

 When a motion for summary judgment is made and properly supported, the non-moving party may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of its pleadings. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. Rather, the non-moving party must set forth, by affidavits or otherwise, specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id. "When the record is such that it would not support a rational finding that an essential element of the nonmoving party's claim or defense exists, ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.