The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOSEPH IRENAS, District Judge
Plaintiff James Fish, a prisoner currently confined at Southern
State Correctional Facility in Delmont, New Jersey, seeks to
bring this action in forma pauperis pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of his constitutional rights. Based on
his affidavit of indigence and the absence of three qualifying
dismissals within 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g), the Court will grant
Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) and order the Clerk of the Court
to file the Complaint. At this time, the Court must review the Complaint to determine
whether it should be dismissed as frivolous or malicious, for
failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or
because it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune
from such relief.
The following factual allegations are taken from Plaintiff's
Complaint and are accepted as true for purposes of this review.
On May 16, 2004, while Plaintiff was attending a T.P.R. meeting
of the Gateway Foundation Pier Program, fellow prisoner Joseph
Sharp was acting out a part and crashed into Plaintiff with
enough force to slam him into a stainless steel table, causing
him pain to his lower and upper back. A correctional officer then
sent him to the nurse.
Petitioner seeks compensatory damages from Defendants New
Jersey Department of Corrections, the Gateway Foundation Pier
Program, and Joseph Sharp.
This Court construes the Complaint as alleging an Eighth
Amendment failure-to-protect claim against the New Jersey
Department of Corrections and the Gateway Foundation Pier
Program, and as alleging a pendent state law negligence claim
against Joseph Sharp. II. STANDARDS FOR A SUA SPONTE DISMISSAL
This Court must dismiss, at the earliest practicable time,
certain in forma pauperis and prisoner actions that are
frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim, or seek monetary
relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) (in forma pauperis actions);
28 U.S.C. § 1915A (actions in which prisoner seeks redress from a
governmental defendant); 42 U.S.C. § 1997e (prisoner actions
brought with respect to prison conditions).
In determining the sufficiency of a pro se complaint, the
Court must be mindful to construe it liberally in favor of the
plaintiff. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972);
United States v. Day, 969 F.2d 39, 42 (3d Cir. 1992). The Court
must "accept as true all of the allegations in the complaint and
all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom, and view
them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Morse v.
Lower Merion School Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997). The
Court need not, however, credit a pro se plaintiff's "bald
assertions" or "legal conclusions." Id.
A pro se complaint may be dismissed for failure to state a
claim only if it appears "`beyond doubt that the plaintiff can
prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle
him to relief.'" Haines, 404 U.S. at 521 (quoting Conley v.
Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957)); Milhouse v. Carlson, 652 F.2d 371, 373 (3d Cir. 1981). Where a complaint can be remedied by an
amendment, a district court may not dismiss the complaint with
prejudice, but must permit the amendment. Denton v. Hernandez,
504 U.S. 25, 34 (1992); Grayson v. Mayview State Hospital,
293 F.3d 103, 108 (3d Cir. 2002) (dismissal pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)); Shane v. Fauver, 213 F.3d 113, 116-17 (3d Cir.
2000) (dismissal pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1)); Urrutia
v. Harrisburg County Police Dept., 91 F.3d 451, 453 (3d Cir.
III. SECTION 1983 ACTIONS
A plaintiff may have a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
for certain violations of his constitutional rights. Section 1983
provides in relevant part:
Every person who, under color of any statute,
ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State
or Territory . . . subjects, or causes to be
subjected, any citizen of the United States or other
person within the jurisdiction thereof to the
deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities
secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable
to the party injured in an action at law, suit in
equity, or other proper proceeding for redress. . . .
Thus, to state a claim for relief under § 1983, a plaintiff must
allege, first, the violation of a right secured by the
Constitution or laws of the United States and, second, that the
alleged deprivation was committed or caused by a person acting
under color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42
(1988); Piecknick v. Pennsylvania, 36 F.3d 1250
, 1255-56 (3d
Cir. 1994). IV. ANALYSIS
A. The Eighth Amendment Claim
Under the Eighth Amendment, prison officials have a duty to
provide humane conditions of confinement, including adequate
food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and personal safety.
Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994); Young v.
Quinlan, 960 F.2d 351, 364 (3d Cir. 1992). Accordingly, prison
officials must take reasonable measures "to protect prisoners
from violence at the hands of other prisoners." Farmer,
511 U.S. at 833 (1994) (internal quotations omitted). "Being
violently assaulted in prison is simply `not part of the ...