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Brown v. Nash

March 22, 2007

ROBERT BROWN PLAINTIFF,
v.
WARDEN JOHN NASH, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Simandle, District Judge

OPINION

This matter comes before this Court upon the motion of Defendant Warden John Nash ("Defendant" or "Warden Nash") to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), or, in the alternative, for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. In this action, Plaintiff Robert Brown ("Plaintiff" or "Mr. Brown") alleges that Defendant exposed him to environmental tobacco smoke ("ETS") at the Federal Correction Institution at Fort Dix ("FCI Fort Dix") in violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. For the following reasons, Defendant's motion for summary judgment will be granted.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Background Facts

Mr. Brown, acting pro se, filed his Original Complaint with this Court on October 19, 2004. (Amended Complaint at 1.) In his Original Complaint, Plaintiff, an inmate at FCI Fort Dix at the time, named as defendants six individuals who were all employed at FCI Fort Dix (hereinafter the "Original Defendants"). (Id. at 3-4.) Plaintiff alleged that the Original Defendants exposed Plaintiff to ETS, also known as secondhand smoke, at FCI Fort Dix in violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. (Id. at 2.)

Specifically, Plaintiff alleged that Warden Nash had "direct knowledge that second hand smoke is harmful . . . ." (Id. at 3.) Plaintiff alleged that Defendants were not enforcing a prison smoking policy regulation, which restricted smoking to designated areas. (Id. at 2.) Other inmates, Plaintiff alleged, were smoking within units, walkways, common areas, and bathrooms and correctional officers were not making their assigned rounds. (Id.) Furthermore, Plaintiff alleged that his allergies were exacerbated by exposure to ETS and that the medical staff told him there was nothing they could do. (Id. at 2.) In the Original Complaint, Plaintiff requested injunctive relief (in the form of this Court banning smoking and the sale of tobacco products at FCI Fort Dix) and money damages. (Id. at 3-4.)

On April 4, 2005, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint in which Plaintiff alleged that, after he had filed the Original Complaint, he was transferred to the Federal Correction Institution at Allenwood ("FCI Allenwood") where he continued to be exposed to ETS. Plaintiff named only Warden Nash and Warden Troy Williamson ("Warden Williamson"), the warden of FCI Fort Allenwood, as defendants in the Amended Complaint.*fn1 (Id.)

In an Order dated August 16, 2005, this Court dismissed Plaintiff's claim against Warden Williamson due to improper venue. See Brown v. Nash, Civ. No. 04-5096 (JBS), at 3 (D.N.J. Aug. 16, 2005). Additionally, the Court specifically stated that "the Amended Complaint filed April 4, 2005 supersedes all prior pleadings; it does not name as defendants several persons named in the original Complaint . . . and the claims against these persons will be dismissed . . . ." Id.

B. Truman Declaration

Defendant filed the present motion (Def's Mem. Supp. Mot. to Dismiss at 1), supported by a Statement of Facts (id. at 4) and the Declaration of Roberta Truman, an attorney for the Federal Bureau of Prisons. (Declaration of Roberta Truman ¶ 1.) The following facts derive from this Statement of Facts and Declaration.

Plaintiff was imprisoned at FCI Fort Dix from February 4, 2004 until January 18, 2005, when he was transferred to FCI Allenwood. (Id. ¶ 2.) Warden Nash was the warden of FCI Fort Dix from August 2004 until December 2005. (Id.) Prior to Warden Nash's tenure, Charles De Rosa was the warden of FCI Fort Dix from June 2002 until June 2004, and Ronnie Holt was the acting warden of FCI Fort Dix from June 2004 until August 2004. (Id.)

On May 3, 2004, Plaintiff filed an administrative remedy request, claiming he was exposed to ETS. (Id.) Warden De Rosa responded to this request on June 4, 2004, informing Plaintiff that FCI Fort Dix had policies in place ensuring that anyone found violating the smoking rules would be subject to discipline, and advising Plaintiff that he should report anyone who violates the smoking rules. (Id.) Plaintiff appealed Warden De Rosa's response to the Regional Director on June 10, 2004. (Id.) The Regional Director responded to this appeal on July 14, 2004, advising Plaintiff of the Bureau of Prison's ("BOP") policies and that he should report anyone who violates the smoking rules. (Id.) Plaintiff appealed the Regional Director's response to the Central Office of General Counsel on July 26, 2004. (Id. ¶ 3.) The Central Office of General Counsel responded to this appeal on September 3, 2004, advising Plaintiff of the policies and that he should report anyone he sees violating the smoking rules. (Id.) These are the only administrative remedies Plaintiff has sought. (Id. ¶ 4-5.)

During the time Plaintiff was imprisoned at FCI Fort Dix, smoking was restricted to certain areas pursuant to two BOP smoking policies. (Id. ΒΆ 3.) According to these policies, for the entire period of time that Plaintiff complained about in his administrative appeals, smoking was prohibited at all entrances and indoor areas at FCI Fort Dix, except the Control Room. (Id.) Additionally, twenty-two inmates from FCI Fort Dix were disciplined for violating the smoking policy ...


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