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Haines v. Jack Does 1-40

April 11, 2008

CHARLES HAINES, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JACK DOES 1-40, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.
JAMES WILLIAMS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JACK DOES 1-40, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Stanley R. Chesler United States District Judge

OPINION

APPLIES TO BOTH ACTIONS

This matter comes before the Court upon submission of "re-amended" complaints by Plaintiff Charles Haines ("Haines") and James Williams ("Williams"). The now-extensive history of both litigations was recently summarized by this Court in an order issued on February 27, 2008, see Haines v. Does, 07-5387, Docket Entry No. 13; Williams v. Does, 07-5395, Docket Entry No. 10, and additional discussions of how these actions were originated, what were the facts initially pled and how those original pleadings were altered by Haines and Williams' amended complains, as well as which legal standards were applied by Judge William J. Martini and, later on, by this Court and what shortcomings were detected by Judge Martini and this Court could be found by the reader in Haines v. Does, 07-5387, Docket Entries Nos. 2, 8 and 11; Williams v. Does, 07-5395, Docket Entries Nos. 2, 7 and 8.

A detailed recitation of dozens of pages containing previous discussions appears to be wholly unnecessary at the instant juncture, since the parties' familiarity with their own matters is presumed. It shall suffice, therefore, to: (a) state merely that both Plaintiffs are involuntarily civilly-committed persons confined at the Special Treatment Unit Annex, Avenel, New Jersey ("Facility"): and (b) provide a three-page reminder of the facts and issues at hand.

The events underlying both actions were summarized by Judge Martini as follows: the chain of August 30th events started at 8:25 A.M. with the appearance of an unnamed corrections officer, who was "with a 'gun.'" Allegedly, [ten] minutes later [Plaintiffs] were "pat-searched and led to the Rec[reation] Yard" [where they] were handed cups and served with . . . water [that was] insufficiently chilled [and provided in ammounts less than those desired by Plaintiffs. A few minutes later], the Facility officials brought drug-sniffing canines into the Facility and began a search for controlled substances [and a] search of the external parts of the Facility and adjoining trailers. After the search was completed, Plaintiffs were ordered to line up in the recreation yard . . . and . . . brought into the Facility for lunch. . . . Plaintiffs assert[ed] that Plaintiffs experienced "intimidation" during their return to the Facility as a result of a "show of force" which ensued from the fact that the Facility officers were "holding . . . 'Riot Guns[,]'" . . . were denied (a) access to bathrooms for the period of five minutes, and (b) access to showers for about ten minutes. The . . . "Dayroom" and Mess Hall became . . . available for regular use by [Plaintiffs] one hour and twelve minutes after all [they] returned to the Facility.

Banda v. Corzine, 07-4508 (WJM) ("Banda Matter"), Docket Entry No. 3, at 3-6 (citations and footnotes omitted). Judge Martini noted that the aforesaid original allegation also specified that five minutes after being brought into the recreation yard, Plaintiff Haines "g[o]t [a] mild [h]eart [a]ttack and [was] rushed to see [a] [n]urse." Apparently, Plaintiff Haines was treated by a nurse and was able to return to the recreation yard sometime before 12:15 P.M. However, Plaintiff Haines experienced his second "mild heart attack" and was taken to see a nurse at 8:30 P.M., about seven hours after all [Plaintiffs] were returned in the Facility. . . .

[A]t 4:25 P.M., that is, [at least] three hours after . . . return[ing] to the Facility, Plaintiff Williams was taken to see a nurse for a reason not clarified in the [Original] Complaint. Apparently, Plaintiff Williams was placed in a wheelchair (by an unknown entity) when he was taken to see the nurse. Twenty minutes later, for reasons not clarified in the [Original] Complaint, Plaintiff Williams was taken to a hospital. Plaintiff Williams returned to the Facility the next day, August 31, 2007, at 3:45 P.M.

Id. at 7-8, 10 (citations omitted).

Responding to Plaintiffs' common claims that the search for controlled substances performed by the Facility officials was an "unlawful 'prison' search" impermissible with respect to . . . civilly-committed . . . Plaintiffs [as well as to Plaintiff's allegations that] the search . . . amounted to a cruel and unusual punishment . . . since: (a) "there was [n]o shade in the [recreation] yard with the exception of a small tent[,] which could not accommodate" [everyone in the yard]; (b) [the outside temperature was] 90 to 95 degree[s]"; (c) re-servings of water to [Plaintiffs] was no more frequent than every half an hour and the water served was "usually warm"; and (d) corrections officers "brandished M-16 style guns with individualized mace balls, [and] other weapons[,] such as batons and night sticks[,] were also brandished," id. at 12, Judge Martini dismissed these allegations for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. See id. at 21-36. Judge Martini explained that, pursuant to Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 530 (1984), and Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 558-560 (1979), the search of the Facility was not illegal under the Fourth Amendment, and Plaintiff's due process claims appeared not viable except for the sole aspect related by Plaintiffs' medical conditions. Specifically, Judge Martini stated that the [Original] Complaint is not clear as to the medical needs, and treatment of those needs by the Facility's medical personnel (or the hospital personnel), with respect to . . . Plaintiffs [like Haines or Williams]. While it appears that these . . . Plaintiffs were availed to immediate attention by the corrections officials when these . . . Plaintiffs developed their ailments and/or medical conditions, the Complaint fails to specify whether . . . Haines['] . . . secondary occurrences of [his] medical condition [was] caused by the nurse's failure to provide . . . Haines . . . with any treatment during [his] initial medical conditions (or by unjustified undue delays in medical services) [or whether] Williams obtained any medical treatment at the hospital where [he was] taken.

Id. at 35. Consequently, Judge Martini directed the Clerk to open new individual matters for Haines and Williams and granted Haines and Williams leave to amend the Original Complaint through submission of their individual amended complaints. See id. at 62. Both of these newly-created individual matters were assigned to the undersigned.

The first round of Haines and Williams' amended complaint yielded little success. Both Haines and Williams submitted pleadings virtually identical to the Original Complaint dismissed by Judge Martini; the minor changes included in their amended pleadings presented nothing but legally inconsequential embellishment on the original charges. See Haines v. Does, 07-5387, Docket Entry No. 8, at 15-19 (detailing shortcomings of Haines' amended pleading); Williams v. Does, 07-5395, Docket Entry No. 7, at 14-15 (detailing shortcomings of Williams' amended pleading). Moreover, their amended pleadings clearly indicated that the potential claims surmised by Judge Martini were not present. See id. (noting Plaintiffs' statements that they had no claims with respect to the actions of the Facility correctional officers and/or any medical staff). This Court, however, noted that Haines and Williams' amended complaint vaguely indicated that Haines and/or Williams might still be holding viable claims. Haines v. Does, 07-5387, Docket Entry No. 8, at 18-19 (observing that, although Haines' amended complaint contained no allegation suggesting that Defendants were aware of Haines' health-bases inability to return to the recreation yard after Haines visited the nurse, Haines might have wished to make such allegation); Williams v. Does, 07-5395, Docket Entry No. 7, at 15 (noting that--although Williams' amended pleading was silent as to Defendants' awareness about Williams' health-bases inability to be outdoors in the event the temperature rose to 80-plus degrees at the time Defendants removed all Facility detainees to the recreation yard, where the temperature fluctuated between 74 and 82.5 degrees Fahrenheit--Williams might have wished to so allege).

The Court, therefore, concluded that the actual language used in [Haines and Williams'] Amended Complaint[s] appear[ed] to be an unreliable source of information in view of excessive and suspicious similarities between the language used in [Haines and Williams'] Amended Complaint[s] and that in the Original Complaint, as well as in [the amended complaint filed by the presume draftsman of the Original Complaint]. Taking note of Judge Martini's observation that "the court should be mindful of the fact that it is all too easy for one inmate with some purported knowledge of the law to persuade others to join a complaint," Banda Matter, 07-4508, at 38, this Court expresse[d] its grave concern about the possibility that [Haines and Williams'] instant litigation [was] hijacked by [another inmate having no relation to Haines and Williams' actions but enjoying a certain "status" allowing him to dictate Haines and Williams the content of their pleadings]. Therefore, this Court [stated that it was] reluctant to find, conclusively, that [Haines and Williams'] allegations [could not] state a cognizable claim.

Haines v. Does, 07-5387, Docket Entry No. 8, at 19; Williams v. Does, 07-5395, Docket Entry No. 7, at 15-16.

Consequently, the Court directed Haines and Williams to submit their "re-amended" complaints and clarified to them which vaguely stated aspects of their amended pleadings were so drafted as to suggest that Plaintiffs ...


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