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.

Watson v. Rogers

May 22, 2008

ROBERT P. WATSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
GRACE ROGERS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Greenaway, Jr., U.S.D.J.

OPINION

This matter comes before this Court on the motions to dismiss the Amended Complaint by defendants Philip Morris; John Middleton, Inc.; Lorillard Tobacco Company; R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company; Brown & Williamson Holdings, Inc.; Lane Limited; and M. Bernstein & Sons (collectively, the "Moving Defendants"), pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6), for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.*fn1 For the reasons set forth below, Moving Defendants' motions to dismiss shall be granted.

I. BACKGROUND

Pro se plaintiff Robert Watson ("Plaintiff") is a prisoner at the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center ("ADTC") in Avenel, New Jersey. (Am. Compl. at 3.) Plaintiff states that he has "been subjected to a substantial health hazard; specifically, elevated levels of second hand smoke." (Id. at 4.) He alleges that Moving Defendants "continue[] to sell tobacco products at A.D.T.C., which it dose [sic] with knowledge of the documented health risk that tobacco products pose to the public." (Id. at 11-12.)

Plaintiff asserts that this Court has jurisdiction over his claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 pursuant to the "First Amendment, Eighth Amendment, Fifth Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment, 1997(e)e, violation of New Jersey's Clean Air Act N.J.S.A. 26.3D 55-63, [sic] [and] 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g)." (Id. at 1-2.) In his prayer for relief, Plaintiff requests damages against members of the tobacco industry who are responsible for the production and marketing of a harmful product that Plaintiff has been exposed to in conjunction with the Department of Corrections in the State of New Jersey to conspire to introduce this known harmful toxin (tobacco) in an environment that it would otherwise not exist. (Id. at 9.)

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A complaint should be dismissed only if the alleged facts, taken as true, fail to state a claim. See In re Warfarin Sodium Antitrust Litig., 214 F.3d 395, 397-98 (3d Cir. 2000). The question is whether the claimant can prove any set of facts consistent with his allegations that will entitle him to relief, not whether that person will ultimately prevail. Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974); Semerenko v. Cendant Corp., 223 F.3d 165, 173 (3d Cir. 2000).

A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss should be granted only if the plaintiff is unable to articulate "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974 (2007); see also In re Warfarin, 214 F.3d at 397 (stating that a complaint should be dismissed only if the alleged facts, taken as true, fail to state a claim). "Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only 'a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,' in order to 'give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Twombly, 127 S.Ct. at 1964 (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). "While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Id. at 1964-65 (internal citations omitted); see also FED. R. CIV. P. 8(a)(2). "Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact)." Twombly, 127 S.Ct. at 1965 (internal citations omitted). "The pleader is required to 'set forth sufficient information to outline the elements of his claim or to permit inferences to be drawn that these elements exist.'" Kost v. Kozakewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993) (quoting 5A Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure Civil 2d § 1357 at 340) (2d ed. 1990).

A court must accept as true all allegations in the complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom, and view them in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Oshiver v. Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & Berman, 38 F.3d 1380, 1384-85 (3d Cir. 1994); see also Sturm v. Clark, 835 F.2d 1009, 1011 (3d Cir. 1987). The question is whether the claimant can prove any set of facts consistent with his or her allegations that will entitle him to relief, not whether that person will ultimately prevail. Semerenko v. Cendant Corp., 223 F.3d 165, 173 (3d Cir. 2000).

While a court will accept well-pled allegations as true for the purposes of the motion, it will not accept bald assertions, unsupported conclusions, unwarranted inferences, or sweeping legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations. Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 n.8 (3d Cir. 1997). "The defendant bears the burden of showing that no claim has been presented." Hedges v. United States, 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005).

In reviewing a motion to dismiss, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a court may consider the allegations of the complaint, as well as documents attached to or specifically referenced in the complaint, and matters of public record. Pittsburgh v. W. Penn Power Co., 147 F.3d 256, 259 (3d Cir. 1998); see also 5B Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure: Civil 3d § 1357 (3d ed. 2007). "Plaintiffs cannot prevent a court from looking at the texts of the documents on which its claim is based by failing to attach or explicitly cite them." In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1426 (3d Cir. 1997).

The court's review of the sufficiency of a pro se complaint, "however inartfully pleaded," is less stringent than its review of pleadings prepared by lawyers. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). A court must assume a pro se plaintiff's factual allegations are true and construe his claim liberally. See Nietzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 330 n. 9; Roman v. Jeffes, 904 F.2d 192, 197 (3d Cir. 1990).

III. ANALYSIS

After liberally construing the Amended Complaint, this Court finds that Plaintiff has raised a Section 1983 claim against Moving Defendants for allegedly violating his First, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Plaintiff also alleges that Moving Defendants violated the New Jersey Smoke Free Act (the "NJSFA").*fn2 This Court shall ...


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.