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Lugo-Vazquez v. Grondolsky

November 25, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jerome B. Simandle United States District Judge


SIMANDLE, District Judge

Plaintiff Jose Lugo-Vazquez is an inmate who is presently confined at the Federal Correctional Institution in Fort Dix, New Jersey ("FCI Fort Dix"). He filed this lawsuit pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), alleging that Warden Grondolsky failed to protect him from being attacked by a fellow prisoner and that the Medical Department at FCI Fort Dix provided him with inadequate medical care. Presently before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint [Docket Item 8] on the grounds that Plaintiff failed to exhaust administrative remedies prior to filing this lawsuit, as is required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"). In addition, after Defendants moved to dismiss, Plaintiff filed a series of motions which raise claims not asserted in the Complaint [Docket Items 11 and 13]. For the reasons set forth herein, the Court will grant Defendants' motion to dismiss without prejudice to Plaintiff's right to litigate these matters following proper exhaustion of administrative remedies, and will dismiss as moot Plaintiff's motions.


The facts of this action, taken from the limited number of allegations contained in the Complaint, are as follows. Plaintiff, who is confined at FCI Fort Dix, was attacked by an unspecified fellow inmate on January 13, 2008. (Compl. ¶ 3-1.) Plaintiff alleges that the attack took place because "there was no security to prevent [it,] . . . [b]eing that there is one correctional officer for . . . [every] three hundred and sixty inmates." (Id. at ¶ 3-2.) Plaintiff alleges that he suffered "severe damages to the skull and brain" as a result of the attack. (Id. at ¶ 3-1.) Specifically, since the attack, Plaintiff alleges that he has experienced a seizure, throbbing headaches, and a loss of hearing in one ear, which conditions he alleges the prison's Medical Department has failed to treat satisfactorily. (Id. at ¶¶ 3-4, 3-6.)

In his Complaint, Plaintiff concedes that he "did not seek administrative remedy in this case[] [d]ue to the [c]onstitutional magnitude of violations by the administration here at Fort Dix." (Compl. ¶ 3.) According to Plaintiff, [t]he administrative remedy process will not aid in this case. The Warden Grondolsky, Dodrill the regional director, nor Washington[']s Central office Watts, will not admit through the remedy process that the Plaintiff's constitutional rights were violated. So therefore the remedy process will not aid the Court. (Id.) Although not set forth in Plaintiff's Complaint, Plaintiff states in a Declaration submitted in opposition to Defendants' motion to dismiss that he did not follow the prison's administrative remedy process because he was hospitalized and confined to the Special Housing Unit ("SHU") for almost two months following the attack.*fn1 (Lugo-Vazquez Decl. ¶ 8.)

After Plaintiff filed his Complaint in this action, Defendants filed the motion to dismiss [Docket Item 8] presently under consideration, in which they argue that Plaintiff's Complaint must be dismissed on account of his failure to exhaust administrative remedies, as the PLRA requires in all "action[s] . . . brought with respect to prison conditions . . . by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility."

42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). In addition to opposing Defendants' dismissal motion, Plaintiff has filed a series of motions*fn2 which raise claims not asserted in the Complaint, including a claim that Defendants interfered with his right of access to the courts [Docket Item 11], and a motion seeking the appointment of a special master to investigate his allegations that Defendant Grondolsky has interfered with inmates' pursuit of their administrative grievances at FCI Fort Dix [Docket Item 13].*fn3


A. Standard of Review

On a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, the Court must "'accept all factual allegations as true, construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief.'" Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Pinker v. Roche Holdings Ltd., 292 F.3d 361, 374 n.7 (3d Cir. 2002)).

While Rule 12(b)(6) does not permit dismissal of a well-pleaded complaint simply because "it strikes a savvy judge that actual proof of those facts is improbable," the "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level."

Phillips, 515 F.3d at 234. "To survive a motion to dismiss, a civil plaintiff must allege facts that 'raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).'" Victaulic Co. v. Tieman, 499 F.3d 227, 234 (3d Cir. 2007) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, --- U.S. ----, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1965 (2007)).

"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." Twombly, --- ...

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