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James Samuel Ernst, Jr v. Ofc. D. P. Blair

April 18, 2011

JAMES SAMUEL ERNST, JR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
OFC. D. P. BLAIR, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

Plaintiff, James Samuel Ernst, currently detained at the Atlantic County Justice Facility, Mays Landing, New Jersey, seeks to bring this action alleging violations of his constitutional rights in forma pauperis, without prepayment of fees pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. For the following reasons, Plaintiff's complaint will be dismissed, without prejudice.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff asserts jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. His statement of claims states, in full:

On more than 5 occasions I was placed and beaten into submission and falsely charged. June 03. Forced to take meds by injection [] refused showers for weeks at a time [] put in device call[ed] the wrap 3 or more times [] not allowed to make phone calls [] not allowed to speak with lawyer [] mental and physical abuse. (Complaint, ¶ 4). Plaintiff names as defendants Officer Blair, John Doe Officers, Officer Govan, Lt. Hendricks and his wife, Sgt. Hendricks, and Ex Sergeant Crick. For relief, Plaintiff asserts: "Charge all officers involved with conspiracy to defame me and publicly apologize." (Complaint, ¶ 5). He also asserts within the complaint that the first-named defendant, Officer Blair, "lied under oath stating I spit in his face [-] it cost 3 years in state prison." (Complaint, ¶ 3B).

DISCUSSION

A. Standards for Sua Sponte Dismissal

The Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"), Pub. L. No. 104-134, §§ 801-810, 110 Stat. 1321-66 to 1321-77 (April 26, 1996), requires a district court to review a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner is proceeding in forma pauperis or seeks redress against a governmental employee or entity. The Court is required to identify cognizable claims and to sua sponte dismiss any claim that is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A. This action is subject to sua sponte screening for dismissal under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) because Plaintiff is proceeding as an indigent.

In determining the sufficiency of a pro se complaint, the Court must be mindful to construe it liberally in favor of the plaintiff. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007) (following Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976) and Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972)). See also United States v. Day, 969 F.2d 39, 42 (3d Cir. 1992).

Recently, the Supreme Court refined the standard for summary dismissal of a complaint that fails to state a claim in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937 (2009). The Court examined Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure which provides that a complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Citing its recent opinion in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), for the proposition that "[a] pleading that offers 'labels and conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do,'" Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555), the Supreme Court held that, to prevent a summary dismissal, a civil complaint must now allege "sufficient factual matter" to show that the claim is facially plausible. This then "allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." See id. at 1948; Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203 (3d Cir. 2009).

B. 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 ...


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