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Jeremy Ramos v. Commissioner George W. Hayman

July 27, 2011

JEREMY RAMOS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
COMMISSIONER GEORGE W. HAYMAN, ET. AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

OPINION

Plaintiff, Jeremy Ramos, an inmate incarcerated within the New Jersey Department of Corrections ("NJDOC"), has brought suit against George W. Hayman, the former NJDOC commissioner, and Karen Balicki, an administrator at the South Woods State Prison (collectively, "Defendants"), alleging, inter alia, violations of his federal constitutional rights, as well as state law claims. Defendants move for summary judgment and to dismiss Plaintiff's claims.

For the reasons that follow, Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment will be granted on Plaintiff's federal claims. Additionally, the Court, sua sponte, will decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff's remaining state law claims.

I. JURISDICTION

Plaintiff brought this matter before the Superior Court of New Jersey. Defendants removed this action to the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. The Court has jurisdiction over Plaintiff's federal claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and may exercise supplemental jurisdiction over any related state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

II. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is a prisoner who had been incarcerated within the NJDOC's Central Reception and Assignment Facility ("CRAF") from December 15, 2009 until February 4, 2010. Plaintiff was subsequently moved to another NJDOC facility, the South Woods State Prison ("SWSP") in Bridgeton, New Jersey.

Plaintiff alleges that George W. Hayman, as NJDOC commissioner, generated and mishandled a "Security Threat Group Member (GANG AFFILIATE)" list that caused Plaintiff to be perceived as a member of a gang. (Complaint at 2). Plaintiff's inclusion on this list subjected him to threats and assaults by gang members and prison staff. Hayman also did not properly supervise or train his NJDOC employees, says Plaintiff, thereby allowing gang violence to plague the prison and Plaintiff to suffer harm.

Further, Plaintiff claims that Karen Balicki, an SWSP administrator, "allowed custody staff to execute a personal brand of street justice" within SWSP against him merely because Balicki misidentified Plaintiff as a gang member. (Compl. at 6).

In October 2010, Plaintiff filed suit in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Cumberland County. Defendants then removed the action to this Court. Plaintiff sets forth federal and state constitutional claims, as well as state tort claims. In February 2011, Defendants moved for both summary judgment against and dismissal of Plaintiff's claims. As part of their motion, Defendants argue that Plaintiff did not exhaust his administrative remedies in prison.*fn1

Defendants represent that NJDOC correctional facilities employ an administrative grievance process, the Inmate Remedy System, through which inmates may complain or grieve of problems or concerns they may have. The process is outlined in the NJDOC Inmate Handbook, given to all inmates.

During his incarceration at CRAF, from December 15, 2009 until February 4, 2010, Plaintiff did not file any inmate remedy forms to invoke the administrative process. While incarcerated at SWSP, however, Plaintiff filed one inmate remedy form, on February 13, 2010. In that remedy form, Plaintiff raised an issue with his classification. Eleven days after submission, according to Linda Linen, a SWSP Program Development Specialist, Plaintiff received a staff response "from a representative of the Special Investigations Division ('SID') of the NJDOC, directing him to write to Investigator W. Robbins at the NJDOC Central Office in Trenton, New Jersey with this request." (Def. Mot., Linen Decl., ¶ 18; see also id., Exh. E). Plaintiff did not write to Investigator Robbins, or any other SID employees at the Trenton office. Additionally, Plaintiff failed to appeal any decision made regarding the original inmate remedy form that he filed.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Standards of ...


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