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Jones v. Central Reception and Assignment Facility

United States District Court, Third Circuit

August 27, 2013

SHAROD JONES, Plaintiff,
v.
CENTRAL RECEPTION AND ASSIGNMENT FACILITY, et al., Defendants.

SHAROD JONES, Plaintiff pro se, #673124/276484C, Southern State Correctional Facility, Compound A/Unit 4, Delmont, New Jersey.

OPINION

JOEL A. PISANO, District Judge.

Plaintiff, Sharod Jones, a state inmate confined at the Southern State Correctional Facility, at the time he filed this Complaint, seeks to bring this action in forma pauperis. On January 5, 2012, this Court entered an Order administratively terminating this case because Plaintiff had failed to pay the requisite filing fee or submit a complete in forma pauperis application with his six-month institutional account certified by a prison official at the prison where Plaintiff was then confined. ( See Docket entry no. 2.) The January 5, 2012 Order allowed Plaintiff to re-open his case if he submitted a complete in forma pauperis application or paid the filing fee. ( Id. ) On January 25, 2012, Plaintiff submitted a complete in forma pauperis application with a letter asking that his action be reopened. ( See Docket entry nos. 3, 4.) Based on his affidavit of indigence, the Court will grant Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP") pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) and order the Clerk of the Court to re-open this case and file the Complaint accordingly.

At this time, the Court must review the Complaint, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A, to determine whether it should be dismissed as frivolous or malicious, for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or because it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. For the reasons set forth below, the Court concludes that the Complaint should be dismissed.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, Sharod Jones ("Plaintiff"), brings this civil action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against Defendants, the Central Reception and Assignment Facility ("CRAF") and the New Jersey Department of Corrections ("NJDOC"). (Complaint, Caption, ¶ 4b, 4c.) The following factual allegations are taken from the Complaint, and are accepted for purposes of this screening only. The Court has made no findings as to the veracity of Plaintiff's allegations.

Plaintiff alleges that, on or about February 14, 2011, his finger was broken when his cell door was closed on it after the second shift medication. Plaintiff complains that his cell door should not have been open at that time, and asserts a violation of his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights against cruel and unusual punishment. (Compl., ¶ 6.) Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages of $1 million. (Compl., ¶ 7.)

II. STANDARDS FOR A 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. Specifically, the PLRA directs the district court to screen the complaint for 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. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A. This action is subject to sua sponte screening for dismissal under both 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) and § 1915A.

The Supreme Court refined the standard for summary dismissal of a complaint that fails to state a claim in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009). Citing its 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, 556 U.S. at 678 (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. Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009)(citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676). See also Bistrian v. Levi, 696 F.3d 352, 365 (3d Cir. 2012) ("The touchstone of the pleading standard is plausibility.... "[A]llegations that are no more than conclusions are not entitled to the assumption of truth;... [a court should] "look for well-pled factual allegations, assume their veracity, and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.'") (citations omitted). In short, "[a] complaint must do more than allege the plaintiff's entitlement to relief. A complaint has to show' such an entitlement with its facts." Fowler, 578 F.3d at 211 (citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79). Thus, while pro se pleadings are liberally construed, Higgs v. Atty. Gen., 655 F.3d 333, 339 (3d Cir. 20011), "pro se litigants still must allege sufficient facts in their complaints to support a claim." Mala v. Crown Bay Marina, Inc., 704 F.3d 239, 245 (3d Cir. 2013) (citation omitted). Nonetheless, courts must be cognizant that the Iqbal standard "is not akin to a probability requirement." Covington v. International Association of Approved Basketball Officials, 710 F.3d 114, 118 (3d Cir. 2013) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679).

III. SECTION 1983 ACTIONS

Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

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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