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Boyd v. New Jersey Department of Corrections

United States District Court, Third Circuit

September 10, 2013


LURETHA M. STRIBLING, ESQ., Clark, New Jersey Attorney for Plaintiffs.

JOHN J. HOFFMAN, Ryan C. Atkinson, Esq., ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL OF NEW JERSEY, Trenton, New Jersey. Attorneys for Defendants New Jersey Department of Corrections, Gary Lanigan, Paul K. Lagana, Mitchell A. Douglas, Edwin Rodriguez, Darryl A. Morgan, Darryl Coburn, Andre Graham, and Marvin Blevins



This matter again arises out of a slew of incoherent allegations of widespread discrimination and general misconduct against female, African American corrections officers working at Northern State Prison ("NSP"). On September 10, 2012 Plaintiff Officers Keisha Boyd, Chandar McDaniels, and Ame'Cherie Cannon filed a Complaint, in New Jersey Superior Court, against Defendants New Jersey Department of Corrections ("NJDOCS"), Gary Lanigan, Administrator Paul Lagana, Lieutenant Darron Daye, Major Marvin Blevins, Major Gregory Paul, Lieutenant Edwin Rodriguez, Lieutenant Darryl Morgan, Lieutenant Darryl Coburn, Lieutenant Asmar Graham, and Lieutenant Mitchell Douglas. The Complaint sets forth counts of sexual harassment, gender discrimination, racial discrimination, and discrimination based on military status under unspecified provisions of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination ("NJLAD"); violations of unspecified provisions of the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, Plaintiffs' Local 105 Union Contract, NJDOCS's Corrections Reporting Policy, Domestic Violence Policy, and unspecified privacy laws; and claims for exposure to a hazardous environment and retaliation under the Conscientious Employee Protection Act ("CEPA"). The Complaint seeks compensatory, consequential, and punitive damages from all Defendants on all claims, as well as attorney's fees and costs.

On October 19, 2012, Defendants removed the Complaint to this Court pursuant to 28 § U.S.C. 1441. Defendants then moved to sever the Complaint and require each Plaintiff to file a more definite statement of her claims. In response, Plaintiffs moved to remand all of their claims to New Jersey Superior Court, except that under the Fair Pay Act.

On March 18, 2013, the Court issued an Opinion and Order denying both motions and ultimately dismissed the Complaint for failure to comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) and 10(b), without prejudice and with leave to amend. On April 14, 2013, Plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint with additional allegations in support of their claims. The Amended Complaint also specifies the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act ("HIPAA"), and the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") as the legal vehicles for their privacy claims, and the Public Employees Occupational Safety and Health Act ("PEOSH") as the legal vehicle for their claims for exposure to a hazardous environment.

Defendants NJDOCS, Gary Lanigan, Adm. Lagana, Lt. Douglas, Lt. Rodriguez, Lt. Morgan, Lt. Coburn, Lt. Graham, and Maj. Blevins now move to strike the Amended Complaint, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f), or, in the alternative, to dismiss certain claims from the Amended Complaint, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Plaintiffs oppose the motion. In addition, Plaintiffs move for sanctions against Defendants, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11(b).

For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiffs' Motion for Sanctions is DENIED. Defendants' Motion to Strike, or in the alternative, Dismiss, will be treated as a Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint in its entirety, and is GRANTED.


Plaintiffs are employed by NJDOCS as Senior Corrections Officers at Northern State Prison ("NSP"). Their initial Complaint set forth a variety of allegations so disjointed and convoluted that the Court was unable to synthesize them into a coherent background section, and was instead forced to recite Plaintiffs' allegations on a claim-by-claim and piecemeal basis. Unfortunately, the Amended Complaint requires the Court to do the same.

A. Plaintiffs' Claim for Sexual Harassment and Hostile Work Environment under the NJLAD

Plaintiffs allege that Lt. Daye, who, in March 2011, worked at the Shift Commander in Center Control with Plaintiffs, "made sexually suggestive statements and sexual advances towards Boyd." (Amend Compl. ¶ 54.) He also "started a rumor among the prison staff that he and Boyd were in the park and were caught by law enforcement in a compromising position." (Id. ¶ 57.)

Plaintiffs further allege that Lt. Daye played "sexually suggestive music" in the Center Control and "told all within earshot that the song Doing it in the Park' was his theme song." (Id. ¶ 56.) Lt. Daye also "referred to [Boyd] as a stupid bitch" to other officers (Id. ¶ 78), and commented that Officer Cannon "was not too bright." (Id. ¶ 59)

Somehow, Officer Boyd found Lt. Daye's behavior attractive, and the two began to date. As is turns out, however, Lt. Daye was simultaneously in a relationship with another corrections officer, Officer Pitman. Upon discovering this relationship, Officer Boyd ended her romantic relationship with Lt. Daye and had a conversation with Officer Pittman. Apparently, this angered Lt. Daye, who proceeded to tell Officer Boyd that "she had better repair his relationship with Pittman." (Id. ¶ 64.) Lt. Daye also sent Officer Boyd text messages stating that "she had better stay out of his way" or risk being hurt, and "that he would kill one of her associates and would do the same thing to her." (Id. ¶¶ 65-66.)

Consequently, Officer Boyd initiated a lawsuit against Lt. Daye in Newark Municipal Court, which resulted in a finding that Lt. Daye "had engaged in harassment." (Id. ¶ 68.) Apparently, NJDOCS and Administrator Lagana was made aware of this finding but failed to discipline Lt. Daye. Officers Boyd and McDaniels also filed complaints regarding Lt. Daye with Lagana and ...

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