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Foulke v. McCloud

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

January 7, 2014

JAMES FOULKE, Jr., Plaintiff,
v.
RICO McCLOUD, et al., Defendants.

OPINION

ROBERT B. KUGLER, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff is proceeding through counsel with a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. At this time, the Court must review the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 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 suit. See Diventura v. Wynder, Nos. 07-2846, 07-3975, 2007 WL 3252607, at *1 n.1 (E.D. Pa. Oct. 31, 2007) (noting that the screening requirement of § 1915A is applicable to counseled complaints where the plaintiff pays the filing fee) (citing McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 608 (6th Cir. 1997)). For the reasons set forth below, the complaint will be permitted to proceed in part.

II. BACKGROUND

The allegations of the complaint will be accepted as true for purposes of screening. Plaintiff names three defendants in the complaint; Rico McCloud - correctional sergeant at the Gloucester County Jail, Michael Tull - correctional officer at the Gloucester County Jail and the County of Gloucester.

Plaintiff alleges that on September 13, 2011, he was an inmate at the Gloucester County Jail. Plaintiff claims on that date that defendants McCloud and Tull "brutally and mercilessly battered the plaintiff without any provocation or for any valid reason, causing the plaintiff to sustain a broken forearm and to suffer severe pain." (Dkt. No. 1 at p. 3.) Plaintiff states that he was denied medical attention and that the Gloucester County Jail has a culture of allowing its correctional officers beat its prisoners.

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A. Standard for Sua Sponte Dismissal

District courts must review complaints in civil actions in which a prisoner seeks redress against a governmental employee or entity. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). Section 1915A(b) directs district courts to sua sponte dismiss any claim that is frivolous, is 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.

According to the Supreme Court's decision in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, "a pleading that offers labels or conclusions' or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'" 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). To survive sua sponte screening for failure to state a claim[1], the complaint must allege "sufficient factual matter" to show that the claim is facially plausible. See Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009) (citation omitted). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Belmont v. MB Inv. Partners, Inc., 708 F.3d 470, 483 n.17 (3d Cir. 2012) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678).

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 or the District of Columbia, 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 party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer's judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable.

Thus, to state a claim for relief under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege, first, the violation of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States, and second, that the alleged deprivation was committed or caused by a person acting under color of state law. See Harvey v. Plains Twp. Police Dep't, 635 F.3d 606, 609 ...


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