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Davis v. Yates

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

September 29, 2014

JASON DAVIS, Plaintiff,
v.
SHERRY YATES, et al., Defendants.

Jason Davis, No. 208, Special Treatment Unit, Annex, Plaintiff Pro Se.

OPINION

FAITH S. HOCHBERG, District Judge.

Plaintiff Jason Davis, an involuntarily committed person detained pursuant to the Sexually Violent Predator Act ("SVPA"), N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.24, et seq., seeks to bring this action in forma pauperis alleging violations of his constitutional rights while confined at the Special Treatment Unit, Annex at Avenel. Based on his affidavit of indigence, the Court will grant Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) and order the Clerk of the Court to file the Complaint.

At this time, the Court must review the Complaint 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.

I. BACKGROUND

The following factual allegations are taken from the Complaint and are accepted only for purposes of this screening. The Court has made no findings as to the veracity of Plaintiff's allegations. Plaintiff brings this civil action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against Sherry Yates, Administrator of the Special Treatment Unit, Annex at Avenel (hereinafter referred to as "STU") and Sara Davis, the Assistant Administrator of the STU. Compl., ¶¶ 5, 6. Plaintiff alleges that "infrastructure repairs at the STU are neither timely nor properly effectuated." Id., ¶ 10. Plaintiffs allegations include: (1) that broken appliances are not repaired or replaced properly, (2) that there is an ongoing leak in several areas of the facility ceiling, (3) that the dormitory bathrooms are not maintained properly, (4) that he suffers from breathing difficulties stemming from the alleged conditions, and (5) that the heating and cooling system is not maintained properly. Id., ¶¶ 10-25. Plaintiff further states that over the course of his eleven year incarceration at the facility, complaints regarding the conditions, submitted through STU's Remedy System & Request Forms, have remained unanswered. Id., ¶ 26. Plaintiff states generally that Defendants Yates and Davis are "personally aware" of the concerns regarding conditions at the facility but have taken no actions with respect to providing a remedy. Id., ¶ 28.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A. Standard for a Sua Sponte Dismissal

Per the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. No. 104-134, §§ 801-810, 110 Stat. 1321-66 to 1321-77 (April 26, 1996) ("PLRA"), district courts must review complaints in those civil actions in which a prisoner is proceeding in forma pauperis, see 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), seeks redress against a governmental employee or entity, see 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), or brings a claim with respect to prison conditions, see 42 U.S.C. § 1997e. The PLRA 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 United States 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. Fowler v. UPMS 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). Moreover, while pro se pleadings are liberally construed, " 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) (emphasis added).

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:

[e]very 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 party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress....

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 West v. Atkins, ...


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