United States District Court, D. New Jersey
LARRY O. JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
A. ANDERSON, II, et al., Defendants.
Larry O. Johnson, Plaintiff Pro Se, New Jersey State Prison, Trenton, New Jersey.
ANNE E. THOMPSON, District Judge.
Before the Court is Plaintiff Larry Johnson's ("Plaintiff"), submission of a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and application to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Plaintiff is a state prisoner currently confined at New Jersey State Prison ("NJSP"), Trenton, New Jersey. Based on the in forma pauperis application, the Court will grant Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a), (Docket Entry 4), and order the Clerk of the Court to file the Complaint, (Docket Entry 1). At this time, the Court must review the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e) (2) 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 will be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
On November 20, 2013, Plaintiff filed a complaint against SCO A. Anderson, II, a NJSP corrections officer, and Lisa Jantz, a NJSP courtline judge, as well as an application to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP"). (Docket Entry 1). This Court administratively terminated the case on November 25, 2013 for failure to either pay the filing fee or to comply with the requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 1915 in requesting to proceed IFP. (Docket Entries 2 and 3). The Court ordered the Clerk to provide Plaintiff with a blank IFP application and gave Plaintiff 30 days to reopen the matter. (Docket Entries 2 and 3). Plaintiff submitted a new IFP application on December 6, 2013, (Docket Entry 4), and this Court ordered the Clerk to reopen the matter pending the Court's review of the application and screening of the complaint. (Docket Entry 5). 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.
According to Plaintiff's complaint, Officer Anderson opened Plaintiff's cell door and threatened to kill him and cover it up. (Docket Entry 1 at 6). He did not have his handcuffs or his nightstick with him at the time he made the threats. (Docket Entry 1 at 6). He also tried to start a fight with Plaintiff, but Plaintiff refused to take part. (Docket Entry 1 at 6). Additionally, Officer Anderson took a television set that had been loaned to Plaintiff. (Docket Entry 1 at 6). Plaintiff further alleges Ms. Jantz conspired to find him guilty of an unidentified prohibited act due to her intimate relationships with the male staff. (Docket Entry 1 at 5-6). Plaintiff requests this Court to fire Defendants from their positions at NJSP and to order Plaintiff's release. (Docket Entry 1 at 7).
A. Standards 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. This action is subject to sua sponte screening for dismissal under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e) (2) (b) and 1915A because Plaintiff is a prisoner proceeding in forma pauperis.
In determining the sufficiency of a pro se complaint, the Court must be mindful to construe it liberally in favor of the plaintiff. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007) (following Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)); see also United Statesv. Day, 969 F.2d 39, 42 (3d Cir. 1992).
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,  the complaint must allege "sufficient factual matter" to show that the claim is facially plausible. Warren Gen. Hosp. v. Amgen Inc., 643 F.3d 77, 84 (3d Cir. 2011). "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." Fair Wind Sailing, Inc. v. Dempster, 764 F.3d 303, 308 n.3 (3d Cir. 2014) (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. ...