United States District Court, D. New Jersey
Ashley, Plaintiff Pro Se
B. SIMANDLE JUDGE
the Court is Plaintiff Keith Ashley's
(“Plaintiff”), motion to amend his civil rights
complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Docket Entry 11.
This Court granted Plaintiff's application to proceed
in forma pauperis and permitted the complaint to
proceed in part on January 22, 2016. Plaintiff now moves to
amend his complaint to address the deficiencies noted by the
Court. For the reasons stated below, the motion is granted
and the amended complaint shall proceed in part. Plaintiff
shall serve the amended complaint within 90 days of this
Opinion and Order.
originally filed this civil rights action against Defendants
David Metelow and Don Siebert, Supervisors of Education at
South Woods State Prison (“SWSP”), Mr. Marrocco,
Teacher for the culinary arts program, and Tanya Steltz,
Secretary for Facility III alleging they violated his right
to Free Association under the First Amendment, the Equal
Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and the New
Jersey Administrative Code for denying him entrance into the
SWSP Culinary Arts Program and for failing to inform him of
the complete requirements for entry. After reviewing the
complaint, the Court permitted the complaint to proceed only
against Siebert and Marrocco as he had not sufficiently
alleged personal involvement by the other named defendants.
Plaintiff now seeks to add additional defendants and to
reinstate his claims against the dismissed defendants.
applied to join the SWSP culinary arts program at various
points in time between October 2007 and July 2014 during his
confinement at that facility. Proposed Amended Complaint,
Docket Entry 11 ¶ 1. He specifically alleges he applied
to the program on October 23, 2007, September 28, 2009,
December 9, 2009, June 24, 2013, August 28, 2013, September
22, 2013, April 24, 2014, July 7, 2014, and July 11, 2014.
Id. ¶ 1(B)(1) n.16. He alleges Steltz placed
him on the computer literacy class waiting list without
verifying his high school diploma, but rejected him from the
culinary arts program for failure to verify his diploma.
Id. ¶ 1(B)(1)(a)-(b) n.17-18.
also alleges he was scheduled for an entry interview on
August 20, 2013, but Lynch turned him away from the interview
site stating Plaintiff's name was not on the interview
list. Id. ¶4(F). Plaintiff states he saw his
name on the list and that Lynch had a “personal
vendetta” against him. Id. ¶ 4(F) n.32.
He filled out a grievance form objecting to his absence from
the list, and he received a letter from Seibert indicating
that the certificate earned through the program expired after
five years, therefore inmates with parole eligibility or
maximum release dates within the next two years are given
preference for entry into the program. Id. ¶
4(H). Plaintiff alleges Caucasian inmates with more than two
years left before their parole eligibility dates and who were
put on the waiting list after Plaintiff were permitted to
enroll in the program. See Id. ¶¶
wrote to SWSP Administrator Nelsen regarding the difficulty
he was having enrolling in the program. Nelsen responded:
“This office is in receipt of your appeal received on
October 8, 2013, in reference to participating in the
Culinary Arts Program. Be advised that you are not banned
from Culinary Arts class. A review of your Education
Department record revealed that you have been off and on the
Culinary Arts Waiting List since 2007.” Id.
¶ 4(H). Plaintiff states he wrote to Nelsen, Metelow,
and Siebert about being denied entry into the class on
several occasions over the years regarding his repeated
denials of entry into the program and alleged discrimination
by SWSP staff. Id. ¶ 6(VI).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits a party
to amend a pleading once as a matter of course twenty-one
(21) days after serving the pleading or twenty-one (21) days
“after a responsive pleading or service of a motion
under Rule 12(b), (e), or (f), whichever is earlier.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1)(A)-(B). 11. Plaintiff has not served
the original complaint.
may deny leave to amend a pleading where it court finds: (1)
undue delay; (2) undue prejudice to the non-moving party; (3)
bad faith or dilatory motive; or (4) futility of amendment.
Shane v. Fauver, 213 F.3d 113, 115 (3d Cir. 2000).
“‘Futility' means that the complaint, as
amended, would fail to state a claim upon which relief could
be granted.” Id. The Court applies the same
standard of legal sufficiency as applies under Rule 12(b)(6).
“The court should freely give leave when justice so
requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2).
seeks to reinstate his claims against Steltz and Metelow and
to add claims against Lynch and Nelsen. As in the original
complaint, Plaintiff has sufficiently alleged violations of
the First Amendment Right to Free Association, the Equal
Protection Clause, and the New Jersey Administrative Code by
Siebert and Marrocco. Construing the proposed amended
complaint liberally and giving Plaintiff the benefit of all
reasonable inferences, he has also sufficiently alleged these