United States District Court, D. New Jersey
L. LINARES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is motion of Plaintiff, David Wilson,
seeking leave to amend his complaint. (ECF No. 7). Because
leave to amend is warranted in this matter as Plaintiffs
complaint has yet to be served, this Court will grant that
motion. Because the court is granting Plaintiffs motion to
amend, and since Plaintiff has previously been granted in
forma pauperis status (see ECF No. 5), this
Court is required to screen Plaintiffs complaint pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). Pursuant to these statutes,
this Court must dismiss Plaintiffs claims if they are
frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim for relief, or
seek damages from a defendant who is immune. Also before the
Court at this time are Plaintiffs Motions for the Appointment
of Counsel (ECF No. 6) and for a Preliminary Injunction (ECF
Nos. 4, 9). For the reasons set forth below, this Court will
permit Plaintiffs failure to protect claim to proceed at this
time against Defendant Davis only, dismisses the Essex County
Jail from this matter with prejudice, dismisses all of
Plaintiffs remaining claims without prejudice, and denies
Plaintiffs motions (ECF Nos. 4, 6, 9) without prejudice.
amended complaint, Plaintiff presents the following factual
allegations. At about 5:30 p.m. on January 4, 2017, while
Plaintiff was incarcerated in the Essex County Jail as part
of the jail's re-entry program, Plaintiff was locked into
his cell with two inmates, one of whom was named Harper, by
his housing unit's unit officer, Defendant S. Davis.
(Document 1 attached to ECF No. 7 at 4). After the officer
locked these two other inmates into Plaintiffs cell with
Plaintiff, they proceeded to assault him, ultimately beating
him severely enough to warrant treatment in the hospital.
(Id. a 4-5). Davis apparently encouraged this
beating, and then fled the scene once the assault began.
(Id.). Harper and his associate also apparently
stole a pair of headphones from Plaintiff after they beat
him. (Id.). Plaintiff contends that, after the
assault occurred, Davis "maliciously fabricated" a
report in which he stated that Harper and Plaintiff had been
fighting, and Harper's associate merely broke up a fight
between the two. (Id.). This report resulted in
disciplinary proceedings, which ultimately led to Plaintiff
being ordered to spend approximately six months in
administrative segregation for fighting and to lose
"comp. time" credits against his sentence.
(Id. at 7-14).
also states that the jail's re-entry program did not have
a handbook or rules regarding who could enter another
prisoner's cell, nor about when a prisoner's cell
could be locked by an officer with others inside.
(Id. at 10-11). Plaintiff asserts that this lack of
rules amounts to the County of Essex and the warden of the
jail, Charles Green, unconstitutionally failing to adopt
regulations which would have prevented his assault.
(Id.). Plaintiff does not specify what regulations
he believes should have been in place, nor how those
regulations would have prevented his assault other than to
suggest that he would not have been beaten had there been
rules regarding the freedom of inmates to move into the cells
of others. Also, Plaintiff states in his amended complaint
his belief that Green had "constructive knowledge"
of the beating and false report, and allowed disciplinary
proceedings to occur in any event, and that Green failed to
reprimand or properly punish Davis. (7, 10-11).
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), or seeks damages from a state employee,
see 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. 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) because Plaintiff has been
granted in forma pauperis status.
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. 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." 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).
seeks to make claims against the County of Essex,
Essex County Jail, the jail's warden Charles Green, and a
corrections officer of the jail named S. Davis for alleged
violations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. "To establish a claim under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, a plaintiff must demonstrate a violation of a
right protected by the Constitution or laws of the United
States that was committed by a person acting under the color
of state law." Nicini v. Morra, 212 F.3d 798,
806 (3d Cir. 2000); see also Woodyard v. Cnty. of
Essex, 514 F.App'x 177, 180 (3d Cir. 2013) (section
1983 provides "private citizens with a means to redress
violations of federal law committed by state [actors]").
"The first step in evaluating a section 1983 claim is to
'identify the exact contours of the underlying right said
to have been violated' and to determine 'whether the
plaintiff has alleged a deprivation of a constitutional right
at all.'" Nicini, 212 F.3d at 806 (quoting
County of Sacramento v. Lewis, 523 U.S. 833, 841 n.
5 (1998)). Here, Plaintiff attempts to assert failure to
protect claims against Defendants Davis, Essex County, the
Jail, and Charles Green; as well as a claim based on the
allegedly false disciplinary report against Defendants Green
Plaintiffs failure to protect claims
Plaintiff seeks to raise a claim against all Defendants based
on their failure to protect him from his assault by other
inmates after being locked in his cell. As the Third Circuit
[w]hile the Eighth Amendment requires prison officials
"to protect prisoners from violence at the hands of
other prisoners, " not every prisoner-inflicted injury
amounts to a constitutional violation. Farmer v.
Brennan,511 U.S. 825, 833-34 (1994). To state a
failure-to-protect claim, a prisoner "must plead facts
that show (1) he was incarcerated under conditions posing a
substantial risk of serious harm, (2) the official was
deliberately indifferent to that substantial risk to his
health and safety, and (3) the official's deliberate
indifference caused him harm." Bistrian v.
Levi,696 F.3d 352, 367 (3d Cir.2012) (citing
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834). An official acts with
deliberate indifference when he or she knows of and
disregards a substantial risk of serious harm to inmate
health or safety. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837. It ...