United States District Court, D. New Jersey
Andrew Ruymann, Assistant U.S. Attorney Office of the U.S.
Attorney Attorneys for Defendant United States of America
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE, Judge
the Court is Defendant United States of America's motion
to dismiss Plaintiff Leonardo Reed's Federal Tort Claims
Act (“FTCA”) complaint. Motion, Docket Entry 9.
Plaintiff opposes the motion. Opposition, Docket Entry 10.
The motion is being decided on the papers pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 78. For the reasons set forth below,
the motion is denied.
is a prisoner confined at FCI Fort Dix, a federal prison in
New Jersey run by the Bureau of Prisons, a United States
agency. According to the complaint, staff at Fort Dix placed
“razor wire” in various locations throughout the
facility in areas that are accessible to inmates, including
but not limited to the recreation area. Complaint ¶ 12.
Plaintiff alleges that several inmates have received injuries
due to the placement of the wire, which “generally
reaches to just above knee level with some areas reaching
face level.” Id. ¶¶ 15-16.
states he was playing softball in the recreation yard on June
22, 2015 when a ball fell into an area “within the
razor wire.” Id. ¶ 27. He alleges that as
“[i]nmates are tasked with retrieving the balls from
within the razor wire[, ]” he went to retrieve the ball
and sustained a cut from the wire. Id. ¶¶
25, 28. According to the complaint, the razor wire cut into
Plaintiff's left wrist and caused “heavy blood
loss.” Id. ¶ 29. Plaintiff was left with
a “½ inch keloid type scar.” Id.
¶ 33. He filed an administrative grievance with the
Bureau of Prisons pursuant to the FTCA, which was denied on
March 25, 2016. This complaint followed three months later.
ask that the complaint be dismissed with prejudice for
failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
considering a motion to dismiss a complaint for failure to
state a claim, Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), the Court must accept
all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and
view them in the light most favorable to the non-moving
party. A motion to dismiss may be granted only if the
plaintiff has failed to set forth fair notice of what the
claim is and the grounds upon which it rests that make such a
claim plausible on its face. Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007). Although Rule 8 does not
require “detailed factual allegations, ” it
requires “more than an unadorned,
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint, the Court must
“tak[e] note of the elements [the] plaintiff must plead
to state a claim. Second, it should identify allegations
that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not
entitled to the assumption of truth. Finally, [w]hen there
are well-pleaded factual allegations, [the] court should
assume their veracity and then determine whether they
plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.”
Connelly v. Lane Const. Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 787 (3d
Cir. 2016) (alterations in original) (internal citations and
quotation marks omitted).
argues Plaintiff has failed to state a claim for relief
because complaint does not properly plead proximate cause.
Motion at 1.
Plaintiff has alleged Defendant placed razor wire in the
recreation area at the levels of the recreating inmates'
knees and faces. Complaint ¶¶ 12, 15, 17-18, 21.
Defendant argues there is no “but for” causation
because Plaintiff chose to retrieve the ball from an area
with visible razor wire. However, New Jersey recognizes two
distinct forms of causation: “but for” and
“substantial factor.” See Komlodi v.
Picciano, 89 A.3d 1234, 1254-55 (N.J.
2014). “A proximate cause need not be the
sole cause of harm. It suffices if it is a substantial
contributing factor to the harm suffered.” Perez v.
Wyeth Labs. Inc., 734 A.2d 1245, 1261 (N.J. 1999).
Therefore, Defendant may be liable for Plaintiff's injury
“if its negligent conduct was a substantial factor in
bringing about the injuries, even where there are other
intervening causes which were foreseeable or were normal
incidents of the risk created.” Komlodi, 89
A.3d at 1254 (internal citations and quotation marks
omitted). The fact that Plaintiff may bear some
responsibility for his ...