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Drury v. M. Debellis

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

June 28, 2017

M. DEBELLIS, et al., Defendants.


          ROBERT B. KUGLER United States District Judge


         Plaintiff, Jeffrey Drury, is a state prisoner who is proceeding pro se with an amended complaint. Previously, this Court screened Mr. Drury's original complaint and permitted it to proceed only against defendant M. Debellis. Thereafter, based on various filings by Mr. Drury, it appeared that he wanted to amend his complaint. Therefore, this Court ordered Mr. Drury to file one all-inclusive amended complaint. He did so. (See Dkt. No. 37) Subsequently, and currently pending before this Court, is M. Debellis' motion to dismiss the amended complaint for failure to state a claim.[1] For the following reasons, the motion to dismiss will be granted.


         The allegations of the amended complaint will be construed as true for purposes of this opinion. M. Debellis is a senior correctional officer at Bayside State Prison (“BSP”) where Mr. Drury was previously incarcerated.[2] Mr. Drury had to go to the medical department while incarcerated at BSP at various times due to the fact that he has multiple sclerosis. Mr. Drury had a job as a pot washer at BSP. He worked the 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. shift. Defendant M. Debellis did not like the fact that Mr. Drury had to leave work sometimes during his shift to attend medical appointments. M. Debellis harassed Mr. Drury verbally. On January 30, 2015, Mr. Drury had a 10:00 am medical appointment of approximately one hour. This appointment was longer that his other appointments. Mr. Drury returned to work after this appointment. The next day, Mr. Drury was fired by M. Debellis from his pot washing job. M. Debellis told him that he had not come back to work the previous day. M. Debellis further told Mr. Drury that he was sick of all of his medical appointments and that Mr. Drury could take his “sick ass to whatever medical appointments you want to now[.]” (Dkt. No. 37 at p. 38)

         Mr. Drury brings his amended complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), the Rehabilitation Act and the New Jersey Administrative Code. He sues M. Debellis in both his official and individual capacities. He seeks injunctive relief and monetary damages in his amended complaint.

         Defendant M. Debellis has filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Mr. Drury did not file a response in opposition to the motion.


         In deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court must “accept all factual allegations as true, construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief.” Fair Wind Sailing, Inc. v. Dempster, 764 F.3d 303, 308 n.3 (3d Cir. 2014) (quoting Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008)). 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 a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a complaint must allege “sufficient factual matter” to show that its claims are facially plausible. See Fowler v. UPMC 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, 764 F.3d at 308 (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678).

         Additionally, it is worth noting that under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub.L. 104-134, §§ 801-810, 110 Stat. 1321-66 to 1321-77 (Apr. 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. see 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         “The legal standard for dismissing a complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is the same as that for dismissing a complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).” Schreane v. Seana, 506 F. App'x 120, 122 (3d Cir. 2012) (citing Allah v. Seiverling, 229 F.3d 220, 223 (3d Cir. 2000)); Mitchell v. Beard, 492 F. App'x 230, 232 (3d Cir. 2012) (discussing 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1)); Courteau v. United States, 287 F. App'x 159, 162 (3d Cir. 2008) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)).

         Pro se pleadings, as always, will be liberally construed. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972). Nevertheless, “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).

         A plaintiff may have a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for certain violations of constitutional rights. Section 1983 provides in relevant part:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, 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, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer's judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable.

         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 Harvey v. Plains Twp. Police Dep't, 635 F.3d 606, 609 (3d Cir. 2011) (citations omitted); see also West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).


         A. Request for Injunctive Relief

         To the extent that Mr. Drury is seeking injunctive relief from M. Debellis, such claims for injunctive relief are now moot in light Mr. Drury's transfer to SWSP. See, e.g., Hennis v. Varner, 544 F. App'x 43, 45 (3d Cir. 2013) (request for injunctive relief for loss of prison job became moot upon transfer to another prison); Abdul-Akbar v. Watson,4 F.3d 195, 206 (3d Cir. 1993) (holding that the plaintiff's release from prison rendered the case moot because “the district court could not provide Abdul-Akbar with meaningful relief by entering an injunctive order respecting the [prison] in which Abdul-Akbar no longer was incarcerated”); Weaver v. Wilcox, 650 F.2d 22, 27 (3d Cir. 1981) (holding that the plaintiff's prison transfer meant that he “lacks standing to seek injunctive relief if he is no longer subject to the alleged conditions he attempts to challenge”); see also Carey v. Johnson, Civ. No. 05-1695, 2006 WL 3694476, at *6 (W.D. Pa. Dec. 13, 2006) (“The transfer of Plaintiff to SCI-Greensburg moots any ...

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