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Edwards v. State

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

July 18, 2017

RENE D. EDWARDS, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE OF NEW JERSEY,, Defendants.

          KATHERINE D. HARTMAN ATTORNEYS HARTMAN, CHARTERED On behalf of Plaintiff

          NICOLE ELIZABETH ADAMS STATE OF NEW JERSEY OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL On behalf of Defendants

          OPINION

          NOEL L. HILLMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This case concerns claims by Plaintiff that Defendants violated his constitutional rights when he was beaten and raped by his cellmate in South Woods State Prison (“South Woods”) in Bridgeton, New Jersey. Presently before the Court are the motions of two defendants, the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Corrections, Gary M. Lanigan, and the former Warden of South Woods, Christopher Holmes, to dismiss Plaintiff's claims against them. For the reasons expressed below, Defendants' motions will be granted.

         BACKGROUND

         According to Plaintiff's second amended complaint (Docket No. 92), at some point in 2011 Plaintiff was assigned Raisona Boyd as his cellmate at South Woods. On December 14, 2011, Plaintiff complained to Officer Williams that Boyd had touched his rear end, making him extremely uncomfortable. Even though Williams stated that she wrote an accident report, no action was taken, and Boyd remained in the cell with Plaintiff.

         On the morning of December 27, 2011, Boyd learned that his parents had passed away. Apparently out of grief, Boyd began throwing things around in the cell, causing Plaintiff sufficient alarm that he informed the guards of the situation and expressed concerns for his personal safety. No action was taken, and Boyd remained in the cell with Plaintiff. Boyd continued to act aggressively and violently towards Plaintiff throughout the day. Although Boyd was removed from the cell at one point during the day, he was returned to the cell soon after.

         Around 11 p.m. that night, Plaintiff asked Boyd to stop throwing his belongings, which led to an argument culminating in Boyd using a metal lock wrapped in a sock to beat Plaintiff in the face and neck. The altercation continued until other inmates made enough noise to alert Officer Franchetta, the Correctional Officer on duty, who arrived in time to see blood spattered on the wall and floor, and Plaintiff nursing a bleeding mouth with broken teeth. Without radioing for backup or taking any action to protect Plaintiff, Officer Franchetta left Boyd in the cell with Plaintiff while he went to seek help. After Officer Franchetta left, Boyd anally raped Plaintiff while he lay helpless and injured.

         After multiple reconstructive surgeries and many months of intensive medical treatment, Plaintiff filed the instant complaint naming as defendants Commissioner Gary M. Lanigan, Warden Christopher Holmes, and each of the SCOs on duty during the relevant time period. Plaintiff claims that the SCOs were deliberately indifferent to his health and safety in violation of the Eighth Amendment, and that Lanigan and Holmes violated his Eighth Amendment rights by failing to properly supervise the SCOs and by failing to take any action to correct the dangerous situation Plaintiff found himself in.

         Lanigan and Holmes have moved to dismiss Plaintiff's claims against them, arguing that his complaint simply names them as defendants, but does not contain any facts to satisfy the proper pleading requirements for viable supervisory liability claims. Plaintiff has opposed both motions.[1]

         DISCUSSION

         A. Subject matter jurisdiction

         Because Plaintiff has brought claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged violations of his constitutional rights, this Court has jurisdiction of this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1343.

         B. Standard for ...


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