United States District Court, D. New Jersey
Grohs, Plaintiff Pro Se
B. SIMANDLE U.S. District Judge
Steven Grohs' (“Plaintiff”) submitted a civil
rights complaint on November 15, 2015. Complaint, Docket
Entry 1. After reviewing the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915, the Court dismissed certain claims with
prejudice and granted leave to move to amend other claims on
July 14, 2016. Opinion and Order, Docket Entries 5 and 6.
Plaintiff submitted a proposed amended civil rights
complaint, which the Court construes as a motion for leave to
amend. Motion to Amend, Docket Entry 9. For the reasons
stated below, the motion is denied, and the complaint shall
be dismissed with prejudice.
filed a complaint against the New Jersey Department of
Corrections (“DOC”), DOC Commissioner Gary
Lanigan, South Woods State Prison (“SWSP”)
Administrator John Cunningham, Officers John Does 1-45, SWSP
Officer Spencer, and Former SWSP Administrator Karen Balicki
(collectively “Defendants”) alleging violations
of his Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights, as
well as claims under the New Jersey Constitution and
administrative code. See generally Complaint.
complaint alleged that Defendants lost Plaintiff's
personal property when he was transferred from SWSP to the
Special Treatment Unit (“STU”) in order to begin
his temporary civil commitment. Id. ¶¶
6(1)-(3). He specifically alleged Defendants failed to follow
the established procedures for property inventory and
transfer, resulting in the negligent loss of his property.
Id. His administrative remedy was denied by
Administrator Cunningham, and the Appellate Division affirmed
the denial of his property claim. Id. ¶
6(32)-(33); Grohs v. N.J. Dep't of Corr., No.
A-4913-12, 2014 WL 8764096 ( N.J.Super.Ct.App.Div. May 4,
2015), certif. denied 124 A.3d 239 (N.J.
submitted his complaint for mailing on November 11, 2015. The
Court dismissed with prejudice the claims for monetary
damages against Defendants in their official capacities and
against the DOC as barred by the Eleventh Amendment. It
further dismissed with prejudice his Due Process claim for
deprivation of property as he could not bring a due process
claims for negligent deprivations of property by prison
officials and there was an adequate post-deprivation remedy
available to him. July 14, 2016 Opinion at 8. Other claims
brought in the original complaint were dismissed without
prejudice for failure to state a claim. The Court granted
leave to move to amend these claims, but noted that Plaintiff
would have to address the statute of limitations as it was
clear from the face of the complaint that more than two years
had passed between the alleged constitutional violations and
filing of the complaint. Id. at 11-14.
facts alleged in the proposed amended complaint are generally
the same as those alleged in the original complaint.
Plaintiff states he began the process of transferring from
SWSP to the STU in order to begin his temporary civil
commitment on March 3, 2011. Motion to Amend ¶¶
5.4-5.5 at 7. The SWSP Administrator at that time, Defendant
Balicki, directed Officers John Does 1-5 to place Plaintiff
in administrative segregation pending his transfer.
Id. After Plaintiff was removed from his cell,
Officer Spencer inventoried Plaintiff's personal property
in the cell. Id. ¶ 5.9 at 8. Plaintiff alleges
SWSP's custom of using inmates besides the property owner
to move personal property out of cells commonly results in
theft, colloquially known as a “packing fee.”
Id. ¶ 5.7 & n.2 at 7-8. “While
Plaintiff was confined to SWSP and before his transfer to the
STU, Plaintiff was not provided with a copy of an inventory
sheet itemizing the property inventoried.” Id.
¶ 5.9 at 8. He alleges Officer Spencer enabled other
inmates to have unsupervised access to Plaintiff's
unsecured personal property, resulting in another inmate
defacing some of Plaintiff's photographs and the theft of
Plaintiff's property. Id. ¶¶ 5.12-5.14
at 9-10. He was transported to the STU without any of his
property. Id. ¶ 5.15 at 10-11.
arrival at the STU, Plaintiff placed in a cell for two days
with only a mattress, bed linen, hand soap, and toilet paper.
Id. ¶ 5.16 at 11. Plaintiff did not have any
clothing other than the clothes he arrived with until his
property arrived on or about March 21, 2011. Id.
¶ 5.18 at 11-12. He received three large boxes and a
copy of an inventory sheet, but it “did not list any
property that was left in Plaintiff's assigned cell at
SWSP and which had been stolen at SWSP.” Id.
¶ 5.18 at 11-12. He further alleges his television
arrived damaged. Id. ¶ 5.19 at 12. Plaintiff
alleges he learned on or about January 7, 2016 that another STU
resident had been permitted to pack his own belongings before
leaving state prison. Id. ¶¶ 5.24, 5.26 at
now alleges the loss of his property constitutes cruel and
unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment because
Defendants failed to protect his property from being stolen.
He asserts Defendants Lanigan and Balicki are liable under a
supervisory theory. He also argues Defendants violated the
Equal Protection Clause, the Ninth Amendment, and the New
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.”
may deny leave to amend a pleading where it 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