United States District Court, D. New Jersey
MCNULTY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Darnell Alfred Williams, is imprisoned at South Woods State
Prison, in Bridgeton, New Jersey. He is proceeding pro se
with a civil rights complaint filed under 42 U.S.C. §
1983. This Court previously granted Mr. Williams leave to
proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF No. 6.)
Court must now review the complaint, pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B), 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, and 42 U.S.C.
§ 1997e, to determine whether it should be dismissed as
frivolous or malicious, for failure to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted, or because it seeks monetary
relief from a defendant who is immune from suit. For the
following reasons, the claim against the unknown supervisor
will be dismissed, but the claim against the unknown officer
will be allowed to proceed.
allegations of the complaint will be construed as true for
the purposes of this opinion. Mr. Williams claims that on
February 16, 2017, when he was in the
"A.C.S.U." at Northern State Prison, in Newark, New
Jersey, an unknown correctional officer assaulted him with
"OCS" through the crack in his cell door,
causing him injuries. (Compl., ECF No. 1, ¶¶ 4, 6.)
Mr. Williams alleges that prison staff declined to help him
identify the officer who sprayed him and that the supervisor
for that area of the prison failed to resolve the problem.
(Id.) Mr. Williams seeks unspecified money damages.
plaintiff may have a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 for certain violations of his constitutional rights.
That section provides as follows:
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.
42 U.S.C. § 1983. To state a claim 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).
the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. 104-134,
§§ 801-810, 110 Stat. 1321-66 to 1321-77 (Apr. 26,
1996) ("PLRA"), a district court must review a
prisoner complaint when the prisoner (1) is proceeding in
forma pauperis, see 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), (2)
seeks redress against a governmental employee or entity,
see 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, or (3) asserts a claim
concerning prison conditions, see 42 U.S.C. §
1997e(c). The PLRA directs district courts to sua sponte
dismiss claims that are frivolous or malicious, that fail to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek
monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such
relief. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B),
1915A(b); 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c).
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 Fed.Appx. 120, 122 (3d Cir. 2012); see
also Mitchell v. Beard, 492 Fed.Appx. 230, 232 (3d Cir.
2012) (discussing 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1)); Courteau
v. United States, 287 Fed.Appx. 159, 162 (3d Cir. 2008)
(discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)). That standard is set
forth in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), and
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007).
To survive the Court's screening for failure to state a
claim, the complaint must allege "sufficient factual
matter to show that the claim is facially plausible."
Fowler v. UPMC Shady side, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d
Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks 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." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; see also
Fair Wind Sailing, Inc. v. Dempster, 764 F.3d 303, 308
n.3 (3d Cir. 2014). "A pleading that offers 'labels
and conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do.'"
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555).
pleadings, as always, will be liberally construed. See
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972) (per curiam);
Glunk v. Noone, 689 Fed.Appx. 137, 139 (3d Cir.
2017). 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).
applied by a prison employee may become unconstitutional
under the Eighth Amendment when it is employed
"maliciously and sadistically for the very purpose of
causing harm, " rather than in 'a good faith effort
to maintain or restore discipline." Whitley v.
Albers,475 U.S. 312, 319 (1986) (internal quotation