United States District Court, D. New Jersey
B. KUGLER United States District Judge
Vernice Clark Holmes, a former prisoner at Bayside State
Prison (“BSP”), filed a civil rights complaint
arising out an incident in which he was allegedly assaulted
by corrections officers and subsequently denied medical care.
Currently pending before this Court is the State of New
Jersey, the Department of Corrections (“DOC”),
Bayside State Prison (“BSP”), and BSP
administrator John Powell's (collectively
“defendants”) motion to dismiss the complaint
pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) and plaintiff's cross-motion to
amend the complaint. For the following reasons, the motion to
dismiss will be granted. The cross-motion to amend is denied.
Court recites the facts in the light most favorable to
plaintiff. In the original complaint, Mr. Holmes alleged he
was assaulted by an unidentified corrections officer on
October 15, 2015 while he was incarcerated at BSP. The
officer conducted a search prior to recreation time and
grabbed Mr. Holmes' buttocks and genitals. After
plaintiff objected to the contact, the officer kicked Mr.
Holmes and punched him in the face. Other officers responded
to the scene and proceeded to assault Mr. Holmes. Plaintiff
alleges he sustained injuries from which he continues to
suffer, as well as permanent physical and psychological
Holmes filed the complaint alleging excessive force, denial
of medical care, as well as failure to train and supervise by
defendants. He alleges there were policies and practices
regarding the covering up of misconduct by corrections
officers. Defendants have now moved to dismiss the complaint
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Mr. Holmes
thereafter filed a cross-motion to amend his complaint and a
proposed amended complaint.
proposed amended complaint adds additional parties, including
some of the officers who allegedly assaulted Mr. Holmes, adds
facts regarding Mr. Holmes' mother's actions after
the incident, and makes allegations regarding a history of
inmate abuse and lawsuits at BSP. Mr. Holmes did not
otherwise respond to the motion to dismiss. Defendants ask
the Court to strike the cross-motion to amend as procedurally
improper and to consider the motion to dismiss as unopposed.
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).
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.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1)(A)-(B). “In all other cases, a
party may amend its pleading only with the opposing
party's written consent or the court's leave. The
court should freely give leave when justice so
requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). Leave to amend a
pleading may be denied where the court 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).
“[I]f a claim is vulnerable to dismissal under Rule
12(b)(6), but the plaintiff moves to amend, leave to amend
generally must be granted unless the amendment would not cure
the deficiency.” Id.
original complaint alleges defendants are liable to Mr.
Holmes because their failure “to provide training
and/or supervision regarding the lawful use of force amounts
to a deliberate indifference to the safety and lives of the
persons incarcerated at Bayside State Prison.” He
further alleges defendants “knowingly failed to enforce
the laws and the rules and regulations . . .
to the use of force by the corrections officer, thereby
creating an atmosphere of lawlessness in which correction
officers employ excessive and illegal force in the belief
that such acts will be condoned and justified by their
superiors.” Mr. Holmes asserts defendants
“implicitly or explicitly adopted and implemented
careless and reckless policies, customs, or practices, that
included, among other things, of allowing corrections
officers . . . to confront inmates without any reasonable
training in when to use force in ...