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Byrd v. N.J. Department of Corrections

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

December 20, 2017

JEROME BYRD, Plaintiff,
v.
NJ DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          ROBERT B. KUGLER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff, Jerome Byrd, is a state prisoner at the South Woods State Prison in Bridgeton, New Jersey. He is proceeding pro se with an amended civil rights complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court dismissed the original complaint without prejudice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) on March 24, 2017 and gave plaintiff leave to amend. See ECF No. 4. Thereafter, Mr. Byrd submitted a proposed amended complaint. See ECF No. 5. For the following reasons, Mr. Byrd's proposed amended complaint will also be dismissed without prejudice for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

         II. BACKGROUND

         The allegations in Mr. Byrd's proposed amended complaint will be construed as true for purposes of this screening opinion. Mr. Byrd names as defendants: (1) Senior Corrections Officer Brown; (2) Senior Corrections Officer Milbourne; (3) a third unnamed Senior Corrections Officer, identified as John Doe; (4) Willie Bonds, Administrator at the State of New Jersey Department of Corrections, South Woods State Prison (“SWSP”); and (5) SWSP inmate, Kevin Canfield.[1]

         Mr. Byrd's allegations center on an incident that occurred at SWSP Facility 1-H1-1R on December 20, 2014. Plaintiff claims that on that date, Officers Brown and Milbourne were supervising inmates in Facility 1-H1-1R when Officer John Doe buzzed another inmate, Kevin Canfield, into that facility. Proposed Am. Compl. at. paras. 13-15, ECF No. 5-1. Mr. Byrd claims that Mr. Canfield then proceeded to pull Mr. Byrd from his wheelchair and repeatedly punch and kick Mr. Byrd. Id. at para. 16. Mr. Byrd asserts that he “sustained injury to his ribs and buttocks area” as a result. Id. Mr. Byrd alleges that Officers Brown, Milbourne, and Doe were negligent in their supervision of Mr. Canfield and improperly “allowed an unsupervised interaction” between Mr. Canfield and Mr. Byrd. Id. at para. 17. Mr. Byrd does not make any specific factual allegations against Warden Bonds, other than to allege generally that Warden Bonds is “legally responsible for the proper conduct and management of [SWSP] and for the conduct of all employees appointed by him and the care and treatment of the inmates.” Id. at para. 9. Mr. Byrd seeks monetary damages as relief. Id. at p. 5.

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. No. 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)). 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), as explicated by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

         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. 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, Inc. v. Dempster, 764 F.3d 303, 308 n.3 (3d Cir. 2014) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). “[A] pleading that offers ‘labels or 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).

         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).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         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 ...

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