United States District Court, D. New Jersey
B. KUGLER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Julio Valdez, is a state prisoner currently incarcerated at
Southern State Correctional Facility in Delmont, New Jersey.
He is proceeding pro se with a civil rights
complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff
submitted for filing his complaint, together with an
application for appointment of pro bono counsel. For the
reasons set forth below, the complaint will be permitted to
proceed in part. In addition, this Court will direct the
Clerk to appoint pro bono counsel to represent Plaintiff in
the instant matter.
filed this complaint against several employees of South Woods
State Prison (“SWSP”), including Corrections
Officer Cortlen S. Flax and Corrections Officer(s) John
Doe(s), alleging violations of his Eighth Amendment rights.
The following factual allegations are taken from the
complaint and are accepted as true for purposes of this
alleges that he was assaulted by Officer Flax while he was
incarcerated at SWSP on or about February 14, 2017. (Dkt. No.
1 at pp. 6-7). Plaintiff claims that without provocation or
warning, Officer Flax entered Plaintiff's cell and
attacked Plaintiff with closed fists, punching him repeatedly
in the head and eventually knocking him unconscious. (See
Id. at p. 8).
also alleges that he was denied medical treatment for his
wounds despite requesting medical attention from unidentified
corrections officers after the attack. (See id.)
Additionally, Plaintiff claims that unidentified corrections
officers witnessed the incident and did nothing to stop
Officer Flax from attacking Plaintiff. (See id.).
Plaintiff asserts claims against Officer Flax and the
unidentified corrections officers in both their official and
individual capacities. (See Id. at p. 9). Plaintiff
further states that the incident was investigated by the
Cumberland County Prosecutor's Office, resulting in the
filing of criminal charges against Officer Flax. (See
Id. at pp. 5, 15-17).
states that he suffered severe and permanent injuries to his
left ear, including a ruptured ear drum, as well as
psychological trauma as a result of the assault. (See
Id. at p. 11). Plaintiff requests that this Court grant
him relief in the form of $1, 000, 000 in punitive damages
against each defendant, $1, 000, 000 in declaratory damages
against each defendant, $1, 000, 000 in compensatory damages
against each defendant, $1, 000, 000 in consequential damages
against each defendant, and future medical expenses. (See
Plaintiff makes an application for the appointment of pro
bono counsel. (See Id. at p. 12). Plaintiff states
that he cannot speak, read, or write English. (See
id.). Additionally, Plaintiff claims that he does not
have access to Spanish-speaking paralegals in the law library
to help assist him in his future filings with the court.
(See Id. at p. 13).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. 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).
determining the sufficiency of a complaint, the court must be
mindful to construe it liberally in favor of the plaintiff.
See United States v. Day, 969 F.2d 39, 42 (3d Cir.
1992). The court should “accept as true all of the
allegations in the complaint and all reasonable inferences
that can be drawn therefrom, and view them in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff.” Morse v. Lower Merion
School Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997). Thus,
“[a] pro se complaint may be dismissed for failure to
state a claim only if it appears ‘beyond doubt that the
plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim
which would entitle him to relief.'” Milhouse
v. Carlson, 652 F.2d 371, 373 (3d Cir. 1981) (quoting
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972)).
asserts numerous claims against Officer Flax and Officer(s)
Doe(s) in their official and individual capacities for
violations of his Eighth Amendment rights. He raises claims
for excessive force, failure to intervene, and denial of