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Meronvil v. Doe

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

January 3, 2018

Leo Meronvil, Plaintiff,
v.
JANE DOE #1, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          KEVIN MCNULTY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Leo Meronvil, a prisoner presently incarcerated at East Jersey State Prison in Rahway, New Jersey, seeks to bring claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants Sgt. Oliver, G. Doyle, E. Vazquez, H. Silva, CO. Macardo, CO. Gomez, and John Doe No. 7, for conduct relating to an alleged beating.

         At this time, the Court must review the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A 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 such relief. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will allow the Complaint to proceed, except as to Plaintiffs Eighth Amendment medical claim, which is dismissed without prejudice for failure to state a claim. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii) and 1915A.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed his Complaint on October 5, 2017. ECF No. 1. It alleges that on September 16, 2016, while Plaintiff was housed at Northern State Prison, the defendants assaulted Plaintiff without justification, and that the assault was motivated by discrimination based on Plaintiffs race or national origin. Compl. ¶ 2.

         On that day, Plaintiff alleges, Defendant Sgt. Oliver ordered the inmates in Plaintiffs housing unit to kneel with their hands behind their heads; the reason for this directive is unknown. Compl. ¶ 17. Some of the other inmates had difficulty remaining in this position and requested to lie flat on their stomachs, which Sgt. Oliver permitted them to do. Compl. f 17. Plaintiff also asked to lie flat on his stomach because his knees hurt badly. Compl. U 18. Sgt. Oliver asked him, "Where are you from?" to which Plaintiff replied, "I'm from Haiti." Id. Plaintiff then alleges that Sgt. Oliver said, "Only Americans get the comforts of America -No, stay on your knees." Id. Plaintiff eventually collapsed to his stomach from the pain in his knees, after which Sgt. Oliver said, "Didn't I tell your Haitian ass to stay on your knees?" Compl. IK 18-19.

         Sgt. Oliver then directed Defendant G. Doyle to take Plaintiff to the barber shop and ordered the other inmates to leave the barber shop area. Compl. K 19. Once the area was cleared of other inmates, Sgt. Oliver directed the defendants to "Fuck his ass up, " whereupon they alternated putting Plaintiff in a choke hold, slamming him to the ground, punching him, kicking him, spitting on him, and spraying him with pepper spray. Compl. 1ft 20-23. All defendants are alleged to have participated in the beating. See Compl. KK 21, 23.

         After the beating, Plaintiff alleges that the defendants took him to the infirmary, where he received treatment.[1] Compl. KK 23-24. After leaving the infirmary, Plaintiff alleges that he was left nude in a dry cell for three days. Compl. If 25. On September 19, 2016, Plaintiff states that a special investigation division officer visited Plaintiff and determined that Plaintiff needed to be reexamined. Compl.¶ 26. Upon reexamination, it was determined that Plaintiff had broken ribs and lacerations and contusions to his face, head, and body. Id.

         Plaintiff alleges that after the beating, the defendants attempted to fabricate a motive for inflicting force upon him. Defendants allegedly told the infirmary staff that Plaintiff assaulted Sgt. Oliver, a female. Compl. ¶ 24. In addition, Plaintiff alleges that he received false disciplinary charges to cover up the beating, but that he was found not guilty of those charges. Compl. H 27. Plaintiff has since been transferred to East Jersey State Prison, where he claims he has twice been told to "leave that Northern State shit alone." Compl. ¶ 29.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Sections 1915(e)(2) and 1915A require a court to review complaints prior to service in cases in which a plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis and in which a plaintiff is incarcerated, The Court must 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. This action is subject to sua sponte screening for dismissal under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A because Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis and is also incarcerated. See ECF No. 2 (granting in forma pauperis application).

         To survive sua sponte 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 Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009). '"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 Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). "[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 Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twambly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).

         III. DISCUSSION

         In the Complaint, Plaintiff attempts to assert various federal civil rights violations pursuant to the U.S. Constitution, as well ...


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