United States District Court, D. New Jersey
B. KUGLER United States District Judge
Michael Farrell (“Petitioner”), an inmate
incarcerated at FCI Fort Dix, filed a combined pleading
against Defendants Warden Ortiz, Lieutenant Atkinson, the
United States of America, and Bureau of Prisons
(“BOP”) Director “LNU” for: (1) a
writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 and
(2) a civil rights action pursuant to Bivens v. Six
Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics,
403 U.S. 388, 395 (1971). Petitioner's claims stem from
his placement in the segregated housing unit and the
conditions of his confinement. For the following reasons,
this Court will dismiss Petitioner's pleading for failure
to state a claim.
claims that, at all material times hereto, he was employed in
the food service warehouse at FCI Fort Dix. (See ECF
No. 1 at p. 4). On November 21, 2017, Petitioner alleges that
Lieutenant Atkinson and other officers conducted a search of
the warehouse and discovered numerous cell phones, chargers,
and tobacco products. (See Id. at pp. 6-8). After
the search was completed, Petitioner and two other inmates
were placed in the Special Housing Unit (“SHU”)
at FCI Fort Dix without due process. (See Id. at p.
alleges that for the first two and a half weeks in the SHU,
he and the two other inmates were housed in a two-man cell
that was freezing cold and covered in mold and mildew.
(See Id. at p. 8). Petitioner claims that he was
denied social visits, access to phones, recreation time, and
access to property while in the SHU. (See Id. at p.
9). Additionally, Petitioner alleges that he was taken to the
shower in handcuffs while in the SHU. (See Id. at p.
also claims that the BOP denied his request to use the law
library on November 22, 2017. (See Id. at p. 9).
Additionally, Petitioner alleges that the BOP failed to send
the first complaint he prepared in this matter to his wife
for filing on November 24, 2017. (See id at p. 10).
Petitioner further claims that he is being held in the SHU
without “reasonable suspicion of involvement with any
contraband or disciplinary offense.” (See
Count One of the Petition, Petitioner asserts a violation of
“the quality and condition” of his confinement
under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. (See Id. at p. 11).
Petitioner does not allege that he lost good time conduct nor
does he request earlier release from custody for relief.
Instead, Petitioner seeks immediate release from the SHU.
(See Id. at pp. 11-12). In Count Two, Petitioner
asserts a separate civil rights claim pursuant to
Bivens alleging that the Defendants' conduct
violated his First, Fifth, and Eighth Amendment rights and
seeking monetary damages. (See Id. at pp. 12-13).
Petitioner further alleges that he did not exhaust his
administrative remedies, as exhaustion would be futile.
(See Id. at p. 12).
HABEAS CORPUS PETITION
district courts have a pre-service duty under Rule 4 of the
Rules Governing § 2254 Cases in the United States
District Courts, which is applicable to § 2241 petitions
pursuant to Rule 1(b), to screen and summarily dismiss a
habeas petition prior to any answer or other pleading by the
state when the petition “appears legally insufficient
on its face.” McFarland v. Scott, 512 U.S.
849, 856 (1994); see also United States v. Thomas,
221 F.3d 430, 437 (3d Cir. 2000) (explaining habeas petitions
may be dismissed where “none of the grounds alleged in
the petition would entitle [the petitioner] to
to the validity of any confinement or to particulars
affecting its duration are the province of habeas corpus;
requests for relief turning on circumstances of confinement
may be presented in a § 1983 [or Bivens]
action.” Muhammad v. Close, 540 U.S. 749, 750
(2004) (internal citation omitted). “[U]nless the claim
would fall within the ‘core of habeas' and require
sooner release if resolved in the plaintiff's favor, a
prison confinement action ... is properly brought under
§ 1983.” Leamer v. Fauver, 288 F.3d 532,
542 (3d Cir.2002).
Court finds that Petitioner's claims do not sound in
habeas. A petition for writ of habeas corpus seeks to
challenge the fact or length of confinement. Preiser v.
Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 491 (1973). Petitioner,
however, does not attack the duration of his incarceration
nor does he seek release from prison. Rather, Petitioner
challenges the alleged unconstitutional treatment of him
while in confinement - that is, his placement in the SHU.
Because a finding in Petitioner's favor as to his
condition of confinement “would not alter his sentence
or undo his conviction, ” he must proceed by way of a
civil rights action. Leamer, 288 F.3d at 542;
see, e.g., Zapata v. United States, 264 F.
App'x. 242 (3d Cir. 2008) (finding that district court
lacked jurisdiction under § 2241 to entertain
inmate's challenge to prison transfer); Ganim v. Fed.
Bureau of Prisons, 232 Fed.Appx. 882, 884 (3d Cir. 2007)
(inmate's claim that officials improperly denied request
for transfer to another facility was not a cognizable habeas
claim); Bronson v. Demming, 56 F. App'x. 551,
553-54 (3d Cir. 2002) (habeas relief unavailable to inmate
seeking release from disciplinary segregation to general
population, and district court properly dismissed habeas
petition without prejudice to any right to assert claims in
properly filed civil complaint). Accordingly, the Court will
dismiss Petitioner's habeas claim and construe the
pleading as a civil rights complaint pursuant to
CIVIL RIGHTS ACTION
Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”) requires a
court to review a complaint in a civil action in which a
prisoner seeks redress against a governmental employee or
entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Specifically, the PRLA
directs the court to screen the complaint for cognizable
claims and to sua sponte dismiss any claim that is
frivolous, 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. 28 U.S.C. §
1915A(b). Whether a complaint fails to state a claim pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b) is governed by the same standard
as Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
See Schreane v. Seana, 506 Fed.Appx. 120, 122 (3d
Cir. 2012) (citing Allah v. Seiverling, 229 F.3d
220, 223 (3d Cir. 2000)). Accordingly, a court must determine
whether the complaint includes “sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 679 (2009) (quotation marks omitted).