United States District Court, D. New Jersey
RENE D. EDWARDS, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER GARY M. LANIGAN, et al., Defendants.
Katherine D. Hartman, Esq. Counsel for Plaintiff
Christopher Porrino, Esq. Counsel for Defendants
L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.
case concerns an assault that Plaintiff Rene D. Edwards, an
inmate formerly incarcerated at South Woods State Prison,
suffered at the hands of his cellmate. In the Second Amended
Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that the correctional officer
defendants on duty the evening of the assault were
deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's health and safety
in failing to intervene in violation of the Eighth
Amendment. At issue is Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment, which is ripe for adjudication. The Court
has subject-matter jurisdiction over this case pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1331, as this case concerns a federal question.
For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant the Motion.
was an inmate formerly incarcerated in various New Jersey
Department of Corrections (“NJDOC”) facilities
throughout the state from 2010 through 2014. ECF No. 117-1,
Defs' Statement of Facts (“SOF”), ¶ 1;
ECF No. 122-1, Pl's Response to Statement of Facts
(“RSOF”), ¶ 1. At all times relevant to the
Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff was incarcerated at South
Woods State Prison in Bridgeton, New Jersey. SOF, ¶ 2;
RSOF, ¶ 2.
alleges that he complained to whom he believed to be
Defendant Senior Corrections Officer Yvonne Williams that his
cellmate touched his buttocks on or about December 14, 2011.
SOF, ¶ 3; RSOF, ¶ 3. Approximately two weeks later,
on or about December 27, 2011, Plaintiff's cellmate began
acting aggressively. SOF, ¶ 4; RSOF, ¶ 4. Plaintiff
complained to Defendants Sergeant Rodney Joynes and
Lieutenant Joel Taylor about his cellmate's behavior, but
his cellmate was returned to the cell that night. SOF, ¶
5, RSOF, ¶ 5. In the early morning hours of December 28,
2011, Plaintiff was assaulted by his cellmate, during which
his jaw was broken. SOF ¶ 6; RSOF ¶ 6. According to
Plaintiff, Defendant Senior Corrections Officer Franchetta
heard Plaintiff's cries for help and responded to his
cell, but then left the cell to call for backup, during which
time Plaintiff was sexually assaulted by his cellmate. SOF
¶¶ 7-8; RSOF ¶¶ 7-8.
inmates were removed from the cell, and Plaintiff was taken
to be examined medically. SOF ¶¶ 11-12; RSOF
¶¶ 11-12. The nurse on duty noted that Plaintiff
presented with swelling of his face, limited jaw movement,
active bleeding, and missing teeth, but that he denied
suffering any other injuries. SOF ¶¶ 13-14; RSOF
¶¶ 13-14. Plaintiff was transported to South Jersey
Regional Medical Center for further treatment for a fractured
jaw; Plaintiff was not diagnosed with any other injuries. SOF
¶¶ 15-17; RSOF ¶¶ 15-17. After the
incident, both Plaintiff and his cellmate refused protective
custody. SOF ¶ 24; RSOF ¶ 24.
accordance with N.J.A.C. 10A:8-1.1 to -3.6, all NJDOC
facilities in which Plaintiff was incarcerated from the time
of the alleged assault on December 28, 2011, until he filed
the Complaint on January 11, 2013, have adopted the Inmate
Handbook outlining the Inmate Remedy System Procedure. SOF
¶ 25; RSOF ¶ 25. Inmates incarcerated in NJDOC
prison facilities are provided a copy of the Inmate Handbook
detailing the Inmate Remedy System Procedure during their
orientation. SOF ¶ 26; RSOF ¶ 26.
Inmate Remedy System Procedure is a mechanism for inmates to
lodge complaints, document problems, and offer suggestions to
the correctional facility administration. SOF ¶ 27; RSOF
¶ 27. Inmates are required to utilize the multi-part
Inmate Remedy System before applying to the courts for
relief. SOF ¶ 29; RSOF ¶ 29. Inmate System Forms
are available in the housing units of some NJDOC facilities,
or inmates can request the forms from their housing unit
officer, social worker, or the Inmate Law Library. SOF ¶
30; RSOF ¶ 30. Once an inmate completes a Remedy Form,
he or she must place the form in the appropriate Drop Box
located in each housing unit. SOF ¶ 31; RSOF ¶ 31.
If an inmate is unable to access a Drop Box to submit his or
her form because the inmate is in closed custody housing or
has a limiting medical condition, the unit social worker or
housing officer will deposit the form in the Drop Box. SOF
¶ 32; RSOF ¶ 32.
admits that he was familiar with the Inmate Remedy System.
SOF ¶ 39; RSOF ¶ 39. In fact, Plaintiff has
utilized the Inmate Remedy System approximately thirty-eight
(38) times before. SOF ¶ 41; RSOF ¶ 41. Plaintiff,
however, admits that he did not file an Inmate Remedy Form at
any time about his assault on December 28, 2011. SOF ¶
39; RSOF ¶ 39. Although Plaintiff submitted thirty-eight
(38) Remedy Forms across three different prisons between the
date of his alleged assault on December 28, 2011, and the
date on which he filed his Complaint, none of the grievances
allege that NJDOC, any of its facilities, or any of its
employees failed to protect Plaintiff from the alleged
assault at issue in this litigation. SOF ¶ 41; RSOF
Standard of Review
judgment should be granted when the pleadings, depositions,
answers to interrogatories, admissions on file, and
affidavits show that there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a
judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). A disputed
fact is material when it could affect the outcome of the suit
under the governing substantive law. Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute is
genuine if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id. at
250. The Court should view the facts in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party and make all reasonable
inferences in that party's favor. Hugh v. Butler
County Family YMCA, 418 F.3d 265, 267 (3d Cir. 2005).
the moving party must show the absence of a genuine issue
concerning any material fact. See Celotex Corp. v.
Carrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once the moving party
has satisfied its burden, the non-moving party, “must
present affirmative evidence in order to defeat a properly
supported motion for summary judgment.”
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 257. “While the evidence
that the non-moving party presents may be either direct or
circumstantial, and need not be as great ...