United States District Court, D. New Jersey
G. SHERIDAN. U.S.D.J.
matter comes before the Court on Defendants SCO B. Wheeler
and Lt. Joseph Bundy's motion to dismiss Plaintiff Martin
Groins' complaint. (ECF No. 6). For the following
reasons, the motion is granted. The complaint is dismissed
without prejudice, and Plaintiff may move to amend his
is currently incarcerated in New Jersey State Prison
("NJSP"), Trenton, New Jersey. He filed a complaint
in Mercer County Superior Court, which defendants removed to
federal court on November 15, 2017. (ECF No. 1).
to the Complaint, Plaintiff resided in NJSP's housing
unit 2A near another inmate, Michael Martin. Compl. ¶ 3.
On November 25, 2016, Plaintiff witnessed several officers go
into Martin's cell and escort him off of the unit.
Id. ¶ 4. After Martin left, Plaintiff saw more
officers arrive and begin to "loot the content of the
cell. They were on a destruction mission." Id.
¶ 7. Plaintiff alleges he saw officers take "books,
sneakers, clothing and other things of value in large plastic
bags and walk off the block with them." Id.
¶ 8. He also claims the officers "placed legal
materials, food, photo's [sic], cosmetics and other
things of value in the trash barrel." Id.
¶ 9. Many officers, including SCO Wheeler, went in and
out of Martin's cell throughout the day removing boxes of
property. Id. ¶¶ 11-13. Martin's
property was placed in the office unit, and was later
searched and removed on November 30, 2016. Id.
December 2016, Plaintiff filed a certification attesting to
the above happenings in a lawsuit filed by Martin.
Id. ¶ 16. See also Martin v. State of New
Jersey, No. 16-3449 (D.N.J. filed June 15,
2016). He alleges SCO Wheeler and Lt. Bundy
retaliated against him as a result of submitting the
certification. Compl. ¶ 18.
to the date of the search of Martin's cell, Plaintiff had
a job as a barber in the close custody unit in which he was
paid $75 per month. Id. ¶¶ 19-20. He also
had an air conditioned, single cell. Id. ¶ 21.
Plaintiff alleges that SCO Wheeler and Lt. Bundy had him
removed from the housing unit on December 4, 2016.
Id. ¶ 22. He states he was removed from his job
on January 12, 2017. Id. ¶ 24. He also alleges
that his legal material was in Martin's cell as Martin
was a paralegal. Plaintiff alleges defendants seized and
destroyed his legal materials, causing him to be denied
access to the court as a result. Id. ¶ 29.
removing this lawsuit from state court, defendants filed
their motion to dismiss on January 19, 2018. (ECF No. 6).
Plaintiff filed written opposition. (ECF No. 12). The Court
conducted oral argument on April 18, 2018, at which time
Plaintiff appeared by telephone.
considering a motion to dismiss a complaint for failure to
state a claim, Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), the Court must accept
all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and
view them in the light most favorable to the non-moving
party. A motion to dismiss may be granted only if the
plaintiff has failed to set forth fair notice of what the
claim is and the grounds upon which it rests that make such a
claim plausible on its face. Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007). Although Rule 8 does not
require "detailed factual allegations, " it
requires "more than an unadorned,
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint, the Court must
"tak[e] note of the elements [the] plaintiff must plead
to state a claim. Second, it should identify allegations
that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not
entitled to the assumption of truth. Finally, [w]hen there
are well-pleaded factual allegations, [the] court should
assume their veracity and then determine whether they
plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief."
Connelly v. Lane Const. Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 787 (3d
Cir. 2016) (alterations in original) (internal citations and
quotation marks omitted). "[A] complaint's
allegations of historical fact continue to enjoy a highly
favorable standard of review at the motion-to-dismiss stage
of proceedings." Id. at 790.
raises access to the courts and retaliation claims.
Defendants argue Plaintiff has failed to allege
constitutional violations and to allege personal involvement.
Plaintiff urged the Court both in his written opposition and
during oral argument to conduct discovery into
defendants' action, specifically by reviewing a report ...