United States District Court, D. New Jersey
JERRY R. BELT, Plaintiff,
FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS, et al., Defendants.
B. KUGLER United States District Judge
Jerry R. Belt, is a federal prisoner currently incarcerated
at FMC Lexington in Lexington, Kentucky. Plaintiff was
previously incarcerated at FCI Fort Dix in Fort Dix, New
Jersey and FCI Ashland in Ashland, Kentucky. He is proceeding
pro se with a civil complaint filed pursuant to
Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau
of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). (See ECF No.
1). Plaintiff has also filed a Motion to Appoint a
Third-Party Representative in this matter. (See ECF
No. 4). For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's
claims against the FCI Ashland Defendants will be severed and
transferred to the United States District Court for the
Eastern District of Kentucky. Plaintiff's remaining
claims against the FCI Fort Dix Defendants will be permitted
to proceed in part. Additionally, Plaintiff's motion for
the appointment of a representative will be denied.
allegations of the complaint will be construed as true for
purposes of this screening opinion. Plaintiff names the
following parties as defendants: (1) Federal Bureau of
Prisons; (2) Northeast Regional Director; (3) Northeast
Regional Health Services Administrator; (4) Jose A. Santana,
Chief, Designation & Sentencing Computation Center; (5)
Northeast Regional Administrative Remedy Coordinator; (6)
Warden J. Hollingsworth, FCI Fort Dix; (7) Associate Warden,
FCI Fort Dix; (8) Captain, Fort Dix; (9) Special
Agent-in-Charge, Fort Dix; (10) Special Investigations
Services, Lieutenant, FCI Fort Dix; (11) Chief Psychologist,
FCI Fort Dix; (12) Staff Psychologist, FCI Fort Dix; (13)
Unit Manager Robinson, FCI Fort Dix; (14) Case Manager
Crisson, FCI Fort Dix; (15) Administrative Remedy
Coordinator, FCI Fort Dix; (16) Counselor Robert, FCI Fort
Dix; (17) Counselor Castellanos, FCI Fort Dix; (18) Counselor
Ruffin, FCI Fort Dix; (19) Counselor Watson, FCI Fort Dix;
(20) Correction Officer J. Rayfield., FCI Fort Dix; (21)
Correction Officer Ms. Collodo, FCI Fort Dix; (22) Warden
Thomas Smith, FCI Ashland; (23) Associate Warden Janisse
Bishop, FCI Ashland; (24) Unit Manager Mr. Fazenbaker, FCI
Ashland; (25) Federal Prison Camp Administrator, FCI Ashland;
(26) Health Services Administrator, FCI Ashland; (27) Chief
Psychologist, FCI Ashland; (28) Staff Psychologist Ms.
Williams, FCI Ashland; (29) Staff Psychologist, FCI Ashland;
(30) Case Manager Tony Dean, FCI Ashland; (31) Counselor S.
Reed, FCI Ashland; (32) Case Manager Mr. Patton, FCI Ashland;
(33) Counselor J. Boggs, FCI Ashland; (34) Captain, FCI
Ashland; (35) Primary Care Provider Ms. Boyd, FCI Ashland;
(36) Health Services Director Dr. Gomez, FCI Ashland; (37)
Special Agent-in-Charge, FCI Ashland; and (38) Special
Investigations Services, FCI Ashland.
complaint arises from an alleged sexual assault that occurred
while he was incarcerated at FCI Fort Dix. (See ECF
No. 1 at pp. 12-16). Specifically, Plaintiff claims that on
January 10, 2017, Counselor Ruffin sexually assaulted
Plaintiff both verbally and physically. (See Id. at
p. 15). Plaintiff also claims that he repeatedly informed
Unit Manager Robinson and Case Manager Crisson of the
harassment he experienced by Counselor Ruffin, yet they
failed to transfer Plaintiff to a different security
classification. (See Id. at p. 14). Additionally,
Plaintiff claims that Corrections Officer Collodo witnessed
the sexual assault by Counselor Ruffin and failed to
intervene. (See id. at p. 16). Plaintiff further
alleges that numerous individuals at FCI Fort Dix failed to
investigate the sexual assault and ignored his inmate
grievances. (See Id. at pp. 13-15).
complaint also raises additional causes of action arising
from an alleged denial of medical treatment that occurred
while he was incarcerated at FCI Ashland. (See id.at
pp. 16-19). Plaintiff has also filed a motion requesting that
this Court appoint Reginald Thaddeus Gilbert-Bey, an inmate
at FCI Ashland, to represent him in this matter.
(See ECF No. 4).
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)).
Claims against the FCI Ashland Defendants
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) provides for dismissal for
lack of personal jurisdiction. “The federal district
courts in New Jersey may assert personal jurisdiction over a
nonresident only to the extent authorized by state
law.” Boyd v. Arizona, 469 Fed.Appx. 92, 97
(3d Cir. 2012) (citing Eurofins Pharma U.S. Holdings v.
BioAlliance Pharma SA, 623 F.3d 147, 155 (3d Cir.
2010)); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(e), 4(k)(1)(A).
The New Jersey statute is “intended to extend as far as
is constitutionally permissible.” DeJames v.
Magnificence Carriers, Inc., 654 F.2d 280 (3d Cir.
1981); see also Miller Yacht Sales, Inc. v. Smith,
384 F.3d 93, 96 (3d Cir. 2004) (“New Jersey's
long-arm statute provides for jurisdiction coextensive with
the due process requirements of the United States
Constitution.”). Accordingly, the exercise of personal
jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant depends upon
whether that defendant has established “certain minimum
contacts with [the forum state] such that the maintenance of
the suit does not offend traditional notions of fair play and
substantial justice.” Telcordia Tech Inc. v. Telkom
SA Ltd., 458 F.3d 172, 177 (3d Cir. 2006) (quoting
Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316
(1945)); see also Miller Yacht Sales, 384 F.3d at 96
(“[P]arties who have constitutionally sufficient
‘minimum contacts' with New Jersey are subject to
are two types of personal jurisdiction that can be
established by minimum contacts which comport with
constitutional due process principles: general jurisdiction
and specific jurisdiction. See Boyd, 469 Fed.Appx.
at 97. General jurisdiction exists “when a defendant
has maintained systematic and continuous contacts with the
forum state.” Id. (quoting Kehm Oil Co. v.
Texaco, Inc., 537 F.3d 290, 300 (3d Cir. 2008)).
“Specific jurisdiction exists when the claim arises
from or relates to conduct purposely directed at the forum
state.” Kehm Oil Co., 537 F.3d at 300 (citing
Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v. Hall,
466 U.S. 408, 414-15 (1984)).
Plaintiff seeks to assert claims against numerous individuals
for conduct that occurred while he was incarcerated at FCI
Ashland in Kentucky. Specifically, Plaintiff names the
Northeast Regional Health Services Administrator; Jose
Santana, Chief, Designation & Sentencing Computation
Center; Warden Thomas Smith; Associate Warden Janisse Bishop;
Mr. Fazenbaker; Ms. Williams; Tony Dean; S. Reed; Mr. Patton;
J. Boggs; Ms. Boyd; Dr. Gomez; and other unidentified FCI
Ashland employees as Defendants (collectively the “FCI
Ashland Defendants”). Plaintiff's allegations
regarding the FCI Ashland Defendants all relate to conduct
which occurred outside the territorial jurisdiction of the
United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.
Plaintiff does not allege that the FCI Ashland Defendants
engaged in unconstitutional conduct in New Jersey, or that
these Defendants directed their conduct at New Jersey.
Moreover, Plaintiff has not asserted any facts which suggest
that any of the FCI Ashland Defendants maintained the sort of
“systematic and continuous contacts” with New
Jersey that would establish general jurisdiction. There is
nothing in the complaint which suggests that this Court could
exercise general or specific jurisdiction over the FCI
Ashland Defendants. Accordingly, personal jurisdiction does
not exist as to the FCI Ashland Defendants.
to 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a), a district court is permitted to
either dismiss or transfer a case to another court even if it
does not have jurisdiction. See Goldlawr, Inc. v.
Heiman, 369 U.S. 463, 466-67 (1962) (establishing that
the language of § 1406 is broad enough to authorize the
transfer of cases where the plaintiff has filed in a court
that does not have jurisdiction over the defendant);
Lafferty v. St. Riel, 495 F.3d 72, 77-78 (3d Cir.
2007) (stating that § 1406(a) comes into play when
plaintiffs have filed in an improper forum and district
courts are required to either dismiss or transfer the
case). Section 1406(a) provides in pertinent
The district court of a district in which is filed a case
laying venue in the wrong division or district shall dismiss,
or if it be in the interest of justice, transfer such case to
any district or division in which it could have been brought.
28 U.S.C. § 1406(a). In light of the lack of personal
jurisdiction over the FCI Ashland Defendants, this Court
determines that venue in this district is improper. However,
personal jurisdiction does exist, and venue is ...