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Dabney v. New Jersey Department of Corrections

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

September 21, 2018

OSHA DABNEY, Plaintiff,
v.
NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          ROBERT B. KUGLER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         The Plaintiff, Osha Dabney, was a former state prisoner incarcerated at South Woods State Prison in Bridgeton, New Jersey. The plaintiff is proceeding pro se with a civil rights complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

         At this time, this Court must screen the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A[1] to determine whether it should be dismissed as frivolous or malicious, for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or because it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from suit. For the following reasons, the complaint will be dismissed without prejudice for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         The allegations of the complaint will be construed as true for purposes of this screening opinion. The complaint names three defendants: (1) New Jersey Department of Corrections; (2) Willie Bonds, Administrator of the South Woods State Prison; and (3) DEPTCOR.

         Plaintiff was incarcerated at the South Woods State Prison for a period of time during 2014. While there, Plaintiff was assigned to work in the prison's printing shop. As part of Plaintiff's job, he was instructed to clean the printing machine. This task required Plaintiff to spray a cleaning solution onto a rag, and “hold the rag onto the rollers until the ink was removed from the rollers.” (Dkt. No. 1 at pg. 6). On October 31, 2014, at approximately 11:40 a.m. while Plaintiff was cleaning the roller, the tip of his left-hand plastic glove was “sucked into the machine.” (See id.). As a result, the tip of Plaintiff's left-hand ring finger was severed. Plaintiff was unable to stop the machine because the “stop button” was located on the left-hand side, the same side as Plaintiff's caught hand.

         When Plaintiff was eventually freed from the machine, the tip of his finger was located and placed on ice by prison officials. Orders were allegedly given for Plaintiff to be sent to the hospital. However, Plaintiff was not taken to a hospital until 3:20 p.m., several hours later after the incident. Later that same day, October 14, 2014, Plaintiff filed a Notice of Tort claim with the State of New Jersey's Division of Risk Management. Plaintiff stated in the instant Complaint simply that “the claims investigator [in his tort action] found no liability against the Agency DOC/SWSP.” (Dkt. No. 1 at pg. 5).

         III. LEGAL STANDARDS

         Under the Prisoner 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 person 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).

         “The legal standard for dismissing a complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is the same as that for dismissing a complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).” Schreane v. Seana, 506 Fed.Appx. 120, 122 (3d Cir. 2012) (citing Allah v. Seiverling, 229 F.3d 220, 223 (3d Cir. 2000)); Mitchell v. Beard, 492 Fed.Appx. 230, 232 (3d Cir. 2012) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1)); Courteau v. United States, 287 Fed.Appx. 159, 162 (3d Cir. 2008) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)). That standard is set forth in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) and Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), as explicated by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. To survive the court's screening for failure to state a claim, the complaint must allege ‘sufficient factual matter' to show that the claim is facially plausible. See Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009) (citation omitted). “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 Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). “[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 Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

         Pro se pleadings, as always, will be liberally construed. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972). Nevertheless, “pro se litigants still must allege sufficient facts in their complaints to support a claim.” Mala v. Crown Bay Marina, Inc., 704 F.3d 239, 245 (3d Cir. 2013) (citation omitted).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         A. Statute ...


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