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Muslim v. D'Ilio

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

September 21, 2018

ALQUAN MUSLIM Plaintiff,
v.
STEPHEN D'ILIO, et al. Defendants.

          PETER G. SHERIDAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court on several motions filed by Plaintiff, namely a motion for reconsideration, a motion to appeal Magistrate Arpert's order, a motion for appointment of counsel (ECF Nos. 55, 54, & 55), as well as Defendants' motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 56)[1].

         Plaintiff, a prisoner in New Jersey State Prison ("NJSP"), filed a complaint alleging several violations of the Eighth Amendment for unconstitutional conditions of confinement and denial of medical care. Compl., ECF No. 1. Plaintiff alleged that he was confined to the administrative segregation unit for 90 days as the result of a disciplinary infraction. Id. ¶ 6. He began experiencing shortness of breath, dizziness, and chest pains as the result of his congenital heart condition. Ibid. He filed an administrative remedy complaint on February 10, 2014 asking to be moved to an air-conditioned unit to help his medical conditions. Ibid. Administrator D'Ilio did not answer the request, but Major D'Amico denied the request. Ibid. Plaintiff appealed, and Associate Administrator Campos denied the appeal. Ibid. Plaintiff was released from administrative segregation on March 21, 2014. Id. ¶ 7.

         After being released from administrative segregation, Plaintiff was placed into a general population cell with a constantly running and leaking toilet. Ibid. The leaking waste and smell prevented and/or interfered with Plaintiffs ability to sleep, and he alleges Administrator D'Ilio knew about the broken toilet before Plaintiff was placed into that cell. Ibid. Plaintiff filed an inmate remedy form ("IRF") about the conditions of the cell. He spoke with Lieutenant Kennedy about needing an air-conditioned unit because of his medical condition, and Lieutenant Kennedy told Plaintiff he would make sure Plaintiff was placed into an air-conditioned cell as soon as one was available. Id. ¶ 8. Despite same, as air-conditioned cells became available Lieutenant Kennedy put other prisoners into those cells instead. Ibid.

         The Court granted Plaintiffs in forma pauperis application on August 17, 2015 and permitted the complaint to proceed on May 9, 2016. (ECF Nos. 2 & 4). On July 1, 2016, Plaintiff moved for leave to file a supplemental complaint. (ECF No. 14). Magistrate Judge Arpert denied the motion as Plaintiff had not included a proposed amended complaint. (ECF No. 14). Defendants filed a motion to dismiss on July 12, 2016, (ECF No. 17), and Plaintiff filed another motion for leave to file a supplemental complaint on July 21, 2016. (ECF No. 19). The Court conducted oral argument on September 26, 2016 and granted the motion to dismiss and motion for leave to file an amended complaint. (ECF No. 25). The Court directed Plaintiff to file his amended complaint within 30 days. (ECF No. 25).

         Plaintiff complied with the Court's order and filed his amended complaint on October 24, 2016. (Amended Compl., ECF No. 30). In the amended complaint, Plaintiff argued the conditions in his cells were unconstitutional because there was no hot water, the toilet was too small to use, the sink ran continuously, the cell lacked proper ventilation, there was excessive heat in the summer months, and there were frequent rodent infestations. Amended Compl. ¶ 5 (a)-(f). He alleged that he began experiencing shortness of breath on December 21, 2015 and eventually passed out. Id. ¶ 5(g). He was surrounded by nurses and officers when he woke up and could not estimate the period of time he had been unconscious. Ibid. The nurses performed an EKG and called 911 because he may have had a heart attack. Ibid. When Plaintiff returned to the prison, the medical department ordered that Plaintiff be placed on flat-tier only. Ibid.

         Plaintiffs new cell was near a generator that constantly smelled of gas. Id. ¶ 5(h). The smell caused Plaintiff to experience breathing problems and chest pains for which he had to be taken to the prison hospital. Ibid. Plaintiff made several requests to be moved to a different location that housed prisoners with medical problems. Ibid. According to Plaintiff, a cardiologist and ear, nose, and throat doctor recommended that he be placed in a consistently air-conditioned or ventilated environment. Ibid.

         Plaintiff was then placed into administrative segregation for 95 days. Id. ¶ 6. Upon his return, he discovered his cell had been searched twice within the past five days. He also found that his radio was broken, and his clothes and legal papers were on the floor. Ibid. He also states that he was kept in administrative segregation for three days more than his disciplinary sanctions and was never given a reason why. Id. ¶ 7. Plaintiff states that although he is presently housed in an air-conditioned unit, he is sharing what was designed as a single-inmate cell with another inmate. Id. ¶ 8. He asserts this reduces the air circulation. Ibid. He argues the defendants deliberately imposed these conditions on him to cause him physical and mental harm. Ibid.

         Plaintiffs Motions

         The Court first reviews Plaintiffs motions providing a pertinent timeline. On October 4, 2017, the Honorable Douglas E. Arpert, granted Plaintiffs motion to compel discovery a second time and extended all deadlines in the April 7, 2017 Scheduling Order by 60-Days. (ECF No. 47). Accordingly, Defendants' dispositive motions were due no later than January 8, 2018. On November 3, 2017, Plaintiff filed a motion for entry of default arguing that Defendants had not complied with Judge Arpert's October 4, 2017 Order. Plaintiff avers that he received his first set of documents from Defendant on November 6, 2017. (ECF 52, PI. Motion for Reconsid., ¶3). Plaintiff allegedly sent two requests to the Court to Order Defendants to comply with the Court Order - the requests are not on the docket. (ECF No. ¶¶ 4-5). On January 30, 2018, Defendants submitted a letter in opposition to Plaintiffs motion for default and requested a 45-day extension in which to file a dispositive motion. On February 6, 2018, Judge Arpert issued an order granting Defendant's request to deem Plaintiffs motion for default moot. (ECF No. 50). On February 9, Judge Arpert issued an order granting Defendants' request for a 45-day extension to file dispositive motions. Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment on March 9, 2018.

         1. Motion for Reconsideration

         As best the Court can tell, Plaintiff is bringing a motion for reconsideration with regards to Order ECF No. 50 issued by Judge Arpert on February 6, 2018, which deemed Plaintiffs motion for Default judgment moot. As the Court understands it, Plaintiff filed the motion (ECF No. 47) asking the Court to assess fees against Defendants in the amount of $50 dollars per day for failure to comply with the October 4, 2017 Order which mandated that Defendants should provide answers to Plaintiffs interrogatories. In the order, Judge Arpert notes that Defendants stated in a letter from January 30, 2018 that they had produced all answers to interrogatories and responses to Plaintiffs notice to produce on November 2, 2017 as per the Court's previous order on October 4, 2017. Plaintiff also objects to Defendants' request for a 45-day extension to file a motion for summary judgment granted by ECF No. 51. Plaintiff reasons that Defendants have yet to answer the original Complaint. However, the docket shows that Defendants filed an answer to the Amended complaint on February 17, 2017 (ECF No. 40) after receiving a 30-day extension from the Court. (ECF No. 37).

         Motions for reconsideration are governed by Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e) and L. Civ. R. 7.l(i). The "extraordinary remedy" of reconsideration is "to be granted sparingly." A.K. Stamping Co., Inc., v. Instrument Specialties Co., Inc., 106 F.Supp.2d 627, 662 (D.N.J. 2000) (quoting NL Indus., Inc., v. Commercial Union Ins. Co., 935 F.Supp. 513, 516 (D.N.J. 1996)). The Rule "does not contemplate a Court looking to matters which were not originally presented." Damiano v. Sony Music Entertainment, Inc., 975 F.Supp. 623, 634 (D.N.J. 1996) (quoting Florham Park Chevron, Inc., v. Chevron U.S.A., Inc., 680 F.Supp. 159, 162 (D.N.J. 1988)). The Third Circuit has held that the "purpose of a motion for reconsideration is to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence." Harsco Corp. v. Zlotnicki, 779 F.2d 906, 909 (3d Cir. 1985), cert, denied, 476 U.S. 1171 (1986). "Reconsideration motions, however, may not be used to relitigate old matters, nor to raise arguments or present evidence that could have been raised prior to the entry of judgment." NL Indus., Inc., 935 F.Supp. at 516; See Wright, Miller & Kane, Fed. Practice and Procedure: Civil 2d§ 2810.1. To prevail on a motion for reconsideration, the movant must show: "(1) an intervening change in the controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence that was not available when the court. . . [rendered the judgment in question]; or (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or fact or to prevent manifest injustice." U.S. ex rel. Shumann v. Astrazeneca Pharm. L.P., 769 F.3d 837, 848-49 (3d Cir. 2014) (citing Max's Seafood Cafe ex rel. Lou-Ann, Inc. v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir. 1999)). The standard of review involved in a motion for reconsideration is high and relief is to be granted sparingly. United States v. Jones, 158 F.R.D. 309, 314 (D.N.J. 1994). "The Court will grant a motion for reconsideration only where its prior decision has overlooked a factual or legal issue that may alter the disposition of the matter. The word 'overlooked' is the operative term in the Rule." Andreyko v. Sunrise Sr. Living, Inc., 993 F.Supp.2d 475, 478 (D.N.J. 2014) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted). Mere disagreement with the Court's decision is not a basis for reconsideration. United States v. Compaction Sys. Corp., 88 F.Supp.2d 339, 345 (D.N.J. 1999).

         Plaintiff has failed to show that he met any of the above-mentioned circumstances that would warrant reconsideration of the Court's prior decision in Order ECF No. 50 and 51. Thus the motion is DENIED.

         2. Appeal of Magistrate Decision

         Plaintiffs motion to appeal the Magistrate decision is based on the same issues discussed in the motion for reconsideration. Plaintiff filed a letter on February 26, 2018 (ECF No. 54) moving to appeal Magistrate Arpert's decision to grant a 45-day extension from the original due date of dispositive motions to Defendants so that they might file a motion for summary judgment.

         Plaintiff argues that he objected when Defendants filed a request for an extension, but Judge Arpert granted the extension notwithstanding his objection. Plaintiffs argument in this appeal is conclusory and unsupported, and it is one within Judge Arpert's discretion.

         The motion is DENIED.

         3. Motion to Appoint Counsel

         Plaintiff filed a motion to appoint pro bono counsel. (ECF No. 55). The reasons for this motion are similar as previously stated. In his application, Plaintiff mentions that he has been litigating this case with the help of paralegals at the New Jersey State Prison. He states that he is on several medications which cause memory loss, drowsiness, and other side effects. He lists the following medications:

a) Diltiazem 300 mg once a day.
b) Carvedilol 25 mg (coreg) twice a day.
c) Clonidine 0.3 mg twice a day.
d) Terazosin 10 mg once a day.
e) Atorvastation 20 mg one a day.
f) Ranexa 1000 mg twice a day.
g) Aspirin 81 mg once a day.
h) Nitro ...

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