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Hayes v. Wilkens

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

October 10, 2018

RAHEEM MAURICE HAYES, Plaintiff,
v.
SGT. WILKENS, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          KEVIN MCNULTY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff, Raheem Maurice Hayes, is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with a civi. rights complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Previously, this Court granted Mr. Hayes' application to proceed in forma pauperis.

         At this time, this Court must screen the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A to determine whether it should be dismissed as frivolous or malicious, for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted or because it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from suit. For the following reasons, the complaint will be permitted to proceed in part.

         II. BACKGROUND

         The allegations of the complaint will be construed as true for purpose of this screening Opinion. Mr. Hayes names four defendants in his complaint; they are: (1) Sgt. Wilkens; (2) John Doe; (3) John Doe; and (4) George Robinson.

         The allegations of the complaint relate to when Mr. Hayes was incarcerated at the Northern State Prison. Mr. Hayes alleges that a John Doe correctional officer approached him and told Mr. Hayes to take a yellow thread out of his dreadlocks. This John Doe officer then told Mr. Hayes he was going to cut it out. Mr. Hayes responded that it was locked into his hair. This first John Doe officer asked another John Doe officer for scissors. Mr. Hayes told the John Doe officers it was in his hair because of his Oshun religion. Sergeant Wilkens was then called. Wilkens asked Mr. Hayes why he had a yellow thread locked into his hair. Mr. Hayes told Wilkens that it was because of his Yoruba religion.

         Wilkens instructed the John Doe officers to cut off Mr. Hayes' dreadlocks. Three of Mr. Hayes' dreadlocks were then cut off.

         Mr. Hayes sues alleging that his First and Eighth Amendment rights were violated as a result of this incident. He seeks injunctive and monetary relief against the defendants.

         III. LEGAL STANDARDS

         Under 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. § l9l5A(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. 2032) (citing Allah v. Seiverling, 229 F.3d 220, 223 (3d Cir. 2000)); Mitchell v. Beard, 492 Fed.Appx. 230, 232 (3d Cir. 2012) (discussing 42 U.S.C. § l997e(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. ...


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