United States District Court, D. New Jersey
G. SHERIDAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on a motion to dismiss filed by
defendants New Jersey Department of Corrections
("NJDOC"), Edna Mahan Correctional Facility
("EMCF"), Gary Lanigan, and Officer J. Perez. (ECF
No. 25). Plaintiff Janean Owens opposes the motion. (ECF No.
26). For the following reasons, the motion is granted in
part. All claims against the NJDOC, EMCF, and the individual
defendants in their official capacities are dismissed with
prejudice. The amended complaint shall proceed against the
individual defendants in their individual capacities.
is a prisoner in EMCF, a correctional facility for women
operated by the NJDOC. (ECF No. 9 ¶¶ 6-7). Gary
Lanigan is the former Commissioner of the
NJDOC. (Id. ¶ 9). Plaintiff filed a
complaint alleging she was sexually assaulted and harassed by
EMCF corrections officers while incarcerated at EMCF.
(Id. ¶¶ 19-46). She also alleges she was
retaliated against when she filed a complaint with the
administrator of the facility about the assaults.
(Id. ¶¶ 47-53). Plaintiff asserts she
"received unjustified discipline from Defendant J.
Perez, wherein she lost recreation privileges for 5 days,
despite the fact that Plaintiff had not acted improperly.
This discipline was in retaliation for Plaintiffs
complaints." (Id. ¶ 51).
further alleges there was "[a] pattern and practice ...
in the EMCF where sexual assault is prevalent and frequently
perpetrated by corrections officers on inmates, with the
knowledge and acquiescence of EMCF and/or its administrators
... as well as with the knowledge and acquiescence of the
Department of Corrections and/or its policymakers and
administrators, including but not limited to Defendant
Lanigan." (Id. ¶ 54). She alleges at least
sixteen (16) other women have been assaulted by EMCF officers
within the past five years, (id. ¶ 56), and
"at least five (5) EMCF officers and/or employees were
fired and/or criminally indicted over the past three (3)
years over claims of sexual abuse ...." (Id.
¶ 57). According to Plaintiff, the EMCF falsely reported
and/or under-reported cases of sexual abuse of inmates by
officers "for several years[.]" Id. ¶
58. Plaintiff asserts her injuries were the result of
deficient policies and customs "related to training,
supervision, reporting, investigations, and/or sexual assault
of inmates" and failure of supervisors to train and
supervise their subordinate "Defendant Corrections
Officers with regard to assault, sexual assault, battery, use
of force, deliberate indifference and/or punishment of
inmates, as well as the handling of complaints of sexual
assault and/or retaliation against inmates who make said
complaints." (Id. ¶¶ 74-75).
Amended Complaint raises six claims alleging violations of
the First, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteen Amendments to the
United States Constitution brought under 42 U.S.C. §
1983; violations of the New Jersey Civil Rights Act
("NJCRA"), N.J. Stat. Ann. § 10:6-2; and
violations of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination
("LAD"), N.J. Stat. Ann. § 10:5-1 et. seq.
NJDOC, Lanigan, EMCF, and Perez move to dismiss the complaint
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (ECF No. 25).
Plaintiff opposes the motion. (ECF No. 26). The matter is now
ripe for decision. Fed.R.Civ.P. 78(b).
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.
Eleventh Amendment Immunity
assert Plaintiffs claims against the NJDOC and the individual
defendants in their official capacities are barred by ...