United States District Court, D. New Jersey
MCNULTY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
pro se, Raheem Wilcox, commenced this action by filing a
civil-rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, on April
16, 2018. (DE 1.) The action was initially administratively
terminated, as the complaint included a defective application
to proceed in forma pauperis. (DE 3, 4.) Mr. Wilcox
subsequently submitted a proper in forma pauperis
application, and the matter was reopened. (DE 5, 6, 8.) The
Court now undertakes an initial screening of the complaint
and a proposed amended complaint under 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e), 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, and 42 U.S.C. § 1997e.
Wilcox is presently incarcerated at East Jersey State Prison,
in Rahway, New Jersey, where he seems to have served as a
barber for his wing of the prison. Mr. Wilcox explains that,
in January 2018, defendant, Sgt. J. Martinez, accused him of
failing to properly clean and maintain his barber tools,
particularly clipper guards. (DE 1 ¶ 6.) Mr. Wilcox
alleges that, the following day, he was informed that he was
fired as the wing barber because he had failed to keep the
clipper guards clean. (Id.) Mr. Wilcox contends that
the poor condition of the clipper guards was not his fault,
but instead resulted from a failure by Sgt. Martinez to
ensure provision of sufficient Barbicide disinfectant.
(Id.) Mr. Wilcox asserts that Sgt. Martinez failed
to provide a refill of Barbicide or provide gloves, and
ultimately fired him, in retaliation for his having
previously filed a grievance seeking a pay raise for wing
barbers. (Id.) Wilcox states that he also filed a
grievance concerning his firing and that, in response,
non-party Major Jones told him to reapply for the position,
though it had already been filled. (Id.) Mr. Wilcox
also alleges that, because he was deprived of gloves to use
while cleaning his barber tools, he developed a skin lesion
on his hand. (Id.)
Wilcox asserts claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state
law against Sgt. Martinez in both his individual and official
capacities. (DE 1 ¶¶ 1-2.) He contends he was
subjected to unsafe working conditions in violation of the
Eighth Amendment and that his firing was retaliation in
violation of the First Amendment. (DE 1 ¶ 2(b).) Mr.
Wilcox further claims that he was subjected to discrimination
in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment. (Id.) Mr. Wilcox seeks a declaration that
his constitutional rights were violated, an injunction
against further retaliation, and compensatory and punitive
damages. (Id. ¶ 7.)
Wilcox recently filed a proposed amended complaint. (DE 9.)
The allegations against Sgt. Martinez appear to be
substantively identical to those in the original pleading,
but Mr. Wilcox additionally asserts a claim for supervisory
liability against Assistant Superintendent Calvin Spires.
(Id.) Mr. Wilcox alleges that Spires "learned
of Martinez['s] illegal actions, and/or failed to correct
defendant Martinez['s] misconduct that violated
Wilcox['s] rights." (Id. ¶ 4c.)
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
prisoner complaints when the prisoner (1) is proceeding
in forma pauper is, see 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B), (2) seeks redress against a governmental
employee or entity, see 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, or
(3) asserts a claim concerning prison conditions,
see 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c). The PLRA directs
district courts to sua sponte dismiss claims that are
frivolous or malicious, that fail to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B), 1915A(b); 42 U.S.C. §
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); see
also Mitchell v. Beard, 492 Fed.Appx. 230, 232 (3d Cir.
2012) (discussing 42 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).
To survive the Court's screening, the complaint must
allege "sufficient factual matter to show that the claim
is facially plausible." Fowler v. UPMC
Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009) (internal
quotation marks 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."
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; see also Fair Wind
Sailing, Inc. v. Dempster, 764 F.3d 303, 308 n.3 (3d
Cir. 2014). "A pleading that offers 'labels and
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).
pleadings, as always, will be liberally construed. See
Raines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); Glunkv.
Noone, 689 Fed.Appx. 137, 139 (3d Cir. 2017).
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).
plaintiff may have a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 for certain violations of his constitutional rights.
That section provides,
Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance,
regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or
the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be
subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person
within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any
rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution
and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action
at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for
redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial
officer for an act or omission taken in such officer's
judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted
unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory
relief was unavailable.
42 U.S.C. § 1983. To state a claim under § 1983, a
plaintiff must allege, first, the violation of a right
secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States, and
second, that the alleged deprivation was committed or caused
by a person acting under color of state law. See Harvey
v. Plains Twp. Police Dep't,635 ...