United States District Court, D. New Jersey
B. KUGLER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Brian Cofer, is a state prisoner. He is proceeding pro
se with a civil rights complaint. Plaintiff was
incarcerated at the South Woods State Prison
(“SWSP”) at the time of the events giving rise to
his complaint. Plaintiff was previously granted in forma
Court must screen the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A to determine whether the
complaint is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted, or whether 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.
allegations of the complaint will be construed as true for
purposes of this screening opinion. Plaintiff names the
following as defendants in his complaint: (1) Gary M. Lanigan
- Commissioner; (2) Willie Bonds - Administrator; (3)
Sergeant John Doe; (4) Lieutenant Ware; (5) Officer Vargas;
(6) SID Investigator Petit; (7) SID Investigator John Doe;
(8) Officers John Doe 1-100; (9) Officers Jane Doe 1-100;
(10) Inmate Walter Sosa; (11) Manual Mattias; and (12) the
Master Lock Company.
asserts that he was incarcerated at SWSP in March, 2018.
Vargas, a correctional officer at SWSP, entered
plaintiff's dormitory to conduct a head count. After
completing his count, Sammy Cedano, an inmate, began to
strike plaintiff on the head, face and body with a
combination lock attached to a cloth string, commonly known
as a “lock in a sock.” Vargas observed the attack
and activated his emergency button while Cedano was striking
plaintiff. As Cedano continued his attack, Vargas exited the
Vargas was absent, Cedano broke the combination lock after
having struck plaintiff approximately twenty times. However,
Cedano assembled another “lock in a sock.”
Thereafter, Cedano began to strike plaintiff again
approximately a dozen more times.
midst of this second attack by Cedano, Vargas returned with
additional officers and ordered Cedano to stop hitting
plaintiff. Cedano complied with the officers' orders.
and plaintiff were then both handcuffed. Plaintiff was then
taken to the nurses' office for treatment.
John Doe questioned plaintiff about the attack. Plaintiff
recounted the events to him. Vargas also gave an account that
was similar to plaintiff's version. Ware also questioned
plaintiff. Furthermore, plaintiff was later questioned by
Investigators Petit and John Doe.
was not charged with any infraction. Evidence was gathered
from the scene which included one broken combination lock and
one intact combination lock along with the cloth sling.
to plaintiff, the two locks used in the attack were from
inmates Sosa and Mattias. Sosa and Mattias were given
sanctions because their locks were not properly secured and
were used in the attack on plaintiff.
the investigation, plaintiff returned to the same dormitory.
Thereafter, Sergeant John Doe asked plaintiff aloud in his
dormitory whether he wished to file charges against his
attacker as well as whether he wished to be placed in
protective custody. Plaintiff declined both offers.
asserts that a prison gang was behind the attack on him and
that they intended to attack plaintiff again. Plaintiff
states that Cedano had attacked another inmate previously
using a “lock in a sock” at the Southern State
Correctional Facility before he attacked plaintiff at SWSP.
Plaintiff claims that this attack was known to SWSP
alleges that he experienced debilitating effects for several
days after the attack as well as nightmares and anxiety.
states that Lanigan is liable because he failed to ensure
that Bonds carry out a policy to curb violent acts of inmates
with a documented history of violence.
is purportedly liable because he failed to ensure that his
subordinates took precautions to prevent the classification
of an inmate with a known history of violence to be placed in
a minimum security dormitory.
Sergeant John Doe as well as Investigators Petit and John Doe
are liable according to plaintiff because they failed to