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Abner v. Somerset County Jail

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

April 29, 2019

RASHIR ABNER, Plaintiff,
v.
SOMERSET COUNTY JAIL, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Freda L. Wolfson, United States District Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff, Rashir Abner (“Abner” or “Plaintiff”), is proceeding pro se with this Complaint asserting violations of his civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (See Compl., ECF No. 1.) The Court previously granted Abner leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF No. 4.) The Court now screens the Complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). For the reasons stated herein, Abner's Complaint as a whole is dismissed without prejudice for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, and his claims are dismissed with prejudice insofar as they are asserted against the Somerset County Jail.

         II. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Abner is presently held as a pretrial detainee at the Somerset County Jail, and his claims concern the circumstances of his detention there. (See ECF No. 1.) Abner, a practicing Muslim, claims that defendant, the Somerset County Jail, violated his right to free exercise of religion under the First Amendment. (Id.) Specifically, Abner challenges the Jail's provisions for Friday and Saturday prayer and alleges that the Jail does not permit community prayer.[1] (Id.) He further contends that the Jail does not permit inmates to order prayer rugs or prayer oils and restricts the wearing of kufis outside of the inmate day room. (Id.) Abner seeks one million dollars in damages and, seemingly, various forms of injunctive relief.

         Abner's Complaint was initially terminated because it included neither a filing fee nor an application to proceed in forma pauperis. (See ECF No. 2.) Abner subsequently submitted a proper in forma pauperis application, and the action was reopened. (ECF Nos. 3-4.) The Court now undertakes a screening of Abner's Complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         III. THE SCREENING STANDARD

         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 prisoner complaints when the prisoner is proceeding in forma pauperis. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). 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).

         “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. 2012). 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 for failure to state a claim, 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).

         Personal involvement by a defendant in an alleged constitutional violation is central to a § 1983 claim, and liability cannot rest on a theory of respondeat superior. See Chavarriaga v. N.J. Dep't of Corr., 806 F.3d 210, 222 (3d Cir. 2015). Pleading supervisory liability generally requires some affirmative conduct by the supervisor, such as a supervisor's implementation or maintenance of a policy, practice, or custom that caused the plaintiff constitutional harm. Parkell v. Danberg, 833 F.3d 313, 330 (3d Cir. 2016); Santiago v. Warminster Township, 629 F.3d 121, 129 n.5 (3d Cir. 2010).

         Pro se pleadings, as always, will be liberally construed. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); Glunk v. 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).

         IV. ANALYSIS

         A 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 ...

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