United States District Court, D. New Jersey
G. SHERIDAN, U.S.D.J.
is proceeding, in forma pauperis, with an amended
civil rights complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983. (ECF No. 7). At this time, the Court must review the
amended complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)
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. Having completed this
screening, the Court will permit the complaint to proceed in
Plaintiff raises a variety of claims against prison officials
at New Jersey State Prison ("NJSP") in Trenton, New
Jersey including excessive force, unconstitutional conditions
of confinement, retaliation, and denial of medical
Plaintiff attempts to bring certain claims on behalf of all
prisoners at NJSP. Plaintiff lacks standing to assert claims
on behalf of other prisoners. See Warth v. Seldin,
422 U.S. 490, 499 (1975) (a "plaintiff generally must
assert his own legal rights and interests, and cannot rest
his claim to relief on the legal rights or interests of third
parties"). Plaintiff also has not demonstrated that he
would be an adequate "class representative" under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 23. ("Class Actions"). "When
confronting such a request from a prisoner, Courts have
consistently held that a prisoner acting pro se 'is
inadequate to represent the interests of his fellow inmates
in a class action.'" Maldonado v. Terhune,
28 F.Supp.2d 284, 288 (D.N.J. 1998) (quoting Caputo v.
Fauver, 800 F.Supp. 168 (D.N.J. 1992)). Accordingly, any
claims brought on behalf of the class shall be dismissed
without prejudice. (ECF No. 7 at 48 1.15).
Plaintiffs first claim alleges that Officers Martini, Piazza,
and Sgt. Smith used excessive force against him in his cell.
(Id. at 44 1.14). Accepting the facts alleged in the
complaint as true for screening purposes only, the Court will
permit this claim to proceed.
Plaintiff next alleges Sgt. Smith and unknown officers used
excessive force against him in an elevator. (Id. at
44 1.19). The Court will permit this claim to proceed as
Court will also permit Plaintiffs allegations that Sgt. Smith
and others violated Plaintiffs Eighth Amendment rights when
they refused to permit him to "decontaminate" from
the pepper-spray and forced him to remain in the dirty
clothing. (Id. at 44 1.22; 45 at 1.1). Plaintiff
also alleges various conditions of confinement claims against
various defendants, but the Court will only permit the claim
to proceed against Mr. Johnson, Sgt. Patterson, Sgt. Smith,
Officer Martini, Officer Piazza, Officer Brodzinski, Officer
Pedre, and Officer Jenkins. Plaintiff has not stated how the
other named defendants participated in the alleged
wrongdoings. "[T]he pleading standard Rule 8 announces
does not require 'detailed factual allegations,' but
it demands more than an unadorned,
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007)). A complaint is insufficient "if it tenders
'naked assertion[s]' devoid of further factual
enhancement."' Ibid, (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557) (alteration in original).
Court will permit Plaintiffs retaliation claim against Sgt.
Smith to proceed. (ECF No. 7 at 45 1.16).
Court will permit Plaintiffs claims against Sgt. Smith and
Steven Johnson arising out of the allegedly contaminated
drinking water to proceed. (Id. at 46 11.1-11).
Court will dismiss Plaintiffs claims regarding the lighting,
volume of announcements, and being housed with
"psychotics." (Id. at 46 1.13). "The
Eighth Amendment prohibits the unnecessary and wanton
infliction of pain and deliberate indifference to serious
medical needs." Stewart v. Beard, 417 Fed.Appx.
117, 119 (3d Cir. 2011) (citing Whitley v. Albers,
475 U.S. 312, 319 (1986)). "Prison conditions may amount
to cruel and unusual punishment if they cause
'unquestioned and serious deprivations of basic human
needs .... [that] deprive inmates of the minimal civilized
measure of life's necessities."' Tillman v.
Lebanon Cty. Corr. Facility, 221 F.3d 410, 417-18 (3d
Cir. 2000) (quoting Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337,
347 (1981)) (omission and alteration in original). "To
demonstrate a deprivation of his basic human needs, a
plaintiff must show a sufficiently serious objective
deprivation, and that a prison official subjectively acted
with a sufficiently culpable state of mind, i.e., deliberate
indifference." Id. at 418.
"Conditions such as prison lighting will be acceptable
where they are reasonably related to a legitimate penological
interest." Randolph v. Wetzel, 987 F.Supp.2d
605, 616 (E.D. Pa. 2013) (citing Stewart, 417
Fed.Appx. at 120), affd, No. 17-2855, 2019 WL 949220
(3d Cir. Feb. 26, 2019). There are no facts in the complaint
suggesting that NJSP's twenty-four hours a day lighting,
volume of announcements, and housing assignments were
motivated by anything other than legitimate penological
Court will permit Plaintiffs conditions of confinement claim
alleging failure to remedy the vermin situation to proceed
against Steven Johnson, David Richards, Raymond Royce, and
Amy Emrich. (ECF No. 7 at 47 1.4).
Court dismisses Plaintiffs claim for failure to implement a
confidential hotline in accordance with the Prison Rape
Elimination Act ("PREA"). (Id. at 47
1.10). "The Act authorizes funding for various prison
rape prevention programs, including for protecting inmates by
'investigating incidents of prison rape' and
'prosecuting incidents of prison rape.'"
Walsh v. N.J. Dep't of Corr., No. 17-2442, 2017
WL 3835666, at *3 (D.N.J. Aug. 31, 2017) (quoting 42 U.S.C.
§ 15605(b)(1)(B)-(C)). "There is no provision in
the PREA for an individual prisoner to enforce these
standards ...." Ibid.
"The Supreme Court has held that where the language of a
funding statute 'provide[s] no indication that Congress
intend[ed] to create new individual rights, there is no basis
for a private suit, whether under § 1983 or under an
implied right of action.'" Ibid, (quoting
Gonzaga Univ. v. Doe,536 U.S. 273, 286 (2002))
(alteration in original). Plaintiff therefore cannot bring a
cause of action based on NJSP's alleged failure to comply
with PREA by implemental a confidential reporting system,
etc., without further facts as to how non-compliance with the
statute created unconstitutional conditions of confinement.
In other words, the mere fact that NJSP may not have ...