Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Moore v. Colon

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

August 28, 2019

BRIAN MOORE, Plaintiff,
v.
SCO JESSE COLON, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          MADELINE COX ARLEO, DISTRICT JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.

         This matter has been opened to the Court by Plaintiff Brian Moore's filing of a civil rights action for damages against Defendants SCO Jesse Colon, SCO Carmen DeBari, SGT. John Pomponio, Sgt J. Soto, Corrections Officer M. Hahn, Corrections Officer G. Santana, and Corrections Officer N. Stanicki[1] ("Defendants"), arising from an alleged assault that occurred at East Jersey State Prison on July 11, 2017. (See ECF No. 1, Complaint at 3, 7-8.)

         This Court previously granted Plaintiffs application to proceed in forma pauperis. (See ECF No. 3.) Federal law requires this Court to screen Plaintiffs Complaint for sua sponte dismissal prior to service, and to dismiss any claim if that claim fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) and/or to dismiss any defendant who is immune from suit. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         The Court construes Plaintiff to raise civil rights claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.[2](See ECF No. 1, Complaint at 2.) Specifically, the Complaint alleges that the individual Defendants named in the Complaint used excessive force and/or failed intervene in the alleged assault in violation of the Eighth Amendment. The Complaint further asserts that the Defendants filed false disciplinary charges, and that Defendants Colon and DeBari gave false testimony against him at a disciplinary hearing. (Id. at 7-8.) This Court has screened the Complaint in this action for dismissal and has determined that dismissal of the entire Complaint is not warranted at this time.

         To the extent Plaintiff seeks damages from Defendants in their official capacities, the Court dismisses such claims with prejudice, as "neither a State nor its officials acting in their official capacities are 'persons' under § 1983." Will v. Michigan Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989).

         The Court will also dismiss without prejudice the claim for false disciplinary charges for failure to state a claim for relief because the act of filing false disciplinary charges does not itself violate a prisoner's constitutional rights. See Mimms v. U.N.I.C.O.R., 386 Fed.Appx. 32, 36 (3d Cir. 2010) (citing Smith v. Mensinger, 293 F.3d 641, 653-54 (3d Cir. 2002)); Freeman v. Rideout, 808 F.2d 949, 952-53 (2d Cir. 1986) (holding "mere filing of [a false] charge itself does not constitute cognizable claim under § 1983 so long as inmate "was granted a hearing, and had the opportunity to rebut the unfounded or false charges"); Hanrahan v. Lane, 747 F.2d 1137, 1140 (7th Cir. 1984) (finding that so long as prison officials provide prisoner with procedural requirements, then prisoner has not suffered constitutional violation); see also Wolff v, McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 563-71 (1974) (inmate is entitled to (1) written notice of charges and opportunity to marshal facts and prepare defense for appearance at disciplinary hearing; (2) written statement by fact finder as to evidence relied on and reasons for disciplinary action; and (3) opportunity to call witnesses and present documentary evidence in defense when to do so will not be unduly hazardous to institutional safety or correctional goals). Here, Plaintiff has not alleged that he was not provided with these procedural protections at his disciplinary hearing. As such, the Court will dismiss without prejudice the claims of false disciplinary charges against all Defendants.

         Plaintiff also alleges that Defendants Colon and DeBari testified falsely at the disciplinary hearing; however, a witness enjoys absolute immunity from damages under § 1983 for false testimony. See Briscoe v. LaHue, 460 U.S. 325, 330-46 (1983) (officer testifying in criminal trial enjoys absolute witness immunity for false testimony); Kulwicki v. Dawson, 969 F.2d 1454, 1467 (3d Cir. 1992) (witness testifying in judicial proceeding is absolutely immune for false testimony); Williams v. Hepting, 844 F.2d 138, 143 (3d Cir. 1988) (witness is entitled to absolute immunity from civil liability under § 1983 for perjured testimony at preliminary hearing and suppression hearing). As such, the Court will dismiss with prejudice the claim regarding false testimony as to Defendants Colon and DeBari.

         The Court will proceed the remaining Eighth Amendment claims of excessive force and failure to intervene as to all Defendants in connection with the July 11, 2017 incident described in the Complaint. The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, applicable to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment, prohibits punishments that are "cruel and unusual." An Eighth Amendment claim includes both an objective component, whether the deprivation of a basic human need is sufficiently serious, and a subjective component, whether the officials acted with a sufficiently culpable state of mind. Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298 (1991). The objective component is contextual and responsive to" 'contemporary standards of decency.'" Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 8 (1992). The subjective component follows from the principle that '"only the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain implicates the Eighth Amendment.'" See Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994) (quoting Wilson, 501 U.S. at 297 (internal quotation marks, emphasis, and citations omitted)); Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 345 (1981). What is necessary to establish an unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain varies also according to the nature of the alleged constitutional violation. Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. at 5. Where the claim is one of excessive use of force, the core inquiry as to the subjective component is that set out in Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 320-21 (1986) (citation omitted): '"whether force was applied in a good faith effort to maintain or restore discipline or maliciously and sadistically for the very purpose of causing harm.'" (quoting Hudson, 503 U.S. at 6). In addition, "a corrections officer's failure to intervene in a beating can be the basis of liability for an Eighth Amendment violation under § 1983 if the corrections officer had a reasonable opportunity to intervene and simply refused to do so." Smith v. Mensinger, 293 F.3d 641, 640 (3d Cir. 2002).[3] Having reviewed the allegations in the Complaint, the Court will proceed the Eighth Amendment claims for excessive force and/or failure to intervene as to all Defendants in their personal capacities.

         IT IS, THEREFORE, on this 28 day of August, 2019, ORDERED that the Clerk of the Court shall add Corrections Officer N. Stanicki to the docket as a Defendant; and it is further

         ORDERED that, pursuant to the Court's screening authority under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), the Complaint is proceeded in part and dismissed in part for the reasons stated in this Memorandum and Order; and it is further

         ORDERED that the official capacity claims for damages under § 1983 are dismissed WITH PREJUDICE as to all Defendants; and it is further

         ORDERED that the §1983 claims for false disciplinary charges are dismissed WITHOUT PREJUDICE against all Defendants; and it is further

         ORDERED that the § 1983 claims regarding false testimony is dismissed WITH PREJUDICE as to Defendants Colon and DeBari; and it is further

         ORDERED that the Eighth Amendment claims for excessive force and/or failure to intervene are proceeded against all Defendants in ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.