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Grimes v. Merriel

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

September 11, 2019

EDWARD GRIMES, Plaintiff,
v.
SENIOR CORRECTIONAL OFFICER MARVIN MERRIEL et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          FREDA L. WOLFSON, U.S. CHIEF DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff, Edward Grimes (“Grimes” or “Plaintiff”), presently a prisoner at New Jersey State Prison, in Trenton, New Jersey, is proceeding pro se with a Complaint alleging civil rights violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 1.) Grimes alleges that, during an interaction on January 23, 2018, defendant Senior Correctional Officer Marvin Merriel (“Merriel”) detained him for failure to follow an order[1] and, in doing so, violently twisted his arms behind him and placed “handcuffs on him backwards as tight as the cuffs would go, using the cuffs as a torture devi[c]e.” (Id. ¶ 6.) Grimes alleges that defendant Sergeant Richard DeFazio (“DeFazio”) authorized Merriel to detain Grimes and subsequently refused Grimes's requests to loosen the handcuffs until a nurse intervened. (Id. ¶¶ 6-9.) Although DeFazio loosened the handcuffs after the nurse pointed out that Grimes's hands were turning purple, Grimes alleges that the handcuffing caused him injury that required medical treatment, leaving him with “ongoing limited use of his left hand and continuous pain in his right wrist.” (Id. ¶¶ 11-13, 20.)

         Grimes alleges that Merriel used excessive force in handcuffing him, thus violating his constitutional rights. (Id. ¶¶ 29-37.) He further asserts a claim for supervisory liability against DeFazio. (Id. ¶¶ 38-43.) Grimes seeks damages from Defendants in their individual and official capacities. (Id. at p. 10.) The Court previously granted an application by Grimes to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF No. 2.)

         Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, district courts must review prisoner complaints when the prisoner (1) is proceeding in forma pauperis, 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 Court has screened the Complaint and determines that it states claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for excessive force under the Eighth Amendment[2] and for supervisory liability.[3] The Court, however, dismisses Grimes's claims for damages against Defendants in their official capacities, as state officials acting in their official capacities are not considered “persons” subject to damages claims under § 1983. Will v. Michigan Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989).

         Accordingly, IT IS, on this 10th day of September 2019, ORDERED that Plaintiff's Complaint is construed as asserting claims against Defendants in their individual capacities for excessive force under the Eighth Amendment and for supervisory liability, and these claims are permitted to PROCEED; and it is further

         ORDERED that Plaintiff's damages claims against Defendants in their official capacities are DISMISSED for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted; and it is further

         ORDERED that the Clerk shall mail to Plaintiff a transmittal letter explaining the procedure for completing a United States Marshal (“Marshal”) 285 Form (“USM-285 Form”); and it is further

         ORDERED that once the Marshal receives the USM-285 Forms from Plaintiff and the Marshal so alerts the Clerk, the Clerk shall issue Summons in connection with each USM-285 Form that has been submitted by Plaintiff, and the Marshal shall serve a Summons, the Complaint, and a copy of this Order on the address specified on each USM-285 Form, with all costs of service advanced by the United States;[4] and it is further

         ORDERED that Defendants shall file and serve a responsive pleading within the time specified by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12; and it is further

         ORDERED that, if, at any time prior to the filing of a notice of appearance by Defendants, Plaintiff applies to the Court for any form of intermediate relief, Plaintiff shall, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 5(a) and (d), (1) serve a copy of the application by regular mail upon each party at his last known address and (2) file a Certificate of Service;[5] and it is further

         ORDERED that the Clerk shall serve this Memorandum and Order on Plaintiff by regular U.S. mail.

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Notes:

[1] Grimes notes that the disciplinary charges against him were subsequently dismissed. (ECF No. 1 ...


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