United States District Court, D. New Jersey
McNulty United States District Judge
Raheem Wilcox, is a state prisoner currently incarcerated at
East Jersey State Prison, in Rahway, New Jersey. He is
proceeding pro se with an amended civil rights complaint
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This Court previously
granted Mr. Wilcox's leave to proceed in forma pauper
is. (DE 8.) This Court must now review the amended
complaint, under 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. For the following reasons, Mr. Wilcox's
amended complaint will be dismissed.
BACKGROUND AND ALLEGATIONS
amended complaint names as the sole defendant Sergeant J.
Martinez. (DE 17-1, at 4.) Mr. Wilcox is suing Sergeant
Martinez in both his individual and official capacities for
alleged violations of Mr. Wilcox's First and Fourteenth
Amendment rights. (Id. at 1.) Mr. Wilcox explains
that on July 10, 2017, while he was employed as a wing barber
at East Jersey State Prison, he filed a grievance requesting
a pay increase for all wing barbers. (DE 17-2, at 12.) Mr.
Wilcox requested wing barbers be paid the same amount as
"down under school barbers." (Id.)
Initially, the administration informed Mr. Wilcox that wing
barbers would be given a raise to match that of the other
barbers. (Id.) However, the administration later
issued a correction advising Mr. Wilcox that wing barbers
would not receive a pay increase, but rather that the
administration would decrease the other barbers' salaries
to match the pay rate of wing barbers. (Id.) On
September 9, 2017, Mr. Wilcox filed another grievance
requesting that the administration permit all barbers to work
seven days a week, rather than five, in order to accommodate
individuals who "may not get a hair cut during the week
or get a visit because of extenuating circumstances."
(Id. at 21.) On October 11, 2017, the administration
informed Mr. Wilcox that there were no seven-days-a-week jobs
in the prison, but that "all efforts will be made to
accommodate those [prisoners] due to 'extenuating
circumstances."' (Id.) Mr. Wilcox asserts
that Sergeant Martinez would have been aware of these
grievance requests because Sergeant Martinez was the
supervisor of the wing barbers. (DE 17-1, at 8.)
months later, on January 23, 2018, Mr. Wilcox asked Sergeant
Martinez for a refill of Barbicide disinfectant and plastic
gloves in order to clean the clipper guards. (DE 17-2, at 1.)
He also requested that the clipper guards be inspected
because they had been pulling on the inmates' hair.
(Id.) Sergeant Martinez instructed Mr. Wilcox direct
his requests to another inmate, Wali Watlington.
(Id.) Mr. Wilcox informed Sergeant Martinez he
already requested these items from Watlington several times,
but Watlington had repeatedly ignored his requests.
(Id.) Later that same day, Sergeant Martinez
instructed Watlington to pick up the barber toolbox,
including the clipper guards, to be serviced. (Id.
at 2.) When Mr. Wilcox retrieved the toolbox on
January 24, 2018, Sergeant Martinez accused Mr. Wilcox of not
keeping the clipper guards clean. (Id.) Sergeant
Martinez told Mr. Wilcox that the clipper guards had shown
signs of corrosion and contained traces of hair.
(Id.) On January 25, 2018, Sergeant Martinez fired
Mr. Wilcox from his position as barber. (Id.)
January 26, 2018, Mr. Wilcox filed a grievance regarding his
firing with Superintendent Calvin Spires. (Id.) Mr.
Wilcox stated that he was unfairly terminated in retaliation
for his request for a pay increase and asked to be
reconsidered for his job. (Id.) Mr. Wilcox
separately filed a grievance with Major Jones, asserting the
same allegations. (Id. at 10.) On February 14, 2018,
Major Jones instructed Mr. Wilcox to reapply for the wing
barber position if the position had not yet been filled.
(Id.) Mr. Wilcox states that prior to Major
Jones's response, the position had been open, but that
after receiving Major Jones's response, Mr. Wilcox
informed Jones that it had already been filled.
(Id.) On April 13, 2018, Mr. Wilcox's request to
Mr. Spires for reinstatement was denied. (Id. at 1.)
Wilcox also indicates that, as a result of not having been
provided with gloves to clean the clipper guards, he
contracted a skin lesion on his hand. (Id.) Mr.
Wilcox states that he was treated for this skin lesion on
January 3, 2018. (Id.)
April 2018, Mr. Wilcox filed a complaint pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. <DE 1.) Upon an initial screening, I
dismissed Mr. Wilcox's complaint without prejudice for
failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.
(DE 10, 11.) Shortly thereafter, Mr. Wilcox filed his first
amended complaint. (DE 12, 13, 14.) I again dismissed the
complaint without prejudice for failure to state a claim and
provided Mr. Wilcox with one final opportunity to amend. (DE
15.) Mr. Wilcox filed this, his second amended complaint. (DE
In his second amended complaint, Mr. Wilcox alleges that
Sergeant Martinez violated his First and Fourteenth Amendment
rights. He requests a declaration that the acts or omissions
described within his second amended complaint violated his
rights under the Constitution; $10, 000 in compensatory
damages against Sergeant Martinez; $10, 000 in punitive
damages against Sergeant Martinez; recovery costs; and
"any additional relief this Court deems just, proper and
equitable." (DE 17-1, at 5-10.)
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
complaints when the plaintiff is proceeding in forma
pauper is. 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. Id.
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). The
Supreme Court has explained that, "[t]o survive a motion
to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face."' Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell All.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)); see
also Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d
Cir. 2009). "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).
pleadings, as always, will be liberally construed. See
Haines v. Kemer,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