On Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey
D.C. Civil Action No. 94-cv-06083
Before: Stapleton, Nygaard and Lewis, Circuit Judges
Submitted Pursuant to Third Circuit LAR 34.1(a)
Kenneth Thompson appeals pro se from the district court's order dismissing his complaint. We will reverse the order and remand the cause to the district court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
On December 6, 1994, Robert Nami, Maurice Thompson, Bart Fernandez and Kenneth Thompson filed a pro se complaint under 42 U.S.C. Section(s) 1983, alleging that they were subjected to cruel and unusual punishment and denied access to the courts. The plaintiffs were inmates housed in protective custody *fn1 in the Administrative Close Supervision Unit (or "Unit") at the Wagner Youth Correctional Facility in Bordentown, New Jersey. The defendants are: William Fauver, Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Corrections; Joseph Butler, Wagner's Administrator; Willie Boggan, the Assistant Superintendent of the Unit; and Prem Sinha, the law librarian at Wagner. The plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief, and compensatory and punitive damages.
The defendants moved under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) to dismiss on the grounds that: the complaint does not allege specific conduct by the defendants that has harmed the plaintiffs; the defendants cannot be held liable under Section(s) 1983 on the basis of respondeat superior; and the defendants are state officials who are being sued for damages in their official capacities and are therefore immune from suit under the Eleventh Amendment. The district court found that to the extent the plaintiffs sought injunctive relief, the defendants were not immune under the Eleventh Amendment, but agreed that the complaint failed to specify which defendants were responsible for the adoption and execution of the various policies and practices complained of. Rather than allowing the plaintiffs to amend their complaint to correct that deficiency, the district court granted the motion to dismiss.
Because the district court's final order granted the defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), our review is plenary. We must determine whether, under any reasonable reading of the pleadings, the plaintiffs may be entitled to relief, and we must accept as true the factual allegations in the complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom. Holder v. City of Allentown, 987 F.2d 188, 194 (3d Cir. 1993). The complaint will be deemed to have alleged sufficient facts if it adequately put the defendants on notice of the essential elements of the plaintiffs' cause of action. Since this is a Section(s) 1983 action, the plaintiffs are entitled to relief if their complaint sufficiently alleges deprivation of any right secured by the Constitution. Id. In considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, we do not inquire whether the plaintiffs will ultimately prevail, only whether they are entitled to offer evidence to support their claims. Scheuer v. Rhodes, 4 ...