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ROBINSON v. FAUVER

July 19, 1996

BARRY ROBINSON, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
WILLIAM FAUVER, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ORLOFSKY

 ORLOFSKY, District Judge:

 Pro se Plaintiffs, Barry Robinson, James Gibbone, and Richard Linsky, *fn1" who are presently incarcerated at Riverfront State Prison ("RSP") in Camden, New Jersey, bring this action against Defendant, William Fauver, Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Corrections ("NJDOC"). Plaintiffs seek injunctive relief and damages pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1986, based upon the Defendant's alleged violations of their rights to equal protection and due process under the laws of the United States.

 The issue presented to this Court for resolution is whether the failure of N.J. Admin. Code tit. 10A, § 1-2.2 to classify an inmate as indigent, when the inmate has "no funds in his or her account and is not able to earn inmate wages due to prolonged illness or any other uncontrollable circumstances," but does have a verified "outside source from which to obtain funds," see id., violates the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Fifth Amendment, or 42 U.S.C. § 1986. For the reasons set forth below, the Court finds that N.J. Admin. Code tit. 10A, § 1-2.2 does not impermissibly classify certain inmates as indigent, and others as nonindigent.

 Although Barry Robinson, James Gibbone, II, and Richard Linsky are all named as plaintiffs on the complaint, only Barry Robinson has petitioned the Court to proceed in forma pauperis and presented the Court with a Declaration in Support of his Request to Proceed In Forma Pauperis. Because neither James Gibbone, II, nor Richard Linsky, has petitioned the Court to proceed in forma pauperis, or paid the requisite filing fee, the complaint will be dismissed as to Mr. Gibbone and Mr. Linsky. This Court's dismissal of the claims of Mr. Gibbone and Mr. Linsky, however, is without prejudice. Accordingly, the Court will treat the complaint as one filed solely by Plaintiff, Barry Robinson.

 Defendant has moved to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. *fn2" Because section 1-2.2 does not impermissibly classify certain inmates as indigent, and others as nonindigent, Defendant's motion will be granted, and Mr. Robinson's complaint will be dismissed.

 I. Background

 Plaintiff, Barry Robinson, filed this law suit against Defendant on April 17, 1996. The essence of Plaintiff's claims is that the Defendant "should only be permitted to debit a prisoners [sic] account to reimburse the State for legal photo-copying, medical co-payments, fines, court costs, and other assessments, based only on wages paid to a prisoner from work at his prison job, not from money from family and friends." (Complaint P IV, p.3-B).

 More specifically, Plaintiff alleges that:

 
New Jersey Administrative Code (N.J.A.C. 10A:1-2.2) imposing an additional financial burden on only those indigents who are imprisoned who have outside sources from which to obtain money, such as from family or friends to reimburse the state for the costs of needed legal photo-copying, co-payments for medical treatment needed, and for fines, restitutions, and other assessments by the Court or prison administration, and not imposing the same financial burden on indigents who do not have other outside sources from which to obtain money and who live merely off state pay, constitutes a discriminatory classification violative of the Equal Protect [sic] Clause of the 14th Amendment, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1986 of the United States Code.

 (Complaint P IV, p.3). *fn3"

 Plaintiff further contends that:

 
they have a Constitutionally protected property interest in money given to them by family and friends, and that Defendant cannot classify them as less indigent under N.J.A.C. 10A:1-2.2, solely due to having family and friends who provide them with an additional amount of money, than those prisoners who do not have an additional source of money (in addition to state-pay) without placing a greater financial burden on those prisoners whose family and friends do provide outside sources of funds.

 (Id. at p.3-A).

 Defendant has now moved to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

 II. Standard for Dismissal Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6)

 A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) requires that the Court consider all factual allegations in the complaint, as well as all reasonable inferences to be drawn from the facts alleged, in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 636, 64 L. Ed. 2d 572, 100 S. Ct. 1920 (1980); Piecknick v. Pennsylvania, 36 F.3d 1250, 1255 (3d Cir. 1994). Likewise, all pleadings must be liberally construed so "as to do substantial justice." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(f). This rule is especially important when a party is acting pro se. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-521, 30 L. Ed. 2d 652, 92 S. Ct. 594 (1972). Nevertheless, legal conclusions made in the guise of factual allegations will not be given the presumption of truthfulness and will not preclude the dismissal of a complaint. See Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286, 92 L. Ed. 2d 209, 106 S. Ct. 2932 (1986). When it appears beyond doubt that no relief ...


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