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Sharp v. South Woods State Prison

September 12, 2007

JESSIE SHARP, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SOUTH WOODS STATE PRISON, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bumb, District Judge

OPINION

Plaintiff Jessie Sharp, an inmate who is incarcerated at South Woods State Prison ("SWSP"), seeks to file a Complaint in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Based on his affidavit of poverty, prison account statement, and the apparent absence of three dismissals within 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g), this Court (1) grants Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis; (2) directs the Clerk to file the Complaint; (3) assesses a $350.00 filing fee against Plaintiff; and (4) directs the New Jersey Department of Corrections ("NJDOC") to deduct an initial partial filing fee from Plaintiff's prison account, when funds exist, and to forward same to the Clerk of the Court; and (5) directs the NJDOC to forward payments from Plaintiff's prison account to the Clerk each subsequent month that the amount in the account exceeds $10.00, until the $350.00 filing fee is paid in full. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a), (b). Having thoroughly reviewed Plaintiff's allegations, this Court will dismiss the Complaint.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff asserts violations of his constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 arising from his incarceration at SWSP. This Court must view Plaintiff's allegations as true for the purposes of this review.*fn1 Plaintiff alleges that an NJDOC policy, which is attached to the Complaint, requires inmate food service workers to be paid between $2.00 and $3.20 per day. Plaintiff asserts that, although he filed administrative remedies and complained in writing to the prison administrator, he is still paid only $1.30 to $1.40 per day as a food service worker.

Attached to the Complaint are copies of four Inmate Request Forms, with responses, and a document entitled "620 INMATE WAGES." (Compl. attachments.) The document entitled "620 INMATE WAGES states that "[t]he following titles shall be paid in accordance with the following wage scale," and lists the wage for a food service worker as $2.00 to $3.20 per day. (Id.)

The most recent Inmate Request Form attached to the Complaint is dated January 5, 2005. In the space entitled REASON FOR REQUEST, Plaintiff wrote:

To Kathryn MacFarland administrator, I am writing you about my state pay and the reason this prison is not paying me the pay that the DOC set for me to receive. Now I work in food service and the DOC says that the lowest a food service worker should get is $2.00 a day. The highest is $3.20 a day. Here you pay me $1.40 a day and [I] am sending you a copy of the DOC pay scale for the jobs. (Compl. attachment.)

In RESPONSE, the Administrator wrote:

The pay scale you sent me is for "Special Job Assignment," not regular job assignments which are also part of those standards. You are assigned to a regular job. These wages do not apply to you. (Id.)

As relief for violation of his constitutional rights, Plaintiff "ask[s] that the inmate wages would be increase[d] under D.O.C. 620 to the inmates at south woods state prison."*fn2

(Compl. Relief.)

II. LEGAL STANDARD

The Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"), Pub. L. No. 104-134, §§ 801-810, 110 Stat. 1321-66 to 1321-77 (April 26, 1996), requires the Court to review a complaint in a civil action in which a plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis or a prisoner seeks redress against a governmental employee or entity. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B), 1915A. The PLRA requires the Court to sua sponte dismiss any claim if the Court determines that it is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Id.

"A document filed pro se is to be liberally construed, and a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus, U.S. , , 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted); see also Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). "Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only 'a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.' Specific facts are not necessary; the statement need only give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Erickson, 127 S.Ct. at 2200 (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). A claim is frivolous if it "lacks even an arguable basis in law" or its factual allegations describe "fantastic or delusional scenarios." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 328 (1989); see also Roman v. Jeffes, 904 F.2d 192, 194 (3d Cir. 1990). "Given the Federal Rules' simplified standard for pleading, '[a] court may dismiss a complaint only if it is clear that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the allegations." Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 514 (2002) (quoting Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984)); see also Thomas v. Independence Tp., 463 F.3d 285, 296-97 (3d Cir. 2006); Alston v. Parker, 3 ...


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