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Stanley L. Niblack v. Hope Hall

December 2, 2010

STANLEY L. NIBLACK, PLAINTIFF,
v.
HOPE HALL, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert B. Kugler United States District Judge

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION APPEARANCES:

KUGLER, District Judge

Plaintiff, Stanley L. Niblack, a pro se litigant presently residing in Edgewater, New Jersey, at the time he submitted this Complaint for filing, seeks to bring this action in forma pauperis. Based on his affidavit of indigence, the Court will grant plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP") pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) (1998) and order the Clerk of the Court to file the Complaint.

At this time, the Court must review the Complaint, pursuant to 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 such relief. For the reasons set forth below, the Court concludes that the Complaint should be dismissed.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, Stanley L. Niblack ("Niblack"), brings this civil action against the following defendants: Hope Hall; Albert J. Bosher, Program Director at Hope Hall; Bill Wilson, Director of Treatment at Hope Hall; Patricia McKerman, Chief Operating Officer of Volunteers of America Delaware Valley Facilities; Ms. Stillman, Job Readiness Coach; Volunteers of America Delaware Valley, Inc.; Marcus O. Hicks, Director of Community Release Programs for the New Jersey Department of Corrections ("NJDOC"); Gary M. Lanigan, NJDOC Commissioner; and the NJDOC. (Complaint, Caption and ¶ 4-13). The following factual allegations are taken from the Complaint, and are accepted for purposes of this screening only. The Court has made no findings as to the veracity of plaintiff's allegations.

Niblack alleges that, on or about February 24, 2010, he was transferred by the NJDOC to Hope Hall in Camden, New Jersey. He claims that he immediately encountered problems with access to the law library because Hope Hall does not have one. On February 24 and 25, 2010, Niblack submitted grievances concerning his access to legal materials and a typewriter. During the week of March 1, 2010, defendants Bosher and Wilson told plaintiff that he could use the computer room to type his legal material. On March 4, 2010, Niblack informed Wilson that he wished to use the computer room and Wilson told him that he would make sure the computer room was opened for him. On March 5, 2010, plaintiff waited for over an hour for Wilson to open the computer room for him. Niblack sent a grievance and appeal to the COO of the Volunteers of America Delaware Valley. (Compl., ¶ 15-20).

On March 9, 2010, Niblack spoke with Bosher about mailing bulk legal mail that needed to be weighed for postage and he had someone find the closest post office, but would not let plaintiff go to the post office. On March 10, 2010, the computer room was not open. Plaintiff was allowed to go to Stillman's office at 3:30 p.m. to type his legal material. (Compl., ¶ 21, 22).

On March 11, 2010, Niblack informed Stillman that he would not be able to attend job readiness because plaintiff was finishing his legal documents, which allegedly were due that day. Plaintiff states that he missed the deadline. On March 12, 2010, Niblack was informed that he had been "written up" by Stillman for not attending job readiness. Niblack alleges that the action by Stillman was in retaliation for Niblack exercising his constitutional rights to address his legal concerns. Niblack promptly filed a grievance on March 12, 2010. (Compl., ¶ 23-25).

On March 16, 2010, Niblack alleges that defendants Bosher and Robinson threatened to send him back to prison if he continued to write any more grievances. Of course, Niblack promptly submitted another grievance to defendants McKernan, Lanigan and Hicks. Lanigan wrote another grievance letter on March 18, 2010. (Compl., ¶ 26, 27).

Plaintiff was released on parole in April 2010. He asserts a claim of retaliation in violation of his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights for exercising his right to access the courts. He also generally claims that defendants' acts of retaliation violate New Jersey state law and various federal and state laws, codes, statutes and rules. Niblack seeks punitive, compensatory and special damages in excess of $11 million.

II. STANDARDS FOR A SUA SPONTE DISMISSAL A district court is required to review a complaint in a civil action in which a litigant is proceeding in forma pauperis, to identify cognizable claims and to sua sponte dismiss any claim that is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

In determining the sufficiency of a pro se complaint, the Court must be mindful to construe it liberally in favor of the plaintiff. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007)(following Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976) and Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972)). See also United States v. Day, 969 F.2d 39, 42 (3d Cir. 1992). The Court must "accept as true all of the allegations in the complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom, and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Morse v. Lower Merion School ...


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