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Keyia Williams v. State of New Jersey

December 13, 2010

KEYIA WILLIAMS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
STATE OF NEW JERSEY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

Plaintiff, a state inmate confined at the Atlantic County Justice Facility ("ACJF") in Mays Landing, New Jersey, when she submitted the Complaint for filing, seeks to bring this action in forma pauperis, alleging violations of her constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Based on her affidavit of indigence, the Court will grant plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) and order the Clerk of the Court to file the Complaint.

The Court must review the Complaint, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), 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. The Court concludes that the Complaint should be dismissed.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff brings this action against the State of New Jersey; the Mercer County Jail Classifications Department; and the Atlantic County Jail Classifications Department. 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 allegations.

Plaintiff alleges that she was incarcerated for about 80 days past her release date because the State failed to credit her the correct amount of days. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that she was originally incarcerated on October 21, 2005 for "conspiracy/murder." Plaintiff signed a plea agreement on May 31, 2007 and on March 17, 2010, Plaintiff was sentenced to five years with an eighty-five percent no early release. Calculating her sentence from the date she was first incarcerated, Plaintiff alleges that she should have been released on January 22, 2010. Plaintiff seeks, inter alia, immediate release.

II. STANDARDS FOR SUA SPONTE DISMISSAL

The Court must review a complaint in an action in which a prisoner is proceeding in forma pauperis or seeks redress against a governmental employee or entity. The Court must identify cognizable claims and 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) and 1915A.

Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, and is asserting claims against the State of New Jersey and jail departments as to incidents occurring while she was confined at ACJF. Thus, this action is subject to sua sponte screening for dismissal under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) and 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

The Court must construe a pro se complaint liberally in the plaintiff's favor in determining its sufficiency. 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 Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997). The Court need not, however, credit a pro se plaintiff's "bald assertions" or "legal conclusions." Id.

A complaint is frivolous if it "lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989) (interpreting predecessor of § 1915(e)(2), the former § 1915(d)). The standard for evaluating whether a complaint is "frivolous" is an objective one. Deutsch v. United States, 67 F.3d 1080, 1086-87 (3d Cir. 1995).

The standard for summary dismissal of a complaint that fails to state a claim is set forth in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (2009). The Court examined Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), which provides that a complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).*fn1 Citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), for the proposition that "[a] pleading that offers 'labels and conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do,'" Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555), the Supreme Court identified two working principles underlying the failure to state a claim standard:

First, the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice ... . Rule 8 ... does not unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions. Second, only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss. Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will ... be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense. But where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the ...


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