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Steven P. Fleming v. Cape May County

December 23, 2011

STEVEN P. FLEMING, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CAPE MAY COUNTY, FAMILY PART (D.Y.F.S.), ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Jerome B. Simandle

OPINION

SIMANDLE, District Judge:

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Steven P. Fleming, representing himself, submitted a Complaint which he seeks to file in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) without prepayment of fees.

The Court has reviewed Plaintiff's Application to Proceed Without Prepayment of Fees and Affidavit (Docket Item 1-2), which was received on July 7, 2011. Because the Affidavit discloses that Plaintiff is indigent, the Court will permit the Complaint to be filed without prepayment of fees.

The Court is also required by Section 1915 to preliminarily review each Complaint filed in forma pauperis and to "dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that...the action... (I) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against 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. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); 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 Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997).

Recently, the Supreme Court revised the standard for summary dismissal of a complaint that fails to state a claim in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937 (2009). The Court examined Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 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). The Supreme Court held that to prevent a summary dismissal, civil complaints must now allege "sufficient factual matter" to show that a claim is facially plausible. This then "allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. at 1948. The Supreme Court's ruling in Iqbal emphasizes that a plaintiff must demonstrate that the allegations of his complaint are plausible. See id. at 1949-50; see also Twombly, 505 U.S. at 555, & n.3; Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009).

This Court is mindful, however, that the sufficiency of this pro se pleading must be construed liberally in favor of plaintiff, even after Iqbal. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89 (2007). Moreover, a court should not dismiss a complaint with prejudice for failure to state a claim without granting leave to amend, unless it finds bad faith, undue delay, prejudice or futility. See Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103, 110-111 (3d Cir. 2002); Shane v. Fauver, 213 F.3d 113, 117 (3d Cir. 2000).

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 the 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).

With these principles in mind, the Court turns to its analysis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), above.

I. FACTUAL AND LEGAL ALLEGATIONS

The Plaintiff's complaint is confusing and ambiguous. The Plaintiff does not allege clear causes of action or violations of specific constitutional or statutory rights. The Plaintiff sets forth a series of disorganize facts and general legal allegations. (Compl. ¶ 9.) The Court will attempt to outline the facts as asserted in the Complaint.

The Plaintiff brought suit in Cape May County, New Jersey, Steven P. Fleming v. Cape May County, et al., Civil No. CPM-L-601-09 and CPM-L-470-09. The New Jersey Superior Court, Camden County Vicinage, refused Plaintiff's request to transfer the case to federal court. Plaintiff's indigency application was also denied. As a pro se litigant, Plaintiff alleges he was unable to "submit evidence, making argument and kept ...


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