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Roger B. Stone, Iii v. the New Jersey Administrative Office of the Courts

September 5, 2012

ROGER B. STONE, III,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE NEW JERSEY ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS, VICINAGE I OF SUPERIOR COURT, THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, AND J. DOES #1 TO #100, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Joseph H. Rodriguez

MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) [Docket No. 13] and Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint [Docket No. 24]. For the reasons below, the Defendants' Motion to Dismiss will be granted, and Plaintiff's Motion to Amend will be denied.

Background

Plaintiff Roger B. Stone, III has alleged that "[t]his is a disabled person's suit seeking relief from the New Jersey Court System's inadequate Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) procedures accommodating citizens with mental (and physical) challenges, disabilities and disorders during court proceedings." (Compl. ¶ 1.) In connection with two matters filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Atlantic County, where Plaintiff was sued by his brother for abuse of process and "waste of a home jointly owned by the brothers," (id., ¶ 2), Plaintiff, who proceeded pro se, contends he sought, but did not find, "ADA information so that he could address his requests correctly to the court system." (Id., ¶ 3.) Thus, Plaintiff has alleged that "the Judiciary failed to effectively communicate the actual ADA procedures promulgated by the New Jersey Supreme Court (Supreme Court) or ADA policies administered by the Supreme Court's Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC)." (Id.)

Plaintiff has further alleged that he did make requests for accommodation to the trial judges handling his cases. "They entertained his requests but ultimately turned him down (or in the case of the first judge just ignored the petition for relief) for his requested remedies of a guardian ad litem and counsel to assist him with 'access' to the court due to his mental disabilities." (Id., ¶ 4.) Specifically, the Complaint cites to an occasion where Plaintiff was denied "continuances" "on the record" on the basis that the requests "were made too close to trial." (Id., ¶ 5.)

Applicable Standards

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12 governs a court's decision to dismiss a claim based on the pleadings. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12. More specifically, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) governs a court's decision to dismiss a claim for "lack of subject matter jurisdiction" and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) governs a court's decision to dismiss a claim for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1); Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).

A. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1)

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) permits a court to dismiss a case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. A defendant may contest subject matter jurisdiction by attacking the face of the complaint (i.e., a facial attack) or by attacking "the existence of subject matter jurisdiction in fact, quite apart from any pleadings" (i.e., a factual attack). Mortensen v. First Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n, 549 F.2d 884, 891 (3d Cir. 1977); Schwartz v. Medicare, 832 F. Supp. 782, 787 (D.N.J. 1993); Donio v. United States, 746 F. Supp. 500, 504 (D.N.J. 1990). A facial attack "contest[s] the sufficiency of the pleadings." Common Cause of Pa. v. Pennsylvania, 558 F.3d 249, 257 (3d Cir. 2009) (citation omitted). On a facial attack, the court must read the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and consider the allegations of the complaint as true. Mortensen, 549 F.2d at 891.

Under a factual attack, a court is not confined to the pleadings but may weigh and consider evidence outside the pleadings, including affidavits, depositions, and exhibits to satisfy itself that it has jurisdiction. Id.; Gould Elecs., Inc. v. United States, 220 F.3d 169, 178 (3d Cir. 2000); Gotha v. United States, 115 F.3d 176, 179 (3d Cir. 1997) (stating that court can consider affidavits, depositions, and testimony to resolve factual issues bearing on jurisdiction). This is because on a factual motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, the court's very power to hear the case is at issue. Mortensen, 549 F.2d at 891; Gotha, 115 F.3d at 179. Moreover, on a factual attack, no presumptive truthfulness attaches to a plaintiff's allegations, and the existence of disputed material facts will not preclude the trial court from evaluating for itself the merits of the jurisdictional claim. Mortensen, 549 F.2d at 891.

Regardless of which approach is used, a plaintiff has the burden of proving that jurisdiction exists. Lightfoot v. United States, 564 F.3d 625, 627 (3d Cir. 2009) (citing Carpet Grp. Int'l v. Oriental Rug Importers Ass'n, 227 F.3d 62, 69 (3d Cir. 2000)); Mortensen, 549 F.2d at 891. "The court may dismiss the complaint only if it appears to a certainty that the plaintiff will not be able to assert a colorable claim of subject matter jurisdiction." Iwanowa v. Ford Motor Co., 67 F. Supp. 2d 424, 438 (D.N.J. 1999) (citations omitted).

If the court finds that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction, it must dismiss the action under Rule 12(h)(3). See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3) ("If the court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action.").

B. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows a defendant to move for dismissal of a complaint based on "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). A complaint should be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) if the alleged facts, taken as true, fail to state a claim. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). When deciding a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), ordinarily only the allegations in the complaint, matters of public record, orders, and exhibits attached to the complaint, are taken into consideration.*fn1 See Chester County Intermediate Unit v. Pa. Blue Shield, 896 F.2d 808, 812 (3d Cir. 1990). It is not necessary for the plaintiff to plead evidence. Bogosian v. Gulf Oil Corp., 561 F.2d 434, 446 (3d Cir. 1977). The question before the Court is not whether the plaintiff will ultimately prevail. Watson v. Abington Twp., ...


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