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Paladino v. Newsom

United States District Court, Third Circuit

January 9, 2014

Brian PALADINO, Plaintiff,
v.
Kevin NEWSOM, et al., Defendants.

OPINION

ANNE E. THOMPSON, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter is before the Court upon Plaintiff Brian Paladino's Motion for Leave to Add Claims. (Docket No. 77). The Court has decided the matter upon consideration of the parties' written submissions and without oral argument, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78(b). For the reasons set forth below, the Court denies Plaintiff's Motion.

II. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, an inmate currently incarcerated at New Jersey State Prison, commenced this action by filing a civil rights complaint on April 4, 2012. (Docket No. 1). Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on June 28, 2013, stating numerous claims including deprivation of property. (Docket No. 3). The Court issued an Opinion and Order on August 13, 2012, dismissing a number of Plaintiff's claims including the deprivation of property claim. (Docket Nos. 4, 5).

On October 9, 2013, Plaintiff filed the Motion for Leave to Add Claims which is the subject of this opinion. (Docket No. 77).

III. ANALYSIS

Leave to amend pursuant to Rule 15(a) should be freely granted. See Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178 (1962); see also Adams v. Gould, Inc., 739 F.2d 858, 864 (3d Cir.1984), cert. denied, 469 U.S. 1122 (1985). The district court may only deny leave to amend in two circumstances: (1) "if a plaintiff's delay in seeking amendment is undue, motivated by bad faith, or prejudicial" to the defendant; or (2) if the amendment would be futile (i.e., the amendment fails to state a cause of action). Id. ; see also Massarsky v. General Motors Corp., 706 F.2d 111, 125 (3d Cir. 1983).

Here, Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Amend is futile. "In determining the futility of an amendment, ... [the Court] applies the same standard of legal sufficiency as applie[d] under Rule 12(b)(6)" and "accept[s] as true all factual allegations contained in the proposed amended [pleading] and any reasonable inferences that can be drawn from them." Walls v. Cnty. of Camden, CIV. 06-5961 (JEI), at *2-3 (D.N.J. Nov. 13, 2008); see also Alvin v. Suzuki, 227 F.3d 107, 121 (3d Cir. 2000). "[I]f the proposed amendment is frivolous or advances a claim or defense that is legally insufficient on its face, the Court may deny leave to amend, " but where the "proposed amendment is not clearly futile, then denial of leave to amend is improper." Harrison Beverage Co. v. Dribeck Importers, Inc., 133 F.R.D. 463, 468-69 (D.N.J.1990).

Here, it appears that Plaintiff is attempting to add a deprivation of property claim. (Docket No. 77 at 2). Plaintiff further claims that "[a]t New Jersey State Prison it is and has been common custom and practice to deny ligitimate [sic] property claims based on frivolous denial reasons." This Court's analysis of Plaintiff's deprivation of property claim has not changed since the July 31, 2012 opinion in which Plaintiff's deprivation of property claim was dismissed with prejudice. Paladino v. Newsome, CIV.A. 12-2021 AET, 2012 WL 3315571 (D.N.J. Aug. 13, 2012).

Deprivation of property by a state actor does not constitute a violation of the procedural requirements of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment if the following are true: (1) a meaningful post-deprivation remedy for the loss is available; and (2) the deprivation of property did not occur pursuant to an established state procedure. Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 530-36 (1984); Logan v. Zimmerman Brush Co., 455 U.S. 422, 435-36 (1982); Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 543-44 (1981), overruled in part on other grounds, Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327, 328 (1986).

Here, New Jersey provides a meaningful post-deprivation remedy for unauthorized deprivation of property by public employees. See New Jersey Tort Claims Act, N.J. Stat. Ann. §§ 59:1-1 et seq. (2001). Additionally, Plaintiff has failed to allege any facts suggesting that the Defendants deprived him of property pursuant to an established state procedure. Furthermore, this Court has failed to locate any established procedure instructing New Jersey State Prison employees to take inmate property. To the contrary, established state procedures require prison officials to preserve personal property of inmates. See, e.g., N.J. Admin. Code §§ 10A:1-11.3 et. seq. (2001).[1]

For these reasons, this Court finds that allowing Plaintiff to add this claim would be futile.

IV. CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiff's Motion is denied. An appropriate order will follow.


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