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Islaam v. Greco

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

February 21, 2014

SANTO MUJAHID ISLAAM, Plaintiff,
v.
RODNEY A. GRECO, et al., Defendants.

Santo Mujahid Islaam, Pro Se 262092 Camden County Correctional Center Camden, NJ.

OPINION

JEROME B. SIMANDLE, Chief District Judge.

Plaintiff, Santo Mujahid Islaam, confined at the Camden County Correctional Facility, Camden, New Jersey, seeks to file this civil rights complaint asserting jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. As Plaintiff provided an in forma pauperis ("IFP") application, the Court will grant Plaintiff's request pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) and order the Clerk of the Court to file the complaint.

The Court must now review the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) and § 1915A(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 Plaintiff's complaint should be permitted to proceed against certain parties.

BACKGROUND

To begin, the caption of Plaintiff's complaint, as well as the body of his complaint, reveal that Plaintiff seeks to sue Rodney A. Greco, a Camden County Freeholder, and Eric M. Taylor, the Warden of the Camden County Correctional Facility ("CCCF") (Docket Item 1-1, Complt., ¶ 4). However, Plaintiff's IFP application lists additional defendants- while it names Defendants Greco and Taylor, it also names "Dr. Niel, " "Dr. Dunoff, " "Dr. Utreras, " and "Jen Houston." The Clerk of the Court placed these individuals' names on the docket; however, the body of Plaintiff's complaint and the allegations do not mention these defendants. It appears the names were inadvertently added to the IFP application, and the Court will order these defendants terminated from the docket.

As to the facts of Plaintiff's complaint, Plaintiff states that defendants Greco and Taylor have instituted "policies/rules that govern and prohibit the Muslims from peacefully assemblying on Fridays' for Jumu'ah prayer' in [CCCF] and specifically on the 3rd and 4th Floors." ( Id., ¶ 6). He claims the Muslims were also denied their "annual prayer and Feast Eid-ul-Adha on 10-17-12" and that the Administration is "bias/prejudice towards the Muslims (Anti Muslim Syndrome) in general." He asserts that Christians are permitted to assemble for Sunday services. ( Id. ).

Plaintiff alleges that this denial of rights violates the First Amendment and the New Jersey Administrative Code, and asks that the denial be remedied, Muslims be permitted to practice, and for monetary damages. ( Id., ¶ 7).

Attached to the end of his complaint, Plaintiff lists approximately forty-nine (49) "Additional Plaintiffs, " none of whom have signed the complaint and none of whom have submitted individual IFP applications.

DISCUSSION

1. Standards for a Sua Sponte Dismissal

The Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. No. 104-134, §§ 801-810, 110 Stat. 1321-66 to 1321-77 (April 26, 1996), requires a district court to review a complaint in a civil 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 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. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). This action is subject to sua sponte screening for dismissal under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) because Plaintiff is proceeding as an indigent.

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)); see also United States v. Day, 969 F.2d 39, 42 (3d Cir. 1992).

The Supreme Court refined the standard for summary dismissal of a complaint that fails to state a claim in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (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). Citing its opinion in 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, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555), the Supreme Court held that, to prevent a summary dismissal, a civil complaint must allege "sufficient factual matter" to show that the claim is ...


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