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Hilkevich v. Karpf

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

March 28, 2014

JOHN S. HILKEVICH, Plaintiff,
v.
KARPF, KARPF & CERUTTI, P.C., et al., Defendants.

OPINION

KEVIN MCNULTY, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff, John S. Hilkevich, is proceeding pro se with a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. I administratively terminated this case because Mr. Hilkevich had not paid the filing fee or submitted a completed application to proceed in forma pauperis. Mr. Hilkevich then paid the filing fee and the matter was reopened.

I must now conduct an initial review of the complaint. For the following reasons, the complaint will be dismissed with prejudice because it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and seeks monetary relief from defendants who are immune from suit. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1) & (2).

II. BACKGROUND

The allegations of the complaint will be accepted as true for purposes of screening. Mr. Hilkevich names as defendants Karpf, Karpf & Cerutti, P.C., Justin L. Swidler, Esq., Adam C. Virant, Esq, Kevin P. Morgan, Esq., and Judge Patricia Richmond, J.S.C.

Mr. Hilkevich asserts that, in 2008, the state appellate court ordered that he be resentenced. Mr. Hilkevich's father (who had power of attorney) met with Adam C. Virant of Karpf, Karpf & Cerutti for the purpose of retaining him to represent Mr. Hilkevich at the resentencing. The father paid Mr. Virant $3, 000 up front, with another $3, 000 due later.

On July 11, 2008, the resentencing took place. Justin L. Swidler (an attorney whom Mr. Hilkevich had never met) took the role of lead attorney. Kevin P. Morgan was the prosecutor. At resentencing, the Hon. Pamela Richmond ultimately reimposed the original sentence.

Mr. Hilkevich claims that the attorneys conducted their representation of him "deceitfully, fraudulently and incompetently." He claims that "the actions by professional litigators and officers of the Court surpass misconduct into criminal malpractice, fraud, deceit and obstruction of justice." ( Id. at p. 8.) He seeks as damages the $6, 000 paid to Karpf, Karpf & Cerutti, P.C., as well as an additional $100, 000.

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A. Standard for Sua Sponte Dismissal

District courts must review complaints in civil actions in which a prisoner seeks redress against a governmental employee or entity. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). Section 1915A(b) directs district courts to dismiss sua sponte any claim that is frivolous, is 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.

Under Ashcroft v. Iqbal, "a pleading that offers labels or conclusions' or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'" 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). To survive sua sponte screening for failure to state a claim, [1] the complaint must allege "sufficient factual matter" to show that the claim is facially plausible. See Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009) (citation omitted). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that ...


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