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Drake v. Muniak

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

April 24, 2014

KEITH HASSON DRAKE, Plaintiff,
v.
ROSELLEN G. MUNIAK, et al., Defendants.

OPINION

ROBERT B. KUGLER, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff is a state prisoner incarcerated at the South Woods State Prison in Bridgeton, New Jersey. He is proceeding pro se with a civil rights complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted based on the information contained therein. Thus, the Clerk will be ordered to file the complaint.

At this time, the Court must review the complaint 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 suit. For the following reasons, the complaint will be dismissed. However, plaintiff shall be given leave to file an amended complaint.

II. BACKGROUND

The allegations of the complaint will be construed as true for purposes of this screening. Plaintiff names the following individuals as defendants in this case: (1) Rosellen G. Muniak - Law Librarian South Woods State Prison; (2) Sergeant M. Sheppard - South Woods State Prison; (3) Lieutenant "John Doe" - South Woods State Prison; (4) Christopher Holmes - Warden South Woods State Prison; (5) Greg Lanoza - Assistant Administrator South Woods State Prison; (6) David Metelow - Education Supervisor South Woods State Prison; and (7) Greg Lanigan - Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Corrections. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages from each defendant.

A. Allegations Against Defendants Muniak, Sheppard and Doe

Plaintiff raises similar factual allegations against defendants Muniak, Sheppard and Doe. First, plaintiff claims that these defendants violated his constitutional rights by reading and inspecting his legal materials. He relies on the fact that the defendants stated on a disciplinary report that they reviewed data from a disk. Plaintiff claims that these three defendants also conspired to deprive him of all of his legal materials by writing and issuing a disciplinary charge.

Next, plaintiff alleges that these three defendants not only read his legal materials but that they also confiscated his legal materials. Plaintiff states that the defendants confiscated a disc that contained legal petitions addressed to the Essex County Superior Court to redress grievances. By confiscating this material, plaintiff alleges he was unable to petition the courts for a redress of grievances. Plaintiff also mentions that his post-conviction relief petition was denied on August 31, 2012. By confiscating this material, plaintiff states that he had to do his legal research and writing all over again. Plaintiff also alleges that the confiscation of his legal materials affected his ability to use the law library. Thus, plaintiff alleges that confiscating his legal materials deprived him of access to the courts.

Plaintiff also contends that these three defendants deprived him of assisting other inmates with their legal matters. Indeed, as an example, plaintiff notes that his confiscated disc also contained the legal materials of other prisoners.

Plaintiff also claims that defendants Muniask, Sheppard and Doe deprived him of using the photocopying service by confiscating his legal materials.

Plaintiff further states that the three defendants have violated his rights by not informing him of the rules and procedures of the South Woods State Prison. Specifically, plaintiff alleges he was not informed as to the rules and procedures concerning personal computers/word processors.

Finally, plaintiff alleges that these three defendants are liable to plaintiff pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985 and 1986.

B. Allegations Against Holmes

Plaintiff alleges that he wrote to Warden Holmes on November 9, 2012 that his rights were being violated at South Woods State Prison with respect to his legal materials being confiscated. Holmes responded to plaintiff on November 15, 2012, and instructed plaintiff that he needed to use the inmate remedy system to pursue this issue.

Plaintiff claims that Holmes failed to intervene to correct the unconstitutional actions of Muniak, Sheppard, Lonoza, Metelow and Doe, whom he supervises. Plaintiff claims that Holmes is liable pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985 and 1986.

C. Allegations Against Lanoza

Plaintiff asserts that he wrote to several New Jersey Department of Corrections' employees on December 19, 2012 concerning that his rights were being violated at the South Woods State Prison. He further claims that Lanoza failed to intervene to stop the unconstitutional actions of defendants, Muniak, Sheppard, Metelow and Doe, whom he supervises. He alleges that Lanoza is liable to him pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985 and 1986.

D. Allegations Against Metelow

Plaintiff alleges that he wrote to Metelow on February 21, 2013 to notify him that his rights were being violated at the South Woods State Prison. Plaintiff requested that Metelow instruct Muniak to comply with affording him his constitutional rights concerning his legal materials being confiscated. Metelow wrote back to plaintiff on March 13, 2013, and stated that the information that plaintiff submitted needed to be placed on the inmate remedy form.

Plaintiff claims that Metelow failed to intervene to correct the unconstitutional actions of Muniak, whom he supervises. Plaintiff asserts that Metelow's inaction caused him harm as his legal materials being prepared for an upcoming court proceeding were confiscated in violation of his constitutional rights.

E. Allegations Against Lanigan

Plaintiff wrote to Lanigan on November 28, 2012 to notify him that his rights were being violated at the South Woods State Prison concerning his legal materials being confiscated. Plaintiff claims that Lanigan failed to intervene to correct the unconstitutional actions of the defendants that he supervises as the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Corrections. Plaintiff claims that Lanigan's ...


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