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Shappell v. Camden County Board of Social Services

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

May 29, 2014

CINDY SHAPPELL, Plaintiff,
v.
CAMDEN COUNTY BOARD OF SOCIAL SERVICES and SHAWN B. SHEEKEY, AS DIRECTOR OF THE CAMDEN COUNTY BOARD OF SOCIAL SERVICES, Defendants.

FREDRIC J. GROSS LAW FIRM, Fredric J. Gross, Esq., Mt. Ephraim, NJ, Counsel for Plaintiff.

ZELLER & WIELICZKO LLP, Dean R. Wittman, Esq., Matthew B. Wieliczko, Esq., Cherry Hill, NJ, Counsel for Defendants.

OPINION

JOSEPH E. IRENAS, District Judge.

This § 1983 lawsuit comes before the Court on Defendants' motion to dismiss and Plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment. For the reasons detailed below, the Court will grant Defendants' motion and deny as moot Plaintiff's.

I.

Plaintiff Cindy Shappell, a 52-year-old Camden County domiciliary, claims in her Verified Complaint that she was denied welfare, food stamps, and Medicaid benefits. She has sued the government entity responsible for the issuance of such benefits, Camden County Board of Social Services ("Board"), and its Director, Shawn B. Sheekey, in his official capacity. Plaintiff claims Defendants violated her substantive and procedural due process rights, and states claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and N.J.S.A. 10:6-2(c).[1]

In 2011, Plaintiff was a resident of Paterson, New Jersey. At an unspecified time, the Passaic County Board of Social Services determined that she was entitled to welfare, food stamps, and Medicaid, and issued Plaintiff benefits under each program. (Verified Compl. ¶ 8)

In October of 2011, Plaintiff moved to Camden County. She contacted the Board and was told she was "qualified for each of the benefits [] she sought." (Verified Compl. ¶ 12) However, but for the receipt of food stamps for one month, Plaintiff did not, and has not, received any such benefits.[2] (Id. ¶ 14) Furthermore, Plaintiff has not received any notification informing her that her application has been denied.

With regard to Plaintiff's receipt of food stamps, at an unspecified time, Plaintiff was issued a food stamp ID card. Within one month of receipt, however, she was called to a meeting with Board employees and told that an error had been made, "she was not receiving the correct amount of food stamps, " and she had to return her ID card "so that a corrected card could be issued." (Verified Compl. ¶ 15) A new card, however, was never issued.

Plaintiff filed suit on September 4, 2013. (Dkt. No. 1) Defendants moved to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Plaintiff cross-moved for summary judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. Both motions are presently before the Court.[3]

II.

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides that a court may dismiss a complaint "for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." In order to survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must allege facts that raise a right to relief above the speculative level. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a) (2).

While a court must accept as true all factual allegations in the plaintiff's complaint, and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, Phillips v. County of Allegheny , 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008), a court is not required to accept sweeping legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations, unwarranted inferences, or unsupported conclusions. Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist. , 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997).

Summary judgment is proper if "the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the Court must construe the facts and inferences in a light most favorable to ...


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