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Ragland v. Lanigan

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

June 4, 2014

KIM RAGLAND, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER GARY M. LANIGAN, et al., Defendants.

OPINION

ROBERT B. KUGLER, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff is a state prisoner currently incarcerated at the Mid State Correctional Facility in Wrightstown, New Jersey. He is proceeding pro se with a civil rights complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Previously, the Court administratively terminated this case as plaintiff had not paid the filing fee nor submitted an application to proceed in forma pauperis. Plaintiff has since filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis. Therefore, the Clerk will be ordered to reopen this case. Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted based on the information provided therein and the Clerk will be ordered to file the complaint.

At this time, the Court must review the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A 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 reasons set forth below, the complaint will be permitted to proceed in part.

II. BACKGROUND

The allegations of the complaint will be construed as true for purposes of this screening. Plaintiff names four defendants in this action: (1) Commissioner Gary M. Lanigan; (2) Warden Evelyn Davis - Superintendent at Mid State Correctional Facility; (3) Ms. Quinones - Business Office Manager at Mid State Correctional Facility; and (4) Lydell Sherer - Business Superintendent Northern State Prison.

Plaintiff alleges that in October, 2013, funds were withdrawn from his prison account well beyond New Jersey statutory and Department of Corrections rules for fines and past restitution. Plaintiff filed an institutional remedy form with the prison due to these withdrawals that was denied. Plaintiff alleges defendants Davis and Quinones took his funds in violation of his equal protection and due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. Additionally, he claims that Lanigan knew that his subordinates at the Mid State Correctional Facility would violate plaintiff's rights under the Fourteenth Amendment by taking his funds beyond that which was permitted.

Plaintiff also alleges that Sherer withdrew funds from his prison account from 2002 to 2005 in the amount of $900.00 even though he was not incarcerated in the State of New Jersey. Plaintiff states he was serving a term in a New York prison at this time.

Plaintiff seeks monetary damages for these purported constitutional violations.

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A. Standard for Sua Sponte Dismissal

Per the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. No. 104-134, §§ 801-810, 110 Stat. 1321-66 to 1321-77 (Apr. 26, 1996) ("PLRA"), district courts must review complaints in those civil actions in which a prisoner is proceeding in forma pauperis, see 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), seeks redress against a governmental employee or entity, see 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), or brings a claim with respect to prison conditions, see 28 U.S.C. § 1997e. The PLRA directs district courts to sua sponte dismiss 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.

According to the Supreme Court's decision in 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. at 678 (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. 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 the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Belmont v. MB Inv. Partners, Inc., 708 F.3d 470, 483 n.17 (3d Cir. 2012) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). Moreover, while pro se pleadings are ...


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