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Parker v. Cohen

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

February 23, 2015

DONNELL PARKER, Plaintiff,
v.
WARDEN COHEN, et al., Defendants.

OPINION

ROBERT B. KUGLER, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff is a pre-trial detainee currently detained at the Atlantic County Justice Facility in Mays Landing, New Jersey. He is proceeding pro se with an amended civil rights complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On December 5, 2015, this Court administratively terminated this case as plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis was incomplete. Subsequently, plaintiff filed another application to proceed in forma pauperis. Therefore, the Clerk will be ordered to reopen this case. The application to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted based on the information provided therein and the Clerk will be ordered to file the amended complaint.

The Court must now 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 dismissed with prejudice against several defendants and without prejudice against one defendant for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

II. BACKGROUND

The allegations of the amended complaint will be construed as true for purposes of this screening. Plaintiff names the following individuals as defendants in the amended complaint: (1) Warden Cohen; (2) John, Terry and Yvonne Hickman - Social Workers; (3) Rochelle P. Rozier, Esq.; and (4) Robert Moran, Esq.

Plaintiff complains that Cohen is liable because the Atlantic County Justice Facility does not have a law library such that plaintiff has been denied access to the courts. He claims that the Social Worker defendants have received requests from various units around the jail but that there are no lawyers made available. Therefore, inmates have to figure out their own strategy. Plaintiff claims that he has been unable to research the law and prepare a defense. He states that his attorney is Rochelle Rozier and that she "has yet to file one motion in regards to legally defending [his] rights under the color of law." (Dkt. No. 2 at p. 12.)

Plaintiff requests damages and redress due to the need for a law library and law librarian at the Atlantic County Justice Facility.

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 42 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. 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 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 liberally construed, " pro se litigants still must allege sufficient facts in their complaints to support a claim." Mala v. Crown Bay Marina, Inc., 704 F.3d 239, 245 (3d Cir. 2013) (citation omitted) (emphasis added).

B. Section 1983 Actions

A plaintiff may have a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for certain violations of his constitutional rights. ...


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