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Kaplan v. Garrison

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

May 6, 2015

RICHARD P. KAPLAN, Plaintiff,
v.
CARLA GARRISON, Defendant.

Richard P. Kaplan, Plaintiff Pro Se Otisville, NY.

OPINION

JEROME B. SIMANDLE, Chief District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Richard P. Kaplan seeks to bring a civil rights complaint pursuant to the New Jersey State Tort Claims Act ("NJTCA"), N.J. STAT. ANN. § 59:1-1 et seq. (Docket Entry 1). By Order dated March 23, 2015, this Court administratively terminated Plaintiff's complaint. (Docket Entry 2). Plaintiff resubmitted an application to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, (Docket Entry 3), and this Court granted the application and filed the complaint on May y, 2015.

At this time, the Court must review the complaint, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) 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 such relief. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will dismiss the complaint for lack of jurisdiction.

I. BACKGROUND

Petitioner is a federal prisoner presently detained at FCI Otisville, New York. He alleges Defendant Carla Garrison ("Defendant") conspired with her sister Margherita Pitale to deprive him of assets during his divorce from Ms. Pitale. He also asserts Defendant conspired with Ms. Pitale and various government agents to set up Plaintiff on criminal charges.[1] (Docket Entry 1 at 1). The following factual allegations are taken from the complaint and are accepted for purposes of this screening only. The Court has made no findings as to the veracity of Plaintiff's allegations.

Plaintiff states that Defendant conspired with her sister, New Jersey Governor Christopher Christie, New Brunswick Mayor James Cahill, and other political figures to fraudulently incriminate him on the criminal charges to which he pled guilty, specifically by concealing evidence and receiving payments from the government for her efforts. (Docket Entry 1 at 2). He also claims Defendant knows of unspecified "illegal activity" committed by Governor Christie and FBI agent James Cahill, however she "refuse[d] to have them impeached." (Docket Entry 1 at 2). He also states Defendant had conversations with the informant and helped him frame Plaintiff for the attempted murder of her sister. (Docket Entry 1 at 2).

In addition to conspiring with the government to keep Plaintiff confined, Defendant purportedly assisted Ms. Pitale in concealing marital assets during her divorce from Plaintiff, helped Ms. Pitale spend P.A.C. funds, and fraudulently informed law enforcement that Ms. Pitale did not reside in New Jersey. (Docket Entry 1 at 2). Plaintiff asks this Court to grant him $150, 000 in compensatory damages, $150, 000 in punitive damages, order Defendant to return his assets, and arrest her for "political corruption and lying about [Plaintiff] committing a crime...." (Docket Entry 1 at 3).

II. Standard of Review

Per the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. No. 104-134, §§ 801-810, 110 Stat. 1321-66 to 1321-77 (April 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. This action is subject to sua sponte screening for dismissal under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) because Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis.

"A federal court is bound to consider its own jurisdiction preliminary to consideration of the merits." Trent Realty Assocs. v. First Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n of Philadelphia, 657 F.2d 29, 36 (3d Cir. 1981); see also Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 12(h)(3). If jurisdiction is lacking, the court must dismiss the action, regardless of the stage of the litigation. Trent Realty Assocs., 657 F.2d at 36.

III. DISCUSSION

Plaintiff is bringing his claim under the NJTCA and asserts this Court has diversity jurisdiction. (Docket Entry 1 at 1). To establish diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a), "the party asserting jurisdiction must show that there is complete diversity of citizenship among the parties and an amount in controversy exceeding $75, 000." Schneller ex rel. Schneller v. Crozer Chester Med. Ctr., 387 F.Appx. 289, 292 (3d Cir. 2010).[2] In this regard, a plaintiff relying on diversity of citizenship as the asserted basis for federal jurisdiction "must specifically allege each party's citizenship, and these allegations must show that the plaintiff and defendant[s] are citizens of different states.'" Gay v. Unipack, Inc., 2011 WL 5025116, *4 (D.N.J. Oct. 20, 2011) (citation omitted). Thus, the Court may properly dismiss a complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction in the absence of complete diversity- i.e., where the ...


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