United States District Court, D. New Jersey
RICHARD P. KAPLAN, Plaintiff,
JAMES R. MORANO, Defendant.
C. Cecchi, U.S.D.J.
se Plaintiff Richard P. Kaplan ("Plaintiff'), a
convicted prisoner confined at the Federal Correctional
Institution in Otisville, New York, files the instant
Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that
his constitutional rights were violated by a single
defendant, James R. Morano ("Morano"). Because
Plaintiff is proceeding under in forma pauperis
status, 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 such relief. See 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) (in forma pauperis
actions); 28 U.S.C. § 1915A (actions in which prisoner
seeks redress from a governmental defendant); 42 U.S.C.
§ 1997e (prisoner actions brought with respect to prison
conditions). For the reasons stated below, the Court
dismisses the Complaint.
outset, the Court notes that the Complaint is sparse and
contains very little factual allegations; indeed, Plaintiffs
"Statement of Facts" is a one-page recitation of
Plaintiff s claims, comprised mostly of bare conclusory
statements. (See ECF No. 1 at 2.) As such, the Court provides
a very minimal background for the purposes of this Opinion.
in 2006, Plaintiff pled guilty to unspecified federal crimes.
(ECF No. 1-1 at 4.) While in jail, Plaintiffs then-wife,
Margherita A. Pitale, appears to have sought a divorce from
Plaintiff. See Id. at 19; (ECF No. 1 at 1.)
Plaintiff alleges in the Complaint that Morano, Ms.
Pitale's son, conspired with the government and Ms.
Pitale to unlawfully "set him up." (ECF No. 1 at
1.) Plaintiff further alleges that Morano was responsible for
Plaintiff losing his marital assets during the divorce
proceedings. Id. Plaintiff also alleges that Morano
concealed documents which show that Morano assisted Ms.
Pitale in illegally using campaign funds. Id.
Finally, Plaintiff alleges that Morano concealed illegal
activities of New Jersey Governor Christopher Christie, James
Cahill, and other government officials. Id. at 2.
Plaintiff purportedly has attached exhibits showing that
Morano "has fraudulent (sic) concealed evidence that has
contributed to my false imprisonment." Id. at
2. However, the attached exhibits comprise of nothing more
than proofs of service of certain lawsuits Plaintiff has
filed against Ms. Pitale;, a letter from Plaintiffs attorney
to Plaintiff regarding his guilty plea; a memorandum
concerning the law on fraudulent concealment; and various
letters between Plaintiff and Ms. Pitale, and friends/family
of Ms. Pitale, including one letter that may have been
written by Morano to Plaintiff, asking Plaintiff to stop all
contact with Ms. Pitale. (See ECF No. 1-1 at 15.)
STANDARD OF REVIEW
complaint must comply with the pleading requirements of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 8(a)(2) requires that
a complaint contain "a short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief."
"Specific facts are not necessary; the statement need
only 'give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim
is and the grounds upon which it rests."'
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007)
While a complaint . . . does not need detailed factual
allegations, a plaintiffs obligation to provide the
"grounds" of his "entitle[ment] to relief
requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do
... . Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to
relief above the speculative level....
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007) (citations omitted).
is, a complaint must assert "enough facts to state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face."
Id. at 570. "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." Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). The determination of
whether the factual allegations plausibly give rise to an
entitlement to relief is '"a context-specific task
that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial
experience and common sense.'" Bistrian v.
Levi, 696 F.3d 352, 365 (3d Cir. 2012) (citations
omitted). Thus, a court is "not bound to accept as, true
a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation, "
and "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not
suffice." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citations
determining the sufficiency of a pro se complaint,
the Court must be mindful to accept its factual allegations
as true, see James v. City of Wilkes-Barre, 700 F.3d
675, 679 (3d Cir. 2012), and to construe it liberally in
favor of the plaintiff. See Haines v. Kerner, 404
U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); U.S. v. Day, 969 F.2d 39,
42 (3d Cir. 1992).
general, where a complaint subject to statutory screening can
be remedied by amendment, a district court should not dismiss
the complaint with prejudice, but should permit the
amendment. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 34
(1992); Grayson v. Mayview StateHosp., 293 F.3d 103,
108 (3d Cir. 2002) (noting that leave to amend should be
granted "in the absence of undue delay, bad faith,
dilatory motive, unfair prejudice, or futility of
plaintiff can pursue a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 for certain violations of his constitutional rights.