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Drake v. Muniak

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

March 23, 2017

KEITH HASSON DRAKE, Plaintiff,
v.
ROSELLEN G. MUNIAK, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          ROBERT B. KUGLER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff, Keith Hasson Drake, is a state prisoner who is currently incarcerated at the East Jersey State Prison in Rahway, New Jersey. He is proceeding pro se with a proposed third amended civil rights complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Previously, this Court dismissed Mr. Drake's other complaints at the screening stage. Upon dismissing his second amended complaint in March, 2016, this Court noted that it would give Mr. Drake one final opportunity to sufficiently state claims in a proposed third amended petition. Thereafter, Mr. Drake filed a request for an extension of time to submit a third amended complaint. (See Dkt. No. 29) Subsequently, Mr. Drake filed his third amended complaint. (See Dkt. No. 30)

         Mr. Drake's request to file a third amended complaint beyond the time-frame that this Court previously allowed will be granted and the Clerk will be ordered to reopen this case so that the third amended complaint can be screened. At this time, this court must review the third amended 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 suit. For the following reasons, Mr. Drake's federal claims will be dismissed with prejudice for failure to state a claim and this Court will decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Mr. Drake's state law claims.

         II.BACKGROUND

         The allegations of the third amended complaint will be construed as true for purposes of this screening opinion. Mr. Drake names three defendants in the third amended complaint; they are: (1) Rosellen G. Muniak; (2) Sgt. M. Sheppard; and (3) Lt. John Doe.

         Mr. Drake's claims against these three defendants are largely identical to the claims he brought against these three defendants in his previous complaints. Mr. Drake's claims arise while he was incarcerated the South Woods State Prison. He states that the defendants violated his constitutional rights by confiscating a computer disk containing his legal materials that had been loaned to him in September, 2012. The defendants subsequently read his legal materials contained on the disk. He received a disciplinary report on September 14, 2012 for being in possession of property belonging to another inmate. Mr. Drake states that by confiscating his legal disk, this deprived him of the opportunity to present a past legal claim. Mr. Drake also alleges that the defendants denied him the right to legal photocopying services even though he was willing to pay for the cost of copy of the items that were on the disk that they confiscated. Mr. Drake further alleges that the defendants violated his rights under Section 10A of the New Jersey Administrative Code by their actions and that he was not informed by the defendants of the rules concerning personal computer/word processor usage at the facility.

         As relief, Mr. Drake seeks the return of his confiscated legal materials as well as money damages.

         III. LEGAL STANDARDS

         Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub.L. 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. see 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         “The legal standard for dismissing a complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is the same as that for dismissing a complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).” Schreane v. Seana, 506 F. App'x 120, 122 (3d Cir. 2012) (citing Allah v. Seiverling, 229 F.3d 220, 223 (3d Cir. 2000)); Mitchell v. Beard, 492 F. App'x 230, 232 (3d Cir. 2012) (discussing 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1)); Courteau v. United States, 287 F. App'x 159, 162 (3d Cir. 2008) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)). That standard is set forth in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) and Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), as explicated by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. To survive the court's screening for failure to state a claim, 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.” Fair Wind Sailing, Inc. v. Dempster, 764 F.3d 303, 308 n.3 (3d Cir. 2014) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). “[A] pleading that offers ‘labels or conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.' ” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

         Pro se pleadings, as always, will be liberally construed. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972). Nevertheless, “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).

         IV. DISCUSSION

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


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