United States District Court, D. New Jersey
B. KUGLER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Tracy Williams alleges that he was formerly confined at
Bayside State Prison, in Leesburg, New Jersey. He is
proceeding pro se with a civil rights complaint
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. For the reasons stated in
this Opinion, the Court will dismiss Plaintiff's
complaint for failure to state a claim.
Court will construe the allegations of the complaint as true
for the purpose of this Opinion. Plaintiff names the New
Jersey Department of Corrections and Commissioner Gary M.
Lanigan as Defendants in this matter. This case arises from
Plaintiff's work history while incarcerated.
Court gleans from the sparse allegations in the Complaint
that Plaintiff worked at the prison at some point during his
thirty years in the Defendants' custody. (ECF No. 1, at
8). Plaintiff then received work credits which could have
been, but were not, “used for the remission of his
sentence.” (Id.). Defendants also maintained
an inmate trust account for Plaintiff's prison wages and
invested those funds to accrue some amount of interest, but
Plaintiff never received that interest. (Id.).
now raises Fourteenth Amendment due process and equal
protection claims against the Defendants. More specifically,
under the Equal Protection Clause, Plaintiff contends that he
“has a right to monetary compensation for work credits
earned and not used for the remission of [his]
sentence.” (Id.). Under the Due Process
Clause, Plaintiff contends that he “has a right to
monetary compensation for interest accrued in his account
while he was in custody.” (Id.).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
courts must review complaints in civil actions in which a
plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis. See 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). District courts may 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 Id. According to the
Supreme Court's decision in Ashcroft v. 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. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).
survive sua sponte 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). “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 [alleged]
misconduct.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Moreover,
while courts liberally construe pro se pleadings,
“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).
brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging
violations of his civil rights guaranteed under the United
States Constitution. To succeed on a § 1983 claim, a
plaintiff must allege two things: first, a violation of a
right under the Constitution, and second, that a
“person” acting under color of state law
committed the violation. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S.
42, 48 (1988); Piecknick v. Com. of Pa., 36 F.3d
1250, 1255-56 (3d. Cir. 1994)).
Claims Against the New Jersey Department of Corrections and
Defendant Lanigan in His Official Capacity.
initial matter, to be liable within the meaning of 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, a defendant must be a “person.” The
Supreme Court held in Will v. Michigan Dep't. of
State Police, 491 U.S. 58 (1989), that a State or an
official therof acting in his or her official capacity is not
a “person” within the meaning of § 1983.
under the Eleventh Amendment, “[t]he judicial power of
the United States shall not be construed to extend to any
suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of
the United States by citizens of another State, or by
Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.” U.S. Const.
amend. XI. This immunity is available to all States, as well
as any entity that ...