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Ballard v. Gaines

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

December 10, 2019

ROZELIA BALLARD, Plaintiff,
v.
ELANA GAINES, JANEL WINTERS, NIESHA LAW, CLEO SPRATLEY, KIA WILLIAMS, and HERBERT DIXON, Defendants.

          ROZELIA BALLARD Appearing pro se.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

          NOEL L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.

         WHEREAS, Plaintiff Rozelia Ballard (“Plaintiff”), appearing pro se, filed a complaint against defendants Elana Gaines, Janel Winters, Niesha Law, Cleo Spratley, Kia Williams, and Herbert Dixon (“Defendants”);[1] and

         WHEREAS, Plaintiff suggests that she and her family receive governmental housing assistance and alleges that she “requested to move to N.J. for health [reasons] and possible employment” but that NJDCA and its employees - the individual Defendants -failed to adequately assist her with that request. (Comp. at 3); and

         WHEREAS, Plaintiff alleges that in failing to adequately assist her, Defendants violated “HUD, the ADA, and the U.S. Constitution.” (Comp. at 3); and

         WHEREAS, Plaintiff further alleges that she and her family were injured by “being forced to remain in [a] hazardous house [despite] being approved to move out” and suffered “mental anguish and emotional distress.” (Comp. at 4); and

         WHEREAS, Plaintiff asks the Court to direct “NJDCA to finish the aborted process of [Plaintiff's] transport to N.J. with the federally required necessary medical accommodations of separate sleeping for [Plaintiff] as [directed] by physicians.” (Comp. at 4); and

         WHEREAS, Plaintiff requests protection from “any retaliation in any form from NJDCA employees [and] for punitive damages in amounts defined for move in costs, future . . . injuries sustained as [a] result of NJDCA misconduct, conspiracy and refusal to give proper due process to [Plaintiff].” (Comp. at 4); and

         WHEREAS, Plaintiff has filed an application to proceed without prepayment of fees (“in forma pauperis” or “IFP” application), and pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1), a court may allow a litigant to proceed without prepayment of fees if she submits a proper IFP application; and

         WHEREAS, although § 1915 refers to “prisoners, ” federal courts apply § 1915 to non-prisoner IFP applications, Hickson v. Mauro, 2011 WL 6001088, *1 (D.N.J. 2011) (citing Lister v. Dept. of Treasury, 408 F.3d 1309, 1312 (10th Cir. 2005) (“Section 1915(a) applies to all persons applying for IFP status, and not just to prisoners.”) (other citations omitted); and

         WHEREAS, on August 20, 2019, this Court granted Plaintiff's application to proceed IFP, and Ordered the Clerk to file Plaintiff's complaint. (ECF No. 3); and

         WHEREAS, the screening provisions of the IFP statute require a federal court to dismiss an action sua sponte if, among other things, the action is frivolous or malicious, or if it fails to comply with the proper pleading standards, see 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(iii); Ball v. Famiglio, 726 F.3d 448, 452 (3d Cir. 2013); Martin v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2017 WL 3783702, at *1 (D.N.J. August 30, 2017) (“Federal law requires this Court to screen Plaintiff's Complaint for sua sponte dismissal prior to service, and to dismiss any claim if that claim fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) and/or to dismiss any defendant who is immune from suit.”); and

         WHEREAS, pro se complaints must be construed liberally, and all reasonable latitude must be afforded the pro se litigant, Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 107 (1976), but pro se litigants “must still plead the essential elements of [their] claim and [are] not excused from conforming to the standard rules of civil procedure, ” McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993) (“[W]e have never suggested that procedural rules in ordinary civil litigation should be interpreted so as to excuse mistakes by those who proceed without counsel.”); Sykes v. ...


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