LOUIS v. NEW JERSEY STATE PAROLE BOARD et al
OPINION. Signed by Judge Noel L. Hillman on 4/18/16. (jbk, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
ALBERT V. LOUIS, JR.,
NEW JERSEY STATE PAROLE
BOARD, et al.,
Civ. No. 15-7004 (NLH)
Albert V. Louis, Jr., # 200841 159226B
South Woods State Prison
215 Burlington Road South
Bridgeton, NJ 08302
Plaintiff Pro se
HILLMAN, District Judge
Plaintiff Albert V. Louis, Jr., a prisoner confined at
South Woods State Prison in Bridgeton, New Jersey, filed this
civil action asserting claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
This case was previously administratively terminated due to
Plaintiff’s failure to satisfy the filing fee requirement. (ECF
Nos. 5, 12, 20).
Since the Court’s most recent Order
administratively terminating this case, dated February 8, 2016
(ECF No. 20), Plaintiff has filed 8 additional letters and
another application to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF Nos. 2128).
The Court has reviewed each submission and finds the in
forma pauperis application dated February 26, 2016 (ECF No. 27)
to be complete.
Accordingly, the Court grants Plaintiff’s
request to proceed in forma pauperis.
At this time the Court must screen 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 suit pursuant to 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.
For the reasons set forth
below, the Complaint will be dismissed for failure to state a
In his Complaint, Plaintiff challenges the decision of the
New Jersey State Parole Board (“NJSPB”) and his continued
incarceration (Compl. 8-9, ECF No. 1), which he refers to as
“extra-judicial servitude” in his letters, see, e.g., (ECF No.
22 at 5), (ECF No. 24 at 1).
He further challenges the
calculation of his sentence and alleges that the NJSPB
improperly imposed a Future Eligibility Term (“FET”) of 180
months, which will exceed Plaintiff’s maximum release date.
(Compl. 8-9, ECF No. 1).
Plaintiff asserts that his
constitutional rights have been violated and he seeks relief in
the form of immediate release and monetary compensation. (Id. at
STANDARDS OF REVIEW
A. Sua Sponte Dismissal
Per 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.
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.
Every 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) (citations omitted).
While a complaint ... does not need detailed factual
allegations, a plaintiff’s 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)
That is, a complaint must assert “enough facts to state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 570.
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 Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)).
The determination of whether the factual allegations
plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief is “‘a contextspecific 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 omitted).
In 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 State Hospital, 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 amendment”), cited in Thomaston v. Meyer, 519 F.
App’x 118, 120 n.2 (3d Cir. 2013); Urrutia v. Harrisburg County
Police Dept., 91 F.3d 451, 453 (3d Cir. 1996).
Finally, in 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); United States v. Day, 969 F.2d 39, 42 (3d Cir. 1992).
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
B. Section 1983 Actions
A plaintiff may have a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 for certain violations of his constitutional rights.
Section 1983 provides in relevant part:
Every person who, under color of any statute,
ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State
or Territory ... subjects, or causes to be subjected,
any citizen of the United States or other person
within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of
any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the
Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party
injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other
proper proceeding for redress ... .
Thus, to state a claim for relief under § 1983, a plaintiff
must allege, first, the violation of a right secured by the
Constitution or laws of the United States and, second, that the
alleged deprivation was committed or caused by a person acting
under color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48, 108
S.Ct. 2250, 2255, 101 L.Ed.2d 40 (1988); Malleus v. George, 641
F.3d 560, 563 (3d Cir. 2011).
As explained to Plaintiff in the Court’s previous Orders,
challenges to the calculation of a sentence or parole decisions
are often properly, and exclusively, raised in the context of
habeas corpus. See Williams v. Consovoy, 453 F.3d 173, 177 (3d
Cir. 2006) (“It is well-settled that when a state prisoner is
challenging the fact or duration of his confinement, his sole
federal remedy is a writ of habeas corpus, not a § 1983
action.”) (citation omitted) (citing Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411
U.S. 475, 93 S. Ct. 1827, 36 L. Ed. 2d 439 (1973)); Ford v.
D'Amico, No. 05-5050, 2006 WL 1457938, at *6 (D.N.J. May 22,
2006) (collecting cases) (holding that because Ford was actually
contesting the decision denying parole for the duration of his
maximum prison sentence and the determination of his release
date, such a claim must be raised by way of a habeas corpus
petition after exhaustion of state remedies); see also Hunterson
v. DiSabato, 308 F.3d 236, 246 (3d Cir. 2002) (analyzing denial
of parole and imposition of FET in context of habeas corpus);
Coady v. Vaughn, 251 F.3d 480, 485 (3d Cir. 2001) (holding that
the appellant was required to challenge the execution of his
sentence, inclusive of an adverse denial of parole by the
Pennsylvania Board, under 28 U.S.C. § 2254); Pratola v.
Sullivan, No. 08-2417, 2010 WL 234937, at *2 (D.N.J. Jan. 14,
2010) (analyzing denial of parole and imposition of FET in
context of habeas corpus); Richardson v. New Jersey, No. 073482, 2007 WL 2317090, at *2 (D.N.J. Aug. 9, 2007) (“To the
extent Plaintiff challenges the constitutionality of his present
confinement and seeks release from confinement, the appropriate
form of action is a petition for writ of habeas corpus, pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, following exhaustion of state
Therefore, to the extent Plaintiff seeks immediate release,
Plaintiff’s challenge to the constitutionality of his
confinement is properly raised in a petition for writ of habeas
Further, to the extent Plaintiff seeks monetary damages
with regard to the NJSPB’s decision, his claims are barred by
Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 114 S. Ct. 2364, 129 L. Ed. 2d
In Heck, the Supreme Court held that — where
success in a § 1983 action would implicitly call into question
the validity of conviction or duration of sentence — a plaintiff
must first achieve favorable termination of his available state
or federal habeas remedies to challenge the underlying
conviction or sentence.
More recently, the Supreme Court
a state prisoner’s § 1983 action is barred (absent
prior invalidation) — no matter the relief sought
(damages or equitable relief), no matter the target of
the prisoner’s suit (state conduct leading to
conviction or internal prison proceedings) — if
success in that action would necessarily demonstrate
the invalidity of the confinement or its duration.
Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74, 81–82, 125 S. Ct. 1242, 161
L.Ed.2d 253 (2005) (emphasis in original).
In this case, the success of Plaintiff’s claims would
necessarily demonstrate the invalidity of the NJSPB’s decision
and his present confinement; therefore, Plaintiff’s § 1983
action is not cognizable under Heck. See, Johnson v. Mondrosch,
586 F. App'x 871 (3d Cir. 2014) (holding that parolee’s § 1983
claims challenging parole revocation were barred by Heck,
because granting parolee’s requested relief would necessarily
invalidate state parole board’s decision to revoke his parole);
Williams, 453 F.3d at 177 (collecting cases) (holding that
because the parole board’s decision had not been rendered
invalid, plaintiff-parolee could not attack it via a § 1983
The Court notes that Plaintiff has filed a petition for
writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, which is currently
pending before this Court. See Louis v. State of New Jersey, No.
15-6420 (NLH) (D.N.J. Aug. 25, 2015).
In the event he obtains a
favorable result, the claims raised in the instant Complaint
will no longer be barred under Heck, and he may reassert his
allegations of constitutional violations and his request for
monetary relief in an action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1983.
Finally, the Court has reviewed each of Plaintiff’s letters
(ECF Nos. 21-28) and determines that nothing contained in those
submissions alters this Court’s analysis or warrants any further
action by the Court.
For foregoing reasons, the Complaint will be dismissed
without prejudice for failure to state a claim upon which relief
may be granted. See, e.g., Ford, 2006 WL 1457938 at *9
(dismissing plaintiff’s § 1983 claims seeking immediate release
and monetary damages without prejudice).
An appropriate Order will be entered.
__s/ Noel L. Hillman______
NOEL L. HILLMAN
United States District Judge
Dated: April 18, 2016
At Camden, New Jersey
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?