WHITE v. NORTHERN STATE PRISON
OPINION. Signed by Judge Jose L. Linares on 7/14/2015. (nr, )
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
Civil Action No. 14-4779 (JLL) (JAD)
NORTHERN STATE PRISON,
LINARES, District Judge.
This matter comes before the Court by way of Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss the
Complaint. No opposition to the motion was filed. The Court has considered the submissions of
Defendant in support of the motion and decides the matter without oral argument pursuant to
Rule 78 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons that follow, Defendant’s
Motion to Dismiss is granted.
Plaintiff filed the instant action against Northern State Prison (“NSP”) on behalf of
himself and others employed by NSP as “full time laborer[s],” alleging that they are entitled to
overtime pay pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 200 et seq. (“FLSA”), and
the New Jersey Wage and Hour Law, N.J.S.A. 34:11-56a et seq. (“NJWHL”).
Defendant filed the instant motion to dismiss, arguing that state entities like NSP are not
“employers” under the NJWHL, and NSP, as a state entity, is immune from suit pursuant to the
Eleventh Amendment on both Plaintiff’s NJWHL and FLSA claims.
A. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1)
On a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1), courts must dismiss a
complaint if it lacks subject matter jurisdiction to hear a claim. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1).
Standing is a jurisdictional matter and thus “a motion to dismiss for want of standing is also
properly brought pursuant to Rule 12(b) (1).” Ballentine v. U.S., No.1999–130, 2006 U.S. Dist.
LEXIS 96631, *3, 2006 WL 3298270 (D.V.I. Sept. 21, 2006) (adopted by Ballentine v. U.S., 486
F.3d 806, 810 (3d Cir.2007)). Under Rule 12(b)(1), courts must accept as true all material
allegations set forth in the complaint, and must construe those facts in favor of the nonmoving
party. Id. Motions to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) may be treated as either a “facial or factual
challenge to the court's subject matter jurisdiction.” Gould Elec., Inc. v. U.S., 220 F.3d 169, 176
(3d Cir. 2000). Under a facial attack, the movant challenges the legal sufficiency of the claim
and the court considers only “the allegations of the complaint and documents referenced therein
and attached thereto in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Id. In reviewing a factual
attack, however, the challenge is to the actual alleged jurisdictional facts. Thus, in that instance
courts are free to consider evidence outside of the pleadings. Id. Finally, once a 12(b)(1)
challenge is raised, the burden shifts to the plaintiff to demonstrate the existence of subject
matter jurisdiction. See McCann v. Newman Irrevocable Trust, 458 F.3d 281, 286 (3d Cir.
B. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)
On a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), “courts are required to
accept all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and to draw all reasonable inferences
in favor of the non-moving party.” Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir.
2008) (citing In re Rockefeller Ctr. Props. Secs. Litig., 311 F.3d 198, 215–16 (3d Cir. 2002)).
But, “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.”
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Courts are not required to credit bald
assertions or legal conclusions draped in the guise of factual allegations. See In re Burlington
Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1429 (3d Cir. 1997). “A pleading that offers ‘labels and
conclusions' or a ‘formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.’”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Thus, a
complaint will survive a motion to dismiss if it contains “sufficient factual matter” to “state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 570). “A claim has facial plausibility when the pleaded factual content allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id.
New Jersey’s Wage and Hour Law, N.J.S.A. 34:11-56a et seq. (“NJWHL”) does not
apply to state governmental entities. Allen v. Fauver, 327 N.J. Super. 14 (App. Div. 1999), aff’d,
167 N.J. 69 (2001); see also N.J.A.C. 12:56-7.2 (“‘employer’ within N.J.S.A. 34:11-56a1 does
not include government employers”). Because NSP is a governmental entity, it is not subject to
the NJWHL. As such, Plaintiff’s NJWHL claim will be dismissed.
Under the Eleventh Amendment, a federal court is prohibited from hearing a suit against
a state unless the state has consented to such a suit. Camden Cnty. Recovery Coal. v. Camden
City Bd. of Educ. for Pub. Sch. Syst., 262 F. Supp.2d 446, 448 (D.N.J. 2003). The Eleventh
The 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.
This Amendment not only prohibits suits against a state by citizens from other states, but it also
prohibits suits against a state by its own citizens, Pennhurst State Sch. v. Halderman, 465 U.S.
89, 100 (1984), and bars suits “against a state agency or department,” Kish v. Verniero, 212 B.R.
808, 814 (D.N.J. 1997). “A subdivision of the state itself is also not a ‘person’ if it is merely an
alter ego or ‘arm’ of the state.” Longoria v. State, 168 F. Supp.2d 308, 315 (D.N.J. 2001) (citing
Fitchik v. N.J. Transit Rail Operations, Inc., 873 F.2d 655, 658-59 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 493
U.S. 850 (1989)). Thus, even where the state is not a named party to the action, the suit will be
barred so long as the state is the real party in interest. Camden Cnty. Recovery Coal., 262 F.
Supp.2d at 448. “Therefore, absent waiver, neither a State, nor agencies under its control may be
subjected to lawsuits in federal court.” Doe v. Div. of Youth and Family Servs., 148 F. Supp.2d
462, 483 (D.N.J. 2001). Moreover, regardless whether the suit is for monetary damages or
injunctive relief, the Eleventh Amendment bars suits against a state in federal court. Camden
Cnty. Recovery Coal., 262 F. Supp.2d at 448. A state correctional facility is a state entity or
agency of the state. Grabow v. S. State Corr. Facility, 726 F. Supp. 537, 539 (D.N.J. 1989).
Plaintiff’s FLSA and NJWHL claims against NSP must be dismissed pursuant to the
Eleventh Amendment. Because NSP is clearly an agency of the State of New Jersey, it is
immune from suit for money damages in federal court pursuant to the Eleventh Amendment.
Therefore, the Complaint will be dismissed with prejudice.
For the foregoing reasons, Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss is granted. An appropriate
Order accompanies this Opinion.
DATED: July 14, 2015
s/ Jose L. Linares
JOSE L. LINARES
U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
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