ROJAS VILLAPLANA v. RANDAZZO et al
OPINION AND ORDER granting Defendant's 6 and 7 Motions to Dismiss; Plaintiff's Complaint is dismissed with prejudice, etc. Signed by Judge John Michael Vazquez on 11/13/2017. (ek)
Not for Publication
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT Of NEW JERSEY
ALLAN N. ROJAS VILLAPLANA,
Civil Action No. 16-8767
OPINION & ORDER
GIUSEPPE C. RANDAZZO, GARFIELD CITY
MUNICIPAL COURT, and NEW JERSEY
MOTOR VEHICLE COMMISSION,
John Michael Vazguez, U.S.D.J.
This case comes before the Court on the motions to dismiss filed by defendants Garfield
City Municipal Court and Giuseppe C. Randazzo (“Municipal Defendants”), D.E. 6, and the
New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (“NJMVC”), D.E. 7. Plaintiff filed his Complaint afier
his driver’s license was suspended. See D.E. 1. The Court reviewed the submissions made in
support of the motion (Plaintiff did not file opposition) and considered the motion without oral
argument pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 78(b) and L. Civ. R. 78.1(b). For the reasons set forth
below, both motions to dismiss are GRANTED.
factual Background & Procedural History
Plaintiff, who is proceedingpro Se, filed his Complaint on November 28, 2016. D.E. 1.
The Complaint sought declaratory relief and a permanent injunction against the three named
Defendants. Id. Plaintiff specifically requested “a declaratory ruling on the standing of STATE
EXECUTIVE GOVERNMENT to treat plaintiffs right to travel as a privilege once he declares
redemption of lawful money.” Id. at 1. Appended to the Complaint is a scheduled suspension
notice from the NJMVC dated November 8, 2016. Id. at 3. The notice indicates that Plaintiffs
driving license “is scheduled to be suspended as of 01/06/2017 indefinitely” for failing to answer
a summons in Garfield Municipal Court. Id. The notice states the NJMVC’s statutory authority,
provides information on the summons, indicates that Plaintiff must obtain a receipt showing
proof of payment, and warns Plaintiff that if he does not provide proof of the receipt before the
suspension date, he will have to pay an additional $100 fee. Id.
Plaintiff does not include any further facts in his Complaint, though Defendants in their
motions to dismiss explain that Plaintiff had his license suspended after failing to pay traffic
tickets, and that Defendant Randazzo was named because he is a judge at the Garfield City
Municipal Court. See D.E. 6-4, Brief in Support of Municipal Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss
(hereinafter “Municipal Brief’) at 1.
The Municipal Defendants filed their motion to dismiss on January 27, 2017, and the
NJMVC filed its motion on April 4, 2017. D.E. 6, 7. Plaintiff did not file opposition papers to
Standard of Review
For a complaint to survive dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6), it must contain sufficient
factual matter to state a claim that is plausible on its face. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009) (quoting Bell Ati. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is facially
plausible “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. Further, a plaintiff must
“allege sufficient facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will uncover proof of her
claims.” Connelly V. Lane Const. Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 789 (3d Cir. 2016).
In evaluating the sufficiency of a complaint, district courts must separate the factual and
legal elements. Fowler v. UFMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-211 (3d Cir. 2009).
Restatements of the elements of a claim are legal conclusions, and therefore, not entitled to a
presumption of truth. Burtch v. Milberg factors, Inc., 662 F.3d 212, 224 (3d Cir. 2011). The
Court, however, “must accept all of the complaint’s well-pleaded facts as true.” Fowler, 578
F.3d at 210. Even if plausibly pled, however, a complaint will not withstand a motion to dismiss
if the facts alleged do not state “a legally cognizable cause of action.” Turner v. IF. Morgan
Chase & Co., No. 14-7148, 2015 WL 12826480, at *2 (D.N.J. Jan. 23, 2015).
Because Plaintiff is proceeding pro Se, the Court construes the pleadings liberally and
holds them to a less stringent standard than those filed by attorneys. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.s.
519, 520 (1972). “The Court need not, however, credit apro se plaintiffs ‘bald assertions’ or
‘legal conclusions.’” D ‘Agostino v. CECOMRDEC, No. 10-4558, 2010 WL 3719623, at *1
(D.N.J. Sept. 10, 2010).
As an initial matter, states and “arms of the state” are entitled to sovereign immunity
under the Eleventh Amendment. U.S. const. amend. XI; Fenhurst State School & Hosp. v.
Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100 (1984). There are three exceptions to this rule: (i) where the state
waives its immunity and consents to suit in federal court; (ii) where Congress has specifically
abrogated the state’s Eleventh Amendment immunity; and (iii) where suit is brought “against an
individual state officer for prospective relief to end an ongoing violation of federal law.” See
Kongtcheu v. Constable, 2016 WL 270075, at *5 (D. N.J. Jan. 20, 2016). The NJMVC is an arm
of the state of New Jersey. See In re Kish, 212 B.R. 808, $13 (D. N.J. 1997) (stating that the
New Jersey Department of Motor Vehicles (“NJDMV”)’ is an arm of the state). None of the
exceptions apply. Thus, the NJMVC is immune from suit pursuant to the Eleventh Amendment.
The Complaint contains few factual or legal allegations, other than to say that “Plaintiff
redeems Federal Reserve Notes for lawful money pursuant 12 USC 411, paid for his New Jersey
driver’s license with lawful money to serve as proof of competence and makes demand for libel
of review,” and that Defendants “lack standing to act against plaintiffs right to travel by motor
vehicle in the State of New Jersey.” Compi. at 1. It appears that Plaintiff objects to the
suspension of his license because he paid money for it.
To satisfy a motion to dismiss, Plaintiff must meet a standard of plausibility. The
Complaint cites to three federal statutes2 in his Complaint: 12 U.S.C.
§ 411, 28 U.S.C. §
133 1(1), and “Section 16 of the Federal Reserve Act.” Section 411 concerns the issuance of
federal reserve notes to federal reserve banks. The section does not provide a private right of
action. Section 1331(1) concerns subject matter jurisdiction based on a federal question, but it
does not provide an independent cause of action. As to the “Federal Reserve Act” (the “Act”),
the Court assumes that Plaintiff is referring to the 1913 Act of which established the Federal
Reserve System and created the authority to issue federal reserve notes. The Act is codified at
et seq. Section 411 is part of the Act and also part of Section 16 of the Act.
‘NJDMV has since been renamed NJMVC.
The NJMVC also argues that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. However, because
the Complaint seeks relief pursuant to federal statutes, the Court does not view the matter as one
of subject matter jurisdiction. Instead, in the Court’s view, the issue is whether the complaint
plausibly indicates that Plaintiff is entitled to relief under the federal statutes. In addition, the
Municipal Defendants argue that Plaintiffs request for injunctive relief is defective, and the
NJMVC argues that service was defective. The Court does not reach these arguments because it
finds the other arguments dispositive.
Thus, it appears that Plaintiff meant the same thing when he cited to Section 411 and Section 16.
As noted, Section 411 does provide Plaintiff with a right of action nor do any of Section 16’s
remaining provisions. In short, Plaintiff fails to plausibly plead facts showing that he is entitled
to any cognizable relief.
When dismissing a case brought by apro se plaintiff, a court must decide whether the
dismissal will be with prejudice or without prejudice, which affords a plaintiff with leave to
amend. Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103, 110-11 (3d Cir. 2002). The district
court may deny leave to amend only if (a) the moving party’s delay in seeking amendment is
undue, motivated by bad faith, or prejudicial to the non-moving party or (b) the amendment
wotild be futile. Adams v. Gottid, Inc., 739 F.2d 85$, $64 (3d Cir. 1984). Normally, no matter
how tenuous the claims, the Court would not dismiss with prejudice, particularly when a plaintiff
is proceeding pro se. However, the NJMVC has immunity as noted. Moreover, the Court is
aware of no set of facts that will entitle Plaintiff to the relief that he apparently seeks. Thus, the
Complaint is dismissed with prejudice.
For the reasons set forth above, and for good cause shown,
It is on this 13th day of November 2017,
ORDERED that Defendants’ motions to dismiss, D.E. 6, is GRANTED, and it is further
ORDERED that Defendant’s motion to dismiss, D.E. 7, is GRANTED, and it is further
ORDERED that Plaintiffs Complaint is dismissed with prejudice, and it is further
ORDERED that the Clerk’s Office shall close this case; and it is further
ORDERED that the Clerk’s Office shall mail a copy of this Opinion and Order to Plaintiff
by regular mail and by certified mail return receipt.
John Michael Vazq, U..D.J.
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