NIBLACK v. NEW JERSEY STATE PAROLE BOARD et al
OPINION. Signed by Judge Jose L. Linares on 05/15/2017. (ek)
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
STANLEY L. NIBLACK,
CIVIL ACTION NO. 17-1977 (JLL)
NEW JERSEY STATE PAROLE BOARD;
JAMES T. PLOUSIS; and ROBIN J. STACY,:
LINARES, District Judge
The plaintiff, who is a frequent litigant in the United States District Court for the
District of New Jersey, is apro se state prisoner. (See, e.g., dkt. 7 at 1 (the plaintiff
listing eight of his cases that are currently active).)1
On July 27, 2016, the plaintiff was denied parole by the defendant New Jersey
State Parole Board (hereinafter, “the NJSPB”) because, among other things: his prior
offense record was extensive and repetitive; his criminal behavior had not been deterred
by his previous opportunities on probation and parole; his criminal behavior had not been
The Court will refer to documents by the docket entry numbers and the
page numbers imposed by the Electronic Case Filing System.
deterred by his previous incarcerations; he displayed a lack of insight into his criminal
behavior; and he minimized his criminal conduct. (See dkt. 5 at 5—9.)
The plaintiff then brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
“Section 1983”) and the New Jersey civil Rights Act (hereinafter, “the NJCRA”). He
alleges that his parole was wrongfully denied in violation of his rights under the federal
constitution and the New Jersey constitution by the following defendants:
James T. Plousis, who is the Chairman of the NJSPB; and
Robin J. Stacy, who is the Director of the NJSPB’s Legal Unit.
(See dkt. 1 at 5—9.)
The defendants now move pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
(hereinafter, “Rule”) 12(b)(6) to dismiss the complaint. (See dkt. 4 through dkt. 4-3;
dkt. 5; dkt. 5-1.) The plaintiff has opposed the defendants’ motion. (See dkt. 6 through
The Court resolves the defendants’ motion to dismiss upon a review of the papers
and without oral argument. See L.Civ.R. 78.1(b). The Court presumes that the parties
are familiar with the factual context and the procedural history of the action. For the
following reasons, the Court grants the defendants’ motion.
The Court is guided by the following standards in resolving the defendants’
motion to dismiss.
It is not necessary for the Court to restate the standard for resolving a motion to
dismiss that is made pursuant to Rule 1 2(b)(6), because that standard has been already
enunciated. See Palakovic v. Wetzel, No. 16-2726, 2017 WL 1360772, at *5 (3d Cir.
Apr. 14, 2017) (precedential opinion setting forth the standard, and explaining Bell Ati.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), and Ashcroft v. Igbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009));
Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 209—12 (3d Cir. 2009) (setting forth the
standard, and explaining Igbal and Twombly).
Liberal Construction Of Pro Se Pleadings
The Court, in addressing the defendants’ motion to dismiss: (1) construed the pro
se plaintiffs claims liberally; and (2) accepted all of the plaintiffs factual allegations as
true, construed the claims in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and considered
whether the plaintiff may be entitled to relief in federal court under any reasonable
reading of those claims. See Kissell v. Dep’t of Corrs., 634 Fed.Appx. 876, 878—79
(3d Cir. 2015) (citing Igbal, Twombly, Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89 (2007), and
Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224 (3d Cir. 2008)).
Section 1983 and the NJCRA
“Section 1983 creates a species of tort liability for the deprivation of any rights,
privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution.” Manuel v. City of Joliet, Ill.,
137 S.Ct. 911, 916 (2017) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted).
The NJCRA does the same for the federal constitution, as well as for the New
Jersey constitution. See NJ.S.A. 10:6-2(c) (stating that “[a]ny person who has been
deprived of any substantive due process or equal protection rights, privileges or
immunities secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or any substantive
rights, privileges or immunities secured by the Constitution or laws of this State, or
whose exercise or enjoyment of those substantive rights, privileges or immunities has
been interfered with or attempted to be interfered with, by threats, intimidation or
coercion by a person acting under color of law, may bring a civil action for damages and
for injunctive or other appropriate relief’). As a result, “tt]he NJCRA is interpreted as
1983,” Szernple v. Correctional Med. Servs., Inc., 493 Fed.Appx. 238,
241 (3d Cir. 2012), and a court “will analyze.
NJCRA claims through the lens of
1983.” Trafton v. City of Woodbury, 799 F.Supp.2d 417, 444 (D.N.J. 2011);
of Martin v. U.S. Marshals Serv. Agents, 649 Fed.Appx. 239, 245 n.4 (3d Cir. 2016)
(holding that “it appears undisputed that Plaintiffs’ claims under the New Jersey
Constitution and the New Jersey Civil Rights Act trigger the same legal elements and
[the] federal causes of action [under Section 1983]”). Thus, the Court’s
analysis of the plaintiffs Section 1983 claims also applies to the plaintiffs NJCRA
claims in this case.
The Court will address the issue of immunity insofar as it pertains to the NJSPB,
to Plousis in his official capacity, and to Stacy in her official capacity in the first instance,
and before addressing other issues. The issue of inliTiunity is relevant to the Court’s
jurisdiction. See United States v. Gov’t of V.1., 363 F.3d 276, 280 (3d Cir. 2004).
Section 1983 and the NJCRA both enable a plaintiff to bring a civil action only
against a “person” who causes a deprivation of federal and state constitutional rights
under the color of state law. However, “it has been squarely held in [the Third] Circuit”
that the NJSPB and NJSPB officials acting in their official capacities are not subject to
liability under Section 1983 or the NJCRA, because they are not deemed to be persons
within the language of Section 1983 or the NJCRA. Madden v. N.J. State Parole Bd.,
438 F.2d 1189, 1190 (3d Cir. 1971); see Throwerv. N.J. State Parole Bd., 438 Fed.Appx.
71, 72 (3d Cir. 2011) (holding the same concerning the NJSPB); see also Hanani v. N.J.
Dep’t of Envtl. Prot., 205 Fed.Appx. 71, 79 (3d Cir. 2006) (holding the same concerning
New Jersey state agencies in general). The Eleventh Amendment also bars a plaintiff
from bringing claims under Section 1983 and the NJCRA against state agencies and state
officials, because those kinds of claims are, in effect, brought against the State of New
Jersey itself. See Hanani, 205 Fed.Appx. at 79. The State of New Jersey has not
consented to subject the NJSPB and NJSPB officials to liability for claims brought under
Section 1983 or the NJCRA, and the immunity afforded to New Jersey state agencies and
officials against Section 1983 claims and NJCRA claims has not been abrogated.
Therefore, the Court grants the part of the motion that seeks to dismiss the Section
1983 claims and the NJCRA claims that are asserted against the NJSPB, against Plousis
in his official capacity, and against Stacy in her official capacity. The plaintiffs claims
that are asserted against Plousis in his individual capacity and against Stacy in her
individual capacity remain, and they will be addressed infra.
Individual Capacity Claims
Success on the plaintiffs claims against Plousis in his individual capacity, and
against Stacy in her individual capacity, would necessarily invalidate the decision issued
by the NJSPB concerning the denial of the plaintiffs parole, and thus those claims are
also barred. It is well-settled law that Section 1983 claims and NJCRA claims brought by
a plaintiff who is challenging a denial of parole are not cognizable unless and until the
decision issued by the NJSPB has otherwise been invalidated by an appropriate tribunal.
See Williams v. Consovoy, 453 F.3d 173, 177 (3d Cir. 2006) (concerning a parole
decision issued by the NJSPB, and applying the favorable termination requirement set
forth in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994)).
Therefore, the Court grants the part of the motion that seeks dismissal of the
Section 1983 claims and the NJCRA claims asserted against the NJSPB, against Plousis
in his individual capacity, and against Stacy in her individual capacity. The Court notes
that the reasoning applied to the individual-capacity claims would also apply to the
official-capacity claims and the claims asserted against the NJSPB. çç Global Naps,
Inc. v. Bell Atlantic-New Jersey. Inc., 287 F.Supp.2d 532, 545 n.20 (D.N.J. 2003)
(addressing a defendant’s alternative grounds for dismissal “for the sake of
completeness,” even though dismissal was to be granted based upon lack of subject
For the aforementioned reasons, the Court: (1) grants the defendants’ motion to
dismiss the complaint in its entirety; and (2) dismisses the complaint.
The Court will enter an appropriate order and judgment.
States District Judge
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