SIMPSON v. THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY
MEMORANDUM OPINION filed. Signed by Judge Joel A. Pisano on 10/3/2014. (kas, )
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
MICHAEL JAMES SIMPSON,
Civil Action No. 13-7641 (JAP)
THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY,
Michael James Simpson
Mercer County Corrections Center
PO Box 8068
Trenton, NJ 08650
Plaintiff Pro Se
PISANO, District Judge:
1. This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff’s filing of a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983. Plaintiff’s application to proceed without payment will be granted. As set forth
below, the Complaint will be dismissed.
2. The following factual allegations are taken from the Complaint and are accepted for purposes
of this screening only. The Court has made no findings as to the veracity of Plaintiff’s
Plaintiff names only the State of New Jersey as a defendant.
Statement of Claims contains only the following sentence: “The State of New Jersey kept me
in jail 2 years more than the maximum amount of time I could have held.” The Court
construes that allegation as a challenge to the duration of Plaintiff’s sentence.
3. The Prison Litigation Reform Act (‟PLRA”), Pub. L. No. 104-134, §§ 801-810, 110 Stat.
1321-66 to 1321-77 (April 26, 1996), requires a District Court to screen a complaint in a civil
action in which a plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis or a prisoner is seeking redress
against a government employee or entity. The Court must sua sponte dismiss any claim if the
Court determines that it is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be
granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B), 1915A.
4. To survive dismissal “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to
‘state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.’ A 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.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)
(citation omitted). The plausibility standard “asks for more than a sheer possibility that a
defendant has acted unlawfully. Where a complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent
with a defendant’s liability, it stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of
entitlement to relief,” and will be dismissed. Id. at 678 (citations and internal quotation marks
omitted); Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-211 (3d Cir. 2009) (“[A] complaint
must do more than allege the plaintiff’s entitlement to relief. A complaint has to “show” such
an entitlement with its facts.”) (emphasis supplied). The Court is mindful, however, that the
sufficiency of this pro se pleading must be construed liberally in favor of the plaintiff, even
after Iqbal. See generally Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89 (2007).
5. 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
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. See West v.
Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Malleus v. George, 641 F.3d 560, 563 (3d Cir. 2011).
6. To the extent Plaintiff is challenging his underlying conviction and seeking release, such a claim is
not cognizable in a civil rights case. In Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475 (1973), the Supreme
Court held that a person may not obtain equitable relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 releasing him from
confinement. See also Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 554 (1974). The Court ruled that when
person in custody is “challenging the very fact or duration of his physical imprisonment, and the
relief he seeks is a determination that he is entitled to immediate release or a speedier release from
that imprisonment, his sole federal remedy is a writ of habeas corpus.” Preiser, 411 U.S. at 500.
7. Since a habeas corpus petition would be the proper mechanism to raise a challenge related to
release from custody, Plaintiff’s claim is not viable in this action. Thus, for the reasons set forth
above, Plaintiff’s complaint will be dismissed. An appropriate order follows.
/s/ Joel A. Pisano
JOEL A. PISANO, U.S.D.J.
DATED: October 3, 2014
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