BARTLINSKI et al v. TOWNSHIP OF BRICKTOWN
MEMORANDUM OPINION filed. Signed by Judge Brian R. Martinotti on 2/28/2017. (mps)
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
RICHARD FRANK BARTLINSKI and :
JANET M. HANNEY,
: Civ. Action No.: 16-8928-BRM-LHG
TOWNSHIP OF BRICKTOWN,
Before this Court is pro se Plaintiffs Richard Frank Bartlinski (“Bartlinski”) and Janet M.
Hanney’s (“Hanney”) (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) Second Amended Complaint (ECF No. 6).
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), the Court has sua sponte screened Plaintiffs’ Second
Amended Complaint. For the reasons set forth below, the Second Amended Complaint is
DISMISSED for failure to state a claim for which relief can be granted.
On December 1, 2016, Plaintiffs filed a Complaint, which appeared to seek the
enforcement of a state court order and/or judgment against Defendant Township of Bricktown
(“Bricktown”) for damages arising from an allegedly “unwarranted stop work order on [Plaintiffs’]
home.” (ECF No. 1 at 3.) On December 5, 2016, this Court dismissed the Complaint, without
prejudice, for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and denied Plaintiffs’ in forma pauperis
application, without prejudice, as moot. (ECF No. 2). However, the Court granted Plaintiffs leave
to file an Amended Complaint, to the extent they were able to plead facts which would establish
the Court has subject matter jurisdiction over their claims. (Id.)
On December 6, 2016, Plaintiffs filed the First Amended Complaint (ECF No. 3) and a
renewed application to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 3-2). In the First Amended Complaint,
Plaintiffs alleged the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) provided
Bricktown with federal grant money, through the HOME Investments Partnerships Program
(“HOME”), to support the construction and rehabilitation of housing for low-income families.
(ECF No. 3 at 5.) According to Plaintiffs, Bricktown used this federal grant money to finance a
$118,000 lien to reconstruct Plaintiffs’ home. (Id.) However, Plaintiffs alleged the contractors
hired by Bricktown to work on Plaintiffs’ home did a substandard job, which created structural
issues rendering the building uninhabitable. (Id.) Plaintiffs sought to bring claims against
Bricktown for misuse of federal grants, in violation of federal law. (Id.)
In a Memorandum Order, dated December 13, 2016, this Court determined because
Plaintiffs were now asserting claims pursuant to federal law, the Court had federal subject matter
jurisdiction over this case. (ECF No. 5 at 2); see 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (federal courts have subject
matter jurisdiction over cases involving an alleged violation of a federal statute, the United States
Constitution, or federal law). After a review of Plaintiffs’ application to proceed in forma pauperis
and the accompanying affidavit, the Court granted Plaintiffs in forma pauperis status. (ECF No. 5
Because Plaintiffs are proceeding in forma pauperis, pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B), the Court must review their complaint and dismiss any claim that is frivolous,
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. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). “The legal standard for
dismissing a complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is the
same as that for dismissing a complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).”
Schreane v. Seana, 506 F. App’x 120, 122 (3d Cir. 2012) (citing Allah v. Seiverling, 229 F. 3d
220, 223 (3d Cir. 2000)). In deciding a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), a
district court is “required to accept as true all factual allegations in the complaint and draw all
inferences in the facts alleged in the light most favorable to the [Plaintiff].” Phillips v. Cnty. of
Allegheny, 515 F. 3d 224, 228 (3d Cir. 2008). “[A] complaint attacked by a . . . motion to dismiss
does not need detailed factual allegations.” Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007).
However, the 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.” Id. (citing Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)). A court is “not bound to
accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.” Papasan, 478 U.S. at 286.
Instead, assuming the factual allegations in the complaint are true, those “[f]actual allegations must
be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
Moreover, while pro se pleadings are liberally construed, “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) (italics added).
Accordingly, having reviewed the First Amended Complaint, in the December 13, 2016
Memorandum Order, this Court dismissed all of Plaintiffs’ claims because:
Although Plaintiffs do not expressly cite to any federal statutes in
their [First] Amended Complaint, their claims appear to arise from
allegations that Bricktown misused federal funds issued to it through
HOME. HOME funding is authorized by Title II of the CranstonGonzalez National Affordable Housing Act (“NAHA”), as
amended, 42 U.S.C. § 12701, et seq., and the regulations
promulgated thereunder at 24 C.F.R. § 92.1 et seq. Importantly,
however, the NAHA does not create a private right of action for the
misuse of HOME funds. Oti Kaga, Inc. v. S.D. Hous. Dev. Auth.,
188 F. Supp. 2d 1148, 1166 (D.S.D. 2002) aff’d, 342 F.3d 871, 884
(8th Cir. 2003). Thus, even if Plaintiffs have alleged a violation of
the NAHA, this is not a claim on which they may be granted relief
in a private civil suit.
(ECF No. 5 at 4.)
Additionally, the Court observed in the December 13, 2016 Memorandum Order that on
December 9, 2016, Plaintiffs filed a letter, which for the first time alleged the officials of
Bricktown had engaged in a conspiracy to burn down Plaintiffs’ home to hide evidence of
Bricktown’s misuse of federal funds and had threatened to kill Bartlinski if he “didn’t stop
complaining about what’s going on.” (ECF. No. 4; ECF No. 5 at 4.) Plaintiffs did not indicate in
their letter if they sought to amend the First Amended Complaint to add these allegations. (ECF
No. 4.) Regardless, the Court found Plaintiffs may not amend their pleadings in this manner. (ECF
No. 5 at 4.) Consequently, the Court did not consider the sufficiency of these allegations in the
December 13, 2016 Memorandum Order. (Id.) Instead, the Court gave Plaintiffs leave to, by
January 27, 2017, file a Second Amended Complaint asserting a new federal cause of action based
on these allegations. (Id. at 4-5.)
On January 27, 2017, Plaintiffs timely filed a Second Amended Complain. (ECF No. 6.)
However, rather than alleging new facts, the Second Amended Complaint is a verbatim copy of
the Complaint Plaintiffs’ originally filed in this matter. The Court now screens the Second
Amended Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
In the Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs plead only the following facts:
The Town Building Official Placed a [sic] unwarranted stop work
order on our home. In 2011 Danny Newman By [sic] the time it was
heard in appeals the home was Destroyed [sic]. We won in the
hearing But [sic] the town will not let us recover.
(ECF No. 6 at 3.) Because Plaintiffs have not plead any new facts, the Second Amended Complaint
fails to state a claim for the same reasons the original Complaint and First Amended Complaint
failed to state a claim. (See ECF No. 2; ECF No. 5.) The Court incorporates by reference the
reasoning set forth in the December 5, 2016 and December 13, 2016 Orders. (See ECF No. 2; ECF
No. 5.) Accordingly, the Second Amended Complaint is DISMISSED. An appropriate Order will
Date: February 28, 2017
/s/ Brian R. Martinotti
HON. BRIAN R. MARTINOTTI
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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