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Montanez v. Beard

July 12, 2006

DOMINGO COLON MONTANEZ, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JEFFREY A. BEARD, PH.D., SECRETARY & COMMISSIONER OF THE PENNSYLVANIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James F. McCLURE, Jr. United States District Judge

ORDER

BACKGROUND

On November 29, 2004, plaintiff Domingo Colon Montanez, an inmate at the State Correctional Institution at Fayette, LaBelle, Pennsylvania commenced this section 1983 civil rights action against the defendant Secretary of the Department of Corrections. Plaintiff asserts that the Department of Corrections ("DOC") policy, DC-ADM 005, violates his constitutional rights by depriving him of property without due process in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. He asserts that this deprivation occurs when the DOC makes deductions from Montanez's inmate account pursuant to DC-ADM 005, issued pursuant to 42 Pa. C.S.A. § 9728(b)(5). Plaintiff seeks monetary damages in his complaint.

The matter was initially referred to United States Magistrate Judge Malachy Mannion.

On May 20, 2005, defendant Beard filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. On February 14, 2006, Magistrate Judge Mannion issued a fourteen-page report recommending that Beard's motion to dismiss be granted. On April 24, 2006, we remanded the case to the magistrate judge for further briefing in light of the recent decisions of Hale v. Beard, 168 F. App'x 532 (3d Cir. 2006) (per curiam) and Buck v. Beard, 879 A.2d 157 (Pa. 2005). Following briefing by the parties on these cases the magistrate judge issued a seven-page report again recommending that Beard's motion to dismiss be granted. On or about July 10, 2006, plaintiff filed his objections to the magistrate judge's report and recommendation along with a motion for leave to amend his complaint.

For the following reasons we will deny plaintiff's motion for leave to amend his complaint, adopt the magistrate judge's report and recommendation in full, grant defendant's motion to dismiss, and direct the clerk to close the case file.

I. RELEVANT LEGAL STANDARD

A district court reviews de novo those portions of a magistrate judge's report and recommendation to which a party objects. L.R. 72.3. The court may "accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." Id.

II. MONTANEZ'S OBJECTIONS ARE WITHOUT MERIT

In our April 23, 2006 order we noted that plaintiff's objections to the first magistrate judge's report were difficult to decipher and were without merit, despite plaintiff making a line-by-line analysis of the magistrate judge's report and recommendation. In relevant part we stated:

On April 10, 2006, Montanez filed an eighteen-page document captioned "Plaintiff's Response w/ Written Objections." (Rec. Doc. No. 57.) Plaintiff's arguments are largely incoherent and determining specific objections to the magistrate's report is difficult despite plaintiff's line-by-line analysis of the magistrate judge's report. (Rec. Doc. No. 59, at 3.)

After issuing that order we were surprised to see that Montanez has chosen to rely on nearly eleven (11) pages of his original objections to the magistrate report in his most recent twenty-four (24) page objections to the magistrate judge's newest report and recommendation. Pages Eight through Nineteen of Montanez's objections are nearly identical to pages Five through Sixteen of the previous objections that we previously labeled "largely incoherent." The only modification that Montanez has made to his previous objections is removing the line-by-line objections contained in his original argument. We continue to find his arguments on those eleven pages unpersuasive.

We now turn to the specific objections Montanez makes to the magistrate judge's report and recommendation. First, Montanez asserts that Buck v. Beard, 879 A.2d 157 (Pa. 2005), involves very different facts then his case. Specifically, Montanez argues that nowhere in Buck do the parties or the court make an argument under the administrative agency laws, but instead the court discusses 42 Pa. C.S.A. § 9728(b)(5). Montanez's claim challenges the constitutionality of the DOC policy for withdrawing inmate funds pursuant to DC-ADM 005-1. Montanez's argument that Buck is inapposite is without merit. Montanez's claim involves what is commonly known as "Act 84, pursuant to which 'wages, salaries and commissions of individuals' may be attached '[f]or restitution to crime victims, costs, fines or bail judgments pursuant to an order entered by a court in a criminal proceeding.'" 42 Pa. C.S.A. § 8127(a)(5). The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has already addressed the connection between 42 Pa. C.S.A. § 9728(b)(5), DC-ADM 005-1, and the operation of Act 84.

Act 84 permits the county correctional facility or Department of Corrections "to make monetary deductions from inmate personal accounts for the purpose of collecting restitution or any other court-ordered obligation." 42 Pa. C.S.A. ยง 9728(b)(5). That section also authorizes the Department of Corrections to ...


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