The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOEL PISANO, District Judge
Plaintiff, Marvin Watson ("Watson"), confined at the U.S.P.
Allenwood in White Deer, Pennsylvania, seeks to bring this action
in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Based on
plaintiff's affidavit of indigence and his prison account
statements, it appears that plaintiff is qualified to proceed as
an indigent. Therefore, the Court will grant plaintiff's
application to proceed in forma pauperis and direct the
Clerk of the Court to file the Complaint without pre-payment of
the filing fee. Having reviewed the Complaint to identify cognizable claims
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A, the Court
concludes that the Complaint should be dismissed as time-barred.
Watson brings this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against New Jersey State Trooper John Doe of the New Jersey State
Police, and against the State of New Jersey and the New Jersey
State Police. (Complaint, Caption). The following factual
allegations are taken from the Complaint and are accepted as true
for purposes of this review.
On or about October 18, 1995, plaintiff alleges that the
vehicle in which he was a passenger was stopped and searched by
Trooper Doe for no apparent reason other than the fact that the
occupants of the vehicle were Black. As a result of this
allegedly unlawful stop and search, Watson was arrested and
convicted. The conviction was reversed and vacated by a New
Jersey court on March 11, 1999.
Watson seeks damages in the amount of $250,000.00.
II. STANDARDS FOR A SUA SPONTE DISMISSAL
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 review a complaint in a civil action
in which a prisoner is proceeding in forma pauperis or
seeks redress against a governmental employee or entity. The
Court is required to identify cognizable claims and to sua sponte
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.
28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A.*fn1
In determining the sufficiency of a pro se complaint, the
Court must be mindful to construe it liberally in favor of the
plaintiff. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972);
United States v. Day, 969 F.2d 39, 42 (3d Cir. 1992). The Court
must "accept as true all of the allegations in the complaint and
all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom, and view
them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Morse v.
Lower Merion School Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997). The
Court need not, however, credit a pro se plaintiff's "bald
assertions" or "legal conclusions." Id. III. SECTION 1983 LIABILITY
Watson brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging
violations of his constitutional rights. Section 1983 provides in
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 redress. . . .
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. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42
(1988); Piecknick v. Pennsylvania, 36 F.3d 1250
, 1255-56 (3d
Here, Watson names the New Jersey State Police and the State of
New Jersey as defendants. However, the Eleventh
Amendment*fn2 protects states and their agencies and departments from suit in
federal court regardless of the type of relief sought. Pennhurst
State School and Hospital v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100 (1984).
Similarly, absent consent by a state, the Eleventh Amendment bars
federal court suits for money damages against state officers in
their official capacities. See Kentucky v. Graham,
473 U.S. 159, 169 (1985). Section 1983 does not override a state's
Eleventh Amendment immunity. Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332
In addition, neither states, nor governmental entities that are
considered arms of the state for Eleventh Amendment purposes, nor
state officers sued in their official capacities for money
damages are persons within the meaning of § 1983. Will v.
Michigan Dept. of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 64, 70-71 and n. 10
(1989); Grabow v. Southern State Correctional Facility,
726 F.Supp. 537, 538-39 (D.N.J. 1989) (the New Jersey Department of
Corrections is not a person under § 1983). Thus, all damages
claims asserted by Watson against the State of New Jersey and the
New Jersey State Police must be dismissed with prejudice for
failure to state a claim, pursuant to
28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) and 1915A(b)(1).
As to the remaining defendant, State Trooper John Doe, the
Court construes the allegations of the Complaint most liberally
for the pro se plaintiff, and finds that the Complaint
alleges a claim of racial profiling and false arrest in violation of the
Fourth and Fourteenth ...