The opinion of the court was delivered by: MARY COOPER, District Judge
Plaintiff Stanley L. Niblack, a prisoner incarcerated at
Monmouth County Correctional Institution, seeks to bring this
action in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. The
Court (1) grants Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma
pauperis; (2) directs the Clerk to file the Complaint without
pre-payment of the filing fee; (3) assesses the $250.00 filing
fee against Plaintiff; (4) directs the agency having custody of
Plaintiff to deduct an initial partial filing fee from
Plaintiff's institutional account and forward same to the Clerk,
when funds exist; and (5) directs the agency having custody of
Plaintiff to forward payments from his institutional account to
the Clerk each subsequent month that the amount in the account
exceeds $10.00, until the $250.00 filing fee is paid in full.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a), (b). Having reviewed Plaintiff's allegations, the Court
dismisses the Complaint in part.
Plaintiff sues the City of Asbury Park and three of its police
officers for searching and seizing him without probable cause on
two occasions, allegedly in violation of his rights under the
Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, applicable to
states through the Fourteenth Amendment, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He
asserts the following facts in support of his claims. On December
26, 2002, officers Montgomery, White and Newman stopped
Plaintiff, searched him, and held him for 30 minutes. Plaintiff
asserts that on July 11, 2003, the same officers pulled him over
for no reason, as he was driving. He alleges that when he
complained about harassment, the officers searched the vehicle,
manually and by using a dog.
Plaintiff states that he wrote to the prosecutor's office and
the Chief of Police but he received no relief. He asks this Court
to award damages against each Defendant and to order the City to
initiate disciplinary proceedings against the officers.
II. LEGAL STANDARD FOR SUA SPONTE DISMISSAL
The in forma pauperis statute requires the Court, prior
to docketing or as soon as practicable after docketing, to review
a complaint in a civil action in which a plaintiff is proceeding
in forma pauperis or a prisoner seeks redress against a
governmental employee or entity. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B), 1915A. The
PLRA requires the Court to 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. Id.
"When a federal court reviews the sufficiency of a complaint,
before the reception of any evidence either by affidavit or
admissions, its task is necessarily a limited one. The issue is
not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the
claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims."
Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974). "In addition,
under a notice pleading system, it is not appropriate to require
a plaintiff to plead facts establishing a prima facie case."
Swierkiewicz v. Soreman, 534 U.S. 506, 511 (2002); see
Leatherman v. Tarrant County Narcotics Intelligence & Coord.
Unit, 507 U.S. 163, 168 (1993). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
8(a)(2) requires a complaint to include only "a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The statement of the claim must
simply "give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's
claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Conley v.
Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957). "This simplified notice pleading
standard relies on liberal discovery rules and summary judgment
motions to define disputed facts and issues and to dispose of unmeritorious claims." Swierkiewicz, 534 U.S. at 512. Moreover,
a pro se complaint is held to less stringent standards than
formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Haines v. Kerner,
404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972).
A claim is frivolous if it "lacks even an arguable basis in
law" or its factual allegations describe "fantastic or delusional
scenarios." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 328 (1989);
see also Roman v. Jeffes, 904 F.2d 192, 194 (3d Cir. 1990).
"Given the Federal Rules' simplified standard for pleading, `[a]
court may dismiss a complaint only if it is clear that no relief
could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved
consistent with the allegations." Swierkiewicz, 534 U.S. at 514
(quoting Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984)).
Liberally construing Plaintiff's allegations and accepting them
as true, as the Court is required to do at this stage of the
litigation, the Court construes Plaintiff's Complaint as
presenting two claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for search and
seizure without probable cause, contrary to the Fourth and
Section 1983 of Title 42 of the United States Code authorizes a
person such as Plaintiff to seek redress for a violation of his
federal constitutional rights by a person who was acting under
color of state law. To recover under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must show two elements: (1) a person deprived
him or caused him to be deprived of a right secured by the
Constitution or laws of the United States, and (2) the
deprivation was done under color of state law. See West v.
Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co.,
398 U.S. 144, 152 (1970).
A. Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations on civil rights claims is governed
by New Jersey's two-year limitations period for personal injury.
Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 276 (1985); Montgomery v.
DeSimone, 159 F.3d 120, 126 (3d Cir. 1998); Cito v. Bridgewater
Twp. Police Dep't, 892 F.2d 23, 25 (3d Cir. 1989). This statute
requires that "an action for an injury to the person caused by a
wrongful act, neglect, or default, must be convened within two
years of accrual of the cause of action." Cito, 892 F.2d at 25
(quoting Brown v. Foley, 810 F.2d 55, 56 (3d Cir. 1987)). Under
federal law governing the accrual of § 1983 claims, "the
limitations period begins to run from the time when the plaintiff