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Margaret Demore v. Det. Thomas Moynihan

February 18, 2011

MARGARET DEMORE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DET. THOMAS MOYNIHAN, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jerome B. Simandle United States District Judge

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

Plaintiff, Margaret Demore, currently confined at the Atlantic County Jail, Mays Landing, New Jersey, seeks to bring this action alleging violations of her constitutional rights in forma pauperis, without prepayment of fees pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. At this time, the Court must review the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A to determine whether it should be dismissed as frivolous or malicious, for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or because it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. For the following reasons, Plaintiff's complaint will be dismissed.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff seeks to sue Detective Thomas Moynihan of the Atlantic City Police Department. She claims that on June 7, 2010, her home was searched by the defendant, and she was taken to the police department. Her house keys were not with her. One or two days later, Plaintiff's mother-in-law went to the house to pack Plaintiff's belongings and found that the home was "half empty and a child by the age of 15 was found in there with [her] keys." (Complaint, ¶ IV).

Plaintiff would like to be reimbursed for the items that were taken, including a television, gaming system, jewelry, bed, comforter, shoes, kitchenware, and other items. She claims that defendant violated her rights by not keeping Plaintiff's keys safe with her property, but instead giving them to a 15-year old.

DISCUSSION

A. Standards for 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. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A. This action is subject to sua sponte screening for dismissal under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) and § 1915A(b), because Plaintiff is a prisoner and is proceeding as an indigent.

In determining the sufficiency of a pro se complaint, the Court must be mindful to construe it liberally in favor of the plaintiff. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007) (following Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976) and Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972)). See also United States v. Day, 969 F.2d 39, 42 (3d Cir. 1992).

Recently, the Supreme Court refined the standard for summary

dismissal of a complaint that fails to state a claim in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937 (2009). The Court examined Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure which provides that a complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Citing its recent opinion in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), for the proposition that "[a] pleading that offers 'labels and conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do,'" Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555), the Supreme Court held that, to prevent a summary dismissal, a civil complaint must now allege "sufficient factual matter" to show that the claim is facially plausible. This then "allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." See id. at 1948. The Supreme Court's ruling in Iqbal emphasizes that a plaintiff must demonstrate that the allegations of his complaint are plausible. See id. at 1949-50; see also Twombly, 505 U.S. at 555, & n.3; Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 2009 WL 2501662, *4 (3d Cir., Aug. 18, 2009).

B. Section 1983 Actions

A plaintiff may have a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 for certain violations of his constitutional rights. ...


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