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Willie H. Ratliff, Jr v. Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office

March 4, 2011

WILLIE H. RATLIFF, JR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
MIDDLESEX COUNTY PROSECUTOR'S OFFICE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cooper, District Judge

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

Plaintiff, Willie H. Ratliff, Jr., a state inmate confined at the Middlesex County Adult Corrections Center, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, seeks to bring this action in forma pauperis. Based on his affidavit of indigence and the absence of three qualifying dismissals within 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g), the Court will grant the application to proceed in forma pauperis and order the Clerk of the Court to file the Complaint. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a).

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. The Court concludes that the Complaint should be dismissed.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff brings this civil action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office, Christie

L. Bevacqua, New Brunswick Police Department, Officer M. Negvesky and Bruce Kaplan (Complaint, Caption and ¶¶ 5b and 5c). The following factual allegations are taken from the Complaint, and are accepted for purposes of this screening only. The Court has made no findings as to the veracity of Plaintiff's allegations.

Plaintiff alleges that on March 28, 2009, he was assaulted by four individuals. When Negvesky arrived, he interviewed only one person, one of the attackers, then arrested Plaintiff for an alleged crime. He failed to interview any other witnesses. Assistant Prosecutor Bevacqua was made aware of the assault, but did not prosecute the offenders. Bruce Kaplan, as head of the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office, employs, trains and oversees Bevacqua and is thus ultimately responsible for her actions. The New Brunswick Police Department employs and trains Negvesky and is ultimately responsible for his conduct. Plaintiff alleges that the Defendants' conduct deprived him of his right to Equal Protection, as granted by the Fourteenth Amendment.

Plaintiff requests the following relief: (1) that Officer Negvesky be removed from the police department and be prevented from working in law enforcement; (2) that Bevacqua be removed from office and be prevented from working as a prosecutor; and (3) $500,000 in damages.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Legal Standard

1. Standards for Sua Sponte Dismissal

A district court must 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 must identify cognizable claims and 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), 1915A. This action is subject to sua sponte screening for dismissal under both 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) (B) and 1915A, 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 ...


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