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William Coleman v. Long Branch Police Dept.

April 11, 2011

WILLIAM COLEMAN,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
LONG BRANCH POLICE DEPT., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

Plaintiff, William Coleman, an inmate at Monmouth County Correctional Institution, seeks to bring this action in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. The Court will grant the application to proceed in forma pauperis and, for the reasons expressed below, dismiss the federal claims and decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over claims arising under state law.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff asserts violations of his constitutional rights by the Long Branch Police Department and 100 John and Jane Does. Plaintiff asserts the following facts:

On December 7, 2009 at or about 11:50 pm the Long Branch Police Departments (Street Crimes Unit) approached me on 2nd Avenue near 468 at the Matilda Terrace Apartments. As I approached the apartments I was swapped [sic] by over 15 police officers. Before I knew what was going on I was put onto the ground and punched several times upon my face and head. At this point I believed I was being robbed and truly became fearful of my life. At this point I was trying to get away from these assumed robbers. At no time did these officers announce who they were. And because they were not in uniform or had their shields in view I continued to try and defend myself. I was no match for these police officers therefore they brutally beat me. I was beaten with all kinds of weapons from stick to batons to gun handles. In the course of this beating I had several of my teeth knocked out, a suffered a black and swollen eye, the bruises on my body were bleeding and still these officers continued to beat me. At some point I blacked out and lost consciousness. When I woke up I was in the Monmouth County Medical Center. While at the hospital I was informed by the nurse that I was out for 6 hours and that it was reported to them that I was a victim of an assault but the police did not tell them they were the abusers.

I now suffer extreme depression, I have nightmares about this beat[ing], and I still suffer extreme pain in my mouth as well as terrible migraine headaches. (Docket Entry #1, pp. 7-8.)

For relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages. (Docket Entry #1, p. 8.)

II. STANDARD FOR DISMISSAL

The Court, before docketing or as soon as practicable after docketing, must 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 Court must 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. 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).

The pleading standard under Rule 8 was refined in Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (2009). The United States Supreme Court has stated: Two working principles underlie our decision in Twombly. First, the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice . . . . Rule 8 marks a notable and generous departure from the hyper-technical, code-pleading regime of a prior era, but it does not unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions. Second, only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss. Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will . . . be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense. But where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not "show[n]"-"that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 8(a)(2).

In keeping with these principles a court considering a motion to dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth. While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations. When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.

Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949-50 (citations omitted).

"[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.' A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.'" Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). To determine the sufficiency of a complaint under the pleading regime established by Iqbal and Twombly, a court must take three steps: First, the court must "tak[e] note of the elements a plaintiff must plead to state a claim." Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1947. Second, the court should identify allegations that, "because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth." ...


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