The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. William J. Martini
Plaintiff Adel Mikhaeil alleges that Defendant Angel Santos provided police and prosecutors with false information in consequence of which Mikhaeil was arrested and incarcerated. He further alleges that various state police and prosecutor defendants knew that Santos was biased against Mikhaeil but that they nevertheless pursued the prosecution absent a full investigation in order to pressure Mikhaeil to plead guilty and to give evidence in an unrelated prosecution. Mikhaeil has filed a six count complaint, and before the Court are three Rule 12 motions put forward by different sets of defendants. Plaintiff has also filed a motion to amend the complaint.
For the reasons elaborated below, the Court will GRANT the Newspaper Defendants' motion to dismiss; will GRANT the State Defendants' motion to dismiss; and will GRANT the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. The Court will also DENY Plaintiff's motion to amend the complaint.
Motion to Dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). The Defendants' motions to dismiss are brought pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). This rule provides for the dismissal of a complaint, in whole or in part, if the plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The moving party bears the burden of showing that no claim has been stated, Hedges v. United States, 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005), and dismissal is appropriate only if, accepting all of the facts alleged in the complaint as true, the plaintiff has failed to plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face," Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007) (abrogating "no set of facts" language found in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957)). The facts alleged must be sufficient to "raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. This requirement "calls for enough fact[s] to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of" necessary elements of the plaintiff's cause of action. Id. Furthermore, in order to satisfy federal pleading requirements, the plaintiff must "provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief," which "requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
Judgment on the Pleadings under Rule 12(c). The "standard of review of a motion for judgment on the pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) is plenary. Under Rule 12(c), judgment will not be granted unless the movant clearly establishes that no material issue of fact remains to be resolved and that he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. In reviewing the grant of a Rule 12(c) motion, [the court] must view the facts presented in the pleadings and the inferences to be drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party." Jablonski v. Pan Am. World Airways, Inc., 863 F.2d 289, 290-91 (3d Cir. 1988).
Plaintiff Adel Mikhaeil alleges that Defendant Angel Santos filed a complaint against Plaintiff, which provided police and prosecutors with false information in consequence of which Mikhaeil was arrested and incarcerated. Specifically, he asserts that on August 7, 2008, Santos intentionally told officers of the Jersey City Police Department, the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office, and officers of the New Jersey State Police that Mikhaeil, along with two reporters, had been present outside Santos' house and that Mikhaeil, at that time, made threats against Santos, for example, saying that Santos "was a dead rat." Mikhaeil asserts that this event never took place.
Plaintiff asserts that Jersey City Police Officers, Webb, Broady, and Felix, failed to adequately investigate the charges, in particular, they failed to interview the reporter-witnesses who could have verified that the events alleged by Santos had not occurred. Plaintiff makes a similar allegation against Detective Reinke of the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office, and against New Jersey State Police Officers, Cappiello and Hickey. Plaintiff also alleges that Deputy Attorney General Picione failed to investigate the allegations against Mikhaeil, and did so in order to put pressure on Mikhaeil to give evidence and to plead guilty in an unrelated litigation. Plaintiff asserts not merely that the police and prosecutor's investigations were inadequate, but that they knew Santos was biased against Mikhaeil. I.e., Picione knew that Santos had once told Cappiello that Mikhaeil should be locked up to "put pressure on him."
Plaintiff was charged with making terroristic threats and witness tampering, and arrested the next day: August 8, 2008. He was incarcerated until September 4, 2008. The criminal proceeding ended on January 7, 2009, with an order of dismissal.
Afterwards, Plaintiff, acting pro se, filed a six count complaint in this Court. It appears that Plaintiff is asserting a Fourth Amendment violation (asserted under 42 U.S.C. § 1983) and related state causes of action, such as abuse of process. Count I asserts a claim for false arrest and imprisonment. Count II asserts a claim grounded in inadequate investigation and a failure to train. Count III is an abuse of process claim. Count IV is a claim against the Attorney General for failing to adequately train its officers and employees. Count V is a false arrest and imprisonment claim brought against the two individual newspaper defendants, a reporter and a photographer, and their employer newspaper, for refusing to speak to the police when they were in possession of allegedly vital exculpatory information which, according to Plaintiff, would have demonstrated that Santos had lied to the police. Count VI is a conspiracy claim against Defendants Picione, Cappiello, Hickey, and Reinke.
Two motions to dismiss were filed: one by certain state defendants and another on behalf of the Newspaper Defendants. After these two motions were fully briefed, the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings. That motion made no arguments that had not been briefed in the prior two motions. Nevertheless, rather than responding to that motion, Plaintiff filed a motion to amend his complaint. The motion to amend has been opposed by all Defendants ...