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Omar S. Jones v. Somerset County

September 21, 2011

OMAR S. JONES, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SOMERSET COUNTY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS



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

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

Plaintiff, Omar S. Jones, currently incarcerated at the Northern State Prison, Newark, New Jersey, filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that defendants violated his constitutional rights by engaging in racial profiling with regards to his motor vehicle stop.

The remaining defendants*fn1 have filed a motion to dismiss (docket entry 17) in lieu of an Answer. Plaintiff has opposed the motion. The Court has reviewed the Defendants' submission and decided the motion without oral argument pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78. For the following reasons, the motion will be denied. The remaining Defendants will be ordered to answer the claims of the complaint.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are taken from Plaintiff's complaint. Plaintiff alleges that on August 1, 2008, he was driving a motor vehicle according to traffic laws, with a passenger in the vehicle, and was pulled over. He states that the defendant police officers, "in their own words [stated] that they were on Selective Enforcement which is another word used for[,] or is the same as Racial Profiling." He claims that when he was locked up he met fifteen people who have been arrested by the Warren Township Police Department. Thirteen of them were arrested by the same two officers, all were black, all were driving a car with another occupant, and all had out-of-state plates.

Plaintiff asks for monetary relief.

DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a court may grant a motion to dismiss if the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The Supreme Court set forth the standard for addressing a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) in Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007). The Twombly Court stated that, "[w]hile a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Id. at 555 (internal citations omitted). Therefore, for a complaint to withstand a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact)." Id. (internal citations and footnote omitted).

More recently, the Supreme Court has emphasized that, when assessing the sufficiency of a civil complaint, a court must distinguish factual contentions and "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, ------ U.S. --------, --------, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L. Ed.2d 868 (2009). A complaint will be dismissed unless it "contain[s] sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). This "plausibility" determination will be "a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 211 (3d Cir. 2009) (citations omitted).

B. Analysis

Defendants argue that the complaint should be dismissed in accordance with Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994).

In a series of cases beginning with Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475 (1973), the Supreme Court has analyzed the intersection of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the federal habeas corpus statute, 28 U.S.C. § 2254. In Preiser, state prisoners who had been deprived of good conduct time credits by the New York State Department of Correctional Services as a result of disciplinary proceedings brought a § 1983 action seeking injunctive relief to compel restoration of the credits, which would have resulted in their immediate release. See Preiser, 411 U.S. at 476. The prisoners did not seek compensatory damages for the loss of their credits. See id. at 494. The Court held that "when a state prisoner is challenging the very fact or duration of his physical ...


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