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Tyrone L. Mozelle, Honorable Joseph E. Irenas v. City of Pleasantville

July 2, 2012


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


Plaintiff's claims arise from an allegedly improper arrest and subsequent criminal prosecution. Presently before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss for failure to state a claim.


On August 4, 2010, Plaintiff visited his parents at a senior housing facility in Pleasantville, New Jersey. (Compl. ¶ 18) Meanwhile, a neighbor reported that an intruder had entered her unlocked apartment and stolen an unknown sum of money. (Compl. ¶ 19) Pleasantville police officers arrived at the scene and allegedly arrested Plaintiff without probable cause for removing 70 dollars from the neighbor's bed. ( Id. Plaintiff alleges, however, that at all relevant times, surveillance cameras captured Plaintiff's movements inside the senior housing facility. (Compl. ¶ 20) At no time does the surveillance footage capture Plaintiff entering the neighbor's home. ( Id.

Nevertheless, at the police station, Pleasantville police officers filed a criminal complaint against Plaintiff and allegedly purposefully misrepresented that the surveillance footage captured Plaintiff entering the neighbor's home. (Compl. ¶ 23) Plaintiff was charged with Third Degree Burglary and Theft. (Compl. ¶ 24) Bail was set at $25,000. ( Id.

On September 30, 2010, Plaintiff's case went before the grand jury. (Compl. ¶ 28) Defendant Police Officer Ellis allegedly made knowingly false statements regarding the contents of the surveillance footage to the grand jury in order to obtain an indictment. ( Id. at ¶ 27) In addition, the Pleasantville police allegedly refused to reveal the exculpatory surveillance video. ( Id. at ¶ 29) Because Plaintiff could not afford to make bail, Plaintiff remained incarcerated for six months. (Compl. ¶ 25) Finally, on June 1, 2011, all criminal charges were dismissed. *fn1 ( Id. at ¶ 31)

On March 19, 2012, Plaintiff filed the Complaint against the City of Pleasantville, the Pleasantville Police Department, Police Chief Duane Comeaux, Detective Steven Sample, Patrolman Charlie Ellis, Jr., Officer Gazo, and Officer Dennis. On May 8, 2012, Defendants moved to dismiss.


Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides that a court may dismiss a complaint "for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." In order to survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must allege facts that raise a right to relief above the speculative level. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2).

While a court must accept as true all allegations in the plaintiff's complaint, and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, Phillips v. County of Allegheny , 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008), a court is not required to accept sweeping legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations, unwarranted inferences, or unsupported conclusions. Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist. , 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997). The complaint must state sufficient facts to show that the legal allegations are not simply possible, but plausible. Phillips , 515 F.3d at 234. "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." Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

When evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court considers "only the allegations in the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint, matters of public record, and documents that form the basis of a claim." Lum v. Bank of America , 361 F.3d 217, 221 n.3 (3d Cir. 2004). A document that forms the basis of a claim is one that is "integral to or explicitly relied upon in the complaint." Id. (quoting In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig. , 114 F.3d 1410, 1426 (3d Cir. 1997)).


Plaintiff alleges seven counts against Defendants: (1) § 1983 false arrest/false imprisonment; (2) § 1983 malicious prosecution; (3) § 1983 unlawful seizure/false arrest; (4) § 1983 abuse of process; (5) § 1983 unlawful custom, practice or policy; *fn2 (6) common law negligence, and; (7) common law intentional infliction of emotional distress ("IIED").

Defendants initially moved to dismiss or partially dismiss every Count except Counts III and V. Out of an abundance of caution, Defendants further moved to dismiss several claims that, under any reasonable interpretation of the Complaint, Plaintiff did not allege. *fn3 Incredibly, Plaintiff responded to Defendants' arguments as if the Complaint actually contained such claims. *fn4 This Court ...

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