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Brockington v. Spano

United States District Court, Third Circuit

April 26, 2013

THOMAS J. BROCKINGTON, Plaintiff,
v.
DETECTIVE ANDREW SPANO, et al., Defendants.

THOMAS J. BROCKINGTON, Plaintiff pro se, SBI #842973A, Delmont, New Jersey.

OPINION

JOEL A. PISANO, District Judge.

Plaintiff, Thomas J. Brockington, a state inmate confined at the Southern State Correctional Facility, at the time he filed this Complaint, seeks to bring this action in forma pauperis. On May 24, 2012, this Court entered an Order administratively terminating this case because Plaintiff had failed to pay the requisite filing fee or submit a complete in forma pauperis application with his six-month institutional account certified by a prison official at the prison where Plaintiff was then confined. ( See Docket entry no. 2.) The May 24, 2012 Order allowed Plaintiff to re-open his case if he submitted a complete in forma pauperis application or paid the filing fee. ( Id. ) On June 21, 2012, Plaintiff submitted a complete in forma pauperis application with a letter asking that his action be re-opened. ( See Docket entry nos. 3, 4.) Based on his affidavit of indigence, the Court will grant Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP") pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1998) and order the Clerk of the Court to reopen this case and file the Complaint accordingly.

At this time, the Court must review the Complaint, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) 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. For the reasons set forth below, the Court concludes that the Complaint should be dismissed.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, Thomas J. Brockington ("Plaintiff"), brings this civil action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against Detective Andrew Spano; Detective Davie Dehler; Robert J. Rosenthal, Esq.; Jill G. Viggiano, Esq.; and Beata Andrezejczak. (Complaint, Caption, ¶ 6.) 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 or about February 10, 2008, Detective Spano filed a false complaint against Plaintiff, and arrested Plaintiff based on a composite sketch allegedly made after Plaintiff's apprehension by Spano. Plaintiff further alleges that Defendants Spano and Dehler conducted a suggestive identification with witness, Defendant Andrezejczak, who allegedly changed her prior description of her assailant and robber on February 9, 2008, to fit Plaintiff. Plaintiff alleges that Andrezejczak made "a false police report of a crime that never happen[ed.]" (Compl., ¶ 6.)

Plaintiff further alleges that Spano filed a false supplemental report on March 19, 2008, to support his reckless and false arrest of Plaintiff, knowing that Plaintiff did not fit the original description of the robber given by Andrezejczak. ( Id. )

Plaintiff also alleges that the prosecutors for the State, Defendants Viggiano and Rosenthal, "purposely covered up the police misconduct by keeping the arresting officer off the witness stand and hiding the dispatch records." ( Id. )

Plaintiff seeks $10 million in damages for emotional distress and post-traumatic stress disorder, asserting claims of false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, and racial profiling. (Compl., ¶ 7.)

II. STANDARDS FOR A SUA SPONTE DISMISSAL

The Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"), Pub. L. No. 104-134, §§ 801-810, 110 Stat. 1321-66 to 1321-77 (April 26, 1996), requires a district court to 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 is required to identify cognizable claims and to 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. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A. This action is subject to sua sponte screening for dismissal under both 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) and § 1915A.

For a complaint to survive dismissal, it "must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)(quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 570 (2007)). "The plausibility standard is not akin to a probability requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a [party] has acted unlawfully." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Notably, the court is not required to accept "legal conclusions, " and "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. In other words, a civil complaint must now allege "sufficient factual matter" to show that the claim is facially plausible. This then "allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203 (3d Cir. 2009)(citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676). See also Bistrian v. Levi, 2012 WL 4335958, *8 (3d Cir. Sept. 24, 2012)(allegations that are no more than conclusions are not entitled to the assumption of truth; a court should "look for well-pled factual allegations, assume their veracity, and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.'")(quoting, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679).

The Third Circuit recently cautioned, however, that Twombly and Iqbal "do not provide a panacea for defendants, " rather, "they merely require that plaintiff raise a plausible claim for relief.'" Covington v. International Association of Approved Basketball Officials, ___ F.3d ___, 2013 WL 979067, *2 (3d Cir. March 14, 2013)(quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679). Thus, factual allegations must be more than speculative, but the pleading standard "is not akin to a probability requirement.'" Covington, supra (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Finally, in determining the sufficiency of a pro se complaint, the Court must be mindful to ...


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