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Wilson v. Martone

United States District Court, Third Circuit

August 26, 2013

STEWART WILSON, Plaintiff,
v.
PTL. G. MARTONE, et al., Defendants.

STEWART WILSON, Plaintiff pro se, NEWARK, NJ.

OPINION

JOEL A. PISANO, District Judge.

Plaintiff Stewart Wilson ("Plaintiff") has filed an amended complaint pursuant to this Court's March 5, 2012 Opinion and Order dismissing the original complaint in its entirety. At this time, the Court must review the amended complaint, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) 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 amended complaint should proceed in part at this time.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, incarcerated at Northern State Prison in Newark, New Jersey at the time of filing, brings this civil rights action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against Defendants Ocean Township Police Department; Officer G. Martone; Officer Kevin Redmond; and Officer Steven Walker. The following factual allegations are taken from the amended 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 during his arrest on September 28, 2009, Defendants Martone, Redmond and Walker used excessive force. (Compl. ¶ 7.) Defendants threw Plaintiff to the ground while handcuffed and struck him with closed fists on his head and face. ( Id. at ¶ 8.) Plaintiff alleges that he was bleeding and in need of medical attention but Defendants Walker, Redmond and Martone refused to provide him with any until the following day. ( Id. at ¶ 13.) Plaintiff is seeking monetary damages.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Legal Standard

1. Standards for a Sua Sponte Dismissal

Per the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. No. 104-134, §§ 801-810, 110 Stat. 1321-66 to 1321-77 (April 26, 1996) ("PLRA"), district courts must review complaints in those civil actions in which a prisoner is proceeding in forma pauperis, see 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), seeks redress against a governmental employee or entity, see 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), or brings a claim with respect to prison conditions, see 28 U.S.C. § 1997e. The PLRA directs district courts to sua sponte dismiss any claim that is frivolous, is 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. This action is subject to sua sponte screening for dismissal under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) and § 1915A because Plaintiff is proceeding as an indigent and is a prisoner.

According to the Supreme Court's decision in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, "a pleading that offers labels or conclusions' or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'" 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). To survive sua sponte screening for failure to state a claim[1], the complaint must allege "sufficient factual matter" to show that the claim is facially plausible. Fowler v. UPMS Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009) (citation omitted). "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." Belmont v. MB Inv. Partners, Inc., 708 F.3d 470, 483 n.17 (3d Cir. 2012) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). Moreover, while pro se pleadings are liberally construed, " pro se litigants still must allege sufficient facts in their complaints to support a claim." Mala v. Crown Bay Marina, Inc., 704 F.3d 239, 245 (3d Cir. 2013) (citation omitted) (emphasis added).

2. Section 1983 Actions

A plaintiff may have a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for certain violations of his constitutional rights. Section 1983 provides in relevant part:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory... subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the ...

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