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Hannah v. Smith

United States District Court, Third Circuit

January 21, 2014

KHAALIS HANNAH, Plaintiff,
v.
CHRISTOPHER SMITH, Defendants.

Khaalis Hannah, Pro Se, 57241, Cumberland County Jail, Bridgeton, NJ.

OPINION

JEROME B. SIMANDLE, District Judge.

Plaintiff, Khaalis Hannah, confined at the Cumberland County Jail, Bridgeton, New Jersey, seeks to reopen this case. Previously, this Court issued an Order administratively terminating the case for failure to pay the filing fee or to properly apply to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP") (Docket Item 2). Plaintiff has since provided an IFP application (Docket Item 3), and provided this Court with his new address (Docket Item 6). Based on his application to proceed IFP, the Court will grant Plaintiff's application pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) and order the Clerk of the Court to reopen this case and file the complaint.

The Court must now review the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) 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 Plaintiff's complaint should be partially dismissed.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff states that on August 4, 2012, he was walking down the street when Defendant Smith and another officer "out of nowhere" approached him. Plaintiff started to run and ended up in a parking lot, where he dropped down to the ground with his arms out. He states that "several officers" started to beat him causing him injuries. (Complaint, ¶ 4).

Plaintiff asks for the following relief:

Pay me for police brutality[, ] fire officer Christopher Smith for harassment, police brutality, also for false accusation, and putting me in the hospital, and having me confined in jail, destroying my reputation as a citizen, and putting me through mental abuse.

(Complt., ¶ 5).

DISCUSSION

1. Standards for a Sua Sponte Dismissal

The Prison Litigation Reform Act, 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 must 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. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). This action is subject to sua sponte screening for dismissal under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) because Plaintiff is proceeding as an indigent.

In determining the sufficiency of a pro se complaint, the Court must be mindful to construe it liberally in favor of the plaintiff. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007) (following Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)); see also United States v. Day, 969 F.2d 39, 42 (3d Cir. 1992).

The Supreme Court refined the standard for summary dismissal of a complaint that fails to state a claim in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009). The Court examined Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure which provides that a complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Citing its opinion in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), for the proposition that "[a] pleading that offers labels and conclusions' or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do, '" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555), the Supreme Court held that, to prevent a summary dismissal, a civil complaint must allege "sufficient factual matter" to show that the claim is ...


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