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Stewart v. Tierney

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

February 20, 2014

TYREESE STEWART, Plaintiff,
v.
JEFF TIERNEY, et al., Defendants.

OPINION

KEVIN McNULTY, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff, Tyreese Stewart, is a pretrial detainee currently detained at the Middlesex County Adult Correction Center in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He is proceeding pro se with a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Mr. Stewart's application to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted based on the information provided therein.

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 suit. Upon completing this screening, the Court will permit the complaint to proceed in part.

II. BACKGROUND

The allegations of the complaint are accepted as true for purposes of screening the complaint. Mr. Stewart names three Defendants in this case; (1) Detective Jeff Tierney; (2) Detective Theodore Hamer; and (3) Detective Frank Varga. All are members of the Edison Police Department.

On June 13, 2013, Mr. Stewart was driving his car in Edison, New Jersey. Officers cut in front of his vehicle and Stewart was ordered to get out of the vehicle. He was arrested in connection with a shooting of a woman that took place on May 30, 2013. He states in the complaint that he did not resist arrest.

Stewart states that Defendant Tierney used excessive force during the arrest by hitting him while he was already restrained. Stewart states that he was beaten, punched, and kneed in the face and head during the arrest.

Defendant Varga held him down while other officers beat, punched, and kneed him in the head and face.

Stewart states that Defendant Hamer flung him from his vehicle with excessive force which caused other officers to respond. Stewart further claims that Hamer failed to order other police officers to stop assaulting him.

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A. Standard for Sua Sponte Dismissal

Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. No. 104-134, §§ 801-810, 110 Stat. 1321-66 to 1321-77 (Apr. 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.

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. UPMC 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 ...


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