United States District Court, D. New Jersey
February 24, 2014
RICARDO JALIL, Plaintiff,
STATE OF NJ, et al., Defendant.
ESTHER SALAS, District Judge.
Plaintiff Ricardo Jalil ("Plaintiff") seeks to bring this action in forma pauperis. Based on his affidavit of indigence, the Court will grant Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) and order the Clerk of the Court to file the complaint.
At this time, the Court must review the complaint, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), 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.
Plaintiff brings this civil rights action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against Defendants Paul Salvatoriello; Debra Conrad; Robert Schwartz; State of New Jersey; Morris County Superior Court; Paula Dow; Nicholas L. Glenick; Ruben Contreras; Judge Thomas Manahan; Judge Vincent Ahto; Judge Stuart A. Minkowitz; Michael R. Ascher; and Thomas A. Catalolo. 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 March 21, 2013, he was wrongfully incarcerated in retaliation for filing an "inquiry" against Defendant Salvatoriello, a deputy attorney general who "obstructed justice." (D.E. No. 1, Compl. 1.) Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant Conrad, also a deputy attorney general, "manipulated private attorney public defendant judges and court personnel." ( Id. ) Plaintiff alleges that he pled guilty because "the Attorney General was [sic] delayed this case for so long also [he] was trap [sic] by the DAG Ms. Debra Conrad [his] public defendant [sic] Mr. Robert Schwartz." ( Id. ) Plaintiff states that he wants "the state court to come forward with all the evidence and accusation that [he] was never informed [sic]." ( Id. )
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) because Plaintiff is proceeding as an indigent.
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, 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 party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress....
Thus, to state a claim for relief under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege, first, the violation of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States and, second, that the alleged deprivation was committed or caused by a person acting under color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Malleus v. George, 641 F.3d 560, 563 (3d Cir. 2011).
Though Plaintiff names many defendants in the Complaint, he only alleges facts against Defendants Salvatoriello and Conrad. It appears that he is attempting to assert a claim for malicious prosecution against those defendants.
To prove malicious prosecution under section 1983 a plaintiff must show that: (1) the defendant initiated a criminal proceeding; (2) the criminal proceeding ended in Plaintiff's favor; (3) the defendant initiated the proceeding without probable cause; (4) the defendant acted maliciously or for a purpose other than bringing the plaintiff to justice; and (5) the plaintiff suffered deprivation of liberty consistent with the concept of seizure as a consequence of a legal proceeding. Johnson v. Knorr, 477 F.3d 75, 81-82 (3d Cir. 2007) (citing Estate of Smith v. Marasco, 318 F.3d 497, 521 (3d Cir. 2003)). "If the prosecutor drops the charges as part of a compromise with the accused, the accused will fail the favorable termination prong necessary to maintain a malicious prosecution claim under § 1983." Taylor v. Winters, 115 F.Appx. 549, 552 (3d Cir. 2004); see also Donahue v. Gavin, 280 F.3d 371, 383 (3d Cir. 2002).
Plaintiff provides very few facts in the complaint and fails to allege "sufficient factual matter" to state a claim under Iqbal. In addition, Plaintiff cannot meet the second prong of a malicious prosecution claim, as he specifically states that he pled guilty on March 21, 2013. As such, this claim against Defendants Salvatoriello and Conrad will be dismissed. The remaining Defendants will also be dismissed as Plaintiff fails to allege any facts against them.
For the reasons stated above, the complaint will be dismissed in its entirety for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). However, because it is conceivable that Plaintiff may be able to supplement his pleading with facts sufficient to overcome the deficiencies noted herein, the Court will grant Plaintiff leave to move to re-open this case and to file an amended complaint. An appropriate order follows.