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Trent v. Union Township Police Department

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

February 3, 2015

ANTOINE R. TRENT, Plaintiff,
v.
UNION TOWNSHIP POLICE DEPARTMENT, et al., Defendants.

OPINION

KEVIN McNULTY, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

The plaintiff, Antoine R. Trent, is a prisoner at East Jersey State Prison in Rahway, New Jersey. He is proceeding pro se with a civil rights complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On December 5, 2014, I administratively terminated this case without prejudice because Mr. Trent's application to proceed in forma pauperis was incomplete. Mr. Trent was given thirty days in which to file a complete in forma pauperis application or else tender the filing fee. On January 23, 2015, the Court received another application to proceed in forma pauperis from Mr. Trent. Although this application was filed beyond the thirty day deadline imposed in my December 5, 2014 Order, I will nevertheless order the Clerk to reopen the case. Mr. Trent's application to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted based on the information provided therein and the Clerk will be ordered to file the complaint.

The Court must now 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. For the reasons set forth below, the complaint will be dismissed because, on its face, it is barred by the applicable statute of limitations. This dismissal is without prejudice to the filing of an amended complaint that sets forth an adequate basis for the court to conclude that the statute of limitations was tolled or otherwise does not bar these claims.

II. BACKGROUND

The allegations of the complaint will be construed as true for purposes of this screening. The complaint names two defendants: (1) Union Township Police Officer David Pinto; and (2) the Union Township Police Department. The complaint alleges that on April 22, 2011, Mr. Trent was double parked in Union Township when a car pulled up in front of him and two men wearing plain clothes jumped out with their guns drawn. A passenger in Mr. Trent's vehicle unlocked his door. Officer Pinto then fired his weapon eight times. Mr. Trent was shot on the left side of his head which caused him to go blind in his left eye and have no feeling on the his left side of his face. Mr. Trent was also arrested. Mr. Trent asserts a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 that Pinto used excessive force against him.

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A. Standard for Sua Sponte Dismissal

Per 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 42 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.

"The legal standard for dismissing a complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is the same as that for dismissing a complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)." Schreane v. Seana, 506 F.App'x 120, 122 (3d Cir. 2012) (per curiam) (citing Allah v. Seiverling, 229 F.3d 220, 223 (3d Cir. 2000)); Mitchell v. Beard, 492 F.App'x 230, 232 (3d Cir. 2012) (per curiam) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1)); Courteau v. United States, 287 F.App'x 159, 162 (3d Cir. 2008) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)). That standard is set forth in Ashcroft v. lqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) and Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), as explicated by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

To survive the court's screening for failure to state a claim, the complaint must allege "sufficient factual matter" to show that the claim is facially plausible. See 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 lqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). "[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. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

Pro se pleadings, as always, will be liberally construed. Nevertheless, "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).

B. Section 1983 Actions

A plaintiff may have a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for certain violations of his constitutional rights. ...


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