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Gonzalez v. Bobal

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

March 30, 2015

DANIEL GONZALEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
TROOPER EDWARD BOBAL, et al., Defendants.

OPINION

FREDA L. WOLFSON, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Daniel Hernandez ("Plaintiff"), a prisoner currently confined at Southern State Correction Facility in Delmont, New Jersey, 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) 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 complaint should be dismissed in its entirety, and Plaintiff will be granted leave to file an amended complaint to cure the deficiencies described herein.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

On February 20, 2013, Plaintiff filed the instant Complaint in which he sued nine individual New Jersey state troopers (hereafter "state trooper Defendants") in their official and personal capacities[1] as well as "[t]he State Police of New Jersey" (hereafter "the New Jersey State Police"). (No. 1.) In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges as follows:

On April 26, 2011 Plaintiff was a passenger in a vehicle driven by a friend on the New Jersey Turnpike heading South when we were pulled over by [the first named defendant] for an alleged motor vehicle violation. Plaintiff was forced out of the car[, ] assaulted[, ] and handcuffed for no lawful reason. While in the police defendants' barracks, the plaintiff was beaten by [the first three named Defendants]. Plaintiff was falsely imprisoned from April 26, 2011 to present.

(No. 1 at 5.) Plaintiff asserts his claim of false imprisonment against all nine individual state trooper Defendants and the New Jersey State Police, stating: "Defendants 1-10 are being sued for false imprisonment violations[.]" (Id. at 6.) Plaintiff alleges violations of his Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights and seeks monetary damages. (Id. at 5-6.)

Plaintiff initially failed to pay the filing fee or submit an application to proceed in forma pauperis as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1), (2). On March 28, 2013, Plaintiff submitted his complete IFP application and attached a sheet of paper seeking to reopen his case and amend his Complaint to assert additional claims against the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office ("MCPO") and its employee Eric Snyder. (No. 3-2.) In this additional submission, Plaintiff also alleges that Snyder "conspired with the state trooper defendants to maliciously prosecute the plaintiff without probable cause [and] in addition violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights under the [F]ourteenth [A]mendment." (Id. )

III. ANALYSIS

A. Standard for Sua Sponte Dismissal

The Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"), 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 is required to 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. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A. This action is subject to sua sponte screening for dismissal under both 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) and § 1915A.

According to the Supreme Court's decision in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, "[a] pleading that offers "labels and conclusions" or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders "naked assertion[s]" devoid of "further factual enhancement." Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). For a complaint to survive dismissal, it "must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570); see also 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). The Third Circuit summarized the pleading requirement post- Twombly as follows:

The Supreme Court's Twombly formulation of the pleading standard can be summed up thus: stating... a claim requires a complaint with enough factual matter (taken as true) to suggest' the required element. This does not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage, ' but instead simply calls for enough facts to raise a ...

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