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Dorn v. Atlantic City Police Department

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

May 14, 2015

TODD DORN, Plaintiff,
v.
ATLANTIC CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT, et al., Defendants.

Todd Dorn, Bridgeton, NJ, Plaintiff pro se.

OPINION

NOEL L. HILLMAN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Todd Dorn, a prisoner confined at South Woods State Prison in Bridgeton, New Jersey, filed this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On July 21, 2014, the action was administratively terminated for failure to pay the filing fee or submit a complete in forma pauperis application. Thereafter, Plaintiff submitted another application to proceed in forma pauperis and the case was reopened for review by a judicial officer. On April 30, 2015, the Court granted Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis, but noted that summons would not issue until such time as the Court completed its sua sponte screening.

The Court has had the opportunity to review the Complaint 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. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) (in forma pauperis actions); 28 U.S.C. § 1915A (actions in which prisoner seeks redress from a governmental defendant). Because Plaintiff's submission is devoid of factual allegations, the Complaint will be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief will be granted. However, Plaintiff will be given leave to file an amended complaint.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff provides little factual information in his Complaint. He alleges that he was illegally indicted because Defendant Rodney Ruark, whom Plaintiff asserts is a police officer with the Atlantic City Police Department, gave false information to the grand jury. Plaintiff asserts that this caused him to spend 5 years in jail.

Specifically, Plaintiff contends that Detective Ruark gave sworn testimony to the "Grand Jury of Atlantic County N.J. that [he] [possessed] and [possessed] with intent to distribute one ounce of cocaine." (Compl. 6, ECF No. 1). In support of his allegation that Detective Ruark's statement to the grand jury were untrue, Plaintiff states that "it was found out on Nov. 2013 in a court hearing that there was never any drugs or any evidence that Todd Dorn did anything wrong." (Compl. 6, ECF No. 1).

Plaintiff does not specify the type of "court hearing" or proceeding in which this determination was made. Nor does Plaintiff indicate the effect that this determination had on Plaintiff's underlying criminal proceeding, or on Plaintiff's sentence for these charges. Plaintiff simply concludes his Statement of Claims section by stating, "[t]hus spending 5 years in prison." (Compl. 6, ECF No. 1).

With respect to his allegations against the Defendant Atlantic City Police Department, Plaintiff alleges that "they employ liars and crooked police officers." (Compl. 5, ECF No. 1). No further information is provided.

Plaintiff explains that he previously sought relief with respect to this issue when he "put a tort claim from N.J. Bureau of Tresury [sic]." Id . Plaintiff states that he has not yet received a response.

As for relief, Plaintiff seeks punitive damages in an unspecified amount for "5 y[ears] of life lost, plus mental stress, plus the damage of stress to [his] children for the lost [sic] of the father." (Compl. 7, ECF No. 1).

II. STANDARDS FOR A SUA SPONTE DISMISSAL

Every complaint must comply with the pleading requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 8(a)(2) requires that a complaint contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." "Specific facts are not necessary; the statement need only give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (citations omitted).

While a complaint... does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the "grounds" of his "entitle[ment] to relief" requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.... Factual allegations ...

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