United States District Court, D. New Jersey
IVAN G. MCKINNEY, Plaintiff,
OFFICER SEVINO, et al., Defendants.
MCNULTY United States District Judge
plaintiff, Ivan G. McKinney, is currently incarcerated at the
New Jersey State Prison in Trenton, New Jersey. He is
proceeding pro se with what this Court has
interpreted as a civil rights complaint filed pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Presently pending before this Court is
the motion of defendant Officer Savino to dismiss the
complaint or for a more definite statement. For the following
reasons, the motion will be denied.
to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A, I screened
the complaint in June, 2016, to determine whether Mr.
McKinney had stated a claim upon which relief may be granted.
In doing so, I applied the same standard that would be
applied in ruling on a motion to dismiss for failure to state
a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).
See Schreane v. Seana, 506 F.App'x 120, 122 (3d
Cir. 2012) (citing Allah v. Seiverling, 229 F.3d
220, 223 (3d Cir. 2000)); Courteau v. United States,
287 F.App'x 159, 162 (3d Cir. 2008). I further noted that
pro se pleadings are liberally construed. See
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972). With respect to
Mr. McKinney's allegations against Officer Savino, I
noted the following:
Mr. McKinney alleges that Officer S [a]vino and Officer John
Doe used excessive force against him on July 25, 2013. This
apparently occurred in connection with a court appearance for
sentencing. Officer S [a]vino and John Doe, he says, slammed
his head into an elevator without justification. Depending on
the context, these allegations might support a claim. The
Court will permit Mr. McKinney's excessive force claims
against these two defendants to proceed past screening so
that they can be developed factually.
(Dkt. No. 11 at p. 18-19)
STANDARD OF REVIEW ON MOTION TO DISMISS UNDER RULE
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal
of a complaint, in whole or in part, if it fails to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted. The moving party
bears the burden of showing that no claim has been stated.
See Hedges v. United States, 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d
Cir. 2005). In deciding a motion to dismiss, a court must
take all allegations in the complaint as true and view them
in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Worth
v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 501 (1975); Trump Hotels
& Casino Resorts, Inc. v. Mirage Resorts Inc., 140
F.3d 478, 483 (3d Cir. 1998); see also Phillips v. County
of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008)
("reasonable inferences" principle not undermined
by later Supreme Court Twombly case, infra).
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) does not require that a
complaint contain detailed factual allegations. Nevertheless,
"a plaintiffs obligation to provide the
'grounds' of his "entitlement to relief requires
more than labels and conclusions, and formulaic recitation of
the elements of a cause of action will not do."
BellAtl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007).
Thus, the factual allegations must be sufficient to raise a
plaintiffs right to relief above a speculative level, such
that it is "plausible on its face." See
Id. at 570; see also Umland v. PLANCO Fin. Serv.,
Inc., 542 F.3d 59, 64 (3d Cir. 2008). 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." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). While
"[t]he plausibility standard is not akin to a
'probability requirement' ... it asks for more than a
sheer possibility." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678
noted previously, Mr. McKinney is proceeding pro se.
In such a case, the complaint is "to be liberally
construed, " and, "however inartfully pleaded, must
be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings
drafted by lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus, 551
U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007). Nevertheless, it must meet some
minimal standard. "While a litigant's pro se status
requires a court to construe the allegations in the complaint
liberally, a litigant is not absolved from complying with
Twombly and the federal pleading requirements merely
because s/he proceeds pro se." Thakar v. Tan,
372 F.App'x 325, 328 (3d Cir. 2010) (citation omitted).
not altogether clear from the face of Mr. McKinney's
complaint whether he was a state prisoner at the time of the
incident outlined above, or whether he was still a pretrial
detainee. Accordingly, I will analyze Mr. McKinney's
claims under the standards applicable to both. Claims of
excessive force against a defendant by a plaintiff who is a
pretrial detainee are analyzed under the Due Process Clause
of the Fourteenth Amendment, rather than the Eighth
Amendment, because pretrial detainees are not properly
subject to punishment, whether cruel and unusual or
otherwise. See Dean v. Gloucester Cnty., No.
13-5197, 2016 WL 818708, at *5 (D.N.J. Mar. 2, 2016) (citing
Tapp v. Proto, 404 F.App'x 563, 566 (3d Cir.
2010)) (remaining citations omitted). Courts apply an
objective standard when considering a pretrial detainee's
claim of excessive force. See Kingsley v.
Hendrickson, 135 S.Ct. 2466, 2472-73 (2015). Thus,
"a pretrial detainee must show only that the force
purposely or knowingly used against him was objectively
unreasonable." Id. at 2473. That objective test
"turns on the 'facts and circumstances of each
particular case.'" Id. (quoting Graham
v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 396 (1989)). "A court must
make this determination from the prospective of a reasonable
officers on the scene, including what the officer knew at the
time, not with the 20/20 vision of hindsight."
Id. Additionally, in Kingsley, the Supreme
A court must also account for the "legitimate interests
that stem from [the government's] need to manage the
facility in which the individual is detained, "
appropriately deferring to "policies and practices that
in th[e] judgment" of jail officials "are needed to
preserve internal order and discipline and to maintain
institutional security." Bell v. Wolfish, ...