United States District Court, D. New Jersey
APPEARANCES: Jason Dotts, Plaintiff Pro Se
E. THOMPSON U.S. District Judge.
the Court is James and Jason Dotts'
("Plaintiffs"), civil rights complaint pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983. Complaint, Docket Entry 1. 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 will proceed in part.
bring this civil rights action against Detective Romano from
Long Branch and Judicial Officer Margaret Hammell. Complaint
¶ 4. 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 truth of
both allege that Detective Romano falsely charged them with
robbery and imprisoned them in Monmouth County Correctional
Institution ("MCCI"). Complaint ¶ 6. According
to the complaint, Detective Romano thereafter questioned
Jasonabout the robbery on November 4, 2016.
Ibid. Jason was eventually released. Ibid.
Detective Romano interviewed the alleged robbery victim, who
told him that neither Jason nor James were involved in the
robbery. Ibid. However, Plaintiffs were later both
arrested for the crime by Detective Romano and taken to MCCI.
Ibid. Jason also alleges Ms. Hammell "signed
off on a complaint that wasn't carefully read over and/or
investigated properly." Id. ¶ 4. James
also alleges Detective Romano defamed his character and
slandered his name. Id. ¶ 4(b).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Standards for a Sua Sponte Dismissal
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 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. This action is
subject to sua sponte screening for dismissal under
28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(b) and 1915A because
Plaintiffs are prisoners proceeding in forma
pauperis and are seeking relief from government
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,
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." Fair
Wind Sailing, Inc. v. Dempster, 764 F.3d 303, 308
n.3 (3d Cir. 2014) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678).
determining the sufficiency of a pro se complaint, the Court
must be mindful to construe it liberally in favor of the
plaintiff. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89,
93-94 (2007) (following Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S.
97, 106 (1976)); see also United States v. Day, 969
F.2d 39, 42 (3d Cir. 1992). Although pro se
pleadings are liberally construed, plaintiffs "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).
False Arrest and Imprisonment
Fourth Amendment prohibits government officials from
detaining a person in the absence of probable cause."
Manuel v. City of Joliet, 111.,137 S.Ct. 911, 913
(2017). "To state a claim for false arrest under the
Fourth Amendment, a plaintiff must establish: (1) that there
was an arrest; and (2) that the arrest was made without
probable cause." James v. City of Wilkes-Barre,700 F.3d 675, 680 (3d Cir. 2012). "[W]here the police
lack probable cause to make an arrest, the arrestee has a
claim under § 1983 for false imprisonment based on a
detention pursuant to that arrest." ...