United States District Court, D. New Jersey
Madeline Cox Arleo, U.S.D.J.
matter has been opened to the Court by Plaintiffs filing of a
Complaint alleging violations of his civil rights pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court previously granted
Plaintiffs application to proceed in forma pauperis.
For the reasons explained below, the Court will dismiss the
Complaint as to all Defendants. To the extent Plaintiff can
provide facts to cure the deficiencies in the claims the
Court has dismissed without prejudice, he may file an Amended
Complaint within 30 days of the date of the Order
accompanying this Opinion.
alleges that a Temporary Restraining Order ("TRO")
was entered against him on May 4, 2013 in connection with a
domestic violence incident that occurred on May 3, 2013.
(See ECF No. 1, Complaint at 7.) On May 16, 2013, a
judge in the New Jersey Chancery Court, Family Part
("Family Part"), vacated the TRO and dismissed the
domestic violence complaint. (Id.) The gravamen of
Plaintiff s Complaint appears to be that Defendants
subsequently pursued criminal charges and an indictment
against him despite the fact that the judge in the Family
Part had vacated the TRO and dismissed the domestic violence
complaint arising from the same Incident. (Id. at
7-8.) Plaintiff apparently sought dismissal of the criminal
indictment, which was denied by the Superior Court on May 4,
2014. (Id. at 7.) It is not clear whether Plaintiff
was convicted of any criminal charges arising out of the
domestic violence incident.
provides no facts about the underlying domestic violence
incident or the reasons for the dismissal of the domestic
violence complaint in the Family Part. He alleges, however,
that the Union County Prosecutor Jason Gareis failed to
provide jurors with the "actual facts" from the
civil case that presumably would have undermined the criminal
case. (Id. at 6-8.) Plaintiff also alleges that
Assistant Prosecutor Tracy E. Boyd "perist[ed in]
prosecuting this civil matter criminally with malice"
and disregarded the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act
("PVDA"), court rules, and other statutes.
(Id. at 6.) Plaintiff further alleges that Detective
George Rivera coerced the Grand Jury with his statements and
failed to mention the PDVA. (Id. at 5.) Plaintiff
further alleges that Officer Melissa A. Howell, who
investigated the domestic violence incident "did not
file an immediate appeal of the [TRO] on Plaintiffs behalf
and that Officer Dariusz Tokarz "was derelict in his
duties [and] used the [TRO] as a [b]ootstrap
mechanism[.]" (Id. at 4.) Finally, Plaintiff
alleges that Judge Regina Caulfield, J.S.C., "did not
present to Plaintiff any documentation of jurisdiction upon
request[.]" (Id. at 5.)
seeks damages and a restraining order to prevent Defendants
from retaliating against him.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
the PLRA, district courts must review complaints in those
civil actions in which a person is proceeding in forma
pauperis, See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). 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. Id.
"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 Fed.Appx.
120, 122 (3d Cir. 2012) (citing Allah v. Seiverling,
229 F.3d 220, 223 (3d Cir. 2000)); Mitchell v.
Beard, 492 Fed.Appx. 230, 232 (3d Cir. 2012) (discussing
28 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1)); Courteau v. United
States, 287 Fed.Appx. 159, 162 (3d Cir. 2008)
(discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)).
Plaintiffs Complaint is subject to screening under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B). When reviewing a motion to dismiss
under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), courts first separate the
factual and legal elements of the claims, and accept all of
the well-pleaded facts as true. See Fowler v. UPMC
Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009). All
reasonable inferences must be made in the plaintiffs favor.
See In re Ins. Brokerage Antitrust Litig., 618 F.3d
300, 314 (3d Cir. 2010). The Complaint must also allege
"sufficient factual matter" to show that the claim
is facially plausible. Fowler v. UP MS 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 Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)).
are required to liberally construe pleadings drafted by
pro se parties. Tucker v. Hewlett Packard,
Inc., No. 14-4699 (RBK/KMW), 2015 WL 6560645, at *2
(D.N.J. Oct. 29, 2015) (citing Haines v. Kerner, 404
U.S. 519, 520 (1972)). Such pleadings are "held to less
strict standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers." Id. Nevertheless, pro se litigants
must still allege facts, which if taken as true, will suggest
the required elements of any claim that is asserted.
Id. (citing Mala v. Crown Bay Marina, Inc.,
704 F.3d 239, 245 (3d Cir. 2013)). To do so, [a plaintiff]
must plead enough facts, accepted as true, to plausibly
suggest entitlement to relief." Gibney v.
Fitzgibbon, 547 Fed.Appx. 111, 113 (3d Cir. 2013)
(citing Bistrian v. Levi, 696 F.3d 352, 365 (3d Cir.
2012)). Furthermore, "[l]iberal construction does not,
however, require the Court to credit a pro se plaintiffs
'bald assertions' or 'legal conclusions.'
Id. (citing Morse v. Lower Merion Sch.
Dist, 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997)). That is,
"[e]ven a pro se complaint may be dismissed for
failure to state a claim if the allegations set forth by the
plaintiff cannot be construed as supplying facts to support a
claim entitling the plaintiff to relief. Id. (citing
Milhouse v. Carlson, 652 F.2d 371, 373 (3d Cir.
Court construes Plaintiff to raise claims pursuant to §
42 U.S.C. § 1983. A plaintiff may have a cause of action
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for certain violations of his
constitutional rights. Section 1983 provides in relevant
Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance,
regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory ...
subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the
United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof
to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities
secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the