Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Henderson v. Union County N.J.

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

October 26, 2017

UNION COUNTY, N.J., et al., Defendants.


          Madeline Cox Arleo, U.S.D.J.


         This 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.


         Plaintiff 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.

         Plaintiff 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.)

         Plaintiff seeks damages and a restraining order to prevent Defendants from retaliating against him.


         Under 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)).

         Here, 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)).

         Courts 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. 1981)).

         IV. ANALYSIS

         The Court construes Plaintiff to raise claims pursuant to § 42 U.S.C. § 1983.[1] 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 part:

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 ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.