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Jarvis v. Gliottone

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

November 14, 2017

WILLIE JARVIS, Plaintiff,
v.
HENRY GLIOTTONE, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          FREDA L. WOLFSON, U.S.D.J.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This matter has been opened to the Court by three separate motions seeking judgment on the pleadings with respect to Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint. (“SAC”). The SAC alleges that Plaintiff was arrested without probable cause and unlawfully detained on July 11, 2014, and that his arrest and subsequent detention violated his rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. For the reasons explained in this Opinion, the Court will grant the motions in part and deny them in part, and will also screen the Complaint pursuant 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On October 8, 2014, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Middlesex Vicinage, which was not served on the parties. Thereafter Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint in the Superior Court of New Jersey on November 6, 2014. (ECF No. 1, First Amended Complaint.) On December 12, 2014, Defendants removed this matter to federal court. On February 25, 2015, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Amend the Complaint. (ECF No. 18.) On March 10, 2015, the matter was reassigned to the undersigned. (ECF No. 19.) On April 15, 2015, Defendants Philip Barow, Anthony Caputo, Erika DiMarcello, and Henry Gliottone filed a Response in Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion to Amend the Complaint. (ECF No. 23.) On May 18, 2015, Judge Arpert granted Plaintiff's Motion to Amend the Complaint. (ECF No. 27.) On June 22, 2015, Plaintiff filed his Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”), which is the operative Complaint here.[1] (ECF No. 34.)

         In the SAC, Plaintiff alleges that on July 11, 2014, he was approached on the street in New Brunswick by Kevin Conway and Vincent Monaghan, who are identified as police officers with the New Brunswick Police Department. (SAC at 5-6.) The officers allegedly did not have a search or arrest warrant at the time of the encounter. Conway allegedly stated to Plaintiff that “some one [sic] said the Plaintiff had a gun.” (Id. at 6.) Conway then “immediately handcuffed the Plaintiff without giving the Plaintiff the opportunity to walk away or ignore the accusations” and “frisked the Plaintiff without consent.” (Id.) Conway allegedly did not recover a weapon during the search. Plaintiff was then placed in the back seat of a patrol car and was informed that he was “being detained”. (Id.) Plaintiff was not given Miranda warnings or informed of the reason(s) for his arrest and was transported to New Brunswick Police Headquarters. Plaintiff alleges that Monaghan was present and “failed to intervene” in the false arrest. (Id. at 5.) Plaintiff further alleges that Anthony Caputo, identified as the Police Director at New Brunswick Police Department, failed to “do a thorough investigation of the arrest” and failed to train his officers. (Id.)

         Plaintiff also challenges the procedures for obtaining the complaint-warrant against him. According to the SAC, Defendants Henry Gliottone and Erika DiMarcello, police officers with the New Brunswick Police Department, did not bring the alleged victim before a neutral and detached magistrate to sign a complaint against Plaintiff or have the victim make a verbal, written or recorded statement in the presence of a judicial officer. (SAC at 7.) Instead, Gliottone allegedly signed the complaint as the complaining witness with an unreadable signature. (Id.) DiMarcello allegedly telephoned Judge Barow for authorization for the arrest without presenting physical evidence and written, verbal, or recorded statements from the alleged victim. (Id.) On Saturday July 12, 2014, Judge Barow authorized Plaintiff's arrest over the telephone “without investigating physical evidence and bare [sic] witness to written, verbal, or recorded statements from the alleged victim.” Id. Plaintiff alleges that he was arraigned on July 15, 2014. (Id.) At his arraignment, Plaintiff learned that he was being charged with kidnapping and weapons possession, and that his bail had been set at $500, 000. (Id.) Although Plaintiff states that Judge Barow authorized his arrest on July 12, 2014, he also alleges that a probable cause determination was not made and the complaint warrant was not actually signed by Judge Barow until July 16, 2014, five days after Plaintiff's arrest. (Id.)

         After his arrest, Plaintiff was apparently transferred to the Middlesex County Adult Correctional Center. (Id. at 7.) Plaintiff alleges that Mark Cranston, identified as the Warden at Middlesex Adult County Correctional Center, also failed to investigate Plaintiff's arrest and bring Plaintiff before a neutral magistrate for a probable cause determination within 48 hours of his arrest. (Id. at 5, 7.) Plaintiff also alleges that Defendants Caputo, Conway, DiMarcello, Gliottone, and Monaghan failed to bring him before a neutral magistrate for a probable cause determination within 24-48 hours of his arrest. (Id.)

         Finally Plaintiff alleges that Ronald Rios, identified as the “county counsel[o]r” for Middlesex County, “lack the training as an overseer for public entities for the county of Middlesex.” (Id. at 5.)

         At the time Plaintiff filed his SAC, his state criminal proceedings with respect to the underlying charges were still ongoing. On September 21, 2015, Judge Arpert stayed the matter pending the conclusion of Plaintiff's state criminal proceedings and administratively terminated the matter during the stay. (See ECF No. 49.) On January 19, 2017, Plaintiff filed a letter with the Court, acknowledging that he had pleaded guilty to certain charges and stating that he wished to proceed with the instant action. (ECF No. 62.) On March 6, 2017, Counsel for Defendants Caputo, Conway, DiMarcello, Gliottone, and Monaghan submitted a letter to the Magistrate informing the Court that Plaintiff had pleaded guilty to charges of criminal attempt and burglary in connection with the underlying criminal matter. Counsel also contended that the reopening of this matter was barred by Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). On March 10, 2017, Judge Arpert lifted the stay and ordered the parties to file their dispositive motions regarding whether Plaintiff's SAC was barred no later than April 14, 2017. (ECF No. 63.)

         On April 10, 2017, Defendants Caputo, Conway, DiMarcello, Gliottone, and Monaghan filed a motion to dismiss the SAC. (ECF No. 65.) On April 12, 2017, Defendant Cranston filed a motion to dismiss the SAC and joined Defendant Caputo, Conway, DiMarcello, and Monaghan's motion. (ECF No. 66). On April 18, 2017, Defendant Rios filed a motion to dismiss the SAC and joined the other Defendants' motions. (ECF No. 67.) Although there is nothing in the record to suggest that Plaintiff has not received the motion papers, he has not filed opposition.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         At this juncture, all Defendants have filed Answers to the SAC. (See ECF Nos. 39, 40, 47.) As such, the Court will treat the instant motions as motions for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). As with a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, this Court “view[s] the facts alleged in the pleadings and the inferences to be drawn from those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Mele v. Fed. Reserve Bank of New York, 359 F.3d 251, 253 (3d Cir. 2004), as amended (Mar. 8, 2004). That is, the motion should not be granted “unless the moving party has established that there is no material issue of fact to resolve, and that it is entitled to judgment in its favor as a matter of law.” Id.

         In considering a motion to dismiss, a court must accept all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Evancho v. Fisher, 423 F.3d 347, 350 (3d Cir. 2005). It is well settled that a pleading is sufficient if it contains “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).

         In ruling on a motion to dismiss, Courts are required to liberally construe pleadings drafted by pro se parties. See 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)). Liberal construction also does not require the Court to credit a pro se plaintiff's “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. ...


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