United States District Court, D. New Jersey
VICTOR T. DJANGMAH, Plaintiff,
STATE OF NEW JERSEY et al., Defendants.
MCNULTY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Victor T. Djangmah, is incarcerated at the Morris County
Correctional Facility, in Morristown, New Jersey. He is
proceeding pro se with a civil rights complaint. This Court
previously granted Mr. Djangmah leave to proceed in forma
pauperis. (ECF No. 7.)
Court must now review the complaint, pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B), 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, and 42 U.S.C.
§ 1997e, 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 suit. For the
following reasons, the complaint will be dismissed, but
without prejudice to the submission of an amended complaint.
complaint lists as defendants the State of New Jersey, the
Riverdale Police, the "Superior Court of Morristown,
" the "Prosecutor's Office, " and
"Warden Klein et al." (ECF No. 1.) It appears that
Mr. Djangmah challenges the propriety of a warrant or
complaint that formed the basis for his arrest (id.
at 1-3); alleges that someone interfered with his access to
the courts and retaliated against him for filing grievances
(id at 2); asserts that the bail assigned him was
improper (id. at 2); alleges that he was retaliated
against for statements in court by being pepper sprayed,
subjected to strip searches, and placed in solitary
confinement (id at 4); and claims that
"defendants unnecessarily and wantonly inflicted pain on
[him] in violation of the Eighth Amendment"
(id. at 5). The complaint identifies or implies
various causes of action, including false arrest, false
imprisonment, malicious prosecution, denial of access to the
courts, retaliation, cruel and unusual punishment, fraud,
perjury, and obstruction of justice. (Id. at 1-6.)
It similarly includes references to a laundry list of legal
provisions, habeas corpus, 18 U.S.C. §§ 241 and
242, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Due Process Clause, the Equal
Protection clause, sections of the Uniform Commercial Code,
and the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, Eleventh,
Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution.
complaint seeks an order for an investigation and evidentiary
hearing, for an order "directing defendants to release
property, " and an award of punitive damages.
(Id. at 7.)
the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. 104-134,
§§ 801-810, 110 Stat. 1321-66 to 1321-77 (Apr. 26,
1996) ("PLRA"), a district court must review a
prisoner complaint when the prisoner (1) is proceeding in
forma pauperis, see 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), (2)
seeks redress against a governmental employee or entity,
see 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, or (3) asserts a claim
concerning prison conditions, see 42 U.S.C. §
1997e(c). The PLRA directs district courts to sua sponte
dismiss claims that are frivolous or malicious, that fail to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek
monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such
relief. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B),
1915A(b); 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c).
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); see
also Mitchell v. Beard, 492 Fed.Appx. 230, 232 (3d Cir.
2012) (discussing 42 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)). That standard is set
forth in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), and
Bell Atlantic Corp, v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007).
To survive the Court's screening for failure to state a
claim, the complaint must allege "sufficient factual
matter to show that the claim is facially plausible."
Fowler v. UPMC Shady side, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d
Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks 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." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; see also
Fair Wind Sailing, Inc. v. Dempster, 764 F.3d 303, 308
n.3 (3d Cir. 2014). "A pleading that offers 'labels
and conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do."'
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555). Thus, while the Court, on screening for
dismissal, assumes that all factual allegations are true,
legal conclusions without factual support do not benefit from
the same presumption. See Id.
pleadings, as always, will be liberally construed. See
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); Glunk v.
Noone, 689 Fed.Appx. 137, 139 (3d Cir. 2017).
Nevertheless, "pro se litigants 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). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
8 requires that every pleading contain "a short and
plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Consistent
with this rule, the Supreme Court of the United States has
found that it is insufficient for a complaint to include only
'"naked assertions' devoid of 'further
factual enhancement.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).
Djangmah's complaint includes hardly any factual
allegations, but asserts a wide variety of legal conclusions.
As to the warrant or complaint under which he was arrested,
for example, he provides no details as to what the claimed
defect is, or even what crime he was accused of committing.
He alleges that an "Officer McDermott, " not listed
as a defendant in the caption, "and co-conspirators
perjured by abusive [sic] of power did violate 18 USCS 241
and 242, " but the complaint includes no other facts or
allegations as to Officer McDermott. While Mr. Djangmah cites
many provisions of the United States Constitution, he
provides little or no explanation of the type of violation
alleged, and virtually no facts that would suggest the
existence of such a violation. Mr. Djangmah asserts that he
was denied access to the court, but fails to identify what
potentially meritorious claim he attempted to bring, or was
prevented from bringing. See Monroe v. Beard, 536
F.3d 198, 205 (3d Cir. 2008). I am cognizant of his pro
se status, but the Court requires more than this.
Facts must be stated in order to meet the pleading standard
imposed by by the Supreme Court in Iqbal and
Mr. Djangmah alleges that he "was falsely arrested by
Riverdale Police, " he does not identify any officers
who were involved in that arrest. (See ECF No. 1 at
I.) A police department is not a distinct entity that may be
sued for alleged civil rights violations, see Jackson v.
City of Erie Police Dep't,570 Fed.Appx. 112, 114
(3d Cir. 2014), so 1 construe it liberally as a claim against
the Borough of Riverdale. See Monell v. Department of
Social Services of New York,436 U.S. 658 (1978).
Municipalities may not be held liable purely on a theory of
vicarious liability, but only for their own acts. Los
Angeles Cty. v. Humphries,562 U.S. 29, 35-36 (2010);
Mann v. Palmerton Area Sch. Dist.,872 F.3d 165,
174-75 (3d Cir. 2017) ("A municipality is liable under
§ 1983 when a plaintiff can demonstrate that the
municipality itself, through the ...