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Brooks v. Gillen

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

April 26, 2018

CALVIN BROOKS, Plaintiff,
v.
BRIAN GILLEN, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

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

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This matter having been opened to the Court by Plaintiffs filing of a civil rights complaint and an application to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP application"). Plaintiffs Complaint alleges violations of his civil rights in connection with his arrest on an allegedly invalid New York Warrant in Newark, New Jersey in February 2014. The Court will grant the application to proceed in forma pauperis. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiffs Fourth Amendment claims for excessive force and illegal search and seizure are dismissed without prejudice as barred by the two-year statute of limitations, and Plaintiffs false arrest and false imprisonment claims are dismissed without prejudice as to all Defendants for failure to state a claim for relief. Having dismissed the federal claims, the Court also declines supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiffs remaining state law claims, but will permit Plaintiff to submit an amended complaint if he can provide a valid basis for equitable tolling and/or cure the deficiencies in his Complaint.

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         a. The Current Action

         In the instant Complaint, Plaintiff has sued individual Defendants Brian Gillen, Rodney Wallmessam, Len Jackson, Chauncey Parker, and Timothy P. Shaughnessey, as well as entity Defendants Kettler Management, Solomon Page Group, LLC, and Sterling Securities in connection with alleged violations of his civil rights that occurred between January 29, 2014 and February 18, 2014. The individual Defendants are members of various state and federal law enforcement agencies: Gillen is identified in the Complaint as a Deputy United States Marshal; Wallmessam is identified as an "Agent" with the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas; Jackson is identified as a Detective with the Essex County Sheriffs Office; Parker is identified as the Director of the New York/New Jersey High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas; Shaughnessy is identified as an employee with the Essex County Prosecutor's Office. (ECF No. 1, Complaint at 4-6.) As described in more detail below, Plaintiff alleges that each of the individual Defendants violated Plaintiffs civil rights "in retaliation on behalf of New York Police Detective Kevin Dardzinski, an individual who is not named as a Defendant in the instant Complaint but has been sued by Plaintiff for the same incident in other federal actions.

         Plaintiff has also sued several entity Defendants in the instant action. Kettler Management appears to be the property management company for Hallmark House, the building in Newark, New Jersey, where Plaintiff resided at the time of the relevant incidents. Sterling Securities appears to have provided security for Hallmark House during the relevant time period. Accordingly to the Complaint, Sterling Securities and Kettler Management permitted the individual Defendants and other law enforcement officers to enter Hallmark House without a warrant. There are no allegations in the Complaint regarding Defendant Solomon Page Group, LLC. (Id. at 6.)

         The Complaint states that "on or about January 29, 2014, members of the New York City Police Department... Detective Kevin Dardzinski... and Sgt. Dawe came to the Plaintiffs residence [in Newark, New Jersey] acting without state jurisdiction, dressed in civilian clothes, [with] no arrest warrant and without being accompanied by Newark Police Department and local or federal authority[.]" (Id. at 7.) These individuals threatened to harm Plaintiffs mother and used racial slurs against Plaintiff. (Id. at 8.) Plaintiff called 911 and the dispatcher told him not to open his door, as the Newark Police Department was on its way. (Id.) Detective Dardzinski and Sgt. Dawe attempted to force the door open, but they ran off when they heard the Newark Police Department sirens and threatened Plaintiff that they would return. (Id.)

         On February 2, 2014, Detective Dardzinski made a false report stating that Plaintiff sent him threatening text messages. (Id. at 8-9.) On February 6, 2014, Detective Dardzinski obtained a New York warrant for Plaintiffs arrest on fabricated charges of aggravated harassment and harassment. (Id. at 9.) Plaintiff denies sending the text messages. (Id. at 9-10.)

         The involvement of the Defendants in this action began on February 12, 2014 when Agent Wallmessam emailed Gillen of the United States Marshals Service in Newark, New Jersey to get his assistance in executing the New York warrant on Plaintiff. (Id. at 8.) Plaintiff alleges that these Defendants acted "in the retaliation on the behalf of.. . Det. Kevin Dardzinski." (Id.) Subsequently, on February 18, 2014, at 4:30 am, Gillen, Wallmassam, and Detective Len Jackson of the Essex County Sheriffs Office, along with other law enforcement agents, gained entry into Plaintiffs building in Newark New Jersey. (Id. at 10.) Gillen executed the allegedly invalid New York Warrant on Plaintiff. During the arrest, Wallmessam, Jackson, and Gillen knocked Plaintiff to the floor and beat him with a telephone book, stating "This is for Detective Kevin Dardzinski."[1] (Id. at 11.)

         It appears that Plaintiff was arrested by Defendants Gillen, Jackson, and Wallmessam, and taken into custody on February 18, 2014. The Complaint states the following:

At that moment during the execution of the warrant of arrest from New York Criminal Court, defendants Brian Gillen, Len Jackson, and Rodney Wallmessam realize that the Plaintiff called Newark-Police from his cell phone number ... About 15 minutes later when Newark-Police arrived at the Plaintiffs residence, the Defendants rushed out the Plaintiffs out of his residence, by Rodney Wallmessam and Brian Gillen, along with Len Jackson.

(Id. at ¶ 11.) Plaintiff provides no further facts about his arrest, his subsequent arraignment on the New York Warrant, or the disposition of the criminal charges against him in the instant Complaint. He states, however, that Defendants knew that the New York Warrant could not be executed in New Jersey. (Id. at ¶ 12.)

         b. Plaintiffs 2014 Action

         This is not the only action Plaintiff has brought in federal court regarding the 2014 incidents. On December 1, 2014, Plaintiff brought a civil rights complaint (referred to herein as "the 2014 Complaint") against Kevin Dardzinski, Edward Buddin, and John and Jane Does in connection with the same arrest. (See Brooks v. Dardzinski, et al., Civ. Act. No. 14-7474.) The 2014 Complaint is very detailed and provides additional allegations of misconduct by Dardzinski and Buddin and other unidentified Defendants. (See, generally, ECF No. 1.) Notably, the 2014 Complaint lists the date of Plaintiff s New York arraignment on the relevant charges as March 4, 2014.[2] (Id., Complaint at ¶ 30.)

         On November 17, 2016, the Honorable John Michael Vasquez granted Plaintiffs IFP application and screened the Complaint for dismissal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court proceeded Plaintiffs unlawful search and seizure claims against Defendant Dardzinski and his excessive force claims against Dardzinski and Buddin, and ordered Plaintiff to show cause why the case should not be transferred to the Southern District of New York. (See Civ. Act. No. 14-7474, ECF No. 10, Op. at 8.) On June 9, 2017, the Court transferred Civil Action No. 14-7474 to the United States District Court, Southern District of New York.[3] (See Id. at ECF No. 20.) It appears that the action in the ...


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