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Jones v. Owens

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

September 25, 2018

DAVID T. JONES, Plaintiff,
v.
DAVID S. OWENS; KAREN TAYLOR, Defendants.

          David T. Jones, Plaintiff Pro Se

          CHRISTOPHER A. ORLANDO, COUNTY COUNSEL BY: Stephanie C. Madden, Assistant County Counsel Attorneys for Defendants David S. Owens and Karen Taylor

          OPINION

          JEROME B. SIMANDLE, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Before the Court is the motion of Plaintiff David Jones (“Plaintiff”) to amend his civil rights complaint and Defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint. Motion to Amend, Docket Entry 11; Motion to Dismiss, Docket Entry 12. The motions are opposed. Defendants' Opposition, Docket Entry 16; Plaintiff's Opposition, 13. The Court is deciding the motions on the papers. Fed.R.Civ.P. 78.

         For the reasons set forth below, the motion to amend is denied, and the motion to dismiss is granted. The complaint is dismissed without prejudice.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed his civil rights action against David Owens and Karen Taylor, the Director and the Warden of the Camden County Correctional Facility (“CCCF”), respectively. Plaintiff alleged Owens and Taylor permitted him to be admitted into the facility without a signed warrant and for failing to release him when he brought the lack of a warrant to their attention.

         According to the complaint, Plaintiff entered the CCCF on April 21, 2015 on a warrant that was not signed by a judicial officer. He filed a grievance with Owens about the lack of a signed warrant but did not receive a response. Complaint, Docket Entry 1 at 5. He also spoke with Warden Taylor in February 2016. Id. at 6. According to the Complaint, she responded that “the County had other paperwork” to process Plaintiff's admission into CCCF, and Plaintiff countered it was “facility policy to have a warrant . . . .” Id. at 7. Plaintiff requested a copy of the warrant from the Admissions Office, but they only had the “defendant copy” of the warrant. Id. at 6. Plaintiff continued to request a signed copy of the warrant from various CCCF officials. Eventually, Captain Franceschini went to the prosecutor's office to get a signed warrant. He returned with a warrant signed by a judicial officer dated April 20, 2015. Id. See also Exhibits Two and Three. Concluding that an answer from defendants was warranted in light of the conflicting warrants, the Court permitted the complaint to proceed past its initial screening on October 30, 2017.

         On January 22, 2018, Plaintiff filed a motion to amend his complaint. Plaintiff seeks to add false arrest claims against the officers who arrested him without going before the judge or having an arrest warrant. Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint on January 29, 2018, arguing that New Jersey law does not permit a prisoner to be released based on a technical defect in a warrant unless his or her rights have been prejudiced.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits a party to amend a pleading once as a matter of course twenty-one (21) days after serving the pleading or twenty-one (21) days “after a responsive pleading or service of a motion under Rule 12(b), (e), or (f), whichever is earlier.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1)(A)-(B). 11. Plaintiff filed his motion to amend before Defendants filed their responsive pleading, but the Court must still review the proposed amended complaint by pre-screening under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) as Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis.

         A court may deny leave to amend a pleading where it court finds: (1) undue delay; (2) undue prejudice to the non-moving party; (3) bad faith or dilatory motive; or (4) futility of amendment. Shane v. Fauver, 213 F.3d 113, 115 (3d Cir. 2000). “‘Futility' means that the complaint, as amended, would fail to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.” Id. The Court applies the same standard of legal sufficiency as applies under Rule 12(b)(6). “The court should freely give leave when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2).

         When considering a motion to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim, Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), the Court must accept all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and view them in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. A motion to dismiss may be granted only if the plaintiff has failed to set forth fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests that make such a claim plausible on its face. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007). Although Rule 8 does not require “detailed factual allegations, ” it requires ...


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