United States District Court, D. New Jersey
KARE M. DALEY, Plaintiff,
EGG HARBOR CITY, EGG HARBOR POLICE DEPARTMENT and STEVEN HADLEY, Defendants.
B. SIMANDLE U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
pro se Kare M. Daley (“Plaintiff”) filed this 42
U.S.C. § 1983 suit alleging that he was falsely arrested
and defamed by Defendants. Since Plaintiff seeks to bring
this action in forma pauperis, the Court has an obligation to
screen the Complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). The
Court finds as follows:
Plaintiff filed the instant Complaint with an application to
proceed in forma paupuris. [Docket Item 1.] Because
Plaintiff's application disclosed that he was indigent,
the Court permitted the Complaint to be filed without
prepayment of fees, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, and
ordered the Clerk of Court to file the Complaint. [Docket
Section 1915(e)(2)(B) requires the Court to screen the
Complaint and to dismiss any claim that is frivolous or
malicious, fails to state a claim, or seeks monetary relief
against a defendant who is immune from such relief. The Court
also has “a continuing obligation to assess its subject
matter jurisdiction” and may “dismiss a suit sua
sponte for lack of subject matter jurisdiction at any stage
in the proceeding.” Zambelli Fireworks Mfg. Co.,
Inc. v. Wood, 592 F.3d 412, 420 (3d Cir. 2010). The
Court draws the facts of this case from the Complaint and,
for the purposes of this screening, accepts the factual
allegations as true.
facts alleged in the Complaint can be summarized as follows.
Plaintiff is an inmate at the Atlantic County Justice
Facility in Mays Landing, New Jersey. [Docket Item 1 at 2.]
In January 2011 and January 2012, he was arrested by Officer
Steven Hadley for possession of a controlled dangerous
substance (“CDS”) and an open container of
alcohol, which Plaintiff alleges Defendant Hadley, an Officer
in the Egg Harbor City Police Department, had
“placed” inside Plaintiff's vehicle.
[Id. at 3.] According to the Complaint, Plaintiff
was also arrested by Defendant Hadley on October 24, 2012
with N.J.S.A. § 2C:35-5A(1), Third Degree
Manufacture/Distribution of CDS. [Id.] With respect
to the latter arrest, Plaintiff alleges “I absolutely
was not the person to sell anything to [the] undercover
officer[.] These allegation[s] were false [and]
Plaintiff also alleges that, in 2013, Defendant Hadley
“propositioned [Plaintiff] to have ‘sex' with
him and when [Plaintiff] refused[, ] he came to
[Plaintiff's] job at Home Dept and screamed down the
aisles ‘Mr. Daley do you still sell drugs!”
[Id.] According to the Complaint, this caused
Plaintiff to get fired from his job. [Id.] As
relief, Plaintiff requests compensatory damages of $245, 000.
[Id. at 4.]
Court infers that Plaintiff is attempting to raise a false
arrest claim under the Fourth Amendment against all
Defendants and a state law claim of defamation against
Defendant Hadley. For the reasons that follow, the Court
finds that the Complaint fails to state a claim with respect
to either cause of action.
an initial matter, the Court notes that, to the extent
Plaintiff has been convicted of the charges for which he was
arrested, he cannot seek damages under § 1983 if this
Court's adjudication would call into question the
validity of his criminal conviction, unless his conviction
first has been overturned on appeal or in state or federal
collateral proceedings. See Heck v. Humphrey, 512
U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994). The Complaint, however, does not
allege whether he was convicted in connection with his
importantly, because the arrests referenced in the Complaint
apparently occurred in 2011 and 2012, Plaintiff's false
arrest claims are barred by the relevant statute of
limitations. This fact is plain from the Complaint itself.
Civil rights claims under § 1983 are governed by New
Jersey's limitations period for personal injury and must
be brought within two years of the claim's accrual.
See Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 276 (1985);
Dique v. New Jersey State Police, 603 F.3d 181, 185
(3d Cir. 2010). “Claims for false arrest . . .
typically accrue on the date of the arrest . . . because, at
that point, the plaintiff has reason to know of the
injury.” Ostuni v. Wa Wa's Mart, 532
Fed.Appx. 110, 112 (3d Cir. 2013) (per curiam) (citing
Montgomery v. De Simone, 159 F.3d 120, 126 (3d Cir.
1998)). Plaintiff filed the Complaint on April 24, 2016.
[Docket Item 1 at 4.] Thus, Plaintiff's false arrest
claims are barred by the two-year statute of limitations
because all of his arrests occurred well before April 24,
2014 (i.e., two years before the Complaint was filed).
Plaintiff's defamation claim is also barred by the
relevant statute of limitations, as New Jersey law requires
all defamation claims to be brought “within 1 year next
after the publication of the alleged libel or slander.”
N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:14-3. Again, Plaintiff filed this
Complaint on April 24, 2016. [Docket Item 1 at 4.] According
to the Complaint, Defendant Hadley's allegedly defamatory
statements at Plaintiff's place of employment were made
sometime in 2013. Thus, Plaintiff's defamation claim is
also barred by the relevant statute of limitations, which
expired in 2014.
sum, and for the foregoing reasons, the Complaint will be
dismissed for failure to state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e). Because amendment would be futile, as the
relevant statutes of limitations barred all of
Plaintiff's claims before this Complaint was ...