United States District Court, D. New Jersey
Madeline Cox Arleo, District Judge
matter has been opened to the Court by Plaintiffs filing of a
civil rights complaint and an application to proceed in
forma pauperis ("IFP"). At this time, the
Court will grant Plaintiffs IFP application and screen the
Complaint for dismissal. For the reasons explained below, the
Court will dismiss Plaintiffs claims for relief, as described
in this Opinion, as to all Defendants pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B). Unless otherwise stated, the dismissal
is without prejudice, and Plaintiff may file an
amended complaint within 30 days to the extent he can cure
the deficiencies in his claims.
Court begins by noting that parts of Plaintiff s submission
are illegible or blank, see ECF No. 1, at 5-8, and
the Court screens the Complaint based on the "Statement
of Claims" portion of the Complaint. The Complaint
alleges that Defendant Parole Officer Robert Wall arrested
Plaintiff at parole headquarters in June 2017 for parole
violations, which consisted of "use of social media,
leaving the state without prior approval, and a music video
with a prop firearm." ECF No. 1, Compl. at 9. It is not
clear from the Complaint if Plaintiff contests or concedes
that he committed these parole violations. After his arrest
on these parole violations, Plaintiff was hand cuffed, and
his cell phone, wallet, and keys were confiscated by Parole
Officer Wall. Id. Wall and the other parole officers
named in the Complaint searched Plaintiffs car and took
Plaintiff to his residence, which Plaintiff rents from his
mother and sister. Id. at 9-10. At the apartment,
Plaintiff observed Parole Officer Wall retrieve a book bag
from the trunk of Wall's car before entering the
apartment for approximately four minutes. Id. at 9.
Parole Officer Wall returned from the apartment and read
Plaintiff his Miranda rights. Id. According
to Plaintiff, his room in the apartment was locked and Parole
Officer Wall used the keys he confiscated from Plaintiff to
gain entry to the room. Id. Parole Officer Wall then
"allegedly" found a bag with heroin at the bottom
in Plaintiffs room. Id. Parole Officer Wall also
found a set of keys that he used to unlock three safes in
Plaintiffs room. Id. It is not clear if anything was
found in the safes. According to the Complaint, other law
enforcement officers, including state troopers, also
participated in the search. Id.
Complaint states that the search was conducted with "no
warrant, consent, or exigent circumstances."
Id. at 10. During the search, Plaintiff was
instructed to sit in the living room with his mother and
sister. Id. The Complaint also appears to allege
that the search violated his mother's Fourth Amendment
rights and exacerbated her health conditions. Id.
Plaintiff seeks damages for the violations of his civil
rights and various forms of injunctive relief. Id.
at 11. It is not clear from the Complaint whether Plaintiff
pleaded guilty to the parole violations or other crimes
related to the search, but he states that he is serving the
remainder of his sentence. See id., Compl. at 2.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
the PLRA, district courts must review complaints in those
civil actions in which a person is proceeding in forma
pauperis, See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). The PLRA
directs district courts to sua sponte dismiss any
claim that is frivolous, is malicious, fails to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief
from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Id.
"The 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) (citing Allah v. Seiverling,
229 F.3d 220, 223 (3d Cir. 2000)); Mitchell v.
Beard, 492 Fed.Appx. 230, 232 (3d Cir. 2012) (discussing
28 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)).
Plaintiffs Complaint is subject to screening under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B). When reviewing a motion to dismiss
under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), courts first separate the
factual and legal elements of the claims, and accept all of
the well-pleaded facts as true. See Fowler v. UPMC
Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009). All
reasonable inferences must be made in the plaintiffs favor.
See In re Ins. Brokerage Antitrust Litig., 618 F.3d
300, 314 (3d Cir. 2010). The Complaint must also allege
"sufficient factual matter" to show that the claim
is facially plausible. Fowler, 578 F.3d at 210
(citation 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." Fair Wind
Sailing, Inc. v. Dempster, 764 F.3d 303, 308 n.3 (3d
Cir. 2014) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678).
are required to liberally construe pleadings drafted by
pro se parties. 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. Because Plaintiff is proceeding
pro se, his filings will be liberally construed, but he is
still required to allege sufficient facts in his complaint to
support a valid claim. See Gibney v. Fitzgibbon, 547
Fed.Appx. 111, 113 (3d Cir. 2013) (citing Mala v. Crown
Bay Marina, Inc., 704 F.3d 239, 244-45 (3d Cir. 2013)).
To do so, Plaintiff must plead enough facts, accepted as
true, to plausibly suggest entitlement to relief.
Id. (citing Bistrian v. Levi, 696 F.3d 352,
365 (3d Cir. 2012) (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 675 (2009)).
Court construes Plaintiff to seek relief pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983 and to allege violations of his and his
mother's Fourth Amendment rights. Section 1983 provides in
Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance,
regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory ...
subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the
United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof
to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities
secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the
party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other
proper proceeding for redress....
to state a claim for relief under § 1983, a plaintiff
must allege, first, the violation of a right secured by the
Constitution or laws of the United States and, second, that
the alleged deprivation was committed or caused by a person
acting under color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487