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Challenger v. Bassolino

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

February 13, 2019

LEVI CHALLENGER, Plaintiff,
v.
GISELLA BASSOLINO, Defendants.

          OPINION

          KEVIN MCNULTY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         The plaintiff, Levi Challenger, is currently incarcerated at Attica Correctional Facility in Attica, New York. He brings this pro se civil action alleging that his constitutional rights were violated by the defendants.

         At this time, this Court must screen the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915 A to determine whether the complaint is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or whether it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from suit. For the following reasons, the complaint will be permitted to proceed in part.

         II. BACKGROUND

         The allegations of the complaint will be construed as true for purposes of this screening opinion. Mr. Challenger names the following individuals as defendants in this action: (1) Gisella Bassolino - United States Probation Officer; (2) Bill Uhler - United States Marshal; (3) Nicholas Isolano - Detective, New York City Police Department; (4) Sean Caldwell - Sheriff Detective, Hudson County Sheriffs Office; (5) William Velez - Detective, Hudson County Sheriffs Office; and (6) Lynaugh - Detective, New York City Police Department.

         Mr. Challenger alleges that on February 15, 2017, while residing in Jersey City, New Jersey, he received a text message from P.O. Bassolino that she was in front of his residence and wished to conduct a home visit. (See DE 1 at 10.) Bassolino advised Mr. Challenger to open the door and that informed him that he was going to be arrested. (See id.) Mr. Challenger complied with Bassolino's order to open his door. (See id.) At that time, Uhler, Isolano and Caldwell entered the residence. (See id.) Mr. Challenger was ordered to face the wall and place his hands behind his back, and he complied. (See id.)

         Mr. Challenger states that once the handcuffs were applied, he asked why he was being arrested. (See id.) At that point, he was hit in the back of his head which caused him to stumble forward to the floor. (See id.) Mr. Challenger was then slammed down to the concrete and repeatedly punched in his head and face by Uhler, Caldwell and Isolano. (See id.) As a result, he allegedly sustained serious permanent physical and emotional injuries. (See id.)

         Taken to a transport vehicle, Mr. Challenger asked P.O. Bassolino to call an ambulance, to which Bassolino replied, "yeah, right." (See id.) Isolano then told Challenger to "shut the fuck up, you'll be okay." (See id.) Challenger was then transported to the Hudson County Correctional Facility. (See id.)

         After Challenger was processed, Caldwell and Velez were ordered by Hudson County Correctional Facility staff to take him to the Jersey City Medical Center for treatment of his injuries. (See id.) In transit to the hospital, Velez and Caldwell allegedly told Challenger that he had "better say the right thing or else." (See Id. at 11.) After receiving treatment at the hospital, Mr. Challenger was transported back to the Hudson County Jail. (See id) When Lynaugh was informed of the attack on Mr. Challenger, he allegedly attempted to conceal it. (See id.)

         Challenger sues the defendants in their individual capacities and seeks money damages.

         III. LEGAL STANDARDS

         Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub.L. 104-134, §§ 801-810, 110 Stat. 1321-66 to 1321-77 (Apr. 26, 1996) ("PLRA"), district courts must review complaints in those civil actions in which a prisoner is proceeding in forma pauperis, see 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), seeks redress against a governmental employee or entity, see 28 U.S.C. § l9l5A(b), or brings a claim with respect to prison conditions, see 42 U.S.C. § 1997e. 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, see 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         "The legal standard for dismissing a complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § l9l5(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 42 U.S.C. § l997e(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), as explicated by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. 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. See Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside,578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009) (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. ...


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