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Manning v. Hudson County

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

March 29, 2019

HUSDON COUNTY, et al., Defendants.


          Madeline Cox Arleo, District Judge


         This matter has been opened to the Court by Defendant County of Hudson's motion to dismiss (ECF No. 28) Plaintiffs Complaint. The Complaint alleges violations of Plaintiff s civil rights arising from his pretrial incarceration for three years on criminal charges and his subsequent civil commitment following a judicial finding that he was not competent to stand trial. (See ECF No. 1.) Because the allegations in the Complaint fail to state a claim for relief under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) and 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), the Court will grant the motion to dismiss. The Court will provide Plaintiff with an opportunity to submit an Amended Complaint that cures the deficiencies in the Complaint as described in this Opinion. If Plaintiff files an Amended Complaint, Defendant shall move or otherwise respond to the Amended Complaint as required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 12.


         The Court relies on Plaintiffs Complaint, the attached exhibits, and those exhibits attached to Defendant's motion to dismiss that are matters of public record and/or referenced in the Complaint. On March 1, 2010, Manning was indicted on criminal charges involving sexual offenses against children. (See ECF No. 28-2, Ex. A to Motion to Dismiss.) It appears that Plaintiff was arrested in New York City On April 21, 2010, and was extradited to Hudson County, New Jersey based on the outstanding arrest warrant. (ECF No. 1, Compl. at 13-14.) Based on the allegations in the Complaint, Plaintiff remained incarcerated as a pretrial detainee for approximately three years, awaiting trial. (See Id. at 10.) On March 20, 2013, the Honorable Rudolph N. Hawkins, Jr. of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Hudson County, dismissed the criminal charges against Plaintiff, finding him mentally incompetent to stand trial, and entered a Civil Commitment Order, which was continued until May 13, 2013. (Id. at 17-20.) In the Complaint, Plaintiff appears to allege that he remained involuntarily committed at Ann Klein Forensic Center for nine additional months following the dismissal of the criminal charges. (Mat 3, 10.)

         Plaintiff appears to allege that his arrest, pretrial incarceration, and his subsequent civil commitment violated his civil rights, but provides few relevant facts about the nature of his claims. Plaintiff proclaims his innocence of the crimes for which he was arrested and indicted, and states that he was "accused with no meaditaion [sic]" or "arbitration" and was "not presentat [sic] grand jury proceding [sic]. (Id. at 2.) He further states that he was held as a pretrial detainee for three years and brought before multiple judges prior to the dismissal of the charges against him, and was subsequently civilly committed for an additional nine months. (Id.)

         Plaintiff has also attached to his Complaint his 2013 medical records from Moorestown Medical Center and appear to assert that he was injured or otherwise suffered serious medical problems during the time he was incarcerated and/or civilly committed. (Id. at 2, 21-33.)

         Finally, the Complaint alludes vaguely to a 2014 law suit that Plaintiff filed state court. (Id. at 35.) That lawsuit was apparently dismissed with prejudice on November 21, 2014 because Plaintiff failed to file a notice of tort claim within one year. (ECF No. 28-2, Ex. D to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss).

         Plaintiff has sued Hudson County[1] in the instant action and seeks damages for his injuries.[2] He filed the instant action in the District Court for the District of Columbia on or about April 24, 2017. The matter was subsequently transferred to the District of New Jersey, and assigned to the undersigned. The Court granted Plaintiffs application to proceed in forma pauperis and directed service of the Complaint. The instant motion to dismiss followed.[3]


         Defendant's motion seeks dismissal of the Complaint under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12 (b)(6) for failure to state a claim for relief. The Court addresses both standards of review, as well as the standard for sua sponte dismissal under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         A motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) must be granted if the court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over a claim. In re Schering Plough Corp. Intron/Temodar Consumer Class Action, 678 F.3d 235, 243 (3d Cir. 2012). On a motion under Rule 12(b)(1), it is the plaintiff who bears the burden of establishing subject-matter jurisdiction. Gould Elec, Inc. v. United States, 220 F.3d 169, 178 (3d Cir. 2000). A district court may treat a party's motion to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) as either a facial or factual challenge to the court's jurisdiction. Gould Elecs., 220 F.3d at 176. "In reviewing a facial attack, the court must only consider the allegations of the complaint and documents referenced therein and attached thereto, in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Id. (citing PBGC v. White, 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993)). By contrast, "[i]n reviewing a factual attack, the court may consider evidence outside the pleadings." Id. (citing Gotha v. United States, 115 F.3d 176, 178- 79 (3d Cir. 1997)); see United States ex rel. Atkinson v. Pa. Shipbuilding Co., A17> F.3d 506, 514 (3d Cir. 2007). A district court has "substantial authority" to "weigh the evidence and satisfy itself as to the existence of its power to hear the case." Mortensen v. First Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n, 549 F.2d 884, 891 (3d Cir. 1977). "[N]o presumptive truthfulness attaches to plaintiffs allegations, and the existence of disputed material facts will not preclude the trial court from evaluating for itself the merits of jurisdictional claims." Id.

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a court may dismiss an action for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. When evaluating a motion to dismiss, "courts accept all factual allegations as true, construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief." Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting Phillips v. Cty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008)). A complaint survives a motion to dismiss if it contains sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). It is not for courts to decide at this point whether the non-moving party will succeed on the merits, but "whether they should be afforded an opportunity to offer evidence in support of their claims." In re Rockefeller Ctr. Props., Inc. Sec. Litig., 311 F.3d 198, 215 (3d Cir. 2002). While "detailed factual allegations" are not necessary, a "plaintiffs obligation to provide the grounds of his entitle[ment] to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (internal quotations omitted); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009).

         "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) (per curiam); see also Courteau v. United States, 287 Fed.Appx. 159, 162 (3d Cir. 2008) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)). Courts 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. Nevertheless, pro se litigants must still allege facts, which if taken as true, will suggest the required elements of any claim that is asserted. Id. (citing Mala v. Crown Bay Marina, Inc., 704 F.3d 239, 245 (3d Cir. 2013)). To do so, [a plaintiff) must plead enough facts, accepted as true, to plausibly suggest entitlement to relief." Gibney v. Fitzgibbon,547 Fed.Appx. 111, 113 (3d Cir. 2013) (citing Bistrian v. Levi,696 F.3d 352, 365 (3d Cir. 2012)). Furthermore, "[l]iberal construction does not, however, require the Court to credit a pro se plaintiffs 'bald assertions' or 'legal conclusions.' Id. (citing Morse v. Lower Merion Sch ...

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