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Lawson v. Christie

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

April 2, 2019

CHRIS CHRISTIE, et al., Defendants.


          ROBERT B. KUGLER, U.S.D.J.

         Plaintiff, Charles Lawson, is proceeding pro se with a civil rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. For the reasons stated in this Opinion, the Court will dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint without prejudice for failure to state a claim.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The Court will construe the allegations of the Complaint as true for the purpose of this Opinion. Plaintiff names the following parties as Defendants in this matter: (1) then Governor Chris Christie; (2) the Office of the Attorney General; (3) the Cumberland County Courthouse; (4) the Director of the Division of Criminal Justice; (5) the Vineland Police Department; (6) the Honorable Judge Christen D'arrigo; and (7) then Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino.

         With great liberality, the Court gleans from the Complaint that Defendants conspired, at some unspecified time, to deprive Plaintiff “of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness” by keeping him unlawfully incarcerated at the Cumberland County Jail, where he has been “subjected to post dramatic[sic] stress, anxiety, frustration, [and] poor medical treatment.” (ECF No. 1, at 4-5).

         More specifically, the Office of the Attorney General established policies, practices, and procedures to support bail reform, and that the Vineland police officers arrested Plaintiff “under this fraudulent system” and violated “their own procedure.” (ECF No. 1-1, at 1). This violation somehow affected Plaintiffs Public Safety Assessment (“PSA”) score under New Jersey's Bail Reform Act, which then “infringed on [his] constitutional rights.” (Id.); see generally N.J. Stat. Ann. 2A:162-15 to -26. Plaintiff then summarily alleges that the remaining parties are also at fault for “advocat[ing]” for, or perhaps applying, bail reform policies, which violated his constitutional rights. (Id.).

         Plaintiff filed the instant Complaint, seeking an order from the Court for monetary compensation, his immediately release, the eradication of the Bail Reform Act, and to “bring[] back monetary bail.” (ECF No. 1, at 5).


         District courts must review complaints in civil actions in which a plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). District courts may 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 Id. According to the Supreme Court's decision in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, “a pleading that offers ‘labels or conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'” 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).

         To survive sua sponte screening for failure to state a claim, [1] 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). “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 [alleged] misconduct.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Moreover, while courts liberally construe pro se pleadings, “pro se litigants still must allege sufficient facts in their complaints to support a claim.” Mala v. Crown Bay Marina, Inc., 704 F.3d 239, 245 (3d Cir. 2013) (citation omitted).

         In addition to these pleading rules, however, a complaint must satisfy Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a), which states that a complaint must contain:

(a) A pleading that states a claim for relief must contain[:] (1) a short and plain statement of the grounds for the court's jurisdiction, unless the court already has jurisdiction and the claim needs no new jurisdictional support; (2) a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief; and (3) a demand for the relief sought, which may include relief in the alternative or different types of relief.

         “Thus, a pro se plaintiffs well-pleaded complaint must recite factual allegations which are sufficient to raise the plaintiffs claimed right to relief beyond the level of mere speculation, set forth in a ‘short and plain' statement of a cause of action.” Johnson v. Koehler, No. 18-00807, 2019 WL 1231679, at *3 (M.D. Pa. Mar. 15, 2019). Stated differently, Rule 8 requires a showing that the plaintiff is entitled to relief in order to “give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Id. (quoting Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007)).

         III. ...

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