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Trent v. Union Township Police Department

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

April 11, 2019

ANTOINE R. TRENT, et al. Plaintiff,
v.
UNION TOWNSHIP POLICE DEPARTMENT, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          KEVIN MCNULTY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         The plaintiff, Antoine R. Trent, is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with a civil rights complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Presently pending before this Court is Mr. Trent's request to reopen his case. For the following reasons, plaintiffs request to reopen will be denied.

         II. BACKGROUND

         The facts alleged in plaintiffs complaint are summarized in my prior opinion. The plaintiff sues the Union Township Police Department and one of its officers, David Pinto, for excessive use of force on April 22, 2011.

         On February 4, 2015, this Court screened Mr. Trent's original complaint and found that it was filed beyond the applicable two-year statute of limitations for actions brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in New Jersey. Mr. Trent filed his complaint in November 2014, over three-and-one-half years after the incident. I dismissed the complaint without prejudice, and gave Mr. Trent thirty days in which to file a proposed amended complaint that stated the basis for tolling the two-year statute of limitations period, if any such a basis existed. The deadline came and went. On July 21, 2016, or over five months after the Court's screening Opinion, Mr. Trent sent the court a letter arguing that the statute of limitations should have been equitably tolled.

         III. DISCUSSION

         The request to reopen the case will be denied for several reasons. First, Mr. Trent's request to reopen was filed well beyond the thirty-day period that this Court allowed in its February 4, 2016 Opinion. Second, Mr. Trent has failed to file a proposed amended complaint with his request to reopen, as required by the Court's February 4, 2016 Order.

         Third, and in the alternative, the asserted grounds for equitable tolling are inadequate.

         In his letter, Mr. Trent explains that in July 2011, a paralegal visited him in prison and stated that a law firm would be interested in representing him in a civil lawsuit against the police. Mr. Trent filled out forms permitting the paralegal to obtain his medical records. The attorney allegedly told him he was investigating the matter. Mr. Trent thereafter tried and failed to reach the attorney. Eventually, in 2014, Mr. Trent filed the complaint on his own.

         Equitable tolling has generally been applied in three circumstances:

(1) [where] 'the complainant has been induced or tricked by his adversary's misconduct into allowing the filing deadline to pass' ...
(2) where a plaintiff has 'in some extraordinary way' been prevented from asserting his rights [and]...
(3) where a plaintiff has timely asserted his rights mistakenly by either defective pleading or in ...

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