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Briggs v. Becker

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

April 26, 2019

PATROLMAN BECKER, et al., Defendants.


          Robert B. Kugler, United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff, Richard Briggs, is a prisoner currently incarcerated at the Central Reception and Assignment Facility, in Trenton, New Jersey. He 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 Patrolman Becker and John Doe officers of the Mount Ephraim Police Department as Defendants in this matter. (ECF No. 1, at 4-5). This case arises from Plaintiff's arrest and subsequent detention at the Mount Ephraim Police Station and Camden County Jail. (Id., at 10).

         On September 13, 2016, Defendant officers pulled over a vehicle for tinted windows, in which Plaintiff was a passenger. The driver of the vehicle provided the officers with the requested documents, along with a police benevolent association card bearing Plaintiff's name. Plaintiff had worked at South Woods State Prison as a corrections officer, but the prison had terminated his employment in August of 2016. (Id. at 9).

         An altercation then took place, after one of the officers searched Plaintiffs name and found that Plaintiff was facing child molestation charges. One officer acted “like a deranged individual” taking issue with the notion that Plaintiff was receiving a pension, yelled a racial slur at Plaintiff, and demanded to see Plaintiffs retirement paperwork. (Id.). Plaintiff feared for his life and tried to explain that he did not yet have any official paperwork and tried to record the incident with his phone. The officers then arrested Plaintiff “for hindering an investigation.” (Id.).

         While waiting at the Mount Ephraim Police Department's holding cell, Plaintiff, a diabetic, complained that he was experiencing severe headaches, dry mouth, blurred vision, and belligerence, due to a lack of insulin, but the officers ignored his pleas. Officials then transferred Plaintiff to the Camden County Jail where a nurse eventually gave him medication, but that his blood sugar was at “stroke numbers.” (Id.).

         Plaintiff now raises false arrest, false imprisonment, and deliberate indifference claims, as well as corresponding state law claims against all Defendants.


         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).


         Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of his civil rights guaranteed under the United States Constitution. To succeed on a § 1983 claim, a plaintiff must allege two things: first, a violation of a right under the Constitution, and second, that a “person” acting under color of state law committed the violation. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Piecknick v. Com. of Pa., 36 F.3d 1250, 1255-56 (3d. Cir. 1994)).

         As an initial matter, the Court will address the statute of limitations on § 1983 claims since it appears from the face of Plaintiff s Complaint that this action is time-barred. “Although the running of the statute of limitations is ordinarily an affirmative defense, where that defense is obvious from the face of the complaint and no development of the record is necessary, a court may dismiss a time-barred complaint sua sponte under 28 U.S.C. ...

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