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Carrillo v. Owen

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

August 28, 2019

DAVID OWEN, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff, Dashawn Carrillo, is a prisoner currently incarcerated at Northern State Prison, in Newark, 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 without prejudice Plaintiffs excessive force claims and decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff s state law claims.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The Court will construe the factual allegations of the Complaint as true for the purpose of this Opinion. Plaintiff names David Owen, Warden Karen Taylor, Sergeant E. Trout, and Corrections Officer D. Russell as Defendants in this matter. This case arises from Plaintiffs time as a pretrial detainee at the Camden County Jail.

         On April 22, 2016, Plaintiff secured some legal writing paper while some officers were escorting him to the showering facilities. Upon discovering Plaintiffs paper, Defendant Russell aggressively approached Plaintiff, despite Plaintiffs indications of surrender. Defendant Trout then grabbed Plaintiff by the head and neck and slammed him into the ground. Thereafter, multiple officers appeared, thrust their knees into Plaintiffs back and neck, and prevented Plaintiff from breathing. Ultimately, the officers took Plaintiff into the medical department.

         At the medical department, Plaintiff asked an official to place him in the mental health floor, in order to protect himself from the officers at the jail. At some point or throughout this time period, officials refused to treat Plaintiff s back and neck pain from the incident.

         Shortly after the incident, Defendant Russell filed an "untruthful" disciplinary incident report and criminal charges against Plaintiff, claiming that Plaintiff threatened Defendant Russell with violence. For reasons that are unclear, those charges resulted in dismissals.

         On January 31, 2019, [1] Plaintiff filed the instant Complaint, raising excessive force claims, as well as state law claims sounding in assault, battery, and defamation.


         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, [2] 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 the Complaint that Plaintiffs federal claims are 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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