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Drayton v. Monmouth County Correctional Institution Sheriffs Department

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

January 14, 2020

KAPRI D. DRAYTON, Plaintiff,
v.
MONMOUTH COUNTY CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          FREDA L. WOLFSON, U.S. CHIEF DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter has been opened to the Court by pro se Plaintiff Kapri D. Drayton's filing of a civil rights Complaint. The Court previously granted Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP application”). Federal law requires this Court to screen Plaintiff's Complaint for sua sponte dismissal prior to service, and to dismiss any claim that is frivolous or malicious, if that claim fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted and/or to dismiss any defendant who is immune from suit. See 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)(B).

         This Court has screened the Complaint in this action for dismissal and has determined that the Complaint states claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for excessive force against Officer Huddy, Officer Markus, and John Doe Corrections Officers 1-5 arising from the February 10, 2018 assault on Plaintiff while he was incarcerated at Monmouth County Correctional Institution.[1] Accordingly, dismissal of the § 1983 claims against these Defendants is not warranted and these claims shall proceed. The Court will instruct the Clerk's Office to add John Doe Corrections Officers 1-5 to the docket.

         The Court also finds that the Plaintiff has stated §1983 claims for excessive force and sexual assault against John Doe Corrections Officer Defendants 6-12, arising from a separate assault against Plaintiff that occurred on Monday February 19, 2018, in Cell 103 in J-Pod at Monmouth County Correctional Institution. Accordingly, dismissal of the § 1983 claims against John Doe Defendant Corrections Officers 6-12 is not warranted and these claims shall proceed. The Court will direct the Clerk's Office to add John Doe Corrections Officers 6-12 to the docket.

         The Court will dismiss with prejudice Monmouth County Correctional Institution Sheriff's Department as this entity is not a “person” under § 1983. A New Jersey police department is not an independent entity with the capacity to sue and be sued, but only “an executive and enforcement function of municipal government.” N.J.S.A. 40A:14-118. The case law under Section 1983 uniformly holds that the proper defendant is the municipality itself, not the police department. See Jackson v. City of Erie Police Dep't, 570 Fed.Appx. 112, 114 (3d Cir.2014) (“We further agree with the District Court that the police department was not a proper party to this action. Although local governmental units may constitute ‘persons' against whom suit may be lodged under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a city police department is a governmental sub-unit that is not distinct from the municipality of which it is a part.”) (citation omitted). See also Bonenberger v. Plymouth Twp., 132 F.3d 20, 25 n. 4 (3d Cir. 1997) (Court “treat[s] the municipality and its police department as a single entity for purposes of section 1983 liability”); see also Michaels v. State of New Jersey, 955 F.Supp. 315, 329 n. 1 (D.N.J. 1996); Grabow v. Southern State Correctional Facility, 726 F.Supp. 537, 538-39 (D.N.J. 1989). Here, the allegations in the complaint do not reach the municipality because the alleged injury appears to have been inflicted solely by its employees and not through a practice, policy, or custom of the County.[2] See Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of City of N.Y., 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978).

         Finally, in the relief section of his Complaint, Plaintiff asserts that he would like to sue the United States Marshall [sic] Service for placing [him] in an unsafe environment[.]” A Bivens cause of action was created in part because government agencies are immune from suit under the doctrine of sovereign immunity. FDIC v. Meyer, 510 U.S. 471, 485 (1994). To the extent Plaintiff attempts to assert a Bivens claim against the U.S. Marshal's Service, his attempt fails, see Id. at 485-86 (1994) (holding that sovereign immunity bars a Bivens action against the federal government or its agencies), and that claim is dismissed with prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.[3]

         IT IS, therefore, on this 14th day of January 2020, ORDERED that Pursuant to the Court's screening authority under 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)(B), the Complaint is proceeded in part and dismissed in part as follows:

         1. The §1983 excessive force claims against Officer Huddy, Officer Markus, and John Doe Corrections Officers 1-5 arising from the February 10, 2018 assault on Plaintiff while he was incarcerated at Monmouth County Correctional Facility shall proceed; the Clerk of the Court shall add John Doe Corrections Officers 1-5 to the docket;

         2. The § 1983 excessive force and sexual assault claims against John Doe Corrections Officers 6-12 arising from the February 19, 2018, assault on Plaintiff in Cell 103 in J-Pod at Monmouth County Correctional Facility shall proceed; the Clerk of the Court shall add John Doe Corrections Officers 6-12 to the docket;

         3. The Monmouth County Correctional Institution Sheriff's Department is dismissed WITH PREJUDICE because it is not a “person” under § 1983; and it is further

         4. The United States Marshals Service is dismissed WITH PREJUDICE for lack of subject matter jurisdiction; and it is further

         ORDERED that, the Clerk shall mail to Plaintiff a transmittal letter explaining the procedure for completing Unites States Marshal (“Marshal”) 285 Forms (“USM-285 Forms”); and it is further

         ORDERED that, once the Marshal receives the USM-285 Form(s) from Plaintiff and the Marshal so alerts the Clerk, the Clerk shall issue summons in connection with each USM-285 Form that has been submitted by Plaintiff, and the Marshal shall serve summons, the Complaint and this Order to the address specified on each USM-285 Form, with all costs of service advanced by the United States;[4] and it is further

         ORDERED that Defendant(s) shall file and serve a responsive pleading within the time specified by Federal Rule of ...


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