HOLLAND v. JACOBS et al
OPINION. Signed by Judge Renee Marie Bumb on 7/15/16. (jbk, )
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
CIV. NO. 16-3014 (RMB)
RENÉE MARIE BUMB, U.S. District Judge
This matter comes before the Court upon Plaintiff’s submission
of a civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and his
application to proceed in forma pauperis. (Compl., ECF No. 1; IFP
App., ECF No. 1-1.) Plaintiff is a prisoner confined in South Woods
State Prison. (Id., ¶3.)
28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) provides that a prisoner seeking to bring
a civil action without prepayment of fees shall submit an affidavit
indicating the person is unable to pay such fees, and shall also
“submit a certified copy of the trust fund account statement for the
prisoner for the 6-month period immediately preceding the filing of
the complaint . . . obtained from the appropriate official of each
prison at which the prisoner is or was confined.” Plaintiff’s IFP
application is missing the certification by a prison official (page
3 of the form application), and the application will be denied without
SCREENING PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b) and § 1915A
The Court is required to review a prisoner’s civil rights
complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b) and § 1915A.1
must dismiss any claims that are: (1) frivolous or malicious; (2)
fail to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (3) seek
monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B); 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
Plaintiff alleges the following in his Complaint. On August 6,
2010, Plaintiff was arrested and imprisoned based on a false warrant,
causing him to spend seven years in state prison. (Compl., ¶6.)
Department provided false information. (Compl., 4(b)). Plaintiff
This Court’s conclusive screening of Plaintiff’s claims is reserved
until he pays the filing fee or properly obtains in forma pauperis
status. See Izquierdo v. New Jersey, 532 F. App’x 71 (3d Cir. July
25, 2013) (district court may decide whether to dismiss the complaint
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) after leave to proceed IFP is granted).
also named as defendants Raymond Jacobs, a sergeant for the state
police; Robert Bernard, of the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s
Office; and Ms. Whilling, also of the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s
Office. (Id., 4(c), (d)). Plaintiff did not specify what these three
defendants did to violate his civil rights. Plaintiff stated:
There was unlegal [sic] paperwork and false
documents file [sic] on Mr. Edward B. Holland.
The Defendants file Application of false search
warrant for drugs, but the warrants all of them
was tamper [sic] with and not done for the truth,
all of the Public Servant Worker’s submitted
wrongness of filing false document and papers
of warrant and stated on records of transcripts
of false information which sent Mr. Edward B.
Holland to Prison for 7 – seven years.
(Compl., ¶6.) Plaintiff has appeals pending regarding his claims of
false imprisonment and false information. (Compl., ¶5.)
Standard of Review
A pleading must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P.
8(a)(2). “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 570 (2007)). “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 misconduct alleged.”
Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556.)
“[A] court must accept as true all of the allegations contained
in a complaint.” Id. A court need not accept legal conclusions as
true. Id. Legal conclusions, together with threadbare recitals of
the elements of a cause of action, do not suffice to state a claim.
Id. Thus, “a court considering a motion to dismiss can choose to begin
by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than
conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth.” Id. at
679. “While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a
complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations.” Id. If
a complaint can be remedied by an amendment, a district court may
not dismiss the complaint with prejudice, but must permit the
amendment. Grayson v. Mayview State Hospital, 293 F.3d 103, 108 (3d
Claims Under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
“[A] plaintiff seeking to hold an individual liable under § 1983
must establish that she was deprived of a federal constitutional or
statutory right by a state actor.” Kach v. Hose, 589 F.3d 626, 646
(3d. Cir. 2009). Liberally construing the Complaint, Plaintiff is
alleging violation of his right against unreasonable seizure under
the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
To state a § 1983 claim for false arrest in violation of the
Fourth Amendment, a plaintiff must allege “(1) that the police
officer ‘knowingly and deliberately, or with reckless disregard for
the truth, made false statements or omissions that create a falsehood
in applying for a warrant;’ and (2) that ‘such statements or omissions
are material, or necessary, to the finding of probable cause.’”
Wilson v. Russo, 212 F.3d 781, 786-87 (quoting Sherwood v. Mulvihill,
113 F.3d 396, 399 (3d Cir. 1997)). Plaintiff failed to plead
sufficient facts to establish a false arrest claim against the
defendants because he did not allege who made the false statements
in support of the search warrant, what the false statements were,
and that the false statements were necessary to the finding of
probable cause. See Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224,
232 (3d Cir. 2008) (“[f]air notice under Rule 8(a)(2) depends on the
type of case—some complaints will require at least some factual
allegations to make out a “showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief, in order to give the defendant fair notice of what the ...
claim is and the grounds upon which it rests”) (quoting Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).
A false imprisonment claim based on an arrest made without
probable cause is grounded in the Fourth Amendment’s protection
against unreasonable seizures. James v. City of Wilkes-Barre, 700
F.3d 675, 683 (3d Cir. 2012) (citing Groman v. Township of Manalapan,
47 F.3d 628, 636 (3d Cir. 1995)). The elements of a false imprisonment
claim under § 1983 are that a person was detained, and the detention
was unlawful. James, 700 F.3d at 682-83 (citing Wallace v. Kato, 549
U.S. 384, 389 (2007)). A false imprisonment ends when once the victim
becomes held pursuant to legal process, for example when he is
arraigned on charges. Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 389 (2007).
As with his false arrest claim, Plaintiff has not alleged facts
indicating what each defendant did to detain him without legal
Although Plaintiff has not specifically raised a claim of
malicious prosecution, he has named as defendants two individuals
from the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office. Plaintiff has not
identified whether Defendants Robert Bernard or Ms. Whilling are
intimately associated with the judicial phase of the criminal
process, including the decision to initiate a prosecution. Imbler
v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409, 423-24, 430 (1974.)
Plaintiff should also be aware that favorable termination is
a necessary element of a malicious prosecution claim. See Kossler
v. Crisanti, 564 F.3d 181, 186 (3d Cir. 2009). The favorable
termination element is satisfied only when the prior criminal case
is disposed of in a way that indicates the innocence of the accused.
Id. at 187 (citing Donahue v. Gavin, 280 F.3d 371, 383 (3d Cir. 2002);
see also Gilles v. Davis, 427 F.3d 197, 211 (3d Cir. 2005). In the
Complaint, Plaintiff alleged he spent seven years imprisoned upon
false arrest, and his appeals are still pending. It would appear that
Plaintiff cannot meet the favorable termination element of a
malicious prosecution claim at this time.
Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994)
Petitioner filed this action after he was convicted and
sentenced based on allegedly false information. In Heck v. Humphrey,
the Supreme Court held that:
in order to recover damages for allegedly
unconstitutional conviction or imprisonment,
or for other harm caused by actions whose
unlawfulness would render a conviction or
sentence invalid, a § 1983 plaintiff must prove
that the conviction or sentence has been
reversed on direct appeal, expunged by
executive order, declared invalid by a state
tribunal authorized to make such determination,
or called into question by a federal court's
issuance of a writ of habeas corpus.
512 U.S. at 486. Based on the limited information alleged in
Plaintiff’s Complaint, it appears that success on his claims would
render his conviction invalid. Therefore, the Court would be required
to dismiss his false arrest and false imprisonment claims without
prejudice until Plaintiff can prove that his conviction has been
reversed, expunged, declared invalid or called into question by a
federal court’s issuance of a writ of habeas corpus.
For the reasons discussed above, in the accompanying Order filed
herewith, the Court will deny Plaintiff’s IFP application without
prejudice and administratively terminate this action. If Plaintiff
chooses, he may reopen this action by curing the deficiency in his
IFP application. In the unlikely event that Plaintiff can cure the
deficiencies in the present complaint, he will be permitted to file
an amended complaint.
s/RENÉE MARIE BUMB__________
RENÉE MARIE BUMB
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
DATE JULY 15, 2016
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