JONES v. OWENS et al
OPINION FILED. Signed by Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 10/30/17. (js)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
DAVID T. JONES,
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
No. 17-2634 (JBS-JS)
DAVID S. OWENS; KAREN TAYLOR,
David T. Jones, Plaintiff Pro Se
Camden County Correctional Facility
PO Box 90431
Camden, NJ 08101
SIMANDLE, Chief Judge:
Before the Court is Plaintiff David Jones’ (“Plaintiff”),
submission of a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983. Complaint, Docket Entry 1. At this time, the Court must
review the complaint, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and
1915A to determine whether it should be dismissed as frivolous
or malicious, for failure to state a claim upon which relief may
be granted, or because it seeks monetary relief from a defendant
who is immune from such relief. For the reasons set forth below,
the Court concludes that the complaint will proceed in part.
Plaintiff brings this civil rights action against David
Owens and Karen Taylor, the former and current wardens of the
Camden County Correctional Facility (“CCCF”), for permitting him
to be admitted into the facility without a signed warrant and
for failing to release him when he brought the lack of a warrant
to their attention. The following factual allegations are taken
from the complaint and are accepted for purposes of this
screening only. The Court has made no findings as to the truth
of Plaintiff’s allegations.
Plaintiff states he entered the CCCF on April 21, 2015 on a
warrant signed only by the arresting officer, not by a judicial
officer. He filed a grievance with Mr. Owens about the lack of a
signed warrant but did not receive a response. Complaint at 5.
He also spoke with Ms. Taylor in February 2016. Id. at 6. She
responded that “the County had other paperwork” to process
Plaintiff’s admission into CCCF, and Plaintiff countered it was
“facility policy to have a warrant . . . .” Id. at 7. Plaintiff
requested a copy of the warrant from the Admissions Office, but
they only had the “defendant copy” of the warrant. Id. at 6.
Plaintiff continued to request a signed copy of the warrant from
various CCCF officials. Eventually, Captain Franceschini went to
the prosecutor’s office to get a signed warrant. He returned
with a warrant signed by a judicial officer dated April 20,
2015. Id. See also Exhibits Two and Three.
Plaintiff asks for a preliminary injunction and monetary
relief for an unconstitutional arrest.
III. STANDARD OF REVIEW
A. Standards for a Sua Sponte Dismissal
Per the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. No. 104-134,
§§ 801-810, 110 Stat. 1321-66 to 1321-77 (April 26, 1996)
(“PLRA”), district courts must review complaints in those civil
actions in which a prisoner is proceeding in forma pauperis, see
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), seeks redress against a governmental
employee or entity, see 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), or brings a claim
with respect to prison conditions, see 42 U.S.C. § 1997e. The
PLRA directs district courts to 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. This action is subject
to sua sponte screening for dismissal under 28 U.S.C. §§
1915(e)(2)(b) and 1915A because Plaintiff is a prisoner
proceeding in forma pauperis and is seeking relief from
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. Fowler v. UPMS Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210
(3d Cir. 2009) (citation omitted). “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.” Fair Wind
Sailing, Inc. v. Dempster, 764 F.3d 303, 308 n.3 (3d Cir. 2014)
(quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678).
In determining the sufficiency of a pro se complaint, the
Court must be mindful to construe it liberally in favor of the
plaintiff. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93–94 (2007)
(following Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)); see also
United States v. Day, 969 F.2d 39, 42 (3d Cir. 1992). Although
pro se pleadings are liberally construed, plaintiffs “still must
allege sufficient facts in their complaints to support a claim.”
“The legal standard for dismissing a complaint for failure to
state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is the
same as that for dismissing a complaint pursuant to Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).” Schreane v. Seana, 506 F. App’x
120, 122 (3d Cir. 2012) (citing Allah v. Seiverling, 229 F.3d
220, 223 (3d Cir. 2000)); Mitchell v. Beard, 492 F. App’x 230,
232 (3d Cir. 2012) (discussing 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1));
Courteau v. United States, 287 F. App’x. 159, 162 (3d Cir. 2008)
(discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)).
Mala v. Crown Bay Marina, Inc., 704 F.3d 239, 245 (3d Cir. 2013)
B. Section 1983 Actions
A plaintiff may have a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 for certain violations of his constitutional rights.
Section 1983 provides in relevant part:
Every person who, under color of any statute,
ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State
or Territory ... subjects, or causes to be subjected,
any citizen of the United States or other person
within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of
any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the
Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party
injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other
proper proceeding for redress ....
§ 1983. Thus, to state a claim for relief under § 1983, a
plaintiff must allege, first, the violation of a right secured
by the Constitution or laws of the United States and, second,
that the alleged deprivation was committed or caused by a person
acting under color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S.
42, 48 (1988); Malleus v. George, 641 F.3d 560, 563 (3d Cir.
2011); Piecknick v. Pennsylvania, 36 F.3d 1250, 1255-56 (3d Cir.
Plaintiff alleges his arrest and imprisonment in CCCF were
unconstitutional. “The Fourth Amendment prohibits government
officials from detaining a person in the absence of probable
cause.” Manuel v. City of Joliet, Ill., 137 S. Ct. 911, 913
(2017). “To state a claim for false arrest under the Fourth
Amendment, a plaintiff must establish: (1) that there was an
arrest; and (2) that the arrest was made without probable
cause.” James v. City of Wilkes–Barre, 700 F.3d 675, 680 (3d
Cir. 2012). “[W]here the police lack probable cause to make an
arrest, the arrestee has a claim under § 1983 for false
imprisonment based on a detention pursuant to that arrest.”
O'Connor v. City of Phila., 233 F. App’x 161, 164 (3d Cir. 2007)
(internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
Plaintiff has not sufficiently alleged a false arrest claim
against Wardens Owens and Taylor because Plaintiff does not
allege they were responsible for his arrest. However, there are
sufficient facts to support a false imprisonment claim.
Plaintiff alleges the copies of the warrants on file at CCCF and
provided to him during discovery did not bear the signature of a
judicial officer. He further alleges the judicial officer did
not sign the warrants until Captain Franceschini went to the
prosecutor’s office in February 2017, long after Plaintiff’s
entrance into CCCF. Plaintiff has provided the Court with copies
of both signed and unsigned warrants. Construing the complaint
liberally and giving Plaintiff the benefit of all reasonable
inferences, there are sufficient facts for the Court to require
defendants to answer the false imprisonment charges.
Plaintiff’s request for a preliminary injunction is denied
without prejudice as he does not indicate what kind of
injunctive relief he is seeking, nor does he address the factors
the Court must consider in determining whether to grant
For the reasons stated above, Plaintiff’s false arrest
claim is dismissed without prejudice for failure to state a
claim, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). The complaint shall
proceed on the false imprisonment charge.
October 30, 2017
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
U.S. District Judge
To secure the extraordinary relief of a preliminary injunction,
Plaintiff must demonstrate “(1) a likelihood of success on the
merits; (2) that [he] will suffer irreparable harm if the
injunction is denied; (3) that granting preliminary relief will
not result in even greater harm to the nonmoving party; and (4)
that the public interest favors such relief.” KOS Pharms., Inc.
v. Andrx Corp., 369 F.3d 700, 708 (3d Cir. 2004).
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