MUNIC v. STATE OF NEW JERSEY et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Faith S. Hochberg on 10/6/2014. (bdk, )
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
STEVEN J. MUNIC,
Civil Action No. 14-6084 (FSH)
THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, et al.,
Steven J. Munic
100-140 Lincoln Highway
Kearney, NJ 07032
Plaintiff Pro Se
HOCHBERG, District Judge:
1. This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff’s filing of a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983. Plaintiff’s application to proceed without payment will be granted. As set forth
below, the Complaint will be dismissed.
2. 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 veracity of Plaintiff’s
allegations. Plaintiff brings his Complaint challenging his extradition from Lackawanna
County, Pennsylvania to Morris County, New Jersey on September 6, 2011. ECF 1, page 10
of 14. Plaintiff further challenges conditions set at his bail hearing on September 8, 2011.
Id. Plaintiff pled to eluding and resisting arrest on October 12, 2012 and was sentenced to an
eight year sentence with the New Jersey Department of Corrections.
challenges to his sentence through post-conviction relief have been unsuccessful. Id.
3. The Prison Litigation Reform Act (‟PLRA”), Pub. L. No. 104-134, §§ 801-810, 110 Stat.
1321-66 to 1321-77 (April 26, 1996), requires a District Court to screen a complaint in a civil
action in which a plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis or a prisoner is seeking redress
against a government employee or entity. The Court must sua sponte dismiss any claim if the
Court determines that it is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be
granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B), 1915A.
4. To survive dismissal “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to
‘state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.’ 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.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)
(citation omitted). The plausibility standard “asks for more than a sheer possibility that a
defendant has acted unlawfully. Where a complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent
with a defendant’s liability, it stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of
entitlement to relief,” and will be dismissed. Id. at 678 (citations and internal quotation marks
omitted); Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009) (“[A] complaint
must do more than allege the plaintiff’s entitlement to relief. A complaint has to “show” such
an entitlement with its facts.”) (emphasis supplied). The Court is mindful, however, that the
sufficiency of this pro se pleading must be construed liberally in favor of the plaintiff, even
after Iqbal. See generally Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89 (2007).
5. 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
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).
6. To the extent that Plaintiff is attempting to raise claims to challenge his extradition on
September 6, 2011 and his bail hearing on September 8, 2011, those claims are time barred.
7. The statute of limitations is an affirmative defense that the defendants generally must plead
and prove. See Bethel v. Jendoco Const. Corp., 570 F.2d 1168, 1174 (3d Cir. 1978) (statute of
limitations on civil rights claim is an affirmative defense). While a plaintiff is not required to
plead that the claim has been brought within the statute of limitations, Ray v. Kertes, 285 F.3d
287, 297 (3d Cir. 2002), the United States Supreme Court observed in Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S.
199, 215 (2007), that if the allegations of a complaint, “show that relief is barred by the
applicable statute of limitations, the complaint is subject to dismissal for failure to state a
8. Federal courts look to state law to determine the limitations period for § 1983 actions. See
Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 387-88 (2007). Civil rights or constitutional tort claims are
best characterized as personal injury actions and are governed by the applicable state’s statute
of limitations for personal injury actions. See id.; Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 280 (1985).
The date when a § 1983 action accrues, however, is a matter of federal law. Wallace, 549 U.S.
at 388. A § 1983 claim accrues “when the plaintiff knew or should have known of the injury
upon which [his] action is based.” Sameric Corp. of Del., Inc. v. City of Phila., 142 F.3d 582,
599 (3d Cir. 1998); see also Sandutch v. Muroski, 684 F.2d 252, 254 (3d Cir. 1982) (per
curiam) (holding that a federal cause of action accrues when the plaintiff is aware, or should be
aware, of the existence of and source of the injury, not when the potential claimant knows or
should know that the injury constitutes a legal wrong).
9. In this case, Plaintiff alleges that he was extradited to New Jersey on September 6, 2011 and
bail hearing was held on September 8, 2011. Plaintiff signed his complaint for filing here on
September 23, 2014, just over three years after he was extradited to New Jersey. Under New
Jersey’s (two years) statute of limitations periods, Plaintiff’s claims are time barred. Hillcrest
Property, LLC v. Pasco County, No. 13-12383, 2014 WL 2748192, at *2 (11th Cir. June 18,
2014); McGill v. John Does A-Z, 541 F. App’x 225, 227 (3d Cir. 2013); Alexander v. Fletcher,
367 F. App’x 289, 290 (3d Cir. 2010).
10. It is apparent from the face of the Complaint that Plaintiff’s claims stemming from the
extradition and bail hearing are time barred and this Court will dismiss them as untimely. See
Paluch v. Sec’y Pa. Dep’t of Corr., 442 F. App’x 690, 694 n.2 (3d Cir. 2011) (“Although the
statute of limitations applicable to § 1983 actions is an affirmative defense, which may be
waived by the defendant, it is appropriate to dismiss sua sponte under § 1915(e)(2) a complaint
whose untimeliness is apparent from the face of the record”); McPherson v. United States, 392
F. App’x 938, 943 (3d Cir. 2010) (“[W]hen a statute-of-limitations defense is apparent from
the face of the complaint, a court may sua sponte dismiss the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915 or 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.”).
11. To the extent Plaintiff may be challenging his underlying conviction and seeking release, such a
claim is not cognizable in a civil rights case. In Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475 (1973), the
Supreme Court held that a person may not obtain equitable relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 releasing
him from confinement. See also Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 554 (1974). The Court ruled
that when a person in custody is “challenging the very fact or duration of his physical
imprisonment, and the relief he seeks is a determination that he is entitled to immediate release or a
speedier release from that imprisonment, his sole federal remedy is a writ of habeas corpus.”
Preiser, 411 U.S. at 500.
12. Furthermore, any § 1983 claim against any of the named defendants based on the contention
that Plaintiff’s conviction was invalid or erroneously obtained in violation of his constitutional
rights also is barred by Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 487 (1994) (holding that “the district
court must consider whether a judgment in favor of the plaintiff would necessarily imply the
invalidity of his conviction or sentence; if it would, the complaint must be dismissed unless the
plaintiff can demonstrate that the conviction or sentence has already been invalidated”).
13. In Heck, the Supreme Court addressed a corollary question to that presented in Preiser, i.e.,
whether a prisoner could challenge the constitutionality of his conviction in a suit for damages
only under § 1983 (a form of relief not available through a habeas corpus proceeding). The
Court rejected § 1983 as a vehicle to challenge the lawfulness of a criminal judgment. See
Heck, 512 U.S. at 486-87.
14. Since a habeas corpus petition would be the proper mechanism to raise a challenge related to
release from custody, and since the lawfulness of his criminal judgment may not be addressed here,
Plaintiff’s claims stemming from his conviction are not viable in this action.
15. Thus, for the reasons set forth above, Plaintiff’s complaint will be dismissed. An appropriate
s/ Faith S. Hochberg
FAITH S. HOCHBERG, U.S.D.J.
DATED: October 6, 2014
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