BROWN v. ELIZABETH CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Jose L. Linares on 7/28/2016. (nr, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
ALPHONSO B. BROWN, JR.,
Civil Action No. 16-2119 (JLL)
ELIZABETH CITY POLICE
DEPARTMENT, et al.,
LINARES, District Judge:
1. On or about April 13, 2016, Plaintiff, Alphonso Brown, Jr., who is also known as
Tyrone Fitzgerald, filed in this Court a complaint in which he sought to bring various civil rights
claims against members of the Elizabeth Police Department based on his numerous run-ins with
the police over the last thirty years. (ECF No. 1). Essentially, Plaintiff sought to bring claims
for false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, and selective enforcement against the
2. On April 21, 2016, this Court entered an order and opinion screening Plaintiffs
complaint and dismissing his various claims as either time barred or barred by the Heck doctrine,
see Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U. S. 477, 489-90 (1994) (holding that where success on a
claim would necessarily imply the invalidity of one’s conviction, such as in a malicious
prosecution claim, that claim is barred and does not accrue until such time as the underlying
conviction has been overturned). (ECF Nos. 2-3). Because Plaintiff is acting pro se, this Court
gave him thirty days within which to file an amended complaint in which he addressed the
deficiencies raised in this Court’s prior opinion. (ECF No. 3).
3. On or about May 16, 2016, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint. (ECF No. 4). In his
amended complaint, Petitioner attempts to state claims under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 against James
Malone, a police officer employed by the Elizabeth Police Department. (Id. at 2). In his
amended complaint, Plaintiff states only that Malone has subjected him to “Harrasment, Planting
Evidence and Racial Profiling” with the help of an Officer Pinho, and that Malone violated
Plaintiffs Fourteenth Amendment rights by “falsifying Reports and Cha[r]ges, Harassment,
Planting Evidence and Racial Profiling.” (Id.). Plaintiff further states that Malone “initiated a
criminal proceeding[J against [Plaintiff], which resulted in.. Plaintiff being convicted and
incarcerated, the defendant(s) actions were malicious and without probable cause.” (Id. at 3).
Petitioner therefore requests money damages, the expunging of his criminal record, and his
“immediate release from prison.” (Id.). In addition to these allegations, Plaintiff attaches to his
amended complaint a photocopy of his original complaint. (Id. at 5-11).
4. Because Plaintiff has previously been granted informapauperis status, because
Plaintiff is a state prisoner, and because Plaintiff has filed an amended complaint, this Court is
required to screen Plaintiffs amended complaint pursuant to 2$ U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and
191 5A. Pursuant to the statutes, this Court must 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. kL “The legal standard for dismissing a complaint
for failure to state a claim pursuant to 2$ U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is the same as that for
dismissing a complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 1 2(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 28 U.S.C.
1997e(c)(1)); Courteau v. United States, 287 F. App’x 159, 162 (3d Cir. 200$) (discussing 2$
5. 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, the complaint must allege
“sufficient factual matter” to show that the claim is facially plausible. Fowler v. UPMS
Shadyside, 57$ 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 67$). Moreover, whilepro se
pleadings are liberally construed, ‘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) (emphasis added).
6. To the extent that Plaintiffs attachment of his prior complaint to the amended
complaint was intended to re-raise all of the claims this Court dismissed in its previous order,
Plaintiff has failed in any way to address the deficiencies that required the dismissal of those
claims in the first place. As such, those claims are again dismissed for the reasons expressed in
this Court’s original screening opinion. (ECF No. 2).
7. As for his “new” allegations, Plaintiff provides no more than conclusory allegations
that Officers Malone and Pinho falsely arrested him and racially profiled him. These conclusory
allegations are insufficient to plead a claim for false arrest or for selective enforcement. See Hill
v. City oJScranton, 411 F.3d 118, 125 (3d Cir. 2005) (selective enforcement requires that a
Plaintiff plead facts which would establish that he was subject to enforcement where other
similarly situated individuals were not was based on impermissible standard “such as race, or
religion, or some other arbitrary factor,.
or to prevent the exercise of a fundamental right”);
Grornan v. Twp. ofManalapan, 47 F.3d 628, 636 (3d Cir. 1995) (false arrest/imprisonment
requires a plaintiff to plead facts showing that he was arrested and incarcerated without probable
cause). While that alone would be sufficient to require the dismissal of these claims, the Court
notes that these conclusory allegations in no way address the two issues this Court raised
regarding Plaintiffs false arrest and selective enforcement claims in its prior opinion
claims are either time barred as the most recent interaction with the officers occurred in July
2012, some four years ago, or are barred by the Heck doctrine as Plaintiff admits he was
convicted of a crime stemming from that event and has not had his conviction overturned. See
Patyrakv. Apgar, 511 F. App’x 193, 195 (3d Cir. 2013)
two year statute of limitations); Wallace
( 1983 claims in New Jersey subject to
Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 389-90, 397 (2007) (claims for
false arrest accrue when the Plaintiff is held over pursuant to legal process); Dique v. New Jersey
State Police, 603 F.3d 181, 185-88 (3d Cir. 2010) (selective enforcement claims are subject to
the Heck bar as success on a selective enforcement claim implies the invalidity of a plaintiffs
conviction); Gibson v. Superintendent ofNi Dep ‘t ofLaw and Pub. Safety, 411 F.3d 427, 440-
41 (3d Cir. 2005) (citing United States v. Berrigan, 422 F.2d 171, 174 (3d Cir. 1973)),
overruling on other grounds recognized, Diqtte, 603 F.3d at 185-88. Thus, as explained to
Plaintiff in this Court’s prior opinion, Plaintiffs false arrest/imprisonment claims are clearly
time barred, and his selective enforcement claims are either time barred or are Heck barred and
have not yet accrued as Plaintiff has not overturned his underlying conviction. (See ECF No. 2
8. To the extent that Plaintiff wished to re-raise his malicious prosecution claims against
Malone and Pinho in his amended complaint, Plaintiff has pled no more than conclusory
allegations as to the elements of a malicious prosecution claim. See Halsey v. Ffeffer, 750 F.3d
273, 296-97 (3d Cir. 2014) (malicious prosecution requires that a plaintiff plead facts showing
that the defendant initiated a criminal proceeding, which terminated in the plaintiffs favor, that
the proceeding was initiated without probable cause, that defendant acted maliciously or for a
purpose other than bringing the plaintiff to justice, and that the plaintiff suffered a deprivation of
liberty as a result). Indeed, as to one element, favorable termination, Plaintiff has directly pled
that he does not meet the requirements of a malicious prosecution claim in so much as he was
convicted and has not had that conviction overturned. (ECF No. 4 at 3). Thus, Plaintiff has
failed to plead a claim for malicious prosecution even were his allegations not simply
conclusory, and in any event is barred from bringing his malicious prosecution claim until such
time as he has had his conviction overturned. Halsey, 750 F.3d t 296-97; Heck, 512 U.S. at 48990. Thus, Plaintiffs malicious prosecution claim must again be dismissed without prejudice.
9. Finally, the Court notes that Plaintiff seeks an immediate release from prison and to
have his prior convictions overturned and his record expunged. Plaintiff cannot seek such relief
by way of a
§ 1983 complaint, and could only receive such relief through a petition for a writ of
habeas corpus. See Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74, 78-82 (2005). Thus, Plaintiffs non-false
arrest/imprisonment claims would need to be dismissed for that reason as well.
10. Thus, for the reasons previously explained in this Court’s prior opinion, and for the
reasons expressed herein, Plaintiffs claims are either time barred or Heck barred, and Plaintiffs
amended complaint otherwise fails to state a claim for relief, and this Court will therefore
dismiss Plaintiffs amended complaint without prejudice in its entirety. An appropriate order
Dated: Julyg, 2016
3Jhited States District Judge
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