HARTY v. HARTY et al
OPINION. Signed by Chief Judge Jose L. Linares on 8/31/2017. (JB, )
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT Of NEW JERSEY
JEFFREY M. HARTY,
Civil Action No. 16-6779 (JLL)
STATE OF NEW JERSEY, et al.,
LINARES, Chief District Judge:
Currently before the Court is the proposed amended complaint of Plaintiff, Jeffrey M.
Harty. (ECF No. 24). As Plaintiff has previously been granted in forma pauperis status in this
matter, this Court is required to screen his complaint pursuant to 2$ U.S.C.
Pursuant to the statute, this Court must dismiss Plaintiffs claims if they are frivolous, are
malicious, fail to state a claim for relief, or seek damages from a defendant who is immune. For
the reasons set forth below, this Court will dismiss Plaintiffs malicious prosecution claims without
prejudice for failure to state a claim for which relief may be granted, and Plaintiffs remaining
claims shall be dismissed with prejudice as time barred.
Plaintiff filed his initial complaint in this matter in or about September 2016, attempting to
raise claims for violations of his constitutional rights by his former wife and various police officers
whom he contends conspired with his ex-wife. (ECF No. 1).
Following a grant of in orma
pauperis status, this Court screened Plaintiffs complaint and dismissed it in its entirety in
November 2016, as all of Plaintiffs claims were either time barred or failed to state a claim for
which relief could be granted.
(ECF Nos. 4-5).
Plaintiff thereafter filed a motion for
reconsideration of that screening (ECF No. 8), which this Court denied in february 2017. (ECF
No. 15). Following multiple letters from Plaintiff seeking to reopen his dismissed complaint, this
Court entered an order on June 26, 2017, denying his requests to reopen this matter, but the Court
also provided that Plaintiff could file an amended complaint within thirty days. (ECF No. 20).
This Court thereafter granted Plaintiff an extension of time within which to file an amended
complaint. (ECf No. 22). On August 9, 2017, Plaintiff filed with this Court a document which
this Court construes to be Plaintiffs proposed amended complaint. (ECF No. 24).
In his amended complaint, Plaintiff provides numerous excerpts from the United States
Constitution, statutes, cases, and secondary sources, but few factual allegations.
Plaintiff contends that his ex-wife committed some form of sexual and physical assault upon him
in December 2006, which he reported to Hanover Township Police Officer Ryan Williams. (ECF
No. 24 at 5). Six months later, in June 2007, Plaintiffs ex-wife “retaliate[d]” against him by
making an allegedly false report that Plaintiff had assaulted her. (Id.). Plaintiff further asserts
that, based on this report, “Judge Stuart Minkowitz violate[d]” Plaintiffs Due Process rights in
some unspecified fashion. (Id.).
Several years later, in June 2010, Plaintiff filed a lawsuit against parties unknown asserting
malicious prosecution, defamation, retaliation, and false imprisonment in state court.
According to the amended complaint, Plaintiff was thereafter “retaliated” against by a Sergeant
Vitanza of Hanover Township, who charged Plaintiff with assaulting an officer, which led to his
being incarcerated for sixteen months. (Id.). Plaintiff was thereafter charged with burglary for
his entering ajudge’s chambers without permission in November 2011, resulting in a further seven
months of incarceration.
After being released in June 2012, Plaintiff was charged by
Sergeant Vitanza with jaywalking and with assaulting an officer for causing redness to Vitanza’s
elbow while being arrested for jaywalking. (Id.). Petitioner thereafter spent another fourteen
months in jail, but was ultimately convicted of a downgraded offense of violating a local ordinance.
Plaintiff was thereafter released, but he was then arrested in October 2013 for obstruction
of justice and was once again incarcerated for eight months. Ud.). At some point during that
eight months, between October 2013 and June 2014, Plaintiff was allegedly assaulted by a Morris
County Correctional Facility officer named William Guida, who apparently kicked Plaintiff in the
Although Plaintiff contends that he suffered “4 more years” of malicious
prosecutions, retaliations, and vindictive behavior by his ex-wife and her police officer
accomplices, Plaintiff does not explain what else occurred. (Id.).
District courts must review complaints in those civil actions in which a prisoner is
proceeding in forma pattperis, see 28 U.S.C.
employee, see 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B), or seeks damages from a state
§ 1915A. District courts must
sua sponte dismiss any claim that is
On page five of the amended complaint, Plaintiff alleges this occurred in June 2012. On page
12, however, he states that this arrest and his fourteen month incarceration occurred in June 2013
and ran through August 2014. (ECF No. 24 at 5, 12). Although Plaintiff also asserts that one
of the charges, the assaulting an officer charge was “dismissed” he also clearly states in multiple
places that his charges in the June 2012 incident resulted in a downgraded ordinance charge of
which he was convicted. (Id. at 12-13). Because Plaintiff states that he was incarcerated
between October 2013 and June 2014 on a different charge, this Court assumes for the sake of
this opinion that the jaywalking/assault incident occun-ed in June 2012 rather than June 2013,
and that the fourteen month incarceration thus occurred between June 2012 and August 2013.
This Court’s decision would not change were the incarceration instead between June 2013 and
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
screening for dismissal under 2$ U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B) b’cause Plaintiff has been granted in
fornia pattperis status.
According to the Supreme Court’s decision in Ashcrofl v. Iqbal, “a pleading that offers
‘labels or conclusions’ or ‘a forrnulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.”
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).
To survive sita 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. UPMC Shadyside, 57$ f.3d
203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009) (citation omitted).2 “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 Sctiling, Inc. v. Dempster, 764 F.3d 303, 30$ n.3
(3d Cir. 2014) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 672). Moreover, while pro se pleadings are liberally
construed, “pro se litigants still must allege sufficient facts in their complaints to support a claim.”
Ma/a v. Crown Bay Marina, Inc., 704 F.3d 239, 245 (3d Cir. 2013) (citation omitted) (emphasis
In his complaint, Plaintiff attempts to raise several claims in which he asserts that his ex
wife, police officers, a state judge. and a corrections officer violated his rights pursuant to 42
“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 l2(b)(6).” Schreane V. Seana, 506 F. App’x 120, 122 (3d Cir. 2012)
(citing Allah v. Seiverting, 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)(l)); Courteait v. United States, 287 F.
App’x 159, 162 (3d Cir. 2008) (discussing 2$ U.S.C. § 1915A(b)).
§ 1983. “To establish a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must demonstrate a
violation of a right protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States that was committed
by a person acting under the color of state law.” Nicini v. Morra, 212 f.3d 798, 806 (3d
2000); see also Woodyard v. Cnty. ofEssex, 514 F. App’x 177, 180 (3d Cir. 2013) (section 1983
provides “private citizens with a means to redress violations of federal law committed by state
[actors]”). “The first step in evaluating a section 1983 claim is to ‘identify the exact contours of
the underlying right said to have been violated’ and to determine ‘whether the plaintiff has alleged
a deprivation of a constitutional right at all.”
Nicini, 212 f.3d at 806 (quoting County of
Sacramento v. Lewis, 523 U.S. $33, 841 n.5 (199$)).
In his amended complaint, Plaintiff
specifically appears to be raising false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, retaliation, excessive
force, and Due Process claims. All of the claims that have been presented by Plaintiff in his
amended complaint, however, address events which occurred in or before June 2014.
Plaintiff’s non-malicious prosecution claims are time barred3
All of Plaintiffs non-malicious prosecution claims, including his retaliation, excessive
force, false imprisonment, and Due Process claims, concern events which occurred in or before
June 2014, more than two years before Plaintiff filed his initial complaint in September 2016. As
this Court previously explained to Plaintiff,
In New Jersey, actions brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 are
subject to a two year statute of limitations. See, e.g., Patyrak v.
Apgar, 511 F. App’x 193, 195 (3d Cir. 2013). “Under federal law,
Because malicious prosecution claims do not accrue until such time as the underlying conviction,
if any, resulting fiom the prosecution is invalidated, see, e.g., Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 39294, 397 (2007), and Plaintiff has not pled that such an invalidation has yet occurred, it does not
appear that any of Plaintiffs malicious prosecution claims have accrued at this time, and those
claims are not yet subject to a time bar dismissal.
a cause of action accrues, and the statute of limitations begins to run,
when the plaintiff knew or should have known of the injury upon
which its action is based.” Kach v. Hose, 589 f.3d 626, 634 (3d
Cir. 2009). for false arrest and false imprisonment claims, the
statute of limitations runs from the date on which the plaintiff
becomes detained pursuant to legal process, such as via a bail
hearing, arraignment, or the like. Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384,
claims other than the malicious
All of Plaintiffs
prosecution claims [discussed below accrued], at the latest, by.
June 2014[.] As all of these claims therefore had accrued more than
two years before Plaintiff filed his [initial] complaint, those claims
would be time barred absent some basis for the equitable tolling of
the statute of limitations. Kach, 589 F.3d at 634; Patyrak, 511 f.
App’x at 195.
(ECF No. 4 at 9).
Despite Plaintiffs filing of numerous letters, motions, and his amended complaint, Plaintiff
has provided this Court with no basis for the equitable tolling of the the statute of limitations for
his non-malicious prosecution claims contained in his amended complaint. As Plaintiff has failed
to provide any basis for equitable tolling, as this Court perceives no basis for the equitable tolling
of the limitations period based on the record before the court, and as all of Plaintiffs non-malicious
prosecution claims accrued more than two years before Plaintiff filed his initial complaint in this
matter, Plaintiffs non-malicious prosecution claims are well and truly time baiied. This Court
will therefore dismiss all of the non-malicious prosecution claims contained in Plaintiffs amended
complaint with prejudice as time barred. Kach, 589 F.3d at 634; Patvrak, 511 f. App’x at 195.
Plaintiff fails to state a claim for relief as to his malicious prosecution claims
All of Plaintiffs remaining claims assert that he was maliciously prosecuted for various
charges. As this Court has explained to Plaintiff, a claim for malicious prosecution requires a
Plaintiff plead the following elements:
(1) the defendant initiated a criminal proceeding; (2) the criminal
• proceeding ended in [the plaintiffs] favor; (3) the defendant
initiated the proceeding without probable cause; (4) the defendant
acted maliciously or for a purpose other than bringing the plaintiff
to justice; and (5) the plaintiff suffered [a] deprivation of liberty
consistent with the concept of seizure as a consequence of a legal
Ffetffer. 750 F.3d 273, 296-97 (3d Cir. 2014). That a plaintiffs criminal proceedings
terminated in his favor is thus a requirement for bringing a malicious prosecution claim. Id.
Although Plaintiffs amended complaint is rife with conclusory allegations of malicious
prosecution, Plaintiff does not make any allegations as to favorable termination as to any of his
malicious prosecution claims, save for the jaywalking incident in June 2012.
asserts that some charges were dismissed in relation to that incident (ECF No. 24 at 12), Plaintiff
clearly states that at least one of the charges survived as a downgraded charge of violating a local
ordinance. (Id. at 5, 12-13). Thus, even as to that incident, Plaintiff has failed to plead favorable
termination as Plaintiff has specifically admitted that at least one of the charges he received from
that incident survived in the form of the downgraded offense. See, e.g., Kossler
f.3d 181, 187-89 (3d Cir. 2009) (dismissal of one charge is not a favorable termination where
Plaintiff was convicted of another charge that arose out of the same facts); Malcomb v. McKean,
535 F. App’x 184, 186 (3d Cir. 2013) (even a dismissal is not a favorable tennination where the
accused entered into a compromise with prosecutors or surrendered something of value to obtain
that outcome). Plaintiff has thus failed to plead facts establishing favorable termination as to any
of his malicious prosecution claims, and those claims must once again be dismissed without
prejudice for failure to state a claim for relief
For the reasons stated above, Plaintiffs malicious prosecution claims shall be DISMISSED
WITHOUT PREJUDICE for failure to state a claim for relief, and Plaintiffs remaining claims are
DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE as time barred. An appropriate Order follows.
JE L. LINARE
/hief Judge, United States District Court
Dated: August 31, 2017
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