BENCKINI v. COOPERSBURG BOROUGH POLICE DEPARTMENT et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER THAT PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS IS GRANTED. THE COMPLAINT IS DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE; ETC.. SIGNED BY HONORABLE JUAN R. SANCHEZ ON 11/17/15. 11/17/15 ENTERED AND COPIES MAILED TO PRO SE.(jl, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
GENE C. BENCKINI
COOPERSBURG BOROUGH POLICE
DEPARTMENT, et al.
Gene C. Benckini brings this action against the Coopersburg Borough Police Department,
Police Chief Daniel C. Trexler, Officer William Nahrgang, Officer Brian McLaughlin, Heather
Lloyd, Kevin Famish, and Stephen J. Hujsa Jr. The complaint is essentially based on Benckini's
allegations that the defendants conspired against him because he witnessed a murder in 1999,
and because he spoke out about environmental abuses at a sewage treatment plant. 1 He seeks
leave to proceed informa pauperis. For the following reasons, the Court will grant Benckini
leave to proceed in forma pauperis and dismiss his complaint.
Benckini alleges that he witnessed a hit and run homicide in 1999. He believes that
Lloyd was the perpetrator. Benckini alleges that Officer Trexler, a close friend of Lloyd's,
conspired with her and the other defendants to cover up the offense, discredit Benckini, and
falsely charge Benckini with various crimes. In that regard, he alleges that in 1999, 2000, and
2001, the defendants falsely charged him with stalking Lloyd. Benckini alleges that he was
Benckini recently initiated a lawsuit against other defendants based on his allegations that
contamination from the sewage plant caused his leukemia and other illnesses. See Benckini v.
Upper Saucon Twp. Municipal Auth. Sewage Treatment Plant, E.D. Pa. 15-5526.
convicted based on certain defendants' false testimony and that, in fact, it was Lloyd who stalked
him in 1999 and 2001.
Benckini further alleges that defendant Hujsa attempted to murder him on January 29,
2001, in connection with the conspiracy. Benckini obtained statements from eyewitnesses
implicating Hujsa, and turned those statements over to the police. Certain defendants allegedly
pressured those witnesses to implicate Benckini in having forged their statements. The
complaint suggests that Benckini was charged with forging the witness statements, and acquitted
of some of those charges.
Benckini also believes that the defendants sabotaged the investigation of the 1999
homicide. In March of 2006, Benckini called 911 "to report the 'unsolved cold case' of the Sept,
3, 1999 homicide hit and run" to "force the hand of Chief Trexler." In May of2006, he was
arrested for filing a false police report. Benckini alleges that the charges against him were false
and part of the police cover-up. He also appears to be alleging that he was convicted of those
charges based on perjured testimony.
Benckini alleges that he is "totally innocent" of the crimes with he was charged and notes
that his mother passed away while he was incarcerated. He seeks a new trial in his criminal
cases, $5 million in damages "for [his] mothers death and false [imprisonment]," and the
removal of Office Trexler from his job. The Court understands Benckini to be asserting
constitutional claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and related state law claims based on his
alleged false arrests, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, and the torts allegedly
committed against him.
This is not the first lawsuit that Benckini has filed based on the events at issue in this
complaint. In 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, and 2011, he filed lawsuits pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against many of the same defendants based on the same events underlying this lawsuit. See
Benckini v. Pa. State Police Bureau ofForensic Servs., E.D. Pa. Civ. A. No. 11-1856; Benckini
v. Pa. State Police Bureau of Forensic Servs., E.D. Pa. Civ. A. No. 08-5797; Benckini v.
UpperSaucon Twp., E.D. Pa. Civ. A. No. 07-3580; Benckini v. Borough of Coopersburg, E.D.
Pa. Civ. A. No. 05-5122; Benckini v. Ford, E.D. Pa. Civ. A. No. 05-1417; Benckini v.
Coopersburg Police Dep 't, E.D. Pa. Civ. A. No. 03-3671. The complaint he filed in 2007, for
example, is in part based on his theory that Trexler, Lloyd, and others conspired to file false
charges against him-including the stalking charges and the charge that he filed a false police
report-to cover up Lloyd's role in the hit and run. See, e.g., Benckini v. UpperSaucon Twp.,
E.D. Pa. Civ. A. No. 07-3580 (Document No. 1 at 5-8). Benckini did not prevail in his prior
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Benckini's motion to proceed informa pauperis is granted because it appears that he is
incapable of paying the fees to commence this civil action. As Benckini is proceeding in forma
pauperis, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) and (ii) require the Court to screen the complaint and
dismiss it if it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim. A complaint is frivolous if it
"lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact," Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989),
and is legally baseless if it is "based on an indisputably meritless legal theory." Deutsch v.
United States, 67 F.3d 1080, 1085 (3d Cir. 1995). "A court that considers whether an action is
malicious must, in accordance with the definition of the term 'malicious,' engage in a subjective
inquiry into the litigant's motivations at the time of the filing of the lawsuit to determine whether
the action is an attempt to vex, injure or harass the defendant." Id. at 1086. "Repetitive litigation
undoubtedly is some evidence of a litigant's motivation to vex or harass a defendant where it
serves no legitimate purpose." Fiorani v. Hewlett Packard Corp., 547 F. App'x 103, 105 (3d
Cir. 2013) (per curiam).
To survive dismissal for failure to state a claim, the 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) (quotations omitted). The Court may also consider matters of
public record. Buck v. Hampton Twp. Sch. Dist., 452 F.3d 256, 260 (3d Cir. 2006).
Additionally, the Court may dismiss claims based on an affirmative defense ifthe affirmative
defense is obvious from the face of the complaint. See Ball v. Famiglio, 726 F.3d 448, 459 (3d
Cir. 2013). As Benckini is proceeding prose, the Court construes his allegations liberally.
Higgs v. Att'y Gen., 655 F.3d 333, 339 (3d Cir. 2011).
The Court will dismiss this lawsuit as malicious. Benckini is raising claims against
individuals whom he has already sued repeatedly for the same alleged violations of his rights.
Benckini' s repeated pursuit of the same claims is indicative of an abuse of process and justifies
the dismissal of the complaint as malicious. See Brodzki v. CBS Sports, Civ. A. No. 11-841,
2012 WL 125281, at *1 (D. Del. Jan. 13, 2012) ("[A] district court may dismiss a complaint as
malicious if it is plainly abusive of the judicial process or merely repeats pending or previously
The complaint is also subject to dismissal because it is frivolous and fails to state a claim.
To the extent Benckini seeks a new trial on criminal charges, he is essentially seeking relief that
is only available in a habeas action. See Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 500 (1973).
Furthermore, "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[.]"
Heckv. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994) (footnote and citation omitted). As Benckini is
seeking damages for many convictions and related imprisonment that apparently have not been
invalidated, many of his claims are not cognizable in a civil rights action. To the extent Benckini
asserts cognizable claims and claims under state tort law, those claims are barred by
Pennsylvania's two-year statute of limitations, as it is apparent from the complaint and
Benckini's other filings in this Court that he was aware of the events and injuries giving rise to
his claims more than two years prior to his filing of this action on November 5, 2015. See 42 Pa.
Cons. Stat. § 5524; Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 387 (2007).
For the foregoing reasons, the Court will dismiss Benckini's complaint. Benckini will
not be given leave to amend because amendment would be futile. An appropriate order follows,
which shall be docketed separately.
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