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Troy Lamont Rogers v. Detective Mills

August 28, 2012

TROY LAMONT ROGERS,
PLAINTIFF
v.
DETECTIVE MILLS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Stengel, J.

MEMORANDUM

Following a federal jury trial in 1996, Troy Lamont Rogers was convicted of distribution of cocaine base and distribution of cocaine base within 1000 feet of a playground. After the court found him to be a career offender within the meaning of Section 4B1.1 of the United States Sentencing Guidelines, Mr. Rogers was sentenced to 276 months' incarceration. See N.T. 8/15/96 at 12, 37. Currently a federal inmate housed at the Bennettsville South Carolina Prison Camp, Mr. Rogers brought this action pro se against Detective Mills, the Bristol Township Police Department, and "unknown officers and DEA Agents" pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.*fn1 The defendants have filed two separate motions to dismiss the complaint to which the plaintiff has responded. For the following reasons, I will grant the motions to dismiss in their entirety.

I. BACKGROUND

In its decision affirming Mr. Rogers' conviction and sentence, the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit provided the following procedural and factual background:

On September 16, 1994, Ed Jones, a paid confidential informant working with the Drug Enforcement Agency ("DEA"), began negotiating with Rogers, a.k.a. "Smoke," for the purchase of crack cocaine. A meeting time and place were set, but Rogers failed to keep the appointment; instead, Jones encountered Carnell McCleve, believed to be an associate of Rogers in the local drug business. When Jones asked, "Where's your boss at?" McCleve replied that Rogers had left, but that he, McCleve, would sell Jones the bargained-for crack cocaine.

Later that day, Jones complained to McCleve that he had been shorted on the purchase and asked if it was the same crack that Rogers had discussed earlier with Jones. McCleve confirmed that it was and agreed to compensate Jones for the shortage. Rogers then appeared and made arrangements to redress the deficiency later that evening. Twice that night, Rogers failed to rendezvous with Jones. Eventually, though, the parties met and decided that Rogers would sell Jones two more ounces of cocaine the next day and also make up for the previous deficit. Again, Jones arrived at the agreed place and time and, again, Rogers did not appear. After two additional chance meetings, Jones and Rogers finally completed the deal for the sale of crack at Roger's house, a location measured to be within 1,000 feet of a playground.

On August 24, 1995, a federal grand jury returned a five count indictment charging Troy Lamont Rogers with offenses arising from distribution of crack cocaine. A jury found Rogers guilty of Count 4, distribution of 17.92 grams of crack cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), and Count 5 distributing the same 17.92 grams within 1,000 feet of a playground in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 860. Rogers was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 276 months. A $1,000 fine, eight years' supervised release and a $100 assessment were also imposed. Rogers filed a timely appeal challenging the admission of evidence of his alleged commission of other drug offenses and the district court's application of the Sentencing Guidelines.

United States v. Rogers, No. 96-1756, slip op. at 1-3 (3d Cir. March 21, 1997).

In his complaint, Mr. Rogers claims that Bristol Township Police Officer Mills acted improperly during the 1994 investigation which led to his conviction and imprisonment. Specifically, he alleges that Detective Mills induced Ed Jones, a confidential informant, to add a half ounce of cocaine base to the "quarter to a half ounce of cocaine base" that the informant bought from Mr. Rogers. As proof, Mr. Rogers attaches to the complaint a notarized affidavit dated June 8, 2010 in which Mr. Jones exposed the alleged plan. See Jones' Affidavit (Document #3 at 8).

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Following the Supreme Court decisions in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009), pleadings standards in federal civil rights actions have shifted from simple notice pleading to a more heightened form of pleading, requiring a plaintiff to plead more than the possibility of relief to survive a motion to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P.12(b)(6). Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-211 (3d Cir. 2009); see also Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F. 3d 224, 230 (3d Cir. 2008).

Therefore, following Twombly and Iqbal, when presented with a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, district courts should conduct a two-part analysis. First, the factual and legal elements of a claim should be separated. The court must accept all of the complaint's well-pleaded facts as true but may disregard legal conclusions. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Second, a district court must determine whether the facts alleged in the complaint are sufficient to show that the plaintiff has a "plausible claim for relief." Id. In other words, a complaint must do more than allege the plaintiff's entitlement to relief. A complaint has to "show" such an entitlement with its facts. Id. see also Phillips, 515 F.3d at 234-235. As the Supreme Court instructed in Iqbal, "[w]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged -- but it has not 'show[n]' -- 'that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.

III. DISCUSSION

Under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983, a private party may recover in an action against any person acting under the color of state law who deprives the party of his or her constitutional ...


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