United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
MARTIN W. JONES, Plaintiff,
WILLIE SHELLY, Defendant.
W. Jones, a prisoner incarcerated at SCI Rockview brings this
civil action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against
Willie Shelly. Jones seeks leave to proceed in forma
pauperis. For the following reasons, the Court will
grant Jones leave to proceed in forma pauperis and
dismiss his Complaint with leave to amend.
Complaint raises constitutional claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 against Defendant Willie Shelly in his official
and individual capacities. Jones alleges that at the time of
the incident giving rise to his Complaint, Shelly was a
police officer with Lower Saucon Police Department. (ECF No.
2 at 2, 12.)
allegations in Jones's Complaint are brief. Jones avers
that on April 12, 2018, Shelly was dispatched to
Transformation Autobody located at 2162 Riverside Drive in
Lower Saucon, Pennsylvania about an “AR15 placed under
Plaintiff Jones'[s] toolbox.” (Id. at 12.)
Jones further alleges that he had a video hearing on June 7,
2018 with Northampton County Magisterial District 03-2-06
while he was in Bucks County Prison on unrelated charges.
(Id.) Jones contends in his Complaint that he
“was never finger printed, or placed under arrest, for
the AR15.” (Id.) Jones avers that Shelly acted
with deliberate indifference to his needs and violated his
due process rights because Miranda
rights were not read, he was never finger
printed, and he was never placed under arrest. (Id.
seeks, inter alia, punitive and compensatory damages
in an “amount of whatever the Court deems just”
against Shelly. (Id. at 13.)
Court will grant Jones leave to proceed in forma
pauperis because it appears that he is incapable of
paying the fees to commence this civil action. Accordingly, 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) applies, which requires the
Court to dismiss the Complaint if it fails to state a claim.
Whether a complaint fails to state a claim under §
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is governed by the same standard applicable
to motions to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6), see Tourscher v. McCullough, 184 F.3d 236,
240 (3d Cir. 1999), which requires the Court to determine
whether the complaint contains “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). Conclusory
allegations do not suffice. Id. As Jones is
proceeding pro se, the Court construes his
allegations liberally. Higgs v. Att'y Gen., 655
F.3d 333, 339 (3d Cir. 2011).
state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the
violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of
the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation
was committed by a person acting under color of state
law.” West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).
claims against Shelly in his official capacity fail. Claims
against officers named in their official capacities are
indistinguishable from claims against the township. See
Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 165-66 (1985)
(“Official-capacity suits . . . ‘generally
represent only another way of pleading an action against an
entity of which an officer is an agent.'”) (quoting
Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of N.Y., 436 U.S.
658, 690, n. 55 (1978)). “[A]n official-capacity suit
is, in all respects other than name, to be treated as a suit
against the entity.” Id.
has not pled a basis for municipal liability and his official
capacity claim most be dismissed. To plead a basis for
municipal liability under § 1983, a plaintiff must
allege that the municipality's policy or custom caused
the violation of his constitutional rights. See
Monell, 436 U.S. at 694. “To satisfy the pleading
standard, [the plaintiff] must . . . specify what exactly
that custom or policy was.” McTernan v. City of
York, PA, 564 F.3d 636, 658 (3d Cir. 2009).
“‘Policy is made when a decisionmaker
possess[ing] final authority to establish municipal policy
with respect to the action issues an official proclamation,
policy, or edict.'” Estate of Roman v. City of
Newark, 914 F.3d 789, 798 (3d Cir. 2019) (quoting
Andrews v. City of Philadelphia, 895 F.2d 1469, 1480
(3d Cir. 1990)). “‘Custom, on the other hand, can
be proven by showing that a given course of conduct, although
not specifically endorsed or authorized by law, is so
well-settled and permanent as virtually to constitute
law.'” Id. (quoting Bielevicz v.
Dubinon, 915 F.2d 845, 850 (3d Cir. 1990)). A plaintiff
illustrates that a custom was the proximate cause of his
injuries by demonstrating that the defendant “had
knowledge of similar unlawful conduct in the past, failed to
take precautions against future violations, and that its
failure, at least in part, led to his injury.”
Id. (internal quotations and alterations omitted).
plaintiff may also state a basis for municipal liability by
“alleging failure-to-supervise, train, or discipline .
. . [and alleging facts showing] that said failure amounts to
deliberate indifference to the constitutional rights of those
affected.” Forrest v. Parry, 930 F.3d 93, 106
(3d Cir. 2019). “This consists of a showing as to
whether (1) municipal policymakers know that employees will
confront a particular situation, (2) the situation involves a
difficult choice or a ...