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Allen v. Oneil

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Southern Division

April 9, 2018

Jeffrey Allen, a/k/a Jeffrey Adams, Plaintiff,
James Oneil, Joseph Reiznick, Jonathan Darche, Defendants.


          Robert T. Numbers, II United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff Jeffrey Allen has sued various members of the New York City Police Department alleging that they violated his rights in connection with his arrest and conviction on criminal charges in 2003. Allen's Complaint suffers from several deficiencies, including the fact that his claims were filed after the statute of limitations expired and that he fails to allege that his conviction was reversed or vacated as required by Heck v. Humphrey. Thus, the district court should dismiss his Complaint for failing to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

         I. Background

         On May 24, 2017, Plaintiff Jeffrey Allen, proceeding pro se, filed this action against Defendants James Oneil, Joseph Reiznick, and Jonathan Darche. D.E. 1. Allen claims Oneil is the chief of the New York City Police Department; Reiznick, the director in charge of New York City Internal Affairs; and Darche, the director of the New York City Civilian Complaint Board. Id. The Complaint, brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 as well as the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, alleges that the Defendants violated Allen's civil rights. Id. Specifically, Allen asserts claims for conspiracy, deceiving the court, unlawful imprisonment, illegal search and seizure, robbery, depriving his right to bear arms, defamation of character, and mental and emotional anguish as a result of his arrest sometime around February 2003. Id. It seems from Allen's Complaint that this 2003 arrest led to a felony conviction. Id. He asks the court to clear his record, restore his right to bear arms, and receive $8, 000, 000 in damages. Id.

         II. Analysis

         A. Application to Proceed in District Court without Prepaying Fees or Costs

         In order to avoid paying a filing fee in connection with filing a civil complaint, a plaintiff must submit an affidavit about their monthly income and expenses. A review of the Allen's IFP application (D.E. 7) reveals that he has no income, no cash and no bank account, two cars more than 20 years old, and $700 in monthly, fixed expenses. The court finds that he lacks sufficient resources to pay the required filing fee and other costs associated with litigation. Thus, his application is granted and he may proceed without full prepayment of costs.

         B. Screening under 28 U.S.C. § 1915

         In addition to determining whether Allen is entitled to IFP status, the court must also analyze the viability of the claims in the Complaint. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). The court reviews a complaint to eliminate those claims that unnecessarily impede judicial efficiency and the administration of justice. The court must dismiss any portion of the complaint it determines is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune to such relief. Id. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         Allen alleges two classes of injuries: first, for the events in 2003 that led to and surrounded his felony conviction; second, that the resulting deprivation of his right to bear arms resulting from his felony conviction. D.E. 1. Although Allen's Complaint is unclear, it seems that he is challenging the circumstances that led to his conviction and the consequences attendant to a felony conviction. D.E. 1. To succeed on his § 1983 claim, Allen must first challenge his felony directly and have it overturned. Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994) (explaining that to have a cognizable claim related to a criminal conviction the plaintiff must show that the conviction has been reversed, expunged, declared invalid by a state authority, or questioned by a federal court issuing a writ of habeas corpus); Harvey v. Horan, 278 F.3d 370, 375 (4th Cir. 2002) (explaining that Heck applies to claims for injunctive relief as well). The Complaint does not establish that Allen's a court has overturned or otherwise invalidated his conviction. Thus, this claim should be dismissed.

         And if the Heck Doctrine did not apply here, Allen's claims would be barred by the statute of limitations. See Eriline Co. S.A. v. Johnson, 440 F.3d 648, 655-56 (4th Cir. 2006) (noting that courts may properly raise a statute of limitations defense sua sponte in a complaint filed in forma pauperis). The statute of limitations for § 1983 cases comes from the statute of limitations for general personal injury actions in the forum state. Owens v. Okure, 488 U.S. 235, 249-50 (1989). In North Carolina, that limit is three years. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1-52(5) (2017); Nat'l Advert. Co. v. City of Raleigh, 947 F.2d 1158, 1161-62 (4th Cir. 1991). The statute of limitations for § 1983 claim in New York, the state where the alleged tortious acts occurred, is also three years. Milan v. Wertheimer, 808 F.3d 961, 963 (2d Cir. 2015)

         Allen's Complaint alleges that the events giving rise to his claims occurred in 2003. D.E. 1. As the Complaint was not filed until 2017, well beyond the three-year limitations period, it is untimely and should be dismissed.

         Finally, if Allen is challenging the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office's decision to deny his pistol permit application, that entity is not a party to this action. There is no indication that any of the named defendants or the entity they represent had any involvement in the decision to deny his pistol permit application. See Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of City of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978) (requiring official capacity claims to be based upon the official policy or custom of a defendant); Vinnedge v. Gibbs, 550 F.2d 926, 928 (4th Cir. 1977) (requiring an allegation of personal involvement by a defendant to support an individual capacity claim). Thus, any claims related to the pistol permit application should be dismissed.

         III. ...

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