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MILLER v. RUTGERS

October 16, 1985

TWYMAN MILLER, Plaintiff,
v.
RUTGERS, THE STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW JERSEY, PATROLMAN MARIA SANTANA and PATROLMAN STANLEY KOSINSKI, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: DEBEVOISE

 Introduction

 This action is brought by plaintiff Twyman Miller against Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey and two Rutgers police officers, Maria Santana and Stanley Kosinski. Plaintiff asserts claims against defendants under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985(2) and (3) and 1988, and pursuant to the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. This action arises out of an encounter between plaintiff and the defendant police officers on the Rutgers campus in which plaintiff alleges that the officers used excessive force in effecting his arrest. Defendants have now moved for summary judgment dismissing the complaint on the ground that the suit is barred by the Eleventh Amendment. Alternatively, defendants move for summary judgment dismissing plaintiff's complaint on the ground that it lacks specificity, or for partial summary judgment dismissing plaintiff's claims under the First, Fifth and Sixth Amendments, and under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985(2) and (3). Defendants have also moved for leave to amend their answer to assert an additional affirmative defense. Plaintiff has cross-moved to amend his complaint to assert equal protection claims against the University.

 Statement of Facts

 This is a motion for summary judgment brought by defendants, and the facts will therefore be presented in a light most favorable to plaintiff, the nonmoving party. However, since the facts out of which this action arises are not critical to the instant motion, it is not necessary to give a detailed rendering of the event precipitating the lawsuit.

 On November 5, 1983 the Rutgers police were called by a student in a University dormitory at Livingston College in Piscataway and informed that an unidentified person was unconscious or asleep in the hallway. The two defendant police officers responded to the call. They found plaintiff unconscious in the hall and, according to plaintiff, began to kick him to awaken him. When he regained consciousness, plaintiff was in a groggy and incoherent state due to his prior ingestion of a large quantity of alcohol. He attempted to leave the presence of the police officers, who stopped and questioned him. The officers maintain that they tried to escort plaintiff from the building, and that plaintiff refused to go and instead began to struggle with, and to assault the officers. According to the officers, they were required to defend themselves and to subdue plaintiff. Plaintiff, however, appears to contend that the police beat him for no apparent reason, causing him to sustain personal and permanent injuries.

 Plaintiff was, at some point, placed under arrest for assault and resisting arrest. He was apparently taken to two different police departments and eventually to the county jail. He alleges that he was not offered medical attention, and that his bail was so excessive that he had to remain in jail for two weeks.

 Plaintiff filed criminal charges of aggravated assault against the two police officers. These charges were no-billed by the Middlesex County Grand Jury. The same Grand Jury indicted plaintiff on charges of assaulting the police officers, resisting arrest, being a disorderly person and obstructing the police. Plaintiff was acquitted of all charges by a jury after a trial in the Superior Court of New Jersey on June 26, 27 and 28, 1984.

 In January 1984 plaintiff served a notice of claim on Rutgers and the defendant officers in accordance with the New Jersey Torts Claims Act. The defendants' response to these notices is not clear from the record. On November 7, 1984 plaintiff commenced this action. Plaintiff alleges that the police officers used excessive, illegal and unjustified force causing him to sustain severe temporary and permanent injuries (Count I). The officers are alleged to be agents of Rutgers, and Rutgers is claimed to be liable for their acts (Count II). Plaintiff further charges that Rutgers is liable for plaintiff's injuries because it was negligent in training, supervising and disciplining its police officers (Count III). Plaintiff claims that the acts of the defendants deprived him of his civil rights in violation of 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985(2) and (3) and 1988, and deprived him of his rights under the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution (Count IV). In addition, plaintiff charges defendants with assault and battery (Count V) and false arrest (Count VI) under state law. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

 Defendants have now moved for summary judgment dismissing plaintiff's complaint on the ground that plaintiff's claims are barred by the Eleventh Amendment. Defendants alternatively move for summary judgment dismissing the complaint for failure to be sufficiently specific, or for partial summary judgment on plaintiff's claims asserted under the First, Fifth and Sixth Amendments and under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985(2) and (3) on the ground that those claims fail to state a cause of action. Defendants also move for leave to amend their answer to assert the affirmative defense of Eleventh Amendment immunity. Plaintiff has cross-moved for leave to amend his complaint to assert a claim that Rutgers has not provided equal protection of the law.

 Discussion

 Defendants have moved for summary judgment on the ground that Rutgers University is an instrumentality or alter ego of the State of New Jersey and that it and the individual police officers are therefore immune from a suit for monetary damages pursuant to the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution.

 The Eleventh Amendment provides:

 
The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, ...

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