The opinion of the court was delivered by: Barry, District Judge.
Plaintiff Elizabeth Kocienski ("Kocienski") instituted this
action on May 14, 1990 against the City of Bayonne, the County
of Hudson and various other city and county officials, both on
behalf of herself and as Administratrix ad Prosequendum of the
estate of her sister, Helen Catherine Garity ("Garity"). Garity
committed suicide in the Bayonne Municipal Jail on December 7,
1988 by hanging herself with her panty hose, and it is this
event which gives rise to the allegations in the complaint.
Kocienski alleges that her sister's death was the direct and
proximate result of defendants' wanton and callous indifference
to her sister's obvious psychological needs and that, by
failing to prevent her sister from committing suicide,
defendants deliberately subjected her sister to cruel and
unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth
Amendments to the Constitution of the United States.
See Amended Complaint at Counts Four and Five.*fn1
Defendant James Sisk ("Sisk"), Chief of Police of the Bayonne
Police Department, as well as defendants Leonard Sullivan
("Sullivan"), David Markowski ("Markowski"), Mark Smith
("Smith"), Robert McCarthy ("McCarthy"), and John Klimek
("Klimek"), officers employed by the Bayonne Police Department,
now move for summary judgment. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. These
officers ("the Bayonne defendants") assert that their conduct
toward Garity during her period of incarceration in the city
jail cannot be characterized as having been deliberately
indifferent to any known psychological need Garity may have
had, and that, as a consequence, they are not responsible for
At sixteen minutes past midnight on the morning of December
7, 1988, two officers of the Bayonne Police Department
responded to a report that a heavy set woman was breaking into
automobiles parked in the area of 22 West 29th Street, in
Bayonne. The officers arrived at the scene and observed Garity
fleeing from the area with several bags of merchandise. Garity
was detained and a brief investigation at the scene revealed
that much of the merchandise had been taken from the interior
of several nearby cars. This merchandise included, inter alia,
two calculators, an American Express Card, and several cassette
tapes. See Defendants' Movant Brief I at Exh. 1-2. Garity was
also found to be carrying a Phillips Head screw-driver which
the police believed had been used to gain entry to the
automobiles. Garity was arrested and subsequently charged with
theft and possession of burglary tools. See Defendants' Movant
Brief I at Exhs. 6-7.
After her arrest, Garity was transported to the Bayonne
Municipal Jail where she was searched by a female guard.
See Defendants' Movant Brief I at Exh. 8. Garity was wearing
trousers, a plaid shirt and panty hose. The guard removed only
Garity's earrings, a gold colored chain, and her shoe laces.
Garity was placed in a cell in the female block of the jail
at 1:15 A.M. From 1:15 A.M. to 6:00 A.M., the cells were
checked every fifteen minutes, and from 6:20 A.M. to 10:35
A.M., the cells were checked every twenty-four minutes.
See Defendants' Movant Brief I at Exhs. 10, 11. Garity was
served breakfast at 8:30 A.M. and, at 8:54 A.M., she was taken
to a conference room for questioning.
Garity was escorted to the conference room by officer
Markowski. Both Markowski and another officer, Smith, were
present at the session, which lasted approximately thirty to
forty minutes. During the questioning, a third officer,
Sullivan, entered the room and noticed that Garity was wearing
panty hose. He informed Markowski and Smith that, upon
returning Garity to her cell, one of them should inform the
desk officer that she was wearing panty hose. See Defendants'
Opposition Brief at Exhs. 12-15. See also Deposition of David
H. Markowski, sworn to September 19, 1990 (hereinafter
"Markowski Dep.") at pp. 55-56. See also Deposition of Mark
Smith, sworn to September 19, 1990 (hereinafter "Smith Dep.")
at pp. 109-110.
Markowski and Smith finished questioning Garity at
approximately 9:30 A.M., at which time Smith escorted Garity
back to the front desk. Smith placed Garity in a glass-fronted
holding room near the desk and informed the desk officer,
McCarthy, that Garity was wearing panty hose. See Smith Dep. at
pp. 110-111. After being alerted to this fact, McCarthy briefly
attempted to locate a female police officer to ascertain
whether or not standard police procedure mandated that Garity
surrender her panty hose, but was unable to locate anyone to
answer his question. He subsequently became immersed in his
duties at the desk and make no further inquiries. See
Plaintiff's Opposition Brief I at Exh. J.
At 9:45 A.M., Garity was returned to her cell by the guard
monitoring the cell block, Klimek. McCarthy did not inform
Klimek that Garity was wearing panty hose, and Klimek was
apparently unaware of that fact. See Markowski Dep. at p. 72;
see also Plaintiff's Opposition Brief at Exh. J. At the time
that Garity was returned to her cell, the cell block was being
checked every twenty-four minutes. See Defendants' Movant Brief
I at Exh. 11. The cells were also equipped with a continuously
functioning audio surveillance system.
Only moments after Garity was found hanging by her panty
hose, Detective Hendra of the police department was summoned.
See Plaintiff's Opposition Brief I at pp. 7-8 and Exh. L (p.
2). Hendra photographed the scene and drew a sketch of the cell
depicting the location of Garity's body in relation to the
other items in the cell. See Plaintiff's Opposition Brief I at
Exh. (p. 4) (sketch) and Exh. K (color photographs). Hendra's
photographs reveal, inter alia, that several drops of blood
were in the toilet bowl, and on the surface of a bench which
was situated on one side of the cell. See Plaintiff's
Opposition Brief I at Exh. K, Photographs A, D and E.
December 7, 1988 was not the first day on which members of
the Bayonne Police Department had come into contact with
Garity. On January 25, 1987, Kocienski had reported Garity to
the police department as a missing person. See Plaintiff's
Opposition Brief I at Exh. E. The police report indicated that
Kocienski had informed the police that Garity had a history of
psychological problems, and may have been suffering from
emotional problems as a result of the recent death of her
husband. Kocienski canceled the missing person report two days
after it was filed. Id.
Similarly, on June 15, 1987, the police came into contact
with Garity after having been called by Kocienski to go to
Garity's apartment because it appeared she had overdosed on
drugs. An officer found Garity in a dazed state, and summoned
an ambulance to assist her. See Plaintiff's Opposition Brief I
at Exh. F. Kocienski alleges that she informed the police over
the telephone of Garity's history of depression and suicide.
See Affidavit of Elizabeth Kocienski, sworn to August 23, 1990
(hereinafter "Kocienski Aff.") at ¶ 3.
On November 23, 1988 (two weeks prior to the events in
question) officers Smith and Markowski called on Garity while
investigating a burglary and theft at the apartment next door
to Garity's and noticed that she appeared to be intoxicated.
See Defendants' Movant Brief I at Exh. 18. Garity was
subsequently arrested in ...