caused by the constitutionally impermissible acts of the defendant police officers, for no such acts occurred.
Finally, the cases make clear that, absent some underlying constitutional violation, the City of Vineland and the supervising officers named as defendants can not be found liable for a failure to train or supervise. As the Eighth Circuit has said:
In order for municipal liability to attach in a situation such as this, there must first be an underlying violation of the plaintiff's constitutional rights by a municipal employee (for whose action the City is presumably, to be held accountable).
Roach v. City of Fredericktown, 882 F.2d 294, 298 (8th Cir. 1989) (citing City of Canton v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 109 S. Ct. 1197, 103 L. Ed. 2d 412 (1989)). Absent a constitutional violation arising from the chase, then, no liability can attach for failure to train or supervise. City of Los Angeles v. Heller, 475 U.S. 796, 799, 89 L. Ed. 2d 806, 106 S. Ct. 1571 (1986). Thus, summary judgment is also appropriate in favor of the City of Vineland and the superior officers charged with failure to train and supervise.
The court now turns to the state-law negligence claims.
(c) The New Jersey Tort Claims Act
As noted, a recent New Jersey decision appears to require summary judgment on the claims brought under the New Jersey Tort Claims act. Tice v. Cramer, 254 N.J.Super. 641, 604 A.2d 183 (App. Div. 1992).
The court in Tice held that (1) police officers engaging in high-speed chases may be immunized from suit if acting in good faith under N.J.S.A. 59:3-3 (cited here by defendants); and (2), that N.J.S.A. 59:5-2(b) provides a more broad-based immunity from suit for any injury resulting from a police chase (a section not specifically asserted by defendants as ground for immunity).
The New Jersey Supreme Court granted certification in the Tice case on May 28, 1992.
Because summary judgment has been granted on the Section 1983 claims, however, this court lacks jurisdiction to decide the state-law claims. As the Third Circuit has said, "once all federal claims have been dropped from a case, the case simply does not belong in federal court." Lovell Mfg. v. Export-Import Bank of the U.S., 843 F.2d 725, 734 (3d Cir. 1988). "Absent 'extraordinary circumstances,' a district court in this circuit is powerless to hear claims lacking an independent jurisdictional basis, and 'time already invested in litigating the state cause of action is an insufficient reason to sustain the exercise of pendent jurisdiction.'" Id., 843 F.2d at 735 (quoting Weaver v. Marine Bank, 683 F.2d 744, 746 (3d Cir. 1982)).
One of the extraordinary circumstances permitting the retention of jurisdiction over a state-law claim is the expiration of the state statute of limitations. Cooley v. Pa. Housing Fin. Agency, 830 F.2d 469, 476 (3d Cir. 1987). In this case, the applicable statute of limitations is two years. N.J.S.A. 2A:14-2. However, New Jersey courts have tolled the statute of limitations during the pendency of a claim in federal court. See Galligan v. Westfield Centre Service, Inc., 82 N.J. 188, 412 A.2d 122 (1980).
Finally, the state issue involved here has broad implications, was recently taken under consideration by the New Jersey Supreme Court, and has captured significant public attention. See Tom Toolen, State Reviewing Police Car Pursuits, N.Y. Times, July 26, 1992, at Section 13, p. 1; Richard Pliskin, Court to Consider Chase Immunity for Police, The New Jersey Law Journal, July 20, 1992, at p. 5. "Where the underlying issue of state law is a question of first impression with important implications . . . factors weighing in favor of state court adjudication certainly predominate." Shaffer v. Board of School Directors of the Albert Gallatin Area School District, 730 F.2d 910, 913 (3d Cir. 1984).
Therefore, this court declines to decide the summary judgment motion on the state-law claim for lack of jurisdiction. Accordingly, the state-law claims against the Vineland defendants are dismissed. This conclusion does not affect those claims not addressed by these motions.
While the plaintiffs' Section 1983 claim properly alleges a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, rather than the Fourth Amendment, summary judgment is appropriate in favor of the police officers involved in the chase, those in the Vineland Police department charged with supervising and training these officers, and the City of Vineland itself.
Summary judgment having been granted on the lone federal claim, there remains no basis on which to retain jurisdiction over the state-law claims against these defendants, and they are therefore dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.
An appropriate order follows.
William G. Bassler, U.S.D.J.