United States District Court, D. New Jersey
August 24, 2005.
SYLVESTER SANDERS, Administrator ad prosequendum of the ESTATE OF DARLENE SANDERS, a/k/a DEBBIE PATTERSON, individually, as father of Darlene Sanders and on behalf of the heirs of the Estate; ALMISSA SANDERS, individually and in her capacity as the daughter of Darlene Sanders; DYESHA CRINARTY, individually and in her capacity as the daughter of Darlene Sanders; and ALMIN SANDERS, individually and in his capacity as the son of Darlene Sanders, Plaintiffs,
TRINITAS HOSPITAL, Jersey and Williamsburg Campuses; THE CITY OF ELIZABETH; THE CITY OF ELIZABETH POLICE DEPARTMENT; THE CITY OF ELIZABETH JAIL; JAMES COSGROVE, individually and under color of State law in his capacity as Police Director for the City of Elizabeth; JOHN SIMON, individually and under color of State law in his capacity as Chief of Police for the City of Elizabeth Police Department; LT. SOFIANKOS, individually and under color of State law in his capacity as Desk Supervisor on May 16, 2000 for the City of Elizabeth Police Department; JOHN and JANE ROES, officers, supervisors, agents, directors, and/or managers employed by the City of Elizabeth Police Department and Jail; JOHN and JANE SMITHS or any other persons, individuals, officers, supervisors, agents, employees and/or entities who are/were responsible for inmate healthcare at Trinitas Hospital, Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOHN BISSELL, Chief Judge, District
This matter comes before the Court on motions by Defendant
Police Chief John Simon, the City of Elizabeth Police Department,
the City of Elizabeth Jail, James Cosgrove and Lt. Sofiankos
(collectively "City Defendants") for Reconsideration pursuant to
Local Rule 7.1(g) concerning the Court's ruling on October 25,
2004, which denied City Defendants' Qualified Immunity Defense;
denied City Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on
Plaintiffs' § 1983 and Constitutional Claims; granted City
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on Plaintiffs' Punitive
Damages Claim; granted Defendant Trinitas' Motion for Summary
Judgment on Plaintiffs' EMTALA Claim; granted Defendant Trinitas'
Motion for Summary Judgment on Plaintiffs' § 1983 and
Constitutional Claims; denied Defendant Trinitas' Motion for
Summary Judgment on Plaintiffs' State Law Claims; and granted
Defendant Trinitas' Motion for Summary Judgment on Plaintiffs'
Punitive Damages Claim. Specifically, City Defendants request
that the Court grant their motion for reconsideration and enter
an order either 1) vacating the dismissal without prejudice of
Count V and VI against Trinitas Hospital under
28 U.S.C. § 1376(c)(3); or, in the alternative, 2) reinstating the crossclaims of City Defendants against Trinitas Hospital for
contribution and indemnification; or, in the alternative, 3)
permitting City Defendants to file a third party complaint
against Trinitas Hospital for contribution and indemnification.
The Court has jurisdiction over this action pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1331 and supplemental jurisdiction of state law claims pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a). For the reasons set forth below, the
Court DENIES City Defendants' motion for reconsideration in its
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Plaintiffs are the administrators and heirs of the Estate of
Darlene Sanders, who was a resident of the City of Elizabeth, New
Jersey at the time of her death. (Compl. ¶¶ 2-6.)
Defendant Trinitas Hospital ("Trinitas"), Jersey and
Williamburg Campuses, is a medical care facility located in
Elizabeth, New Jersey. (Id. ¶ 7.)
Defendants John and Jane Smiths*fn1 are persons,
individuals, employees, agents, servants, supervisors and/or
entities of Trinitas responsible for administering healthcare
training on Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act
("EMTALA") who participated in the medical care of Darlene
Sanders. (Id. ¶ 13.) Defendant City of Elizabeth is a governmental body with
numerous departments for which it is responsible including the
City of Elizabeth Municipal Jail. (Id. ¶ 8.)
Defendant James Cosgrove ("Cosgrove") was at all relevant times
the Police Director for the City of Elizabeth responsible for
formulation and implementation of the policies and practices of
the City of Elizabeth Police Department. (Id. ¶ 9.)
Defendant John Simon ("Simon") was at all relevant times the
Chief of Police for the City of Elizabeth responsible for the
formulation and implementation of policies of the City of
Elizabeth Police Department. (Id. ¶ 10.)
Defendant Lt. Sofiankos ("Sofiankos") was the Desk Supervisor
on May 16, 2000 for the City of Elizabeth Police Department.
(Id. ¶ 11.)
Defendants John and Jane Roes*fn2 are officers,
supervisors, agents, directors, employees, servants and/or
managers for the City of Elizabeth and/or its Police Department
and were policy makers responsible for the jail training to
administer health care to incarcerated persons or on-duty at the
time of Sanders' stay in the municipal jail. (Id. ¶ 12.)
II. Procedural History Plaintiffs filed their complaint in this Court on April 11,
2002. (Certification of Nancy S. Martin ("Martin Cert.") at Ex.
A.) Plaintiffs Complaint contains eight counts:
Count I: Violation of the Emergency Medical Treatment
and Active Labor Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1395dd (against
Trinitas Hospital Jersey & Williamsburg campuses)
(Compl. ¶¶ 38-42);
Count II: Violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
Constitutional Tort (Id. at ¶¶ 43-47);
Count III: Federal Constitutional Claim Improper
Medical Care (Id. at ¶¶ 48-50);
Count IV: State Constitutional Claim (Id. ¶¶ 51-55)
Count V: Wrongful Death (Id. at ¶¶ 56-59);
Count VI: Survival under State Law (Id. at ¶¶
Count VII: Substantive Due Process/Constitutional
Rights 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Id. at ¶¶ 66-70); and
Count VIII: Substantive Due Process Rights under the
New Jersey Constitution (Id. at ¶¶ 71-75).
Defendants filed answers, discovery was conducted and expert
reports were exchanged. Defendant Simon, joined by all other City
Defendants and Trinitas, filed separate motions for summary
judgment on Plaintiffs' claims brought respectively against them.
On October 25, 2005, the Court issued the decision described at
the outset of this Opinion. On December 9, 2004, City Defendants
filed the present motion for reconsideration of this Court's
dismissal of all the crossclaims for contribution and
indemnification against Trinitas.
III. Background The full factual recitation of this matter has been set forth
by this Court's decision in Sanders, et al. v. Trinitas Hosp.,
et al., No. 02-1655 (D.N.J. Oct. 25, 2004). The Court now
proceeds to decide City Defendants' motion for reconsideration of
the dismissal of all crossclaims for contribution and
indemnification against Trinitas.
I. Standard for a Motion for Reconsideration
A motion for reconsideration is governed by Local Civil Rule
7.1(g). See Reinaldo Hernandez v. Art Beller,
129 F. Supp. 2d 698, 701 (D.N.J. 2001). The rule requires that the moving party
"set forth concisely the matters or controlling decisions which
counsel believes the [Court] has overlooked." Pittston Co. v.
Sedgwick James of New York, Inc., 971 F. Supp. 915, 918-919
(D.N.J. 1997). Thus, a party "must show more than a disagreement
with the court's decision." Panna v. Firstrust Sav. Bank,
760 F. Supp. 432, 435 (D.N.J. 1991). A mere "recapitulation of the
cases and arguments considered by the court before rendering its
original decision fails to carry the moving party's burden."
Carteret Sav. Bank, F.A. v. Shushan, 721 F. Supp 705, 709
(D.N.J. 1989). "Only where the court has overlooked matters that,
if considered by the court, might reasonably have resulted in a
different conclusion, will it entertain such a motion." Re:
United States v. Compaction Sys. Corp. et al., 88 F. Supp. 2d 339, 345 (D.N.J. 1999).
To succeed on a motion for reconsideration, the moving party
must present "something new or something overlooked by the court
in rendering the earlier decision." Khair v. Campbell Soup Co.,
893 F. Supp. 316, 337 (D.N.J. 1991). Parties are required to
confine their arguments to facts and issues presented to the
court at the time the motion and issues were decided. Florham
Park Chevron, Inc. v. Chevron U.S.A., 680 F. Supp. 159, 162
(D.N.J. 1988). Efforts to expand the record on reargument are
prohibited and will be excluded from the court's evaluation.
There is a strong policy against entertaining reconsideration
motions based on evidence that was readily available at the time
that the original motion was heard and the Court may, in its
discretion, refuse to consider such evidence. Florham Park
Chevron, Inc., 680 F. Supp. at 162. Nevertheless, if the Court
finds that its consideration of evidence offered for the first
time on motion for reconsideration may lead to a different result
than was reached originally, the court has discretion to consider
that evidence. Panna v. Firstrust Sav. Bank, 760 F. Supp. 432,
435 (D.N.J. 1991).
A. City Defendants' Request to Reinstate All Contribution
and Indemnification Crossclaims against Trinitas
The Court retained jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' § 1983 and
constitutional claims against the City Defendants related to the alleged failure to provide appropriate medical care, as a
constitutional right, to a municipal jail inmate. Accordingly,
City Defendants argue that they have a right to pursue their
crossclaims for contribution and indemnification against Trinitas
in the pending suit because Trinitas provided Sanders with
medical care and the follow-up instructions to City Defendants.
No arguments, however, were made by either City Defendants or
Trinitas as to the crossclaims for contribution and
indemnification or their impact in the event that all summary
judgment motions were denied on all claims. The Court's order and
opinion denied City Defendants' summary judgment motion, except
as to Plaintiffs' punitive damage claim. The Court granted
summary judgment to Trinitas as to all claims, except Plaintiffs'
state law claims. The Court did not address the merits of the
state law claims, rather these claims were dismissed without
prejudice on jurisdictional grounds pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3). While not specifically articulated, the dismissal of
Plaintiffs' state claims against Trinitas without prejudice also
dismissed the state law crossclaims of City Defendants without
prejudice. City Defendants contend that they will suffer undue
prejudice if they are unable to assert their crossclaims for
contribution and indemnification against Trinitas.
Trinitas asserts that the Court should not reinstate City Defendants' crossclaims because the federal claims were dismissed
and the state claims were dismissed without prejudice. The Court
found that Trinitas was not a state actor and complied with
EMTALA. Further, City Defendants had a full opportunity to be
heard with regard to Trinitas' summary judgment motion, but did
not protect their crossclaims against Trinitas. Morever, City
Defendants have not presented any new information or information
that has changed since the filing of this Court's order and
opinion. Additionally, City Defendants have no evidence that
Trinitas was a state actor or violated EMTALA. Accordingly,
Trinitas contends that if City Defendants violated Sanders'
constitutional right Trinitas' involvement is irrelevant.
The Court is persuaded by Trinitas' reasoning. The Court denied
City Defendants' motion for summary judgment "because a
reasonable jury could conclude that City Defendants should have
known that Sanders' narcotic withdrawal, need for an asthma pump,
need for narcotic withdrawal medication and the failure of a jail
physician to follow-up on her medical condition could cause her
to suffer adverse health consequences." Sanders, et al. v.
Trinitas Hosp., et al., No. 02-1655, slip op. at 30 (D.N.J. Oct.
25, 2004). City Defendants argue that the Elizabeth City Jail
does not have a jail physician, provide asthma pumps, medications
or conduct physical examinations. (Br. in Supp. of Mot. for
Reconsideration on Behalf of Def. Police Chief John Simon and All Elizabeth City Defs. ("Defs.' Br.") at 9.) City Defendants posit
that these are the reasons why their crossclaims should be
reinstated. The remaining issue before the Court, however, is
what services did the City Defendants need to provide to avoid
violating Sanders' constitutional rights. Hence, the ultimate
conclusion of this issue is irrelevant as to Trinitas actions or
omissions. Finally, if Plaintiff establishes claims for liability
and damages against the City Defendants, thus ripening losses to
these Defendants, they can pursue claims for contribution and/or
indemnification in a separate action against Trinitas Hospital.
The latter should not need to incur the expenses of participating
in the present suit while awaiting a determination as to whether
claims against it will ever mature.
Based on the foregoing reasons, the Court DENIES City
Defendants' motion for reconsideration in its entirety.
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