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Michel v. McGettigan

November 5, 2008

ALEX MICHEL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JAMES MCGETTIGAN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Simandle, District Judge

OPINION

On April 23, 2007, Plaintiff Alex Michel ("Plaintiff"), then an inmate at the Atlantic County Justice Facility in Mays Landing, New Jersey, was bussed from his detention facility to the New Jersey Superior Court in Atlantic County for an appearance before a state judge. After his appearance, Plaintiff was placed in a temporary holding cell to await his return to the County Justice Facility. While in that holding cell Plaintiff claims that he made repeated attempts to contact officers of the Atlantic County Sheriff's Office ("ACSO") over an intercom to alert them to his need to use the bathroom and for assistance in this activity. Plaintiff asserts that his repeated contacts never resulted in any officers coming to his aide and only ever resulted in laughter and ridicule from the officers on the intercom. Plaintiff claims that he eventually emptied his bowels and soiled himself while waiting for assistance.

Plaintiff brought this suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendant James McGettigan ("Defendant"), Sheriff of Atlantic County,*fn1 alleging a violation of Plaintiff's rights to due process as a pre-trial detainee under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Defendant has moved for summary judgment [Docket Item 29]. For the reasons explained herein, the Court will grant Defendant's motion in its entirety.

I. Background

A. Facts

Plaintiff arrived at the New Jersey Superior Court in Atlantic County on April 23, 2007 at 8:45 a.m. for an appearance before a state judge and was placed in a holding cell. (Compl. at 8.) At the time of Plaintiff's appearance in Superior Court, his previous conviction for possession of a controlled dangerous substance had been reversed by the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division and remanded to the Law Division for a new trial. State v. Michel, 2006 WL 3040326 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. Oct. 27, 2006). At all times relevant to this case Plaintiff was handcuffed and shackled. (Compl. at 8.) Plaintiff appeared before the Superior Court judge at approximately 9:00 a.m. (Pl.'s Dep. at 28.) At around 9:30 a.m., Plaintiff's appearance before the judge ended and he was returned to the same holding cell to await transport back to the Atlantic County Justice Facility. (Id. at 29.) The temporary cell was equipped with a toilet but had no toilet paper available for use. (Compl. at 8.)

About five to ten minutes after Plaintiff returned to the cell, he attempted to contact an officer from the ACSO over an intercom in the cell to request assistance in going to the bathroom. (Pl.'s Dep. at 30.) Plaintiff claims that as a result of his handcuffs and the lack of toilet paper he was unable to go to the bathroom of his own accord. (Compl. at 8-9.) He further claims that the person to whom he spoke over the intercom was, in fact, an officer with the ACSO. (Id. at 9.) No one arrived to assist Plaintiff as a result of this call. (Id.)

Plaintiff used the intercom again about fifteen minutes later in an attempt to procure some assistance in using the toilet. (Id.) Again no help arrived as a result of this call.

(Id.) Plaintiff then called on the intercom again about forty-five minutes later, making the same request. (Id.) At approximately 11:30 am, Plaintiff claims that he defecated on himself as a result of his inability to use the toilet and his repeatedly ignored entreaties for assistance through the intercom. (Id.)

Plaintiff claims that he called out to various officers on the outside of the cell when his calls on the intercom elicited no response. (Id.). He also asserts that he spoke to Officer Larry Breder of the ACSO about the incident. (Id.) Upon returning to the Atlantic County Justice Facility, Plaintiff reported the incident to the nurse on duty but received no medical treatment. (Id.) Plaintiff in his deposition admitted that he had never met Sheriff James McGettigan and that the Sheriff had no personal involvement in the wrongdoing that Plaintiff alleges. (Pl.'s Dep. at 26-27.)

Plaintiff filed his Complaint in this case on May 3, 2007 while he was still incarcerated at the Atlantic County Justice Facility in Mays Landing, New Jersey. (Compl. at 7.)

II. Discussion

A. Standard of Review

Summary judgment is appropriate when the materials of record "show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is ...


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