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Friedman v. Borgata Hotel

April 1, 2009

PAUL N. FRIEDMAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BORGATA HOTEL, CASINO & SPA, MARINA DISTRICT DEVELOPMENT COMPANY, LLC, CITY OF ATLANTIC CITY, NEW JERSEY TRANSIT CORPORATION, SARGENT ABRAM HAMILTON, PATROL OFFICER MCGEE, RAY RENNIE, OFFICER FRANCO SYDNOR, OFFICER MARY GRACE COOK, OFFICER SALVATORE J. RANDO, JR., SECURITY OFFICER CRABTREE, DEFENDANTS.



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

OPINION

This matter has come before the Court on the motion of defendants Officer Franco Sydnor, Officer Mary Grace Cook, and Officer Salvatore J. Rando, Jr. to dismiss plaintiff's civil rights claims against them, or in the alternative, for a more definite statement. For the reasons set forth below, defendants' motion will be granted in part and denied in part.

BACKGROUND

On July 1, 2006, plaintiff Paul Friedman registered as a guest at the Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, New Jersey. After checking into his room, he and friends had dinner at a restaurant in the hotel, and after dinner, he gambled in the casino. At dinner and while he was gambling, plaintiff was served and consumed alcohol.

During the course of the evening, plaintiff became visibly intoxicated. At around 9:40 p.m., plaintiff was removed from the event center where he was attending a live musical performance and taken into custody by Borgata staff. He was detained in a holding cell and handcuffed to the bench. The Atlantic City Police Department was called, and officers Franco Sydnor, Mary Grace Cook, and Salvatore J. Rando, Jr. responded. The Borgata staff asked the defendant officers to escort plaintiff from the property. Plaintiff, who was visibly intoxicated, was placed in a patrol car and was given the option of getting a ride to the Atlantic City bus terminal or being arrested for trespass.

Apparently having chosen the first option, during the ride to the bus station, plaintiff, in his intoxicated state, removed his shirt and shoes. Once they arrived at the station, defendant officers released plaintiff onto the sidewalk. At that point, defendant New Jersey Transit Police officers refused to let plaintiff enter the terminal, and the Atlantic City police officers who had driven plaintiff there left him on the sidewalk outside the terminal. Shortly thereafter, the defendant officers were summoned by two unidentified individuals who found plaintiff, still shirtless and shoeless, lying unconscious and non-responsive in a nearby parking lot. Plaintiff was transported to the Atlantic City Medical Center and admitted to the Intensive Care Unit.

Because of this incident, plaintiff has filed an eight-count complaint asserting various federal and state constitutional claims, as well as several state law claims against numerous defendants. The defendant Atlantic City police officers have filed the instant motion to dismiss plaintiff's constitutional claims. In the alternative, they request a more definite statement of plaintiff's claims. Plaintiff has opposed their motion.

DISCUSSION

I. Jurisdiction

Plaintiff has brought his claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as well as pursuant to the New Jersey constitution and New Jersey state law. This Court has jurisdiction over plaintiff's federal claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and supplemental jurisdiction over plaintiff's state law claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

II. Standard for Motion to Dismiss

When considering a motion to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), a court must accept all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Evancho v. Fisher, 423 F.3d 347, 351 (3d Cir. 2005). It is well settled that a pleading is sufficient if it contains "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Under the liberal federal pleading rules, it is not necessary to plead evidence, and it is not necessary to plead all the facts that serve as a basis for the claim. Bogosian v. Gulf Oil Corp., 562 F.2d 434, 446 (3d Cir. 1977). However, "[a]lthough the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not require a claimant to set forth an intricately detailed description of the asserted basis for relief, they do require that the pleadings give defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Baldwin County Welcome Ctr. v. Brown, 466 U.S. 147, 149-50 n.3 (1984) (quotation and citation omitted).

A district court, in weighing a motion to dismiss, asks "'not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claim.'" Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1969 n.8 (2007) (quoting Scheuer v. Rhoades, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974)); see also Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (stating that the "Supreme Court's Twombly formulation of the pleading standard can be summed up thus: 'stating ... a claim requires a complaint with enough factual matter (taken as true) to suggest' the required element. This 'does not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage,' but instead 'simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of' the necessary element"). A court need not credit either "bald assertions" or "legal conclusions" in a complaint when deciding a motion to dismiss. In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1429-30 (3d Cir. 1997). The defendant bears the burden of showing that no claim has been presented. Hedges v. U.S., 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005) (citing Kehr Packages, Inc. v. Fidelcor, Inc., 926 F.2d 1406, 1409 (3d Cir. 1991)).

Finally, a court in reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion must only consider the facts alleged in the pleadings, the documents attached thereto as exhibits, and matters of judicial notice. Southern Cross Overseas Agencies, Inc. v. Kwong Shipping Group Ltd., 181 F.3d 410, 426 (3d Cir. 1999). A court may consider, however, "an undisputedly authentic document that a defendant attaches as an exhibit to a motion to dismiss if the plaintiff's claims are based on the document." Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993). If any other matters outside the pleadings are presented to the ...


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