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Matos v. City of Camden

November 9, 2009

ENRIQUE MATOS AND LINDA MATOS, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CITY OF CAMDEN, DETECTIVE MARSHALL MORGAN, AND OFFICER LUIS SANCHEZ, DEFENDANTS.



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

OPINION

This matter comes before the Court on the motion of Defendant City of Camden for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, Camden's motion will be granted in part and denied in part.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs filed their Complaint in this matter on January 12, 2006, which they subsequently amended on December 8, 2006. The Amended Complaint set forth seven counts for violations of the United States and New Jersey constitutions, as well as New Jersey common law. Defendants moved for summary judgment on all counts in two separate motions filed on July 17, 2008 and July 18, 2008, respectively. After Defendants filed their motions for summary judgment, but before they were decided, Defendant Sanchez filed an Amended Answer, which included a cross-claim against Defendant City of Camden for indemnification.

On March 18, 2009, the Court granted Defendant City of Camden's motion for summary judgment on all counts. In the same Opinion, the Court also granted in part and denied in part Defendants Morgan and Sanchez's motion for summary judgment. The claims against Morgan and Sanchez that survived summary judgment are: Count I for "illegal seizure," false imprisonment, and excessive force in violation of the U.S. and New Jersey constitutions; Count II for conspiracy in violation of the U.S. and New Jersey constitutions; Count III for bystander liability in violation of the U.S. and New Jersey constitutions; Count V for assault and battery; and Count VI for false arrest and false imprisonment.

In so ruling, the Court held that genuine issues of material fact existed as to whether Morgan and Sanchez acted with probable cause in arresting Matos and used a level of force that was objectively reasonable. Accordingly, it was unable to determine at that time whether Morgan and Sanchez were entitled to qualified immunity for their alleged constitutional violations. For these reasons, as well as the fact that the Court found that a genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether Morgan and Sanchez engaged in willful misconduct, the Court was also unable to determine at that time whether they were entitled to immunity under the New Jersey Tort Claims Act for their alleged torts.

Defendant City of Camden now moves for summary judgment on Defendant Sanchez's cross-claim for indemnification.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate where the Court is satisfied that "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law."

Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 330 (1986); Fed. R. Civ. P. 56.

An issue is "genuine" if it is supported by evidence such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict in the nonmoving party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A fact is "material" if, under the governing substantive law, a dispute about the fact might affect the outcome of the suit. Id. In considering a motion for summary judgment, a district court may not make credibility determinations or engage in any weighing of the evidence; instead, the non-moving party's evidence "is to be believed and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor." Marino v. Industrial Crating Co., 358 F.3d 241, 247 (3d Cir. 2004) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255).

Initially, the moving party has the burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once the moving party has met this burden, the nonmoving party must identify, by affidavits or otherwise, specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id. Thus, to withstand a properly supported motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party must identify specific facts and affirmative evidence that contradict those offered by the moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256-57. A party opposing summary ...


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