The opinion of the court was delivered by: Pisano, District Judge.
Plaintiff Michelle Donnell, as executrix of the estate of Gregory James Donnell, has brought this action against Correctional Health Services, Inc., County of Ocean, Ocean County Department of Corrections, and the warden, correctional officers and medical staff at the Ocean County Correctional Facility ("Defendants") for constitutional violations relating to Gregory Donnell's death. Plaintiff alleges violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, 42 U.S.C. § 1985, the New Jersey Constitution, and New Jersey's Survivor's Act in addition to causes of action for wrongful death and negligence. This Court has original jurisdiction to hear this dispute pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
Presently before the Court is a motion for summary judgment filed by the Defendants. The Court decides this matter without oral argument pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78. For the reasons set forth herein, the Court grants the Defendants motion for summary judgment.
On October 10, 2007, Gregory James Donnell was brought to Ocean County Correctional Facility and placed in the custody of the Ocean County Department of Corrections. Pl.'s Compl., ¶ 18. On October 11, 2007, Donnell was screened by Dr. Donato J. Stangelo. Id. ¶ 21. Afterwards, Donnell was housed in the General Population South "C" dormitory cell. Id. ¶ 22. On October 12, 2007, Donnell hanged himself with a pair of socks tied to the bars in the window of his cell. Id. ¶ 26.
On November 19, 2007, Brian Drazin, Esq., submitted a notice of claim with the Ocean County Department of Corrections in connection with Donnell's death. Supplemental Stmt. of Pl's Mat. Facts, ¶ 11. On December 4, 2007, Mr. Drazin was advised that Ocean County had adopted a specialized notice of tort claim form and was provided with a copy to complete. Pl.'s Stmt. of Disputed Mat. Facts, ¶ 9; Def.'s Stmt. of Uncontested Facts, ¶ 9. On January 10, 2008 and March 11, 2008, Ocean County advised Mr. Drazin that a completed specialized notice of claim form was required to proceed and that the original claim was denied for failing to comply with the Tort Claims Act. Pl.'s Stmt. of Disputed Mat. Facts, ¶ 10; Def.'s Stmt. of Uncontested Facts, ¶ 10. On July 13, 2009, Plaintiff filed a Complaint claiming violations of Donnell's constitutional rights relating to his detention and subsequent death. See generally Pl.'s Compl. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivation of rights, failure to detain in a proper cell, and failure to train. Id. ¶ 36-51. Additionally, Plaintiff alleges conspiracy under 42 U.S.C. § 1985, violations of the New Jersey Constitution, the wrongful death statute, and New Jersey's Survivor's Act and a claim for negligence. Id. ¶ 51-75.
A. Summary Judgment Standard
To prevail on a motion for summary judgment, the moving party must establish "that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The district court must determine whether disputed issues of material fact exist, but the court cannot resolve factual disputes in a motion for summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249-50 (1986).
In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the court must view the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and extend all reasonable inferences to that party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986); Stephens v. Kerrigan, 122 F.3d 171, 176-77 (3d Cir. 1997). The moving party always bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, regardless of which party ultimately would have the burden of persuasion at trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once the moving party has met its opening burden, the non-moving party must identify, by affidavits or otherwise, specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id. at 324. Thus, the non-moving party may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of its pleadings. Id. "[T]he plain language of Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Id. at 322.
Once the moving-party has demonstrated to the court the absence of a material fact at issue, the Supreme Court has stated that the non-moving party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts . . . ." Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586-87 (citations omitted). In other words, "[i]f the evidence [submitted by the non-moving party] is merely colorable . . . or is not significantly probative . . . summary judgment may be granted." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50 (citations omitted).
The Supreme Court has specifically recognized that "[o]ne of the principal purposes of the summary judgment rule is to isolate and dispose of factually unsupportable claims or defenses, and  that [the rule] should be interpreted in a way that allows it to accomplish this purpose." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323-24. Thus, "[w]hen the record is such that it would not support a rational finding that an essential element of the non-moving party's claim or defense exists, summary judgment must be entered for the moving party." Turner v. Schering-Plough Corp., 901 F.2d 335, 341 (3d Cir. 1990).
a. Count I, II & III: Section 1983 Claims & The ...