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Manetti v. Ulker

October 1, 2010

BARBARA A. MANETTI, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
JANICE ULKER, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

OPINION

This is an action brought by plaintiffs Barbara A. Manetti and Albert F. Manetti (together, "Plaintiffs") pursuant 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law, alleging their civil rights were violated in connection with a search warrant executed by law enforcement officers against Plaintiffs. The Court decides the matter without oral argument pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78. Presently before the Court is a motion by defendant Township of Jackson (the "Township") for summary judgment. The Court has carefully considered the submissions of the parties and, for the reasons below, the Township's motion for summary judgment is denied.

I. Background

On or about February 8, 2008, co-defendant, Janice Ulker, obtained a Temporary Restraining Order (the "Restraining Order") against plaintiff Albert F. Manetti. Def. Rule 56.1 Statement ¶ 1. The Restraining Order contained a provision entitled "WARRANT AND SEARCH FOR AND TO SEIZE WEAPONS FOR SAFEKEEPING", where the following language was set forth:

(X) TO ANY LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER HAVING JURISDICTION: This Order shall serve as a warrant to search for and seize any issued permit to carry a firearm, application to purchase a firearm and firearms purchaser identification card issued to the defendant and the following firearms(s) or other weapons(s): various guns, rifles.

1. You are hereby commanded to search for the above described weapons and/or permits to carry a firearm, application to purchase a firearm and firearms purchaser identification card and to serve a copy of this Order upon the person at the premises or location described as 5 Basso St., Jackson, NJ -- Brown Gun Cabinet.

2. You are hereby ordered in the event you seize any of the weapons described above, to give a receipt for the property seized to the person from whom they were taken or in whose possession they were found, or in the absence of such a person to have a copy of this Order together with such receipt in or upon the said structure from which the property was taken.

3. You are authorized to execute this order immediately or as soon thereafter as is practicable (x) Anytime; ( ) Other: _____.

4. You are further ordered after the execution of this Order, to promptly provide the Court with a written inventory of the property seized per this Order. Id. at ¶¶ 2-3.

On or about the day the Restraining Order was issued, pursuant to the search warrant contained therein, Township police officers were dispatched to Plaintiffs' home, where they seized and confiscated Plaintiffs' weapons and ammunition. Id. at ¶ 4.

The complaint alleges that, in addition to confiscating items identified in the search warrant, the police officers dispatched by the Township confiscated foreign collectible currency and a German leather clip (the "Other Items"). Compl. at ¶ 33. Plaintiffs also claim that the Township did not include the Other Items on the receipt provided to Plaintiffs after their confiscation and that the Township did not include the Other Items on the written inventory provided to the Court. Id. at ¶ 34.

II. Legal Analysis

A court shall grant summary judgment under Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure "if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show 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 substantive law identifies which facts are critical or "material." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A material fact raises a "genuine" issue "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict" for the non-moving party. Healy v. N.Y. Life Ins. Co., 860 F.2d 1209, 1219 n.3 (3d Cir. 1988).

On a summary judgment motion, the moving party must show, first, that no genuine issue of material fact exists. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). If the moving party makes this showing, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to present evidence that a genuine fact issue compels a trial. Id. at 324. In so presenting, the non-moving party may not simply rest on its pleadings, but must offer admissible evidence that establishes a genuine issue of material fact, id., not just ...


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