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Camden Vicinage Demetria Marshall v. Thomas Koochembere

December 20, 2010

CAMDEN VICINAGE DEMETRIA MARSHALL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THOMAS KOOCHEMBERE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kugler, United States District Judge:

NOT FOR PUBLICATION (Docket No. 62)

OPINION

This matter comes before the Court upon a motion for summary judgment [Docket No. 62] (the "Motion for Summary Judgment") by Defendants Cape May County (the "County"), Cape May County Correctional Center ("CMCCC"), and Cape May County Sheriff's Department (the "Sheriff's Department" and, collectively, the "Moving Defendants"). For the reasons expressed below, the Court will grant in part and deny in part the Motion for Summary Judgment.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Demetria Marshall was a pre-trial detainee at CMCCC during the months of June and July 2005. (Pl.'s Am. Br. Opp'n Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. 5.) On July 19, 2005, Marshall was sexually assaulted by Defendant Koochembere, who was at that time a corrections officer at CMCCC. (Pl.'s Am. Br. Opp'n Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. 5.) After a criminal trial, Defendant Koochembere entered a post-verdict guilty plea and was sentenced to eight years in prison. (Pl.'s Am. Br. Opp'n Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. App. A-173 to A-175.)

Defendant Koochembere had a history of disciplinary violations at CMCCC. On one occasion, Koochembere failed to respond to an altercation between inmates. As a result of this inaction, Defendant Koochembere was investigated for the unauthorized use of a cellular telephone while on duty. (Pl.'s Am. Br. Opp'n Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. 10-11, App. A-119.) The Sheriff's Department found that Defendant Koochembere "interfered with and tampered with" that investigation and "knowingly, willfully and purposefully disregarded the policies, procedures and other oral/written directives of [the Sheriff's Department]." (Pl.'s Am. Br. Opp'n Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. 10-11, App. A-119 to A-120.) The investigation also revealed that Defendant Koochembere had been cohabitating with Nicole Miller, a former CMCCC inmate characterized as "his girlfriend," in violation of Sheriff's Department regulations. (Pl.'s Am. Br. Opp'n Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. 10-11, App. A-119 to A-120.) CMCCC and Sheriff's Department officials apparently were aware of Defendant Koochembere's romantic involvement and cohabitation with Ms. Miller. (Pl.'s Am. Br. Opp'n Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. App. A-108 to A-110, A-121, A-170.) As a result of the investigation, Defendant Koochembere was suspended for one day. (Pl.'s Am. Br. Opp'n Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. App. A-3.)

On yet another occasion, Defendant Koochembere was disciplined in connection with an incident where certain corrections officers "glued the locks shut on the locker [of another corrections officer], and one of the officers threw the other officer into the trash bucket." (Pl.'s Am. Br. Opp'n Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. App. A-2 to A-3.) Defendant Koochembere received a one-day suspension for his involvement in this incident. (Pl.'s Am. Br. Opp'n Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. App. A-2.)

Undersheriff Jeffery L. Pierson described Defendant Koochembere's pre-assault disciplinary history as "significant." (Pl.'s Am. Br. Opp'n Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. App. A-115.) Pierson indicated that Defendant Koochembere faced substantially stronger sanctions than he actually received and potentially could have been terminated. (Pl.'s Am. Br. Opp'n Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. App. A-116 to A-117.) Pierson indicated that he thought some discipline was warranted, but that he "may have backed off" on his investigation for the Sheriff's Department after the he learned that the investigation "possibly" would be referred to the Cape May County Prosecutor's Office. (Pl.'s Am. Br. Opp'n Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. App. A-116 to A-118.)

At his criminal trial for the assault on Marshall, Defendant Koochembere testified that flirting took place between CMCCC inmates and guards. (Pl.'s Am. Br. Opp'n Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. App. A-10.) Defendant Koochembere also testified that male CMCCC guards received only "minimum" training regarding the supervision of female inmates, which did not include training on how to deal with advances from inmates. (Pl.'s Am. Br. Opp'n Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. App. A-9 to A-10.) In Koochembere's opinion, CMCCC's policy could have been "more detailed and more touched upon" and the guards "should [have been] retrained." (Pl.'s Am. Br. Opp'n Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. App. A-10.) The cells and showers where female inmates were housed at CMCCC lacked privacy screens, and certain portions of the facilities were unmonitored by video surveillance. (Pl.'s Am. Br. Opp'n Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. 22-23.)

On June 6, 2009, Plaintiff brought this civil action against Defendants Koochembere, the County, CMCCC, the Sheriff's Department, and John Does 1-10. As to the Moving Defendants, the Amended Complaint alleges liability for (1) violations of the Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States (Count I), (2) negligent hiring, training, and supervision (Count III), (3) "gross insult" arising from an alleged quasi-contractual right to be free from harm (Count VII), (4) a civil conspiracy to punish Plaintiff for reporting the abuse (Count VIII), (5) a "civil rights conspiracy" in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1985 (Count IX), (6) deliberately indifferent hiring in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count X), (7) failure to train and supervise in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count XI), (8) violations of the New Jersey State Constitution (Count XIII), and (9) "entity liability" under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count XIV). The Amended Complaint also appears to allege direct and vicarious liability of the Moving Defendants for Defendant Koochembere's alleged (1) intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count IV), (2) violations of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (Count V), and (3) false imprisonment (Count VI). In addition to liability of Defendant Koochembere for several of the above claims, the Amended Complaint also alleges liability of only Defendant Koochembere for (1) assault and battery (Count II) and (2) conditioning full and equal access to public accommodation on sexual favors in violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination

(Count XII).

On March 25, 2010, the Moving Defendants filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment. Plaintiff filed a response on May 4, 2010 [Docket No. 66], in which she clarifies that the claims in Counts II, IV, and VI are against Defendant Koochembere only. The Court has considered the submissions of the parties and the Motion for Summary Judgment is now ripe for review.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate where "the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). See also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 330 (1986). A genuine issue of material fact exists only if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). When a court weighs the evidence presented by the parties, "[t]he evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in [her] favor." Id. at 255. The burden of establishing the nonexistence of a "genuine issue" is on the party moving for summary judgment. In re Bressman, 327 F.3d 229, 237 (3d Cir. 2003) (quoting Celotex, 477 U.S. at 331 (Brennan, J., dissenting)). The moving party may satisfy this burden by either (1) submitting affirmative ...


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