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Ricky Miller v. New Jersey Department of Corrections

December 29, 2010

RICKY MILLER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Dennis M. Cavanaugh

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

DENNIS M. CAVANAUGH, U.S.D.J.:

This matter comes before the Court upon Defendants' Frank Orlando, Edward J. McCarthy, and Jennifer Hendricks ("Defendants") Motion for Summary Judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P.56(c). Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 78, no oral argument was heard. After carefully considering the submissions of the parties, and based upon the following, it is the finding of this Court that Defendants' motion for Summary Judgment is granted.

I. BACKGROUND*fn1

Plaintiff Ricky Miller ("Plaintiff"), an inmate in the custody of the New Jersey Department of Corrections ("NJDOC") at the Northern State Prison ("NSP"), brings claims pro se under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985 and New Jersey state law against a number of defendants. Among the named defendants are Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Official Jennifer Hendricks and Pennsylvania State Troopers Frank Orlando and Edward J. McCarthy. The claims relate to Plaintiff's temporary transfer from the custody of the NJDOC to Pennsylvania authorities in late 2006.

Plaintiff is serving a 20-year sentence for robbery and related offenses stemming from a November 24, 2004 arrest in Warren County, New Jersey. While incarcerated at the Warren County Correctional Center awaiting trial, Plaintiff learned that Monroe County, Pennsylvania had also lodged robbery charges against him. In February 2006, a second county in Pennsylvania-Pike County, Pennsylvania-lodged additional criminal charges against Plaintiff. Plaintiff either was not informed regarding the Pike County charges or "could not recall being informed."

In spring 2006, Plaintiff was transferred to NJDOC custody and by April, Plaintiff informed NJDOC authorities that he wanted the Monroe County, PA charges resolved. Plaintiff was presented with an Agreement on Detainers ("IAD") Form I, Request for Disposition, on or about May 12, 2006. The form was not complete and did not identify the jurisdiction of the pending charges; nevertheless, Plaintiff signed and returned the form to NJDOC employee, and named defendant in this matter, Catherine Lewis. There is no indication when, whether, or how this signed form was sent, delivered or in any way transmitted to the Monroe County District Attorney's Office.

On August 8, 2006, Defendant Lewis did fax Plaintiff's IAD forms to the Pike County District Attorney's Office. It was during this time period when Plaintiff first learned of the Pike County charges against him after being approached by a NJDOC official asking him to sign IAD forms applicable to the Pike County charges. In response to this request, Plaintiff indicated a belief that the IAD forms he signed in May should apply to the Pike County charges and that he "did not want to start the procedure over again." At this point, Plaintiff signed a second set of IAD forms on which he indicated that he did not wish to exercise his right to have the Pike County, PA charges resolved, and returned the forms to the NJDOC staff member.

After receiving the IAD forms,*fn2 the Pike County District Attorney's Office, on August 11, 2006, sent a completed IAD Form V-a prosecutor's request for temporary custody of an inmate-for Plaintiff to the Northern State Prison. In early November, the Pike County District Attorney's Office then sent IAD Form VI-designating the officers who will transport an inmate under the Interstate Agreement on Detainers-to Defendant Jennifer Hendricks, IAD Coordinator for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. Accompanying Form VI was a copy of the Form V which had previously been sent to NSP. The IAD Form VI designated defendants, Pennsylvania State Troopers Orlando and McCarthy to transport Plaintiff. Defendant Hendricks received the mailing on November 20, 2006, signed the bottom of the form, and, in accordance with the instructions on IAD Form VI, retained a copy, mailed two copies to the Pike County District Attorney, and mailed a copy to the NSP.

Troopers Orlando and McCarthy arrived at NSP to transport Plaintiff to Pike County, PA on December 4, 2006. Plaintiff alleges that one of the Troopers punched him in the face causing him to lose consciousness, and that upon regaining consciousness he was taken to the prison infirmary and treated for a cut. At this point, Plaintiff was placed in Trooper Orlando and McCarthy's vehicle and they transported Plaintiff to Pike County, PA. No hearing regarding the transfer took place prior to Plaintiff's transfer on December 4, 2006. Upon arrival in Pike County, Plaintiff appeared before a Magistrate and was then taken to the Pike County Correctional Facility.

While in Pike County, PA, Plaintiff filed an application for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the Pike County Court of Common Pleas, through which he challenged the procedures used to effectuate his transfer. Specifically, Plaintiff challenged his waiver of Extradition as no longer valid and his detention in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as illegal. In denying Plaintiff's Writ of Habeas Corpus, the Pennsylvania Court deemed that Plaintiff's transfer from NSP to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was pursuant to Article III of the Interstate Agreement on Detainers; and that pursuant to Article III(e) of the same, Plaintiff had waived his right to challenge the transfer. Commonwealth v. Miller, No. 391-CRIMINAL-2006 (Ct. of Common Pleas, Pike County, PA March 19, 2007), ECF No. 85, Ex. 3.

Plaintiff has now filed this civil action asserting the following claims against Defendant Hendricks: a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 due process claim based on her alleged failure to provide Plaintiff with a pre-transfer hearing; a 42 U.S.C. § 1985 conspiracy claim; a negligence claim under New Jersey tort law; and, a due process claim under the New Jersey Constitution. Against Defendants Orlando and McCarthy, Plaintiff asserts the following claims: 42 U.S.C. § 1983 excessive force claims; and, assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligence claims under New Jersey tort law.

Defendant Hendricks now moves for summary judgment with regard to all claims against her. Defendants Orlando and McCarthy now move for summary judgment with respect to Plaintiff's §1983 claims to the extent they are brought against them in their official capacities.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Summary judgment is granted only if all probative materials of record, viewed with all inferences in favor of the non-moving party, demonstrate that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c);

Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 330 (1986). "A party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion." See Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 323. "This burden has two distinct components: an initial burden of production, which shifts to the nonmoving party if satisfied by the moving party; and an ultimate burden of persuasion, which always remains on the moving party." Id. at 330.

"In determining whether there are any issues of material fact, the Court must resolve all doubts as to the existence of a material fact against the moving party and draw all reasonable inferences - including issues of credibility - in favor of the nonmoving party." Newsome v. Admin. Office of the Courts of the State of N.J., 103 F. Supp.2d 807, 815 (D.N.J. 2000), aff'd, 51 Fed. Appx. 76 (3d Cir. 2002) (citing Watts v. Univ. of Del., 622 F.2d 47, 50 (D.N.J. 1980)).

While a court must draw reasonable inferences, the non-moving party "may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of his pleading" to satisfy this burden, but must produce sufficient evidence to support a jury verdict in his favor. See FED. R. CIV. P. 56(e); see also Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). "[U]nsupported allegations in memorandum and pleadings are insufficient to repel summary judgment." Schoch v. First Fid. Bancorporation, 912 F.2d 654, 657 (3d Cir. 1990). In addition, conclusory allegations are insufficient to establish genuine issues of fact. Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 902 ...


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