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Juan Rodriguez v. City of Camden

February 2, 2011

JUAN RODRIGUEZ, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF CAMDEN, CAMDEN CITY
POLICE DEPARTMENT, GWENDOLYN A. FAISON, IN HER OFFICIAL
CAPACITY AS MAYOR OF THE CITY
OF CAMDEN, SCOTT THOMPSON, IN
HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS CHIEF
OF THE CAMDEN CITY POLICE
DEPARTMENT, LOUIS VEGA, IN HIS
OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS DIRECTOR
OF THE CAMDEN POLICE DEPARTMENT, JOHN DOES 1-10, IN THEIR OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS
EMPLOYEES OF THE CAMDEN CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT, DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Noel L. Hillman, U.S.D.J.

OPINION

HILLMAN, District Judge

Plaintiff, Juan Rodriguez, is a police officer with the Camden City Police Department. According to Plaintiff, he was suspended without pay and subject to administrative charges as retaliation for his testimony against the City of Camden and the Camden City Police Department in a disciplinary matter involving another officer. As a result, Plaintiff filed a complaint in this Court, naming as defendants the City of Camden (or, "the City"), the Camden City Police Department, Anne Milgram, in her official capacity as the Attorney General for the State of New Jersey, Theodore Z. Davis, in his official capacity as the City of Camden's Chief Operating Officer,*fn1 Gwendolyn A. Faison, in her official capacity as Mayor of the City of Camden, Scott Thompson, in his official capacity as the Chief of the Camden City Police Department, and Louis Vega, in his official capacity as the Director of the Camden City Police Department. Against defendants Plaintiff asserts federal constitutional violations pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 as well as violations of the New Jersey Constitution and New Jersey statutory law.

In response to Plaintiff's complaint, Gwendolyn A. Faison moves for judgment on the pleadings. For the reasons expressed below, Faison's motion is granted.

I. JURISDICTION

Plaintiff has brought his claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as well as New Jersey state law. The Court has jurisdiction over Plaintiff's federal claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and may exercise supplemental jurisdiction over his related state law claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

II. BACKGROUND*fn2

In July 2008, Plaintiff, as a police officer with the Camden

City Police Department, was subpoenaed to testify in a disciplinary case involving another Camden police officer, Christopher Frucci. At the hearing, Plaintiff testified against the City. Several months later, in December 2008,*fn3 the administrative law judge ruled against the City and in favor of Frucci.

On January 29, 2009, the Civil Service Commission held that Frucci's case was to be remanded to the Office of Administrative Law. That same day, administrative charges were issued against Plaintiff, alleging that he abused his allotment of sick time.

By Plaintiff's account, the allegations dated back to events that supposedly occurred in July 2008, approximately seven months prior to the time when the charges were filed. Moreover, Plaintiff asserts that he had already been disciplined based on the same allegations.

On February 13, 2009, the Civil Service Commission released its written opinion regarding Frucci's case. Five days later, Plaintiff was subject to new administrative charges "alleging that he was the target of a 'call response check.'" (Complaint ("Comp.") at 5). At a hearing on February 23, 2009, Plaintiff's suspension without pay was sustained even though, Plaintiff submits, no witnesses appeared and no testimony was elicited against him. Finally, Plaintiff was again administratively charged on March 11, 2009 for an incident that allegedly occurred more than thirteen months prior to the charges filed.

On April 22, 2009, Plaintiff filed a complaint in this Court, naming as defendants the City, the Camden City Police Department, and, in their respective official capacities, Milgram, Davis, Faison, Thompson, and Vega. Germane to the present matter, Plaintiff's only direct, unequivocal averment pertaining to Faison in his complaint states the following:

2.7 At all times relevant to this Complaint Gwendolyn A. Faison was Mayor of the City of Camden, acting within the scope of her employment as Mayor of the City of Camden. She is responsible for, among ...


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