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Tyshon Ratliff v. Township of South Brunswick

February 9, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Brown, Chief Judge



BROWN, Chief Judge

This matter comes before the Court upon the Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 39) of the defendants Township of South Brunswick, South Brunswick Police Department, Mayor of South Brunswick, Police Director of South Brunswick, Business Director of South Brunswick, and Chief of Police of South Brunswick, (collectively "Defendants"). The plaintiff Tyshon Ratliff ("Plaintiff") opposes the motion. The Court, having considered the parties' submissions and having decided the motion without oral argument pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78, will grant Defendants' motion.


The instant action arises from the June 12, 2006 arrest and subsequent detention of the Plaintiff at the Middlesex County Adult Correctional Center. On April 24, 2006, South Brunswick Police Officers were conducting surveillance at the South Brunswick Manor "based on a tip from a reliable confidential informant" regarding drug activity on the premises. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. at ¶12; Doc. No. 39-2.) The confidential informant told them that "a black male would be going into room 118 at that location around 9:00 p.m. with crack cocaine." (Id. at ¶13.) During the surveillance, officers observed a yellow, four-door Ford Escape "drive the wrong way into the South Brunswick Manor parking lot and pull up onto the sidewalk in front of Room 118." (Id. at ¶14.) A black male emerged from the passenger side of the vehicle and proceeded toward room 118, while the black male driver remained in the vehicle. (Id.) When officers approached and identified themselves, the passenger fled on foot, and the driver drove away in the vehicle and escaped apprehension. (Id. at ¶¶16,17.)

The passenger who fled on foot was apprehended by the police and brought to the South Brunswick Police Department headquarters. (Id. at ¶18.) At police headquarters, the passenger identified the driver of the vehicle as "Old School". (Id. at ¶19.) In continuing their investigation, officers from the South Brunswick Police Department discovered that the Plaintiff was also known by his alias "Old School" and often associated with the owner of the vehicle's grandson. (Id. at ¶22.)

As a result of their investigation, officers obtained a warrant for Plaintiff's arrest, which was authorized by South Brunswick Municipal Judge, The Honorable Glynn Dwyer, J.M.C. (Id. at ¶¶ 24,25.) On June 12, 2006, Plaintiff was stopped for a traffic violation and was thenarrested on the outstanding warrant. (Id. at ¶26.) Plaintiff was detained at the Middlesex Country Adult Correction Center from June 12, 2006, until August 22, 2006. (Id.)

At some point during Plaintiff's detention, officers from the South Brunswick Police Department received a phone call indicating that the Plaintiff may not have been the driver of the Ford. (Id. at ¶ 27.) Subsequently, officers spoke again with the passenger in the Ford who then recanted his statement and told the officers that an individual named "T.U." was the driver at the time of the incident. (Id. at ¶ 31.) On August 22, 2006, Plaintiff was released. (Id. at ¶ 33.) Plaintiff filed the instant action in this court on June 12, 2008. (Doc. No. 1.) On October 17, 2008, Defendants filed their answer to the complaint. (Doc. No. 2.) On November 24, 2009, this Court entered an order voluntarily dismissing all of Plaintiff's state law based claims except those based on the New Jersey State Constitution, as such was stipulated by the parties. (Doc. No. 22.) Plaintiff through his remaining claims alleges Defendants violated his civil rights under the Constitution of the United States and the New Jersey State Constitution. (Doc. No. 1.) Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on August 27, 2010. (Doc. No. 39.) Plaintiff filed opposition to that motion and Defendant filed a response to Plaintiff's opposition. (Doc. Nos. 45, 49.) The Court's consideration of this motion follows.


A. Standard of Review

A party seeking summary judgment must "show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c); seealso Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The threshold inquiry is whether "there are any genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986) (noting that no issue for trial exists unless there is sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict in its favor). In determining whether triable issues of fact exist, the Court must view the underlying facts and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986); Pennsylvania Coal Ass'n v. Babbitt, 63 F.3d 231, 236 (3d Cir. 1995); Hancock Indus. v. Schaeffer, 811 F.2d 225, 231 (3d Cir. 1987).

Pursuant to Local Civil Rule 56.1, when moving for summary judgment, the moving party shall furnish a statement ("56.1 Statement"), which sets forth material facts as to which there does not exist a genuine issue. LOC. R. CIV. P. 56.1. The opponent of the motion for summary judgment shall furnish a responsive statement of material facts, addressing each paragraph of the movant's statement, indicating agreement or disagreement. ...

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