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Lemont Love v. Monroe Township

February 25, 2011

LEMONT LOVE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MONROE TOWNSHIP, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

This civil rights action is brought by plaintiff Lemont Love ("Plaintiff") against defendants Monroe Township (the "Township"), Monroe Police Department (the "Department", and together with the Township, the "Moving Defendants") and John Does 1-10. Presently before the Court is a motion for summary judgment by the Moving Defendants. The motion is unopposed. The Court decides the matter without oral argument pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78. For the reasons set forth herein, the motion for summary judgment is granted.

I. Factual Background*fn1

Plaintiff filed this action in connection with his arrest in the Township of Monroe, New Jersey on December 12, 2006. Plaintiff's complaint states claims under New Jersey state law, alleging that certain unnamed police officers assaulted him during his arrest and that the Moving

Defendants acted negligently in their hiring, employment, supervision and training of such police officers. Plaintiff also states claims under the United States Constitution pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violation of his civil rights.

Plaintiff's brother, Jerrold Love, was killed in a work-place accident on December 12, 2006. (Exhibit A, 9:11 to 10:23). Later that same day, Plaintiff and his relatives gathered at their family home in Monroe Township, New Jersey. (Exhibit A, 11:11 to 11:17). Plaintiff got into an verbal argument with his brother, Andre Love. (Exhibit A, 11:17 to 11:18; Exhibit B, 14:14 to 14:17; Exhibit C, 29:25). In an effort to end the argument, Plaintiff's father, Robert Love, called the police to report the domestic disturbance and to have Plaintiff escorted off the property. (Exhibit A, 12:5 to 12:16; Exhibit B, 14:14 to 14:17).

Officers Banos, Livingston, Mariano, Martinez, Painter, Silvestri, Strych and Sergeants Biennas and Taylor (the "Responding Officers") were dispatched to investigate the domestic disturbance. (Exhibit D, Mariano Report). When Officer Mariano arrived at the scene, she saw Plaintiff standing next to a car in the driveway of the home with a glass bottle of Jack Daniels Whiskey in his right hand and a two liter plastic bottle of Coca-Cola under his right arm. (Exhibit D, Mariano Report). Officer Mariano ordered Plaintiff to put the bottles down several times, but Plaintiff continuously refused to do so. (Exhibit A, 13:3 to 13:11; Exhibit C, 32:13 to 32: 15; Exhibit D, Mariano Report).

When Officer Mariano attempted to physically remove the bottles from Plaintiff's possession, Plaintiff grabbed Officer Mariano's wrist and began pushing her and punching in her direction. (Exhibit D, Mariano Report, Martinez Report, Biennas Report). Officers Banos, Mariano, Martinez, Livingston, Silverstri and Sergeant Biennas attempted to restrain Plaintiff and secure the bottles, but Plaintiff continued to punch and kick at the police officers. (Exhibit D, Mariano Report, Banos Report, Martinez Report, Biennas Report). Eventually, Officer Banos was able to handcuff Plaintiff and place him into custody. (Exhibit D, Banos Report, Martinez Report, Biennas Report).

Plaintiff was taken to police headquarters and charged with (1) obstructing the administration of law, (2) assault on a law enforcement officer / aggravated assault and (3) resisting arrest. (Exhibit D, Mariano Report; Exhibit E). While being processed, Plaintiff requested medical attention, complaining of pain in his shoulder, ankle and eye. (Exhibit D, Mariano Report, Biennas Report). Monroe First Aid Department evaluated Plaintiff at police headquarters. (Exhibit G). The medical records indicate that Plaintiff complained of pain in the shoulder, ankle and eye, but that there were no obvious deformities or bleeding at that time. (Exhibit G). Plaintiff was subsequently transferred to Old Bridge Regional Hospital for evaluation, where diagnostic testing revealed no fractures, dislocations or other osseous abnormalities in his eye, ankle or shoulder. (Exhibit H). Plaintiff was released from Old Bridge Regional Hospital with instructions for treatment of "acute alcohol intoxication", "muscle strain", the "use of acetaminophen" and the "use of over-the-counter ibuprofen." (Exhibit H).

Ten days later, on December 22, 2006, Plaintiff visited the Centra State Hospital Family Medicine Residency Center complaining of "back pain and difficulty walking." (Exhibit I). The medical records indicate that Plaintiff was told to that "ice, rest and NSAIDs" would help the soft tissue swelling and was given a theraband and a home exercise program for his ankle. (Exhibit I). On February 21, 2007, Plaintiff visited Dr. Mark Donlon complaining that he was seeing flashes of light in his right eye. (Exhibit J). The medical records from this appointment indicate that Plaintiff was diagnosed with astigmatism and declined glasses. (Exhibit J). Plaintiff's medical records also indicate that he visited Dr. Matthew Sorkin, D.D.S. on several occasions including on February 28, 2007, for a new patient evaluation, and on March 3, 2007, for an endodontic therapy (root canal). (Exhibit K).

The Moving Defendants filed the instant motion for summary judgment on October 29, 2010. With respect to Count I of the complaint, the Moving Defendants argue that they are immune from liability under the New Jersey Tort Claims Act and that the record lacks any basis for Plaintiff's claims that the entities acted negligently in their hiring, retention and / or training of the Responding Officers. The Moving Defendants further argue that there is no evidence to support Count II of the Plaintiff's complaint, which alleges that the Moving Defendants violated his civil rights under the United States Constitution.

II. Summary Judgment Standard

A court shall grant summary judgment under Rule 56 of the ...


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