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Lamont Walker, Gloria Walker, Quianna Walker v. Clifton Police Department

February 25, 2011

LAMONT WALKER, GLORIA WALKER, QUIANNA WALKER,
WALKER, KYAHEM WALKER, AND NAYQUAN WALKER, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CLIFTON POLICE DEPARTMENT, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dennis M. Cavanaugh, U.S.D.J.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

Hon. Dennis M. Cavanaugh JUSTICE OPINION

This matter comes before the Court upon motion by Defendant Clifton Police Department (the "Police Department") for summary judgment as to the claims of pro se Plaintiffs Lamont and Gloria Walker, and their children Quianna, Justice, Kyahem, and Nayquan (collectively "Plaintiffs"). Joining in the Police Department's motion are defendants Clifton Boys' and Girls' Club, Officer Paul Hesselberger, Detective Darren Brodie, Sergeant Andre Moreira, Officer Michael Mac Dermott, Officer Kasey Kide, Rina Witrow and Kathy Bestow (collectively "Defendants"). No oral argument was heard pursuant to Rule 78 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons stated below, Defendants' motion for summary judgment is granted and Plaintiffs' Complaint is dismissed with prejudice.

BACKGROUND*fn1

On May 21, 2006, members of the Police Department were summoned to the Boys' and Girls' Club in Clifton, New Jersey by employees of the Club on a report of unwanted parties in the pool area. Defs.' Br. 1-2. Upon arrival at the scene, Club employees Kathy Bestow and Rina Witrow informed the responding officers that Plaintiffs had improperly entered the Club, and refused to leave notwithstanding the fact that they were not members. Id. at 2. When Mr. Walker was approached by police, he made a scene, shouting expletives and disrupting Club members. He was arrested after refusing to leave the premises peaceably.

Later that day, Mrs. Walker went to the Clifton Police Department and asked to speak with one of the officers present during her husband's arrest. Id. at 5. While there, a scuffle ensued between Mrs. Walker and various police officers that ultimately resulted in her arrest. Id. The Complaint alleges that Mrs. Walker was fondled, groped and attacked by Defendants Sargent Moreira, Officer Mac Dermott and Detective Brodie of the Clifton Police Department. Compl. 1. Plaintiffs further allege that Mrs. Walker was denied medical attention for the lacerations and the head trauma she sustained from this purported attack. Id. at 2. Quianna, the Walkers' eleven year-old daughter, was also involved in an altercation with officers wherein she hit Officer Hesselberger in the face. She was subsequently arrested. Id. Quianna was also allegedly denied medical and psychological treatment. Id. Plaintiffs claim that at no point were they given Miranda warnings, that their bond was excessive and that they were continually harassed and bullied by the officers at the Police Department. Id. at 3.

Mr. and Mrs. Walker were charged with various offenses and tried by a Hawthorne Municipal Court Judge in 2008. Defs.' Br. 6. Mr. Walker was found guilty of Defiant Trespasser, N.J.S.A. 2C:18-3(b), Causing or Risking Widespread Injury or Damage, N.J.S.A. 2C:17-2(c), Terroristic Threats, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-3(a), Child Neglect, N.J.S.A. 9:6-1(a) and Offensive Language, N.J.S.A. 2:C:33-2(b). Id. at 7. Mrs. Walker was found guilty of Simple Assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(a)(1), Defiant Trespasser, N.J.S.A. 2C:18-3(b) and Offensive Language, N.J.S.A. 2C:33-2(b). Id. at 6-7.

Plaintiffs filed a pro se Complaint with this Court on May 5, 2009 asserting a variety of claims pursuant under 42 U.S.C. §1983,*fn2 including allegations of false arrest, illegal search and seizure, excessive force and malicious prosecution.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

"A court reviewing a summary judgment motion must evaluate the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor." Gaston

v. U.S. Postal Serv., 319 Fed. Appx. 155, 157 (3d Cir. 2009). However, "[t]he judgment sought should be rendered if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(2).

Generally, "[a] party against whom relief is sought may move, with or without supporting affidavits, for summary judgment on all or part of the claim" at any time "until 30 days after the close of all discovery." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(b), (c). "[T]he burden on the moving party may be discharged by 'showing'- that is, pointing out to the district court - that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Celotex Corp. v. Cartrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). "[R]egardless of whether the moving party accompanies its summary judgment motion with affidavits, the motion may, and should, be granted so long as whatever is before the district court demonstrates that the standard for the entry of summary judgment, as set forth in Rule 56(c), is satisfied." Id. (citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)).

When a motion for summary judgment is properly made and supported, [by contrast,] an opposing party may not rely merely on allegations or denials in its own pleading; rather, its response must-by affidavits or as otherwise provided in this rule-set out specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial. If the opposing party does not so respond, summary judgment should, if appropriate, be entered against that party.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)(2). If "the moving party has carried its burden under Rule 56(c), its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Indeed, "unsupported allegations in [a] memorandum and pleadings are insufficient to repel summary judgment." See Schoch v. First Fid. Bancorporation, 912 F.2d 654, 657 (3d Cir. 1990). Rule 56(e) permits "a party contending that there is no genuine dispute as to a specific, essential fact 'to demand at least one sworn averment of that fact before the lengthy process of litigation continues.'" Id. (quoting Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 888-89 (1990)). "It is clear enough that unsworn ...


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