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Brian Robinson v. Sgt. Janet Jordan

March 30, 2011

BRIAN ROBINSON
PLAINTIFF,
v.
SGT. JANET JORDAN, DEFENDANT.



APPEARANCES: WILLIAM H. BUCKMAN 110 MARTER AVENUE SUITE 209 MOORESTOWN, NJ 08057 On behalf of plaintiff ANNE E. WALTERS CHARLES SHIMBERG PC 41 SOUTH HADDON AVENUE 2ND FLOOR HADDONFIELD, NJ 08033 On behalf of defendant

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

OPINION

Presently before the Court is the motion of defendant for summary judgment on plaintiff's claims that defendant violated his federal and state constitutional rights for falsely arresting and maliciously prosecuting him. For the reasons expressed below, defendant's motion will be denied.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, Brian Robinson, claims that defendant, Sergeant Janet Jordan, who is an investigator for the Camden County Prosecutor's Office, filed criminal complaints against plaintiff without probable cause, thus causing him to be falsely arrested and erroneously and maliciously prosecuted, in violation of his federal and state constitutional rights. Plaintiff claims that on the morning of March 15, 2008, defendant caused him to be arrested, criminally charged, and prosecuted for allegations made by his 16 year-old daughter, J.R., and her 18 year-old boyfriend, Douglas Greenwood,*fn1 that on the previous day, plaintiff had pushed her down the stairs and raped her, as he had done on several previous occasions. Plaintiff vigorously denies the claims of his daughter and her boyfriend, and the charges were ultimately dropped because of J.R.'s refusal to testify before the grand jury. Plaintiff contends that defendant committed numerous egregious errors in her investigation into the allegations, and defendant's incompetence led to his arrest, prosecution, and resulting damages to his health, reputation, and economic status.*fn2 Plaintiff has brought claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violation of his Fourth Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution, as well as claims pursuant to the New Jersey Constitution for similar violations of his rights.

Defendant has moved for summary judgment on plaintiff's claims, arguing that she did not commit any errors in her investigation, and that plaintiff's arrest was supported by sworn affidavits of Greenwood and J.R. Accordingly, defendant argues that plaintiff's arrest was supported by the requisite probable cause. Defendant further argues that plaintiff's claims for malicious prosecution fail because his arrest was based on probable cause, and because she did not act maliciously in effecting his arrest. Defendant also contends that she is entitled to qualified immunity on plaintiff's federal constitutional claims. Plaintiff has opposed defendant's motion.

DISCUSSION

A. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

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

B. Standard for Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is appropriate where the Court is satisfied that "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 330 (1986); Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c).

An issue is "genuine" if it is supported by evidence such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict in the nonmoving party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A fact is "material" if, under the governing substantive law, a dispute about the fact might affect the outcome of the suit. Id. In considering a motion for summary judgment, a district court may not make credibility determinations or engage in any weighing of the evidence; instead, the nonmoving party's evidence "is to be believed and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor." Marino v. Indus. Crating Co., 358 F.3d 241, 247 (3d Cir. 2004) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255).

Initially, the moving party has the burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 323; see Singletary v. Pa. Dept. of Corr., 266 F.3d 186, 192 n.2 (3d Cir. 2001) ("Although the initial burden is on the summary judgment movant to show the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, 'the 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' when the nonmoving party bears the ultimate burden of proof." (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325)). Once the moving party has met this burden, the nonmoving party must identify, by affidavits or otherwise, specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id. Thus, to withstand a properly supported motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party must identify specific facts and affirmative evidence that contradict ...


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