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John Platt v. Jose Gonzalez

June 9, 2011

JOHN PLATT, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOSE GONZALEZ, GEORGE ADAMS, ANGELO MAIMONE, CHIEF JOHN MOONEY, AND
CITY OF ATLANTIC CITY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Joseph E. Irenas

OPINION

IRENAS, Senior District Judge:

Plaintiff John Platt initiated this lawsuit against the City of Atlantic City and individual police officers Jose Gonzalez, George Adams, and Angelo Maimone (collectively "Defendants").*fn1

Plaintiff alleges federal and state civil rights violations and several tort-based claims stemming from an incident with Defendants and a police dog during which Plaintiff was injured.*fn2

Pending before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.

I.

Plaintiff was employed as a night-shift security guard for Allied Snug Harbor. (Defs' 56.1 Stat. ¶ 6; Pl's Stat. of Facts ¶ 4.)*fn3 The incident at issue in this case took place on January 11, 2008 at the construction site that was Plaintiff's place of employment. (Defs' 56.1 Stat. ¶¶ 1, 20.)

The parties agree that on the night in question Plaintiff brought beer to the construction site and drank it while on the job. (Defs' 56.1 Stat. ¶ 11; Pl's Stat. of Facts ¶ 10.) The parties also agree that Owen Mastrocola, Plaintiff's friend, arrived at the construction site intoxicated and began arguing with Plaintiff in the construction trailer, which did not have electricity. (Defs' 56.1 Stat. ¶¶ 12-13, 17-18; Pl's Stat. of Facts ¶¶ 11-12, 14.)

Once the police officers arrived at the scene, Plaintiff's and Defendants' version of the events diverge. According to Defendants, they witnessed Plaintiff and Mastrocola emerging from the trailer and advised them to place their hands in the air. (Defs' 56.1 Stat. ¶ 22.) Plaintiff became belligerent, refused verbal commands and made aggressive movements, at which point Defendant Gonzalez attempted to subdue him. (Id. ¶¶ 23-25.) Plaintiff then began violently struggling with Defendant Gonzalez and the other Defendants. When they were unable to apprehend Plaintiff, Defendant Adams released the police dog, which Plaintiff attempted to choke. (Id. ¶¶ 26-28.)

According to Plaintiff, he opened the door of the construction trailer when Defendants knocked. (Pl's Stat. of Facts ¶¶ 15-16.) When he was instructed to exit the trailer, Plaintiff identified himself as security and attempted to retrieve credentials from his back pocket. (Id. ¶¶ 18-19.) Defendants then released the police dog, which began biting Plaintiff. (Id.) As Plaintiff attempted to protect himself from the police dog by placing it in a hold, Defendants began hitting him. (Id. ¶¶ 20-24.)

Plaintiff was taken into custody, sent to the hospital to be treated for his injuries and ultimately charged with assault, resisting arrest and obstruction. (Defs' 56.1 Stat. ¶ 29-30.) Plaintiff pled guilty to resisting arrest on June 2, 2009. (Id. ¶ 31.)

Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this Court on December 3, 2009. While the seven-count Complaint is not entirely clear as to the claims asserted, it appears Plaintiff alleges the following causes of action: Count One, assault against Defendants Gonzalez, Adams, and Maimone; Count Two, negligent hiring and training against Defendant City of Atlantic City; Counts Three and Four, civil rights violations under the New Jersey and Federal Constitutions against all Defendants; Count Five, negligence in failing to prevent Plaintiff's injury against Defendant John Doe;*fn4 Count Six, negligence in failing to prevent Plaintiff's injury against all Defendants; Count Seven, strict liability against all Defendants.

On May 2, 2011, Defendants' filed their Motion for ...


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