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Sean P. Mcgann v. Collingswood Police Department

June 28, 2011

SEAN P. MCGANN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
COLLINGSWOOD POLICE DEPARTMENT,:
CAMDEN COUNTY PROSECUTOR'S OFFICE, AND
CAMDEN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, DEFENDANTS.



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

OPINION

Plaintiff, Sean P. McGann, alleges in his complaint that defendants, the Borough of Collingswood,*fn1 the Camden County Prosecutor's Office, and the Camden County Correctional Facility (collectively, "Defendants"), violated his constitutional rights. Defendants now move to dismiss Plaintiff's suit. Plaintiff, in turn, moves for default judgment. For the reasons expressed below, Defendants' motions will be granted. Plaintiff, however, will have leave to amend his complaint.*fn2 Further, Plaintiff's motion for default judgment will be denied.

I. JURISDICTION

Plaintiff has brought federal constitutional claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.*fn3 The Court has jurisdiction over Plaintiff's federal claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

II. BACKGROUND

On December 22, 2006, officers of the Collingswood Police Department arrested Plaintiff outside of his apartment, on suspicion of theft.*fn4 At the time of his arrest, Plaintiff had been employed as a police officer with the Collingswood Police Department for about eight years. The officers did not have a warrant for the arrest or inform Plaintiff as to why he was being detained.*fn5 The officers searched Plaintiff's person and seized approximately $1,500 incident to the arrest. Plaintiff was transported to police headquarters where he was given his Miranda warnings and interrogated by representatives of the Camden County Prosecutor's Office. During the interrogation, Plaintiff admitted to two thefts from within the Collingswood Police Department. At the time of his arrest and interrogation, Plaintiff was intoxicated.

After the interrogation, Plaintiff was transported back to his apartment and was forced to observe members of the Collingswood Police Department conduct an illegal search of his residence and illegally seize his personal items. Officers showed Plaintiff drug-related contraband purportedly seized from inside his bedroom. Plaintiff did not recognize the contraband and hypothesizes that it may have been planted by Defendants.*fn6

At the police station, Plaintiff was charged with official misconduct, without being charged for an underlying offense. Thereafter, Plaintiff was informed that he could go to jail or a crisis center. Even though he did not exhibit symptoms of mental illness, Plaintiff chose to go to JFK Hospital's Crisis Center where he received medications. From there, he was detained against his will at a behavioral health facility until his retained counsel secured his release.

On the advice of his counsel, Plaintiff accepted a plea agreement in which he pled guilty to third-degree theft and had the official misconduct charge dropped. Plaintiff contends he was unaware that he was pleading guilty to a felony charge. He was sentenced to six months of house arrest, beginning on July 4, 2007.

While on house arrest, Plaintiff informed his house arrest officer that he needed to report to JFK Hospital's Crisis Center to receive medical attention. The officer assured him this would not violate the terms of his house arrest. Plaintiff went to the crisis center. There, Plaintiff passed out from medications administered to him. When he awoke, Plaintiff was incarcerated in the Camden County Correctional Facility. He was advised he had been arrested for violating his house arrest. Plaintiff served two-and-a-half months in solitary confinement and suffered abuse and humiliation at the hands of prison officials until his release on October 12, 2007. Upon his release, he was subject to three years of probation.

On February 3, 2008, Plaintiff was arrested for violating the terms of his probation. He was arrested in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but transferred to Camden County Correctional Facility approximately two weeks later. While in jail, Plaintiff was served with a temporary restraining order ("TRO") on behalf of his ex-girlfriend. Sometime after being released, Plaintiff was sentenced to one-year probation for violating the TRO. Ultimately, Plaintiff succeeded in having the TRO dismissed at a hearing to consider a final restraining order, in spite of possible attempts to influence the fact-finder by law enforcement personnel.

Apparently throughout 2009, Plaintiff contacted the Collingswood Police Department repeatedly to collect pay from unused sick days and to recover personal items that had been improperly seized by members of the Department. In addition to frustrating his attempts to collect the money and his belongings, the Collingswood Police Department unlawfully charged him with harassment on an unspecified number of occasions. At least one charge of harassment resulted in Plaintiff being sentenced and assessed for fines.

In July 2010, Plaintiff brought suit against Defendants in this Court, alleging violations of his constitutional rights.*fn7

Since that time, Defendants have moved to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint, arguing that his Section 1983 claims are barred by the statute of limitations. The Borough of Collingswood also argues that Plaintiff's complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Plaintiff, in turn, moves for default judgment ...


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