The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Dennis M. Cavanaugh
DENNIS M. CAVANAUGH, U.S.D.J.:
This matter comes before the Court upon motion by Borough of Haledon, Councilperson Heather Kilminster, Councilperson Michael Tirri, Councilperson Reynaldo Martinez, Mayor Domenick Stampone, and Administrator Allan Susen (collectively "Defendants") to dismiss Plaintiff's claims which are addressable in state court and to stay proceedings of the remaining federal claims pending the resolution of the administrative proceedings in state court. Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 78, no oral argument was heard. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants motion is granted in part and denied in part.
Louis Mercuro ("Plaintiff") is Chief of Police with the Borough of Haledon Police Department. Plaintiff was originally hired by Borough of Haledon Police Department on October 10, 1980, and received the following promotions: Sergeant on May 8, 1987; Lieutenant in September 2001; Acting Chief in September 2004 through February 2005; Chief in 2005. During his career, and prior to the events at issue, Plaintiff was only disciplined once in 1981 and received a three day suspension.
Defendants are the Borough of Haledon; the Borough of Haledon Police Department; Haledon Borough council members Heather Kilminster ("Kilminster"), Michael Tirri ("Tirri"), Reynaldo Martinez ("Martinez"); Mayor of Borough of Haledon, Dominic Stanpone ("Stanpone"); and Borough of Haledon Administrator Allan Susan ("Susan").
Plaintiff alleges that he was informed by the Federal Bureau of Investigations ("FBI") and the New Jersey State Police of an investigation of residents of the Borough of Haledon, specifically Defendant Kilminster and former Councilman Alan Souto. Plaintiff also alleges that in his official capacity as Chief he closed down and/or investigated several bars, and that he was told to leave these bars alone due to Defendants relationships with these bars.
On June 4, 2009, Plaintiff, in full police uniform, spoke at a public meeting of the Borough of Haledon governing body, and made statements alleging there was an ongoing criminal investigation of certain council members and that certain council members used cocaine.
On June 5, 2009, Plaintiff was served with a Preliminary Notice of Disciplinary Action notifying
Plaintiff of the disciplinary charges against him and immediately suspending him with pay pending final resolution of the matter. Additional charges were filed on January 14, 2010, and again on March 3, 2010.
Plaintiff brought claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of his First Amendment right to free speech (Count I); his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights (Counts VIII and XV); for supervisory liability against the individual Defendants (Count X); and for the Borough's failure to train and supervise persons in investigating complaints of police misconduct (Count XI). Plaintiff also brought a claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988 (Count XIII). Plaintiff also brought state law claims pursuant to the New Jersey Constitution for retaliation in violation of Plaintiff's state constitutional right to free speech (Count II); pursuant to New Jersey's Conscientious Employee Protection Act ("CEPA") (Count III); and pursuant to various state statutes and Borough Ordinances governing the duties and procedures for the administration of police departments and discipline of police officers (Counts IV, V, VI, VII, IX, XII, and XIV). Plaintiff is seeking both injunctive and compensatory relief in the form of reinstatement, withdrawal of disciplinary charges, back and front pay, punitive damages, and attorneys fees.
Disciplinary proceedings commenced in the summer of 2010, and are ongoing. Defendants are seeking a dismissal of Plaintiff's claims that are addressable in state court proceedings, and a stay of proceedings related to any remaining federal claims pending ...