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Robin Bonner v. State of New Jersey

January 27, 2012

ROBIN BONNER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
STATE OF NEW JERSEY, (JEI/JS) DEPARTMENT OF LAW AND PUBLIC SAFETY, DIVISION OF STATE POLICE; ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

OPINION

IRENAS, Senior District Judge:

Plaintiff Robin Bonner initiated this action after being subjected to a pat down search when several New Jersey state police troopers responded to a report of a man pointing a gun at a school bus.*fn1 Named as Defendants in this action are the New Jersey Division of State Police; its Superintendent, Colonel Joseph Ricardo Fuentes; Commander of Troop A, Major Mark Weeks; and several state police troopers. Pending before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.

I.

This action arises out of a pat down search conducted on May 28, 2008 after several troopers from the New Jersey State Police responded to a report of a man pointing a gun at a school bus. (Compl. ¶ 30, 39.)

The troopers arrived with guns drawn at Plaintiff's residence, located at 719 Irving Ave, Bridgeton, NJ, around 8 a.m.*fn2 (Id. ¶ 30.) Plaintiff was standing behind her husband at the front door. (Pl's dep. at 23.) The troopers ordered Plaintiff and her husband out of the house and onto the ground in the front yard. (Id. at 24.) Plaintiff did not immediately comply because she was wearing a bra, underwear, and a short housecoat that did not even reach mid-thigh. (Id.) After being ordered again to exit the house and get down on the ground, Plaintiff complied and was patted down. (Id.)

Following the pat down, which lasted one to two minutes and did not reveal any weapons, the troopers put their guns away and allowed Plaintiff and her husband to get off the ground. (Id. at 25, 36; Pl's answers to interrog. #12.) At this time, Plaintiff's husband explained that he had a toy pistol with him while his son was boarding the school bus. (Id.) Plaintiff was instructed to sit on the front porch while her husband went into the residence with some of the troopers to retrieve the toy pistol. (Id.) After confirming that the pistol was a toy, Plaintiff was allowed back into the residence. (Id. at 27.) The entire incident, including the completion of paperwork, lasted approximately 20 to 30 minutes. (Id. at 28-29.)

As a result of the incident, Plaintiff missed one day of work. (Id. at 31.) According to Plaintiff, she was not physically injured by the troopers and she did not seek any type of medical treatment whatsoever. (Id. at 15-16, 35.) However, she describes the incident as a "humiliating, degrading experience and emotionally draining." (Id. at 34.) Although Plaintiff is unaware of anyone witnessing the incident, she explains:

I live on a busy street, so anybody going by could have seen that. And, you know, I have a reputation. My job, like I am a public servant, so I mean, that could have cost me my job. And my reputation as far as I do a ministry, a Bible ministry . . . . (Id.)

On May 26, 2010, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this Court. On November 9, 2011, Defendants moved for summary judgment.

II.

"[S]ummary judgment is proper 'if 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, 322 (1986) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)). In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the Court must construe the facts and inferences in a light most favorable to the non-moving party. Pollock v. Am. Tel. & Tel. Long Lines, 794 F.2d 860, 864 (3d Cir. 1986). "'With respect to an issue on which the non-moving party bears the burden of proof, 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.'" Conoshenti v. Public Serv. Elec. & Gas, 364 F.3d 135, 145-46 (3d Cir. 2004) (quoting Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323). The role of the Court is not "to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter, but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986).

III.

Plaintiff asserts claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 for an unreasonable search and seizure, excessive force, false arrest, false imprisonment, ...


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