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Barbara A. Manetti, et al v. Janice Ulker

July 16, 2012

BARBARA A. MANETTI, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
JANICE ULKER, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

OPINION

Pro se plaintiffs Barbara and Albert Manetti,*fn1 husband and wife, ("the Manettis" or "Plaintiffs") have brought this action against the Township of Jackson (the "Township"), the Jackson Township Police Department ("Jackson PD"), Janice Ulker, Michael E. Wilbert, Esq., and David T. Schlendorf, Esq. asserting civil rights claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 as well as various state law claims. Presently before the Court are motions for summary judgment filed by each of the defendants. The Court decides the motions without oral argument pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78. For the reasons below, the Court grants summary judgment in favor of defendants on Plaintiff's federal law claims, and declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state claims.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The genesis of the claims in this action is a family dispute between the Manettis and Mr. Manetti's biological daughter, Janice Ulker. Mr. Manetti had been estranged from Ulker since the 1970s, but reunited with her approximately 2007. Sometime thereafter, the Manettis were introduced to Ulker's fiancee, Donald Woit, and they engaged the services of Woit's construction company to do some work for them. A dispute arose regarding the quality of the work that was done, and the Manettis filed complaints in state court and with the state Division of Consumer Affairs against Woit. Perhaps not unsurprisingly, the relationship between Ulker and Albert Manetti deteriorated thereafter.

It is not disputed that on or about February 2008, Ulker filed a domestic violence complaint against Albert Manetti, and she sought and obtained the issuance of a temporary restraining order. Compl. Ex. A. The restraining order contained a provision entitled "WARRANT TO SEARCH FOR AND TO SEIZE WEAPONS FOR SAFEKEEPING", where the following language was set forth:

(X) TO ANY LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER HAVING JURISDICTION: This Order shall serve as a warrant to search for and seize any issued permit to carry a firearm, application to purchase a firearm and firearms purchaser identification card issued to the defendant and the following firearms(s) or other weapons(s): various guns, rifles.

1. You are hereby commanded to search for the above described weapons and/or permits to carry a firearm, application to purchase a firearm and firearms purchaser identification card and to serve a copy of this Order upon the person at the premises or location described as 5 Basso St., Jackson, NJ -- Brown Gun Cabinet.

2. You are hereby ordered in the event you seize any of the weapons described above, to give a receipt for the property seized to the person from whom they were taken or in whose possession they were found, or in the absence of such a person to have a copy of this Order together with such receipt in or upon the said structure from which the property was taken.

3. You are authorized to execute this order immediately or as soon thereafter as is practicable (x) Anytime; ( ) Other: _____.

4. You are further ordered after the execution of this Order, to promptly provide the Court with a written inventory of the property seized per this Order.

Id. Ex. A. Pursuant to this warrant provision, members of the Jackson Township Police Department went to the Manetti's home and seized weapons and ammunition. Plaintiffs claim that the police officers exceeded the scope of the warrant by allegedly seizing and confiscating "plaintiffs' foreign collectible currency and a German leather clip" that were located in Plaintiffs' home. Compl. ¶ 33. Plaintiffs also allege that the police officers failed to account for these items as well as for "two collectible rifles" on the receipt provided to Plaintiffs, and that the officers damaged many of the collectible weapons. Id. ¶ 34, 35.

On or about February 13, 2008, Albert Manetti retained defendant David Schlendorf, Esq., to represent him in connection with the temporary restraining order and the weapons forfeiture action. Ulker, in the meantime, had retained defendant Michael Wilbert, Esq., to represent her interests. The complaint alleges that Schlendorf, Wilbert and Ulker conspired against Plaintiffs in an effort to obtain money from Plaintiffs in retaliation for the Manetti's state court and Consumer Affairs complaints against Ulker's fiancee. Id. ¶ 88. Specifically, Plaintiffs allege that these defendants conspired to coerce Plaintiffs into a monetary settlement as a means of resolving the legal actions relating to the temporary restraining order filed by Ulker. Id. ¶ 89.

The Complaint in this action contains 11 counts. Counts I, II and III are brought under § 1983 and allege that the Township of Jackson and the Jackson Township Police Department*fn2

violated Plaintiffs' rights under the Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. The remaining counts allege state law claims for negligence (Count IV), negligent supervision (Count V), civil conspiracy (Counts VI and VIII), conversion (Count VII), breach of ...


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