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Smith v. New Jersey

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

November 7, 2012

Beverly SMITH, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
State of NEW JERSEY, et al., Defendants.

Page 561

Anthony Granato, Jarve Kaplan Granato, LLC, Marlton, NJ, for Plaintiffs Beverly Smith and Joe Smith.

Vincent J. Rizzo, Jr., Office of the NJ Attorney General, RJ Hughes Justice Complex, Trenton, NJ, for Defendants State of New Jersey, New Jersey State Police, and State Trooper Carlos Rodriguez.

OPINION

SIMANDLE, Chief Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiffs Beverly Smith and Joe Smith filed a lawsuit against Defendants State of New Jersey, the New Jersey State Police, and State Trooper Carlos Rodriguez alleging violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the New Jersey State Constitution, and the New Jersey Civil Rights Act and claims for assault, battery, and false imprisonment. Defendants filed a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [Docket Item 30] arguing that federal claims against Defendants State of New Jersey, the New Jersey State Police, and Trooper Rodriguez in his official capacity are barred by the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution and by the definition of persons who may be liable under § 1983. For the reasons explained herein, the Court will grant Defendants' motion.

II. BACKGROUND

This section outlines Plaintiffs' factual and legal allegations. It also describes Defendants' arguments in their Motion for Partial Summary Judgment and Plaintiffs' arguments in their opposition to Defendants' motion.

A. Factual Background

Plaintiffs Beverly Smith and Joe Smith filed a lawsuit against Defendants State of New Jersey, the New Jersey State Police, and State Trooper Carlos Rodriguez [1]. (Am. Compl.) The New Jersey State Police Department, which employs Trooper Rodriguez, is an arm of the State of New Jersey. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 1-2.)

Plaintiffs originally filed their Complaint in the Superior Court of New Jersey Law Division, Camden County, and Defendants removed the action to this Court. [Docket Item 1.]

On June 24, 2007, Detective Carlos Rodriguez, a New Jersey State Police Officer, was conducting an investigation in Camden, NJ, when he reportedly heard " yelling, cursing, and furniture being moved" and a voice asking someone to call the police. (Pl. Opp'n Ex. A, Expert Report of Timothy J. Longo, Sr. [2], ¶¶ 13-15.) Detective Rodriguez and Trooper B. Carswell,

Page 562

another New Jersey State Policeman, approached the Plaintiffs' home, from which they believed they heard the noise. ( Id. ¶ 16.) They opened the front door, entered the home and, after an altercation the nature of which is disputed, arrested Joseph Smith. ( Id. ¶ 22-24.) Plaintiffs allege that the entry into their home was ...


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