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Mann v. Walder

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

October 31, 2013

CARL MANN, JR., CARL MANN, SR., and SHELLY MANN, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
OFFICER CHAD WALDER; OFFICER KENNETH K. KRIETE; LIEUTENANT KELLY GOTTHEINER; LIEUTENANT THERESA GENARDI, in their individual and official capacities; NEW JERSEY STATE PARK POLICE, and STATE OF NEW JERSEY, Defendants-Respondents.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted July 30, 2013.

On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Bergen County, Docket No. L-2190-08.

Cotz & Cotz, attorneys for appellants (Lydia B. Cotz, on the briefs).

John J. Hoffman, Acting Attorney General, attorney for respondents (Lisa A. Puglisi, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel; Vincent J. Rizzo, Jr. and Randall B. Weaver, Deputy Attorneys General, on the brief).

Before Judges Espinosa and Hoffman.

PER CURIAM.

Plaintiff Carl Mann, Jr. appeals from an order that dismissed his claim of negligent infliction of emotional distress. We affirm.

This action arose from the fatal shooting of Emil Mann on April 1, 2006. Plaintiff alleged that, at the age of sixteen, he witnessed the shooting of Mann, whom he described as an uncle, and suffered emotional damages thereafter. The two were part of a group that set up a barbecue at an abandoned farm known as the German House, just outside Ringwood State Park. There was an altercation late in the afternoon with three New Jersey State Park Police officers, defendants Chad Walder, Kelly Gottheiner, and Kenneth Kriete, that ended in Walder shooting Mann twice. He died nine days later from his wounds.

Plaintiff suffered no physical injuries. Plaintiff's expenditures for medical expenses related to his incident were $187.

Initially, plaintiff brought this action through his parents, Carl Mann, Sr., and Shelly Mann. A second amended complaint alleged: negligent infliction of emotional distress (count one); false arrest and imprisonment (count two); and negligent training, hiring, and supervision (count three). Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment and plaintiff did not oppose the motion as to counts two and three.

In support of his emotional distress claim, plaintiff produced an expert opinion by Peter Crain, M.D. Dr. Crain examined plaintiff once. Dr. Crain concluded that plaintiff suffers from uncomplicated bereavement and maladaptive health behavior (overeating) affecting his general medical condition, which was secondary to plaintiff's bereavement. Dr. Crain's report reveals that plaintiff graduated from high school; that he sleeps adequately at night with no nightmares; that he has no difficulty performing his job at T.J. Maxx; and that, although he continues to distrust police officers, his fear of them has receded. He also told Dr. Crain that he misses Mann when he and his family take outings on all-terrain vehicles.

The trial court granted summary judgment to defendants, ruling that plaintiff failed to meet the threshold criteria for maintaining an action under the Tort Claims Act (TCA), N.J.S.A. 59:1-1 to 12-3. In this appeal, ...


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