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Catlett v. New Jersey State Police

United States District Court, Third Circuit

November 19, 2013

AMY K.Z. CATLETT, Plaintiff,
v.
NEW JERSEY STATE POLICE, et al., Defendants.

Ms. Amy K.Z. Catlett, 3137 Swan Drive, Vineland, NJ., Plaintiff Pro Se.

Paola F. Kaczynski, Esq., WILLIAM J. FERREN & ASSOCIATES, Philadelphia, PA, Attorney for Defendants City of Vineland Police Department & Vineland Emergency Medical Service.

OPINION

JEROME B. SIMANDLE, Chief District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Amy K.Z. Catlett, pro se, brings this suit alleging a series of constitutional and common law tort claims against the City of Vineland Police Department ("VPD"), Vineland Emergency Medical Service ("VEMS"), several named New Jersey State Police ("NJSP") troopers, Vineland police officers and emergency medical technicians ("EMTs"), a nurse, a doctor, a medical center, and other unidentified individuals. Plaintiff claims she was tortiously and unconstitutionally detained by police and medical professionals and was administered unwanted medical treatment upon suspicion that she was suicidal. Before the Court is Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration and/or remand to state court. [Docket Item 56.] Defendants VPD and VEMS oppose this motion. [Docket Item 57.]

The key inquiries for the Court are (1) whether the Court made a clear error of law by overlooking Plaintiff's description of an alleged policy or custom in her proposed Amended Complaint, and (2) whether this matter should be remanded to the state courts because there are no remaining federal claims. For the reasons explained below, the Court will deny the motion for reconsideration and will not remand this matter to the state courts, as some federal claims remain.

II. BACKGROUND

The facts and procedural history of this case have been recounted at length in the Court's previous opinions.[1] The Court incorporates them here by reference. In brief, Plaintiff alleges, among other things, that she was forcibly removed from her home after the VPD received an anonymous tip that she might be suicidal, and, with VEMS, transported her to South Jersey Healthcare Regional Medical Center ("SJRMC"). Plaintiff claims that the VPD had no legitimate reason to think she was suicidal, that she was improperly removed from her home against her will, and that SJRMC was not a proper screening facility.

On May 20, 2013, the Court dismissed without prejudice the claims against the VPD and VEMS ("Vineland Defendants") because the complaint failed to allege facts that would create a plausible basis for a cause of action under § 1983, NJCRA, or any of the state law tort claims that were alleged. Catlett, 2013 WL 2181273, at *7. The Court held that Plaintiff failed to plead facts that illuminated whether VEMS was a state actor, id. at *4 n.4, and failed to plead facts from which a reasonable inference could be drawn that a policy or custom existed. Id. at *5. The Court also observed that, before the benefit of discovery, "the Third Circuit requires a plaintiff to identify a custom or policy, and specify what exactly that custom or policy was' in his or her complaint." Id. at *6 (citing McTernan v. City of York, 564 F.3d 636, 658 (3d Cir. 2009)). The Court then permitted Plaintiff to file one final motion to amend her Complaint to cure these deficiencies. Id. at *7. Plaintiff so filed.

On July 31, 2013, the Court denied Plaintiff's motion to amend as to all constitutional false imprisonment claims and state law claims against Defendants VPD and VEMS, because Plaintiff failed to plead facts that permitted a reasonable inference that a particular municipal policy or custom utilized by VPD or VEMS was unconstitutional. Catlett, 2013 WL 3949022, at *4. The Court noted that Plaintiff again failed to plead facts from which it could be reasonably inferred that VEMS was a state actor. Id. at *4 n.5. The Court also denied Plaintiff's motion to amend as to all § 1983 and NJCRA claims against Defendants Diorio, Stavoli and SJH because Plaintiff failed to plead that they were state actors. Id. at *6. The Court granted Plaintiff's motion to amend with respect to all other claims. Id.

Plaintiff now requests that the Court reconsider the dismissal of the Vineland Defendants, VPD and VEMS, from this case because she alleges that the court overlooked a description of the alleged unconstitutional policy and custom in her Proposed Amended Complaint. (Pl. Mot. Br. at 1.)

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Local Civil Rule 7.1(i) governs the Court's review of Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration. Rule 7.1(i) requires the moving party to set forth the factual matters or controlling legal authorities it believes the Court overlooked when rendering its initial decision. L. Civ. R. 7.1(i).

To prevail on a motion for reconsideration, Plaintiff must show one of the following: (1) an intervening change in the controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence that was not available when the court... [rendered the judgment in question]; or (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or fact or to prevent manifest injustice. Max's Seafood Cafe ex rel. Lou-Ann, Inc. v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3rd Cir. 1999); see also D'Argenzio v. Bank of Am. Corp., 877 F.Supp.2d 202, 206-07 (D.N.J. 2012). To prevail under the third prong, the movant must show that "dispositive factual matters or controlling decisions of law were brought to the court's attention but not considered." P. Schoenfeld Asset Mgmt. LLC v. Cendant Corp., 161 F.Supp.2d 349, 353 (D.N.J. 2001) (internal citations omitted). The ...


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