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Geronimo v. Slattery

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

January 16, 2014

STEPHANIE GERONIMO, individually and as a representative of a class of similarly situated persons. Plaintiff,
v.
ALLAN SLATTERY, et al. Defendants.

OPINION

JOSE L. LINARES, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court by way of Defendants' motion for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56.[1] The Court has considered the parties' submissions in support of and in opposition to the instant motion and decides this matter without oral argument pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants summary judgment in favor of Defendants as to Plaintiff Stephanie Geronimo ("Plaintiff")'s individual and class section 1983 claims and declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff's remaining state law claims. The Court, instead, remands Plaintiff's state law claims to the Superior of Court of New Jersey, Hudson County, Law Division.

I. BACKGROUND

The parties do not dispute the facts of this case.[2] On March 11, 2011, Plaintiff allegedly started a house fire in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Vakharia Decl. Ex. A, ECF No. 28-4). Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Detective Allan Slattery, an employee of the Jersey City Police Department, spearheaded an investigation into the fire and subsequently applied to the Jersey City Municipal Court for a Complaint - Warrant alleging that Plaintiff committed criminal mischief. (Compl. pp. 1-2, ¶¶ 2-4, ECF No. 1-1; Vakharia Decl., Ex.A). Defendant Lieutenant Frank Sprague, who Plaintiff alleges is an employee of the Jersey City Police Department, reviewed and approved of Detective Slattery's application for the Complaint - Warrant. (Compl. pp. 3, ¶¶ 7-8; Vakharia Decl. Ex. A). The Jersey City Municipal Court - where Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Maria Pagan serves as the administrator - ultimately issued the Complaint - Warrant after finding probable cause that Plaintiff started the March 11 house fire by negligently burning a jacket in her bed, which caused approximately $100, 000 in property damage. (Compl. p. 4, ¶ 13; Vakharia Decl., Ex. A).

Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Officers Doran and Donahue, employees of the Jersey City Police Department, executed the Complaint - Warrant and arrested Plaintiff in her home on or about May 10, 2011. (Compl. pp. 3-4, ¶¶ 9-10). Plaintiff also alleges that Defendant Robert Kakoleski was the Acting Director of the Jersey Police Department at the time of the events underlying this action. ( Id. at p. 4, ¶ 14).

On May 31, 2012, a grand jury for the Superior Court of New Jersey, Hudson County, Law Division, issued an indictment against Plaintiff for criminal mischief, aggravated assault, and arson. (Vakharia Decl. Ex. B.). Plaintiff eventually pled guilty to criminal mischief on January 24, 2013. (Vakharia Decl. Ex. C, ECF No. 28-4).

On February 1, 2013, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Hudson County, Law Division. (Compl. p. 1). The Court construes Plaintiff's Complaint as asserting the following claims: (1) false arrest and false imprisonment under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on account of Defendant's violation of New Jersey Court Rule 3:3-1(c) (Count I); (2) violation of the New Jersey Civil Rights ("NJCRA"), N.J.S.A. 10:6-1, et seq., on account of Defendant's violation of New Jersey Court Rule 3:3-1(c) (Count II); (3) state common law false imprisonment (Count III); and (4) state common law negligent infliction of emotional distress (Count IV).[3]

The Complaint was removed to this Court on March 13, 2013. (ECF No. 1). This Court has original jurisdiction over Plaintiff's individual and class section 1983 claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff's state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint on October 11, 2013. (ECF No. 28).

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate when, drawing all reasonable inferences in the non-movant's favor, there exists no "genuine dispute as to any material fact" and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). The moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law when the non-moving party fails to make "a sufficient showing on an essential element of her case with respect to which she has the burden of proof." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The Court must, however, consider all facts and their reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. See Pennsylvania Coal Ass'n v. Babbitt, 63 F.3d 231, 236 (3d Cir. 1995). If a reasonable juror could return a verdict for the non-moving party regarding material disputed factual issues, summary judgment is not appropriate. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 242-43 ("At the summary judgment stage, the trial judge's function is not himself to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial.").

III. DISCUSSION

The Court begins by noting that Plaintiff anchors all of her claims against Defendants on their purported violation of New Jersey Court Rule 3:3-1(c).[4] That Rule provides:

A summons rather than an arrest warrant shall be issued unless:

(1) the defendant is charged with murder, kidnapping, aggravated manslaughter, manslaughter, robbery, aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact, criminal sexual contact, second degree aggravated assault, aggravated arson, arson, burglary, violations of Chapter 35 of Title 2C that constitute first or second degree crimes, any crime ...

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