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Paszkowski v. Roxbury Township Police Department

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

January 30, 2014

JOE PASZKOWSKI, Plaintiff,
v.
ROXBURY TOWNSHIP POLICE DEPARTMENT, et al., Defendants.

OPINION & ORDER

FAITH S. HOCHBERG, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court upon Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) or, in the alternative, motion for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. Defendants argue that the individual defendants are entitled to the defense of qualified immunity and that Plaintiff has failed to properly plead a claim against the Roxbury Township Police Department under Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of City of New York, 436 U.S. 658 (1978). The Court has reviewed the submissions of the parties and considers the motion pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78.

I. BACKGROUND[1]

On April 29, 2013, Officer John Sylvester executed and issued Complaint-Warrant 2013-244. In that warrant, Officer Sylvester alleged that Joe Paszkowski ("Paszkowski" or "Plaintiff") did "knowingly and purposely threaten to kill another, specifically by hanging them, " in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-3b, terroristic threats, a third degree crime, by leaving a voicemail on a telephone answering system.[2]

The gravamen of Plaintiff's complaint is that before Officer Sylvester executed and issued the warrant against Plaintiff, he listened to the entire recorded voicemail but only disclosed a portion of the voicemail in his complaint-warrant, his April 30, 2013 Investigation Report, and his May 13, 2013 Supplementary Investigation Report.[3] According to Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, the entire recorded message stated:

I heard Nick is dead, that he committed suicide. I'm going to hang both of you... so bad. I'm coming up to New Jersey. I'm leaving tomorrow morning and I'm going to... have a prosecutor look into the case for what you did to... Nick. You two... are going to be both in jail.

(Dkt. No. 2, ¶ 4.)[4] According to the complaint, the complaint-warrant excluded portions of the message that "clearly negate any threat to kill another by hanging." ( Id., ¶ 5.) The warrant was reviewed and approved by Lieutenant Timothy Driscoll. Municipal Court Judge Carl Wronko signed the warrant.[5]

On May 8, 2013, members of the Pennsylvania State Police arrested Plaintiff at his home and incarcerated him in the Warren County, Pennsylvania jail pending extradition to New Jersey. While incarcerated, Plaintiff suffered an angioedema attack, supraglottic edema, and respiratory distress. As a result, Plaintiff was hospitalized. On August 2, 2013, the Morris County Prosecutor's Office presented the criminal charge to the Morris County Grand Jury, which returned a no bill.

Plaintiff also alleges that the Roxbury Township Police Department negligently hired the individual defendants, failed to properly train and supervise the individual defendants, and failed to provide appropriate safeguards to prevent the alleged unlawful conduct. Plaintiff alleges that as a result of these events, he was subject to unlawful arrest and seizure in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and the laws and Constitution of the State of New Jersey.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

"To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)); see also Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) ("[S]tating... a claim requires a complaint with enough factual matter (taken as true) to suggest the required element. This does not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage, but instead simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the necessary element.") (internal quotations omitted).

When considering a motion to dismiss under Iqbal, the Court must conduct a two-part analysis. "First, the factual and legal elements of a claim should be separated. The District Court must accept all of the complaint's well-pleaded facts as true, but may disregard any legal conclusions. Second, a District Court must then determine whether the facts alleged in the complaint are sufficient to show that the plaintiff has a plausible claim for relief." Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009) (internal citations and quotations omitted). "A pleading that offers labels and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (internal quotations and alterations omitted).

"As a general matter, a district court ruling on a motion to dismiss may not consider matters extraneous to the pleadings. However, an exception to the general rule is that a document integral to or explicitly relied upon in the complaint' may be considered without converting the motion [to dismiss] into one for summary judgment.'" In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. ...


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