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Vega v. City of Bridgeton

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

February 14, 2014

ANGIE M. VEGA Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF BRIDGETON Defendant.

OPINION

ROBERT B. KUGLER, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on the motion of Plaintiff Angie Vega ("Plaintiff") for an order to seek leave of court to file an amended complaint. (Doc. No. 17.) For the reasons stated below, Plaintiff's motion is DENIED.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff's suit arises out of an alleged physical assault on October 26, 2011. After the alleged assault, Plaintiff called 911 and was subsequently transported to the Bridgeton Hospital/Health Center where she was treated for "facial contusion, scalp contusion, neck pain and back pain." (Doc. No. 1 ("Compl.").) Once at the hospital, Plaintiff called the Bridgeton Police Department (the "BPD"), but was informed that they would not be coming to the hospital. (Id.) Based on the police's alleged failure to meet Plaintiff at the hospital, Plaintiff filed suit against the BPD on October 19, 2012, in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Cumberland County, asserting violations of her Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. (Id.)

In her Complaint, Plaintiff alleged that the BPD "neglected to ensure the rights, liberty, safety, health, fair treatment, the general welfare, and order of equality of Plaintiff." (Id.) She further alleged that she "felt like she was being treated like a slave by Defendant [sic] uncaring attitude." (Id.) And she concluded that due to the BPD's conduct, she "suffers emotional distress and mental anguish for fear [sic] Plaintiff's present and future life and safety are at risk." (Id.) On December 10, 2012, the City of Bridgeton filed a notice of removal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a) and § 1446(a) as Plaintiff's Complaint presented a federal question under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

On December 31, 2012, the City of Bridgeton filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). On May 23, 2013, the Court granted the City of Bridgeton's motion, but permitted Plaintiff to file a motion for leave to file an amended complaint in order to identify the proper municipal entity as the defendant in lieu of the "Bridgeton Police Department." (Doc. No. 14.) The Court further instructed Plaintiff that if she asserted a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the municipality to which the BPD belongs, she had to allege facts establishing municipal liability in a manner consistent with the Supreme Court of the United States' decision in Monell v. Department of Social Services of City of New York , 436 U.S. 658, 690 (1978) (stating that municipalities cannot be held liable under section 1983 "unless the action that is alleged to be unconstitutional implements or executes a policy statement, ordinance, regulation, or decision officially adopted and promulgated by that body's officers"), and subsequent cases developing the doctrine of section 1983 municipal liability, e.g., Kneipp v. Tedder , 95 F.3d 1199 (3d Cir. 1996). (Doc. No. 14.)

On June 18, 2013, Plaintiff filed a motion for an order to seek leave of court to file an amended complaint attaching her proposed Amended Complaint to her motion papers. (Doc. No. 17.) The proposed Amended Complaint is virtually identical to Plaintiff's original Complaint save for naming the City of Bridgeton as defendant and adding two paragraphs of additional allegations. (Id.)

In her proposed Amended Complaint, Plaintiff now alleges that Defendant violated the Thirteenth Amendment's prohibition against involuntary servitude by failing to show up at the Bridgeton Hospital when she called, forcing her to go to the BPD to report her alleged assault. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that this conduct constituted "psychological coercion." (Id.) Plaintiff also alleges that the BPD "did not go to seek the persons whom assaulted her until [she arrived at the BPD], " and that the BPD violated her Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. (Id.) Plaintiff concludes that Defendant's failure to respond to fourteen (14) interrogatories that she submitted in July 2012, "violates Rule 4:17 Interrogatories to Parties" by "not allowing [her] a fair trial, " and also violates her civil rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. (Id.)

Although Plaintiff does not cite any statutes, the Court believes that Plaintiff is attempting to bring claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. The Court now turns to the instant motion.

II. DISCUSSION & ANALYSIS

A. Legal Standard

Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, leave to amend pleadings shall be "freely give[n]" when "justice so requires." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). In Foman v. Davis , 371 U.S. 178 (1962), the Supreme Court articulated the liberal policy of allowing amendments underlying Rule 15(a) as follows:

If the underlying facts or circumstances relied upon by a plaintiff may be a proper subject of relief, he ought to be afforded an opportunity to test his claim on the merits. In the absence of any apparent or declared reason-such as undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of allowance ...

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