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Vasquez v. Gloucester County

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

April 21, 2014

AMY Vasquez, Plaintiff,
v.
GLOUCESTER COUNTY, et al., Defendants.

LAW OFFICE OF AMY VASQUEZ, Amy Vasquez, Esq., Plaintiff Pro Se.

CIPRIANI & WERNER, P.C., Ernest F. Koschineg, III, Esq., Counsel for Defendant Defibtech, LLC.

OPINION

JOSEPH E. IRENAS, District Judge.

Plaintiff Amy Vasquez brings this wrongful death pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and associated state-law claims.[1] Pending before the Court is Defendant Defibtech, LLC's partial motion to dismiss Plaintiff's design defect and punitive damages claims. For the reasons set forth below, this motion will be granted.

I.

On July 7, 2011, attorney Peter N. Fiorentino ("Fiorentino") waited in a second floor conference room in the Gloucester County Courthouse in Woodbury, New Jersey. (Compl. ¶ 20) At an unspecified time, Fiorentino was scheduled to appear before a judge elsewhere on the second floor. (Id.) As he waited, Fiorentino suffered cardiac arrest. (Id.)

Following calls to 9-1-1, sheriff's officers responded to aid Fiorentino, but could not immediately locate an automated external defibrillator ("AED"). (Id. ¶¶ 21-22) AEDs were ultimately found on the first and third floors of the building, but unspecified reports indicated that an AED malfunctioned at the scene. (Id. ¶¶ 22-23) At least one of the two AEDs in the courthouse were designed and manufactured by Defendant Defibtech, LLC, serial number: XXXXXXXXX. (Id. ¶ 56)

At some point after the officers responded, Gloucester County Emergency Medical Services also responded to the scene, and Fiorentino regained a pulse before he was transported to Underwood Hospital. (Id. ¶¶ 23-24). However, Fiorentino never regained consciousness and died later that day. (Id. ¶ 26)

The Medical Examiner determined that anoxic encephalopathy caused Fiorentino's death. (Id. ¶ 27) Specifically, Fiorentino suffered an anoxic brain injury because of a lack of oxygen flowing to his brain for several minutes on July 7th. (Id.)

On July 8, 2013, Plaintiff Amy Vasquez ("Vasquez"), Fiorentino's widow and executor of his estate, brought this suit to recover for his death. (Compl. ¶¶ 1-3) Among other allegations, Vasquez asserts the following claims against Defibtech: defective design, failure to warn, wrongful death, a survival action, loss of consortium, and punitive damages. On December 13, Defibtech moved under Rule 12(b)(6) to dismiss Vasquez's design defect claim and her demand for punitive damages under the New Jersey Products Liability Act. Vasquez timely opposed this motion on January 7, 2014, and the motion is now ripe for consideration.

II.

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides that a court may dismiss a complaint "for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must allege facts that raise a right to relief above the speculative level. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).

When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the reviewing court must accept as true all allegations in the complaint and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008). In reviewing the allegations, a court is not required to accept sweeping legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations, unwarranted inferences, or unsupported conclusions. Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997). Instead, the complaint must state sufficient facts to show that the legal allegations are not simply possible, but plausible. Phillips, 515 F.3d at 234. "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff ...


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