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Lucia v. Carroll

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

May 2, 2014

LISA LUCIA, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL CARROLL; CITY OF WOODBRIDGE, THROUGH ITS POLICE DEPARTMENT; JOSEPH STRAILE, Defendants.

OPINION

SUSAN D. WIGENTON, District Judge.

Before the Court is Michael Carroll ("Officer Carroll") and the City of Woodbridge's ("Woodbridge") (collectively "Defendants") Motion for Summary Judgment ("Motion") pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Venue is proper in this District pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b). This Motion is decided without oral argument pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 78. For the reasons stated below, this Court GRANTS Defendants' Motion with respect to Counts I, II, and III.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff resides in Colonia, New Jersey. (Compl. ¶ 1.) Plaintiff and Joseph Straile ("Straile") have known each other for approximately fourteen years and have a five-year-old son together. (Defs' Statement of Material Facts ("Defs' SOF") ¶¶ 4-5.) Plaintiff maintains sole custody of the child and Straile is allowed supervised visitations. (Id. ¶ 8; Compl. ¶ 8.) Between April 2001 through April 2012, Plaintiff reported thirty-six incidents to the police, of which several reports related to domestic violence. (Defs' SOF ¶¶ 6-7; Defs' Br. Ex. E.)

On January 1, 2011, at approximately 5:30 p.m., after a supervised visitation, Straile dropped off his son at Plaintiff's home. (Defs' SOF ¶ 9; Defs' Br. Ex. F.) Plaintiff and Straile engaged in a heated argument regarding visitation. (Defs' SOF ¶ 9.) Straile was enraged, punched the refrigerator, and left Plaintiff's home. (Pl.'s Statement of Material Facts ("Pl.'s SOF") ¶ 10; Pl.'s Ex. 1.) At approximately 6:38 p.m., Straile went to the City of Woodbridge Police Department and reported a domestic violence incident. (Defs' SOF ¶ 11.) Officer Carroll-a police officer for the City of Woodbridge since 2008-was dispatched to respond to the report. (Id. ¶¶ 11, 27.) Straile alleged that Plaintiff attacked him with a knife causing abrasions to his right hand and right abdomen. (Id. ¶ 12.) Officer Carroll signed Straile's complaint for Plaintiff's aggravated assault based upon Straile's statements, Officer Carroll's investigation, and the visible injuries. (Id. ¶ 14; Defs' Br. Ex. I.) Officer Carroll took photographs of Straile's injuries and placed them into evidence. (Defs' Br. ¶ 15; Defs' Br. Exs. F, J.) After the complaint was filed, Officer Carroll sought an arrest warrant from Judge Morse of the Woodbridge Municipal Court. (Defs' Br. ¶ 16.) Judge Morse found probable cause and set bail at $20, 000.00 with no 10% option. (Id.)

At approximately 10:30 p.m., Officer Carroll and another officer arrived at Plaintiff's home to arrest her and charged her with aggravated assault. (Id. ¶ 17; Compl. ¶ 12.) Plaintiff was taken into custody and then transferred to the Middlesex County Jail workhouse. (Pl.'s SOF ¶ 37.) On January 2, 2011, after spending fifteen hours in jail, Plaintiff posted bail. (Id. ¶ 38; Defs' SOF ¶ 22.)

After being released from jail, Plaintiff filed a restraining order against Straile along with a complaint for filing a false report with law enforcement. (Defs' SOF ¶¶ 23-24.) On or about May 4, 2011, Plaintiff's aggravated assault charge was presented before the Middlesex County Grand Jury and she was not indicted. (Id. ¶ 25; Pl.'s SOF ¶ 46.)

On January 26, 2012, Straile was found guilty of filing a false report. (Defs' SOF ¶ 26.) Plaintiff commenced the instant action on June 20, 2012 against Officer Carroll, the City of Woodbridge through its police department, and Straile alleging the following Counts: (1) violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 as to Officer Carroll; (II) violations of the New Jersey Constitution and New Jersey Civil Rights Act as to Officer Carroll; (III) failure of the City of Woodbridge to train, supervise and/or discipline Officer Carroll; (IV) false arrest/false imprisonment as to Straile; (V) malicious prosecution as to Straile; and (VI) intentional infliction of emotional distress as to Straile. The City of Woodbridge and Officer Carroll brought the instant Motion for Summary Judgment with respect to Counts I, II, and III.

LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The "mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). A fact is only "material" for purposes of a summary judgment motion if a dispute over that fact "might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law." Id. at 248. A dispute about a material fact is "genuine" if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id . The dispute is not genuine if it merely involves "some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp. , 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986).

The moving party must show that if the evidentiary material of record were reduced to admissible evidence in court, it would be insufficient to permit the nonmoving party to carry its burden of proof. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). Once the moving party meets its initial burden, the burden then shifts to the nonmovant who must set forth specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial and may not rest upon the mere allegations, speculations, unsupported assertions or denials of its pleadings. Shields v. Zuccarini , 254 F.3d 476, 481 (3d Cir. 2001). "In considering a motion for summary judgment, a district court may not make credibility determinations or engage in any weighing of the evidence; instead, the non-moving party's evidence is to be believed and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor.'" Marino v. Indus. Crating Co. , 358 F.3d 241, 247 (3d Cir. 2004) (quoting Anderson , 477 U.S. at 255).

The nonmoving party "must present more than just bare assertions, conclusory allegations or suspicions' to show the existence of a genuine issue." Podobnik v. U.S. Postal Serv. , 409 F.3d 584, 594 (3d Cir. 2005) (quoting Celotex Corp. , 477 U.S. at 325). Further, the nonmoving party is required to "point to concrete evidence in the record which supports each essential element of its case." Black Car Assistance Corp. v. New Jersey , 351 F.Supp.2d 284, 286 (D.N.J. 2004). If the nonmoving party "fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which... [it has] the burden of proof, " then the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. , 477 U.S. at 322-23.

DISCUSSION

I. Count I: Violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 as to ...


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