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Cottrell v. Norman

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

July 25, 2014

MARYANN COTTRELL and RICHARD G. HOLLAND, Plaintiffs,
v.
KEYSHONNA NORMAN, et al., Defendants.

MARYANN COTTRELL, RICHARD G. HOLLAND, GLASSBORO, NJ, Pro Se Plaintiffs.

STEPHEN GUICE, LAW OFFICES OF STEPHEN GUICE, P.C., BARRINGTON, NJ, Attorney for defendant Keyshonna Norman.

CHRISTOPHER THOMAS HUBER, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, TRENTON, NJ, Attorney for defendants Rowan University, Rowan University Police Dept., Rowan University Public Safety Dept., Michael Kantner, Rowan Security Dept., Lt. John Malinski, Siobhan McClintok, Officer Ryan Brennan, Officer Carrie Rathof, Sgt. Frank Davey, and Richard Hale.

OPINION

NOEL L. HILLMAN, District Judge.

Before the Court is a motion to dismiss filed by defendants Rowan University, Rowan University Police Dept., Rowan University Public Safety Dept., Michael Kantner, Rowan Security Dept., Rowan Police Lieutenant John Malinski, Rowan Police Officer Siobhan McClintok, Rowan Police Officer Ryan Brennan, Rowan Police Officer Carrie Rathof, and Rowan Police Sergeant Frank Davey (collectively "Rowan defendants").[1] For the reasons explained below, the Rowan defendants' motion to dismiss will be granted.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

According to plaintiffs' second amended complaint, plaintiff Cottrell is a mother of a severely disabled daughter, and plaintiffs are legally permitted to park their car in a handicap accessible parking space reserved for disabled individuals while transporting Cottrell's daughter. Plaintiffs are self-described longtime "advocates for the disabled" and often challenge perceived parking violations of individuals who illegally park in handicap parking spaces. They regularly file complaints with the U.S. Department of Justice, and in this Court.

On April 1, 2010, plaintiffs drove Cottrell's daughter, Brittany Sloope, to Rowan University to attend a "Get Fit" class. After class ended, plaintiffs were returning to their car when they noticed a car parked in a handicap parking space. Plaintiffs state that the temporary handicap placard had expired. Plaintiffs and the driver of the vehicle, defendant Keyshonna Norman, got into a verbal altercation.

About an hour after the incident, Norman filed an incident report with Rowan University against Cottrell for harassment and for theft of her temporary handicap placard. Based on the statements given by Norman, Rowan University police officers filed burglary charges against Cottrell for entering Norman's vehicle and removing the handicap placard.

On April 2, 2010, a Glassboro police officer, and four Rowan University police officers came to plaintiffs' residence and arrested Cottrell and charged her with theft, disorderly conduct and harassment. Plaintiffs were also given a trespass notice banning them from Rowan's campus. Cottrell filed a citizens' handicap parking complaint and harassment charge against Norman. On February 28, 2011, the charges against Cottrell were dismissed.

II. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On April 2, 2012, plaintiffs filed a complaint against the Rowan defendants and defendant Keyshonna Norman. On October 15, 2012, the Rowan defendants filed a motion to dismiss plaintiffs' complaint. Plaintiffs filed an opposition brief to the motion and then subsequently filed a motion for leave to amend their complaint on January 29, 2013. On May 3, 2013, plaintiffs' motion for leave to amend was granted.

The Rowan defendants then filed a motion to dismiss plaintiffs' first amended complaint on May 17, 2013. Plaintiffs again filed a motion on September 6, 2013 for leave to amend their complaint a second time. On December 4, 2013, the Court granted in part and denied in part plaintiffs' motion. The Court granted plaintiffs leave to add additional claims for violations of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment, but denied plaintiffs' leave to add claims under the Fifth Amendment and claims for malicious use of process against the Rowan defendants. The Court also granted plaintiffs leave to assert a malicious use of process claim against Norman.

Plaintiffs' second amended complaint alleges their ban from Rowan's campus violated their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights and the New Jersey Civil Rights Act. They also bring discrimination and retaliation claims pursuant to the ADA and NJDLAD. Plaintiffs further allege false arrest in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Plaintiffs seek to enforce the ADA requirements, to enjoin Rowan from banning them from campus, and to recover monetary damages and attorney's fees.

The Rowan defendants filed a motion to dismiss plaintiffs' second amended complaint which is now before the Court. For the reasons explained below, the Rowan defendants' motion to dismiss will be granted.

III. JURISDICTION

Plaintiffs have alleged federal rights violations and therefore this Court exercises subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. The Court exercises supplemental jurisdiction over plaintiffs' related state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

IV. STANDARDS FOR MOTION TO DISMISS

A. FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(1)

The Rowan defendants argue that plaintiffs lack standing to bring discrimination claims under the ADA and the NJLAD. Lack of standing is a challenge to this Court's subject matter jurisdiction and, therefore, is determined pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). In re Schering Plough Corp. Intron/Temodar Consumer Class Action , 678 F.3d 235, 243 (3d Cir. 2012) (citing Ballentine v. United States , 486 F.3d 806, 810 (3d Cir. 2007)).

Rule 12(b)(1) motions are either facial or factual challenges. CNA v. United States , 535 F.3d 132, 140 (3d Cir. 2008). A facial attack concerns the sufficiency of the pleadings, whereas a factual attack is a dispute over the existence of certain jurisdictional facts alleged by the plaintiff. Id . (citing United States ex rel. Atkinson v. Pa. Shipbuilding Co. , 473 F.3d 506, 514 (3d Cir. 2007)).

In deciding a motion that attacks the complaint on its face, the court must accept the allegations in the complaint as true. Mortensen v. First Federal Sav. and Loan Ass'n , 549 F.2d 884, 891 (3d Cir. 1977); Gould Elecs., 220 F.3d at 176 ("In reviewing a facial attack, the court must only consider the allegations of the complaint and documents referenced therein and attached thereto, in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.").

If the motion attacks the facts supporting jurisdiction, "no presumptive truthfulness attaches to plaintiff's allegations, and the existence of disputed material facts will not preclude the trial court from evaluating for itself the merits of jurisdictional claims." Mortensen , 549 F.2d at 891. The ...


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