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Diaz v. Bullock

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

October 10, 2014

TIMOTHY J. DIAZ, Plaintiff,
M. BULLOCK, et al. Defendants.


JOSE L. LINARES, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court by way of Defendants Prince George's County Sheriff's Office ("PGC Sheriff's Office"), Investigator Sesker ("Sesker"), and Investigator Barrow ("Barrow") (collectively, "Defendants")' motion to dismiss Plaintiff Timothy J. Diaz's ("Plaintiff")'s Amended Complaint pursuant to Rules 12(b)(2)[1] and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. [CM/ECF No. 47.] The Court has considered the submissions made in support of and in opposition to the instant motion. No oral argument was heard pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78. For the reasons that follow, Defendants' motion to dismiss is granted. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint is dismissed as to Defendants PGC Sheriff's Office, Sesker, and Barrow for lack of personal jurisdiction.


On July 14, 2013, Plaintiff Timothy Diaz was arrested by South Plainfield Police Department officers pursuant to a Maryland warrant allegedly for another "Timothy Diaz." (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 14-15.) Though Plaintiff's date of birth, height, weight, and social security number were different than those stated in the warrant, he was processed by the South Plainfield Police Department and transported to the Middlesex County Correctional Facility. ( Id. at ¶¶ 15-18; 20.) Plaintiff was held in the correctional facility for eight days even though the right person being sought by the Maryland warrant was arrested. ( Id. at ¶ 23.)

Plaintiff alleges that Sesker and Barrow negligently "inputt[ed] the incorrect data into the computer system about Timothy J. Diaz who was wanted in Maryland which lead[] to the false arrest of Plaintiff Timothy J. Diaz." ( Id. at ¶ 56.) He also alleges that the PGC failed to notify the South Plainfield Police Department in New Jersey of the other "Timothy Diaz" arrest or to rescind the warrant. ( Id. at ¶ 24.) In his Amended Complaint, Plaintiff asserts a claim of negligence (Count V) and a violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count VI) against Defendants.

Plaintiff filed his original Complaint in Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division in Middlesex County. [CM/ECF No. 1.] On August 29, 2013, the case was removed to this Court on the basis of Plaintiff's assertion of a violation of § 1983, for which this Court has original jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. ( Id. ) Plaintiff added Defendants PGC Sheriff's Office, Sesker, and Barrow to his Amended Complaint on June 19, 2014. [CM/ECF No. 32.] Defendants filed a motion to dismiss on August 25, 2014. [CM/ECF No. 47.]


For a complaint to survive dismissal, it "must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ' in order to give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Twombly, 550 U.S. at 545 (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)).

In evaluating the sufficiency of a complaint, a court must accept all well-pleaded factual allegations as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. See Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3rd Cir. 2008). "Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly. 550 U.S. at 555. Further, "[a] pleading that offers labels and conclusions' or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557). "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id. Thus, legal conclusions draped in the guise of factual allegations may not benefit from the presumption of truthfulness. Id. Additionally, in evaluating a plaintiff's claims, generally "a court looks only to the facts alleged in the complaint and its attachments without reference to other parts of the record." Jordan v. Fox, Rothschild, O'Brien & Frankel, 20 F.3d 1250, 1261 (3rd Cir. 1994).

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states that a defendant may move to dismiss a complaint for "lack of personal jurisdiction." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2). Once a defendant moves to dismiss a complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction, "the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing with reasonable particularity sufficient contacts between the defendant and the forum state." Provident Nat'l. Bank v. Cal. Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n, 819 F.2d 434, 437 (3d Cir. 1987); see also Mellon Bank (East) PSFS, Nat'l Assn. v. Farino, 960 F.2d 1217, 1223 (3d Cir. 1992) ("[T]he plaintiff [must] come forward with sufficient facts to establish that jurisdiction is proper.").

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332, a federal district court may exercise jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant to the extent permitted by the law of the state in which it sits. See O'Connor v. Sandy Lane Hotel Co., Ltd., 496 F.3d 312, 316 (3d Cir. 2007); Provident Nat'l Bank v. Cal. Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n, 819 F.2d 434, 436 (3d Cir. 1987); Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(k). New Jersey's long-arm statute allows a court to exercise personal jurisdiction over non-resident defendants to the full extent allowed under the due process requirements of the United States Constitution. See N.J.Ct. R. 4:4-4; Eaton Corp. v. Maslym Holding Co., 929 F.Supp. 792, 796 (D.N.J. 1996). Accordingly, a party's amenability to suit in New Jersey "must be judged by Fourteenth Amendment standards." DeJames v. Magnificence Carriers, Inc., 654 F.2d 280, 284 (3d Cir. 1981).

To comply with the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, a court must employ a two-part analysis. Vetrotex Certainteed Corp. v. Consolidated Fiber Glass Products Co., 75 F.3d 147, 150 (3d Cir.1995). First, a Court may not exercise personal jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant unless the defendant has certain minimum contacts' with the forum. World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 291 (1980). To find minimum contacts, ' a court must determine that the defendant has purposefully directed its activities towards the forum. Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 474 (1985). Thus, there must be "some act by which the defendant purposefully avails itself of the privilege of conducting activities within the forum State, thus invoking the benefits and protections of its laws." Hanson v. Denckla, 357 U.S. 235, 253 (1958). Second, if minimum contacts' are shown, "jurisdiction may be exercised where the court determines, in its discretion, that to do so would comport with traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice'" Vetrotex, 75 F.3d at 150-51 (citing Int'l Shoe v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 326 (1945)).

Minimum contacts may give rise to two types of personal jurisdiction: general jurisdiction and specific jurisdiction. To establish general jurisdiction, a plaintiff must demonstrate that a defendant "engaged in continuous and systemic' contacts with the forum state." Mellon Bank (East) PSFS, N.A. v. DiVeronica Bros., Inc., 983 F.2d 551, 554 (3d Cir. 1992). Specific jurisdiction is appropriate where "(1) the defendant purposefully directed its activities at residents of the forum; (2) the claim arises out of or relates to the defendant's activities with the forum; and (3) assertion of personal jurisdiction is reasonable and fair." Synthes (U.S.A.) v. G.M. Dos Reis Jr. Ind. Com de Equip. Medico, 563 F.3d 1285, 1291 (Fed. Cir. 2009). "The first two factors correspond with the minimum contacts' prong of the ...

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