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Williams v. Healy

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

May 8, 2015

JOSEPH WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
JERRAMIAH T. HEALY, et al., Defendants.

OPINION

ESTHER SALAS, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

On October 28, 2011, Defendants Sergeant Heriberto Carratini, Sergeant Miguel Reyes, Police Officer William Figeroa, Police Officer James Crecco, Police Officer Erik Infantes, and the City of Jersey City (collectively "Defendants") filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. (D.E. No. 115, Mot. Summ. J.). On July 5, 2012, the Court entered an Opinion and Order granting Defendants' motion on some of the claims, but reserved decision as to whether Defendants were entitled to summary judgment on the following claims by Plaintiff Joseph Williams ("Plaintiff"): (1) Excessive Use of Force (Federal Count I and State Count I); (2) Unreasonable Search and Seizure (Federal Count III and State Count III); (3) Conspiracy (Federal Counts V and XIX and State Count IV); (4) Failure to Prevent Conspiracy (Federal Count VI); (5) Falsification of Official Reports (Federal Count IX and State Count V); (6) Fraudulent Fabrication of Evidence (Federal Count XI and State Count VIII); (7) Denial of Due Process and Equal Protection (Federal Count XIV and State Count X); (8) Fraudulent Concealment of Evidence (Federal Count XVI); (9) Judicial Deception (Federal Count XVIII).[1] (D.E. Nos. 129-30, Summ. J. Op. and Am. Order, July 5, 2012); see also Williams v. Healy, No. 08-2389, 2012 WL 2594348 (D.N.J. July 5, 2012). The Court permitted Defendants to file a supplemental brief addressing those claims for which judgment was reserved, and on July 13, 2012, Defendants filed said brief. (D.E. No. 131, Defs.' Supp. Mot.). Plaintiff did not file any response to Defendants' supplemental brief. The Court scheduled an oral argument for July 9, 2014; however both Plaintiff and Defendants failed to appear. (D.E. No. 141). The Court conducted the rescheduled oral argument on August 6, 2014 and set a revised briefing schedule. (D.E. No. 145). Defendants submitted their brief in accordance with the schedule, (D.E. No. 149), but Plaintiff did not submit any response. This Court will therefore consider the arguments set forth in Plaintiff's initial submissions as the extent of his arguments regarding this matter. This Court now addresses the claims for which it reserved decision.

Since the parties are familiar with both the disputed and undisputed facts, and the Court reviewed the background of this action in its earlier Opinion, see Williams, 2012 WL 2594348, at *1-4, the Court will not recite them again here. As detailed below, the Court GRANTS summary judgment to Defendants and/or DISMISSES all the outstanding claims on which it previously reserved judgment.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

A court shall grant summary judgment under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits... show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986). The mere existence of an alleged disputed fact is not enough. Rather, the opposing party must prove that there is a genuine issue of a material fact. Id.

An issue of material fact is genuine if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id. at 248. A fact is material if under the governing substantive law, a dispute about the fact might affect the outcome of the lawsuit. Id. Factual disputes that are irrelevant or unnecessary will not preclude summary judgment. Id.

On a summary judgment motion, the moving party must first show that no genuine issue of material fact exists. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The burden then shifts to the nonmoving party to present evidence that a genuine issue of material fact compels a trial. Id. at 324. To meet its burden, the nonmoving party must offer specific facts that establish a genuine issue of material fact, not just "some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986). Thus, the nonmoving party cannot rely on unsupported assertions, bare allegations, or speculation to defeat summary judgment. See Ridgewood Bd. of Educ. v. N.E. ex rel. M.E., 172 F.3d 238, 252 (3d Cir. 1999). The Court must, however, consider all facts and their reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See Pa. Coal Ass'n v. Babbitt, 63 F.3d 231, 236 (3d Cir. 1995).

III. DISCUSSION

A. Plaintiff's "Unreasonable Search and Seizure" Claim (Federal Count III; State Count III) Against Carratini, Reyes, Figeroa, Crecco, Infantes, and Jane Doe

The Fourth Amendment provides that the "right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause." U.S. Const. amend. IV. Under the Fourth Amendment, a search occurs when the government: (1) physically intrudes on constitutionally protected areas, see Florida v. Jardines, 133 S.Ct. 1409, 1414 (2013); or (2) invades "a subjective expectation of privacy that society recognizes as reasonable, " Kyllo v. United States, 533 U.S. 27, 33 (2001) (citing Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 361 (1967)). "It is a basic principle of Fourth Amendment law that searches and seizures inside a home without a warrant are presumptively unreasonable." Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573, 586 (1980) (internal quotations omitted). This rule is "subject only to a few specifically established and well-delineated exceptions." Schneckloth v. Bustamonte, 412 U.S. 218, 219 (1973). "[O]ne of the specifically established exceptions to the requirements of both a warrant and probable cause is a search that is conducted pursuant to consent." Id.

The Court previously reserved decision on this claim of unreasonable search and seizure to permit the parties to address the two-step analysis enunciated in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994). Williams, 2012 WL 2594348, at *10-12. As discussed by the Court in its previous opinion, in Heck v. Humphrey the Supreme Court held:

[W]hen a state prisoner seeks damages in a ยง 1983 suit, the district court must consider whether a judgment in favor of the plaintiff would necessarily imply the invalidity of his conviction or sentence; if it would, the complaint must be dismissed unless the plaintiff can demonstrate that the conviction or sentence has already been invalidated. But if the district court determines that the plaintiff's action, even if successful, will not demonstrate the invalidity of any outstanding criminal judgment against the plaintiff, the action should be allowed to proceed....

512 U.S. 477 , 487 (1994). Accordingly, the Supreme Court engaged in a two-part inquiry under Heck: (1) whether a judgment in favor of plaintiff would necessarily imply the invalidity of the conviction; and ...


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