United States District Court, D. New Jersey
WILLIAM J. MARTINI, U.S.D.J.
Ronald Plaza brings this action against Bergen County
Sherriff (“Defendant”), Bergen County Prosecutor
(“Prosecutor”), Hackensack University Medical
Center (“Hackensack”), and other unnamed
individuals and entities, alleging violations of
Plaintiff's Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985, the New
Jersey Civil Rights Act, N.J.S.A. § 10:6-1, et
seq., and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
This matter comes before the Court on Defendant's motion
to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6). There was no oral argument. Fed.R.Civ.P. 78(b). For
the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion to
dismiss is GRANTED.
currently resides at Westchester Correctional Facility in
Valhalla, New York. The parties stipulated to the dismissal
of Defendants Hackensack and Prosecutor. See ECF
Nos. 4 & 8. The only remaining Defendant, therefore, is
Bergen County Sheriff.
alleges that on June 4, 2015, while in the care and custody
of Defendant, an unidentified individual or individuals under
Defendant's employ assaulted him. See Compl.
¶¶ 12-13, ECF No. 1. “The assault included,
but was not limited to, being forced to endure pepper spray
into the face and anus.” Id. at ¶14.
Plaintiff claims that he “presented no threat and posed
no danger to the defendants while in their custody” and
that he “was traumatized, terrified and feared for his
life” during the assault. Id. at ¶¶
Complaint alleges four remaining counts against Defendant
Bergen County Sherriff in connection with the purported use
of excessive force:
(1) Count 1: Defendant intentionally permitted the
assault of Plaintiff and there were “no safeguards,
procedures, or other protocols in place” to protect
him, see id. at ¶¶ 19-21;
(2) Count 2: Defendant “did not properly
screen, hire, train, re-train or supervise its
employees” and, therefore, “engaged in customs,
policies, usages, practices, procedures and rules which
constituted deliberate indifference to the safety and
well-being of Plaintiff, ” see id. at
(3) Count 4: Defendant's conduct violated the
New Jersey Civil Rights Act (“NJCRA”), N.J.S.A.
§ 10:6-1, et seq., see id. at
(4) Count 5: Defendant intentionally and willfully
caused infliction of emotional distress on Plaintiff, see
id. at ¶¶ 34-36; and
now moves for the dismissal of all claims, arguing mainly
that the Complaint fails to state a plausible claim of
liability because it does not allege a specific custom or
policy that caused Plaintiff's injury. See Br.
in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss Compl. (“Def.'s
Br.”) 7-8, ECF No. 5-1. Defendant also argues that the
Complaint fails to state that Defendant, in her or his
individual capacity, personally participated in the alleged
conduct. See id. at 8-10. Defendant further argues
that Plaintiff's NJCRA claim is coextensive of his
§§ 1983 and 1985 claims, which warrants dismissal
for the same reasons. Id. at 11. Finally, Defendant
argues that the Court should decline jurisdiction over the
NJCRA and state tort law claims upon dismissal of the federal
claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3). Id.
Court notes that the motion is unopposed. Defendant filed the
motion on July 21, 2017. Thereafter, counsel for Plaintiff
requested that the Court carry the motion forward two motion
cycles due to the withdrawal of his representation and
subsequent appearance of substitute counsel on
Plaintiff's behalf. See ECF Nos. 7 & 9.
Substitution occurred on September 8, 2017, affording new
counsel ample time to respond prior to the motion's
return date, which was October 2, 2017. See ECF No.
10. Nonetheless, counsel never responded.
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal
of a complaint, in whole or in part, if the plaintiff fails
to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The moving
party bears the burden of showing that no claim has been
stated. Hedges v. United States, 404 F.3d 744, 750
(3d Cir. 2005). In deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule
12(b)(6), a court must take all allegations in the complaint
as true and view them in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff. See ...