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Lloyd v. Murray

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

May 8, 2017

GARRY D. LLOYD, Plaintiff,
v.
TROOPER MICHAEL C. MURRAY, Defendant.

          MICHAEL A. CAUDO On behalf of Plaintiff.

          ROBERT P. PREUSS OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL DIVISION OF LAW On behalf of Defendant Trooper Michael C. Murray.

          OPINION

          NOEL L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.

         Plaintiff, Garry D. Lloyd, was arrested on February 6, 2012 by Defendant, New Jersey State Trooper Michael C. Murray, for receiving a stolen Bobcat excavator. Presently before the Court is the motion of Defendant for summary judgment on Plaintiff's claims that Defendant violated Plaintiff's federal and state constitutional rights by maliciously prosecuting him. For the reasons expressed below, Defendant's motion will be granted.[1]

         BACKGROUND[2]

         In January 2012, Murray received a dispatch call indicating that a mini excavator belonging to the Martin Corporation, with the serial number 514016890, had been stolen from a work site. Murray met with Thomas Martin, the owner of the stolen excavator, who gave him a description of the excavator as well its serial number.

         On February 6, 2012, Murray received a phone call from Martin. Martin told him that he had received a tip from an informant in response to an offer of a reward, [3] which indicated that the excavator had been seen at 1479 Coles Mill Road, Williamstown, NJ.

         Murray went to 1479 Coles Road, and met with the property owners, Gerry and Patricia Swain. The Swains granted Murray permission to enter onto their property to search for the excavator. Murray did not find the excavator during his search of the 1479 property, but the informant who gave the tip came to the property and directed him to where the excavator was located. Gerry Swain also told Murray that he had seen a man named Garry, the boyfriend of the woman who owned the adjoining property - 1497 Coles Mill Road - directing another man in using an excavator fitting the description of the stolen excavator to do work on the adjoining property. 1479 and 1497 were large, adjacent lots on agricultural land that did not have clear demarcations between them.

         When Murray searched the indicated area on 1497 Coles Mill Road, he found an excavator that matched the description received from Martin between two trailers. Although the serial numbers had been removed from the main part of the excavator, the number on the engine block matched the number for Martin's excavator, which definitively identified it as the one that had been stolen from Martin. Murray allowed Martin to retrieve his excavator.

         Murray continued his investigation by checking the tax records for 1497 Coles Mill Road, which showed that it was owned by a woman named Gail Stadtler. Murray traveled to 1332 Franklinville-Williamstown Road, where he was told Plaintiff and Stadtler resided. He was not able to make contact at that time. Murray returned to that address to following day and spoke with Plaintiff. Plaintiff agreed to come to the Bridgeton police barracks to make a statement. Once at the barracks, Murray presented Plaintiff with a Miranda card. Plaintiff signed the card but refused to make a statement. Murray then arrested Plaintiff.

         In March 2014, Murray testified before the grand jury. Murray testified that Martin had reported a Bobcat excavator stolen from his work site; that the Bobcat's serial number was 514016890; that the Bobcat was found at 1497 Coles Mill Road, in Monroe Township; that Martin identified the Bobcat as the one that was stolen from him; that the 1497 property was owned by Gail Stadtler, and that her boyfriend, Garry Lloyd, was scrapping trailers on the property.

         Following Murray's testimony, the grand jury indicted Plaintiff, charging him with one count of receiving stolen property, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:20-7(a). Murray was never called to appear in court as part of the prosecution of Plaintiff and took no further part in the prosecution. On August 30, 2013, the Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office dismissed the indictment against Plaintiff.

         DISCUSSION

         A. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

         Defendant removed Plaintiff's Complaint to this Court. Because Plaintiff has brought federal constitutional claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as well as a claim under New Jersey law, this Court has jurisdiction over Plaintiff's federal claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and may exercise ...


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