United States District Court, D. New Jersey
WILLIAM J. MARTINI, U.S.D.J.
se Plaintiff Christopher Graham brings this 42 USC
§ 1983 action against several individual Jersey City
police officers (“Defendants”), raising Fourth
Amendment claims of false arrest and unreasonable search and
seizure. This matter now comes before the Court upon
Defendants' renewed, unopposed motion for summary
judgment. For the below reasons, Defendants' motion for
summary judgment is GRANTED and Plaintiff's Complaint is
Court writes for the benefit of the parties and assumes
familiarity with the underlying facts of this action as
described by this Court in its December 2014 Opinion.
Graham v. Jersey City Police Dep't, 2014 WL
7177362, at *1 (D.N.J. Dec. 16, 2014).
in his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that individual Jersey
City police officers (“Defendants”) broke down
his door, entered his apartment without a search warrant,
brought “illegal items” into his home, and then
charged him with possession of those items. ECF No. 1. He
further alleges that Defendants handcuffed and arrested him
while he was “naked in bed, ” aggravating a prior
knee injury. Id.
December 2014, this Court denied Defendants' first motion
for summary judgment on the grounds that Defendants had not
provided an “affidavit based on personal knowledge, or
pointed to any other admissible evidence to support their
factual contention that the police had a basis under the
Fourth Amendment to enter Graham's apartment, arrest him
and search his apartment, without a warrant.”
Graham v. Jersey City Police Dep't, 2014 WL
7177362, at *3 (D.N.J. Dec. 16, 2014).
have now refiled their motion for summary judgment, this time
including in their submission supporting affidavits,
exhibits, and transcripts. ECF No. 65. Plaintiff does not
oppose the motion.
Rule of Civil Procedure 56 provides for summary judgment
“if the pleadings, the discovery [including,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on
file] and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits
show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact
and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56; see also Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986); Turner v.
Schering-Plough Corp., 901 F.2d 335, 340 (3d Cir. 1990).
A factual dispute is genuine if a reasonable jury could find
for the non-moving party, and is material if it will affect
the outcome of the trial under governing substantive law.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). The Court considers all evidence and inferences drawn
therefrom in the light most favorable to the non-moving
party. Andreoli v. Gates, 482 F.3d 641, 647 (3d Cir.
2007). “Where, as here, the [summary judgment] motion
is unopposed, summary judgment may only be granted if record
evidence supports the moving party's affirmative
claim.” See United States v. Zarzycki, 2011 WL
13645, at *1 (D.N.J. Jan. 4, 2011) (citing Anchorage
Assocs. v. V.I. Bd. of Tax Review, 922 F.2d 168, 175 (3d
outset, the Court notes that, construing the Complaint in the
light most favorable to Plaintiff, Plaintiff has properly
alleged Fourth Amendment claims for false arrest and unlawful
search and seizure. Alston v. Parker, 363 F.3d 229,
234 (3d Cir. 2004) (“Courts are to construe complaints
so as to do substantial justice, keeping in mind that pro
se complaints in particular should be construed
liberally.” (citations omitted)). The Court addresses
each claim in turn below.
False Arrest Claim
proper inquiry in a section 1983 claim based on false arrest
... is not whether the person arrested in fact committed the
offense but whether the arresting officers had probable cause
to believe the person arrested had committed the
offense.” Dowling v. City of Phila., 855 F.2d
136, 141 (3d Cir. 1988); see also Andrews v.
Scuilli, 853 F.3d 690, 697 (3d Cir. 2017) (Because a
false arrest claim “hinge[s] on probable cause, the
constitutional violation question … turns on whether a
reasonable officer could have believed that probable cause
existed to arrest the plaintiff at that time.”
(citations omitted)). “[P]robable cause to arrest
exists when the facts and circumstances within the arresting
officer's knowledge are sufficient in themselves to
warrant a reasonable person to believe that an offense has
been or is being committed by the person to be
arrested.” Orsatti v. N.J. State Police, 71
F.3d 480, 483 (3d Cir. 1995). Ordinarily, the existence of
probable cause is a factual issue for the jury. See
Halsey v. Pfeiffer, 750 F.3d 273, 300 (3d Cir. 2014).
However, a court may grant summary judgment if “no
genuine issue of material fact exists as to whether”
there was probable cause. Anderson v. Perez, 2017 WL
371339, at *2 (3d Cir. Jan. 26, 2017) (citing Sherwood v.
Mulvihill, 113 F.3d 396, 401 (3d Cir. 1997)).
case, the evidence proffered by Defendants confirms that the
police officers had probable cause to arrest Plaintiff as a
matter of law. Id. Pursuant to the Domestic Violence
Procedures Manual issued by the New Jersey Supreme Court and
the Attorney General of the State of New Jersey, a police
officer “must arrest” a domestic violence suspect
if the victim exhibits signs of injury caused by an act of
domestic violence, or if there is ...