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Torres v. Borough of Barrington

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

July 27, 2017

ARSENIO TORRES, Plaintiff,
v.
BOROUGH OF BARRINGTON, et al., Defendants.

          RANDY P. CATALA On behalf of Plaintiff

          TIMOTHY R. BIEG, MADDEN & MADDEN, On behalf of Defendants Borough of Barrington and Chief David Roberts

          LINDA A. GALELLA, PARKER MCCAY P.A. On behalf of Defendants Sergeant Michael Minardi and Patrolman Patrick D'Ascenzo

          OPINION

          NOEL L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.

         This case involves claims of Fourth Amendment violations by two Borough of Barrington police officers, and claims of municipal liability against Barrington and its police chief for having a policy and custom of condoning such violations, particularly where the individual is of Hispanic descent. Presently before the Court are the motions of all the Defendants for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c) for Plaintiff's claims of false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, and conspiracy.[1] For the reasons expressed below, Defendants' motions will be granted in part and denied in part.

         BACKGROUND

         According to his complaint, on October 1, 2014, Plaintiff, Arsenio Torres, who is of Hispanic descent, was sitting in a car with his girlfriend, Tiffany Vitale, in the parking lot of his apartment complex in Barrington, New Jersey. Defendants, Barrington police sergeant Michael Minardi and patrolman Patrick D'Ascenzo, approached Plaintiff's car. Plaintiff claims that even though they had no reason to suspect him of engaging in any illegal activity, the officers ordered him out of the car. Plaintiff claims that the officers used excessive force to seize him and lacked probable cause to arrest him for aggravated assault, resisting arrest, obstruction of law, violent behavior, and offensive language. Plaintiff claims that he was transported to the hospital for treatment of his injuries prior to being remanded to the Camden County Correctional Facility. Plaintiff claims that all the criminal charges against him were ultimately dismissed except for one of the charges.[2]

         Based on those events, Plaintiff claims that Minardi and D'Ascenzo violated his Fourth Amendment rights and his rights under the New Jersey Civil Rights Act (“NJCRA”) by stopping and arresting him without probable cause, by using excessive force to effect his arrest, and for malicious prosecution. He also claims that the two officers were negligence, committed assault and battery, and conspired in violation of New Jersey state law. Plaintiff further claims that the Borough of Barrington, and the Chief of Police, David Roberts, are liable for constitutional and NJCRA violations because they had a policy and custom of failing to investigate police misconduct and failed to train its officers on the proper use of force and the concept of probable cause, particularly with regard to minorities.

         All the defendants filed answers to Plaintiff's complaint, and they now move for judgment in their favor, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c), on all of his claims except those relating to his claims of excessive force. Plaintiff has opposed Defendants' motions.

         DISCUSSION

         A. Subject matter jurisdiction

         Plaintiff has brought his claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and New Jersey state law. This Court has jurisdiction over Plaintiff's federal claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and supplemental jurisdiction of Plaintiff's state law claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

         B. Standard for Judgment on the Pleadings

         A Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings may be filed after the pleadings are closed. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c); Turbe v. Gov't of V.I., 938 F.2d 427, 428 (3d Cir. 1991). In analyzing a Rule 12(c) motion, a court applies the same legal standards as applicable to a motion filed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). Turbe, 938 F.2d at 428. Thus, a court must accept all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as ...


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