United States District Court, D. New Jersey
WILLIAM J. MARTINI, U.S.D.J.
Roy Bordamonte brings this action against Alex Blanco
(“Blanco”), five other individuals and the City
of Passaic (collectively “Defendants”), alleging
violations of Plaintiff's First Amendment right to
freedom of speech pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and
1985, the New Jersey Civil Rights Act, N.J.S.A. 10:6-2, and
the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act,
N.J.S.A. 34:19-1, et seq. This matter comes before
the Court on Defendant Blanco's motion to dismiss under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), and on
Plaintiff's motion to amend his complaint. There was no
oral argument. Fed.R.Civ.P. 78(b). For the reasons set forth
below, Defendant's motion to dismiss is
GRANTED in part, and DENIED
in part. Plaintiff's motion is GRANTED.
is a citizen of the City of Passaic, where he also serves as
a police officer in the Passaic Police Department
(“PPD”). See Pl.'s Mot. to
Amend/Correct Compl., Ex. 1 at ¶ 16, ECF No. 18
[hereinafter “Am. Compl.]. Defendant Blanco is the
former Mayor of Passaic. Id. at ¶ 6. The other
individual defendants are Passaic government officials and
police officers, including the current Mayor. Id.
to September 2016, Plaintiff submits that he was a Sergeant
in the PPD assigned to the Detective Bureau, “of which
he had de facto command.” He also held
leadership positions in the PPD's Quality of Life, gang
and narcotics units. See id. at ¶ 11. Plaintiff
further submits that he was “very effective” in
these roles and “received many commendations” for
his service. Id. at ¶ 11.
point prior to September 16, 2016, federal authorities
indicted Blanco on federal corruption charges. See
id. at ¶ 13. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant
Schaer, the President of the City Council, selected Defendant
Lora as his preferred candidate to replace Blanco as Mayor
around that same time. See id. at ¶ 14. Shortly
thereafter, Richard Diaz, then Director of Public Safety,
announced his candidacy for Mayor. See id. at
¶¶ 11, 15. Plaintiff attended Diaz's
announcement and submits that he was a known supporter of
Diaz's candidacy. Id. at ¶ 17.
alleges that Defendants violated his right to freedom of
speech by taking retaliatory actions against him due to his
political support of Diaz. See id. at ¶¶
21-42. The Complaint alleges the following five counts:
Count I: violation of
Plaintiff's rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
id. at ¶¶ 43-47;
Count II: violation of
Plaintiff's rights under the New Jersey Civil Rights Act
(“NJCRA”), N.J.S.A. 10:6-2, id. at
Count III: conspiracy to violate
Plaintiff's rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1985,
id. at ¶¶ 53-55.
Count IV: violation of the
Conscientious Employee Protection Act, N.J.S.A. 34:19-1
et seq., id. at ¶¶ 56-58; and
Count V: respondeat
superior against Defendant City of Passaic, id.
at ¶ 59.
Plaintiff alleges that he was demoted from detective and
assigned to patrol duties on October 26, 2016. Id.
at ¶ 21. Plaintiff also lost his leadership position in
the Quality of Life and narcotics units. Id. at
¶ 22. Plaintiff further alleges various and continued
actions undertaken by Defendants intended to harass him,
including the creation of an internal affairs investigation
that targeted him. See id. at ¶¶ 24-42.
November 17, 2016, Defendant Blanco pleaded guilty to the
corruption charges and forfeited the Mayor's office.
Id. at ¶ 25. Significant to the instant motion,
Plaintiff alleges that Blanco was “instrumental
in” the decision to demote Plaintiff prior to leaving
the Mayor's office. See id. at ¶ 23.
Plaintiff further alleges that Blanco, along with Defendants
Schaer and Lora, directed Defendant Danna's harassment of
Plaintiff, which included the ...