United States District Court, D. New Jersey
B. KUGLER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Kimberly Ann Richardson filed this complaint against her
probation officers Grace Kimbrough and Caroline Parsons-Kane,
and Detectives Stephen Cittadini and Thomas LaRosa. Currently
pending before this Court are Ms. Kimbrough's and Ms.
Parson-Kane's motion to dismiss and motion to seal. For
the following reasons, the motion to dismiss will be granted.
The motion to seal Exhibit B is denied.
Court recites the facts in the light most favorable to
plaintiff. On August 27, 2015, Ms. Richardson reported to Ms.
Kimbrough's office. A GPS device was installed on Ms.
Richardson's vehicle while Ms. Richardson was in with Ms.
Kimbrough. Ms. Parsons-Kane was aware of the installation and
called Detective LaRosa when Ms. Richardson left the
Probation Office. Neither Ms. Parsons-Kane nor Ms. Kimbrough
informed Ms. Richardson there was a warrant for her arrest.
Richardson was arrested on September 1, 2015 by Detectives
Cittadini and LaRosa. She states they did not show her the
warrant for her arrest or for the search of her car they
conducted. They did not permit her to retrieve her
identification, eyeglasses, cellphone, or keys from inside
her motel room. A little over a year later, Ms. Richardson
filed the complaint asking the Court to get her compensation
for the value of her car and the items inside.
now move for dismissal of the complaint under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and to seal Exhibit B to their
motion. Ms. Richardson did not file any opposition to the
considering a motion to dismiss a complaint for failure to
state a claim, Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), the Court must accept
all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and
view them in the light most favorable to the non-moving
party. A motion to dismiss may be granted only if the
plaintiff has failed to set forth fair notice of what the
claim is and the grounds upon which it rests that make such a
claim plausible on its face. Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007). Although Rule 8 does not
require “detailed factual allegations, ” it
requires “more than an unadorned,
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint, the Court must
“tak[e] note of the elements [the] plaintiff must plead
to state a claim. Second, it should identify allegations
that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not
entitled to the assumption of truth. Finally, [w]hen there
are well-pleaded factual allegations, [the] court should
assume their veracity and then determine whether they
plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.”
Connelly v. Lane Const. Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 787 (3d
Cir. 2016) (alterations in original) (internal citations and
quotation marks omitted).
Motion to Dismiss
Richardson alleges Ms. Kimbrough and Ms. Parsons-Kane
violated her civil rights by participating in the
installation of a GPS device on her vehicle. She further
alleges defendants failed to inform her there was a warrant
for her arrest.
Kimbrough and Ms. Parsons-Kane argue the complaint should be
dismissed against them in their official capacities as
probation officers because they are immune from suit.
“Sovereign immunity extends to state agencies and state
officers, ‘as long as the state is the real party in
interest.'” Estate of Lagano v. Bergen Cnty.
Prosecutor's Office, 769 F.3d 850, 857 (3d Cir.
2014) (quoting Fitchik v. N.J. Transit Rail
Operations, 873 F.2d 655, 659 (3d Cir. 1989)). To
determine whether the state is the real party in interest,
this Court considers three factors: (1) whether the money to
pay for the judgment would come from the state; (2) the
status of the agency under state law; and (3) what degree of
autonomy the agency has. Fitchik, 873 F.2d at 659.
As probation officers. Kimbrough and Ms. Parsons-Kane are
considered employees of the judicial branch under New Jersey
state law. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2B:10-3(d)
(“‘Judicial employee' means . . . any person
employed by a county probation office”). See
also N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2B:10-4(b) (“All
judicial employees shall be employees of the State.”).
Other courts in this district have held that “the New
Jersey Superior Court is an ‘arm' of the state
entitled to share in the state's sovereign immunity. The
Court finds that judicial branch is an integral part of the
State of New Jersey.” Johnson v. State of
N.J., 869 F.Supp. 289, 296-97 (D.N.J. 1994). Ms.