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Richardson v. Kimbrough

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

January 8, 2018

KIMBERLY ANN RICHARDSON, Plaintiff,
v.
GRACE KIMBROUGH, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          ROBERT B. KUGLER United States District Judge

         I.INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff 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 is the detectives' motion to dismiss. For the following reasons, the motion to dismiss will be granted.

         II.BACKGROUND

         The 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 one of the officers when Ms. Richardson left the Probation Office. Neither Ms. Parsons-Kane nor Ms. Kimbrough informed Ms. Richardson there was a warrant for her arrest.

         Ms. 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 and motel room. 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 compensate her for the value of her car and the items inside her car and room.

         Defendants now move for dismissal of the complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Ms. Richardson filed a one-page letter in opposition to the motion.

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         When 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, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

         In 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).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         1. Fourth Amendment

         The Fourth Amendment provides: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” U.S. Const. amend IV. The placement of a GPS device on a vehicle is a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. United States v. Jones, 565 U.S. 400 (2012).

         Ms. Richardson alleges Detective Cittadini “was involved with installing [the] GPS device” on her vehicle. However, the document attached to her complaint indicates the device was installed by a detective from the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office. In addition to there being no allegation that the GPS device was installed without a warrant, there are no facts in the complaint indicating how Detective Cittadini participated in the installation. “A defendant in a civil rights action must have personal involvement in the alleged wrongs . . . . Personal involvement can be shown through allegations of personal direction or of actual knowledge and acquiescence. Allegations of participation or actual knowledge and acquiescence, however, must be made with appropriate particularity.” Rode v. Dellarciprete, 845 F.2d ...


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