United States District Court, D. New Jersey
JOHANNA ONG, DR. BEVERLY ONG, Plaintiffs,
SUPERIOR COURT OF HUDSON COUNTY, et at, Defendants.
McNulty United States District Judge
plaintiffs, Johanna Ong and Dr. Beverley Ong, bring this
action against a number of State officials and entities. In
an opinion and order filed on June 5, 2017 (ECF nos. 36, 37),
the Court granted the motion of defendants Hudson County
Sheriffs Office (the "Sheriff), the Hudson County
Correctional Center ("HCCC"), and the Jersey City
Medical Center ("JCMC") to dismiss all claims, on
statute of limitations grounds. Familiarity with that opinion
before the Court is a motion (ECF no. 51) to dismiss the
Complaintfor lack of jurisdiction and for failure to
state a claim, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) and
12(b)(6), filed by four other defendants (the
"Movants"}. Those Movants are the Superior Court of
New Jersey, Law Division, Hudson County (the "Superior
Court"); the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office (the
"Prosecutor's Office"); the State Department of
Human Services ("NJDHS"); and Trenton Psychiatric
Hospital ("TPH"). For the reasons stated herein,
the motion will be granted.
litigation grew from a bitter dispute between plaintiffs, the
Ongs, and their neighbors, the Pasdars,  that started in
2006. The particular focus of the Ongs' Complaint here is
their treatment in connection with criminal charges of
harassment, criminal mischief, and assault on sheriffs
officers in 2012. (ECF No. 3 at 3-8).
29, 2012, the Ongs appeared before Judge Joseph Isabella,
J.S.C., for sentencing on charges of harassment and criminal
mischief. (ECF No. 3-1 at 30-82; ECF No. 3-1 at 4). The Ongs
allege that after the sentencing, they were
"tortured" by sheriffs officers on the "9th
floor in the Superior Court of Hudson County" and that
Assistant Prosecutor Leonardo Rinaldi hid and failed to turn
over to defense counsel video of the torture. (ECF No. 3 at
4-5; ECF No. 3-1 at 111).
November 1, 2013, Johanna Ong appeared before Judge Frederick
Theemling, J.S.C., in connection with charges of aggravated
assault against a sheriffs officer arising from the May 29,
2012 incident at the courthouse. (ECF No. 3-1 at 1-3). Judge
Theemling ordered Johanna Ong to be examined by a qualified
psychiatrist to determine whether she was sane at the time of
the offense and whether she was fit to proceed. (ECF No. 3 at
4; ECF No. 3-1 at 1-3). Johanna Ong alleges that after this
court appearance, Sheriffs Officers "pushed" her
and "dragged" her by her hair. (ECF No. 3 at 4-5).
Ong was transported to the Jersey City Medical Center
("JCMC") for a psychiatric evaluation that lasted
six days. (ECF No. 3 at 5). She was then transferred to
Trenton Psychiatric Hospital for further evaluation for a
period of twenty days. (ECF No. 3 at 5). Ms. Ong alleges that
she was committed for a total of thirty-three days, which was
in excess of the authorization in Judge Theemling's Order
that she be committed for "a period not exceeding thirty
(30) days." (ECF No. 3 at 4-7; ECF No. 3-1 at 1-3).
October 10, 2014, Judge Martha Royster, J.S.C, dismissed the
charges against Johanna Ong stemming from the May 29, 2012
incident on the basis that "defendant will not regain
[her] fitness to proceed to trial." (ECF No. 3 at 1, 7;
ECF No. 3-1 at 254). Similar charges against Beverly Ong were
dismissed on motion of Assistant Prosecutor Rinaldi. (ECF No.
3-1 at 256-57).
October 7, 2016, Plaintiffs filed a 245 page Complaint in the
United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.
(ECF No. 1). On October 17, 2016, Plaintiffs filed a 267 page
Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 3). As stated in my earlier
opinion, the allegations do not tie particular causes of
action to particular defendants.
claims against the Superior Court and the HCPO would
necessarily arise from the actions of the Superior Court
Judges and Assistant Prosecutor Rinaldi during die
prosecution of Plaintiffs on the charges of harassment,
stalking, etc., of their neighbors, and the ensuing charges
of aggravated assault on a sheriffs officer. (See ECF No. 3
at 3-10). The likely gravamen of these claims would be a
deprivation of Plaintiffs' constitutional rights under 42
U.S.C. § 1983, and perhaps the State-law tort of
against the NJDHS and TPH, the Ongs are alleging that their
commitment for psychiatric observation was unlawful, or
unlawfully extended, and that they were mistreated. In
relation to certain codefendants, I determined in my prior
opinion that the "likely basis for such a claim would be
a deprivation of constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 and/or state-law personal injury tort claim." (ECF
No. 36 at 5).
Standard on a Motion to Dismiss
motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction
pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(1) may be raised at any
time. Iwanowa v. Ford Motor Co., 67 F.Supp.2d 424,
437-38 (D.N.J. 1999). Rule 12(b)(1) challenges are either
facial or factual attacks. See 2 JAMES WM. MOORE,
MOORE'S FEDERAL PRACTICE § 12.30 (3d ed. 2007).
The defendant may facially challenge subject matter
jurisdiction by arguing that the complaint, on its face, does
not allege sufficient grounds to establish subject matter
jurisdiction. Iwanowa, 67 F.Supp.2d at 438. Under
this standard, a court assumes that the allegations in the
complaint are true, and may dismiss the complaint only if it
appears to a certainty that die plaintiff will not be able to
assert a colorable claim of subject matter jurisdiction.
Movants' argument that they are immune from suit based on
the Eleventh Amendment is postured as a facial challenge to
the jurisdictional basis of the Complaint. Accordingly, the
Court will take the allegations of the Complaint as true.
See Gould Elecs., Inc. v. U.S., 220 F.3d 169, 178
(3d Cir. 2000).
Civ. P. 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal of a complaint,
in whole or in part, if it fails to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted. The moving party bears the burden of
showing that no claim has been stated. Hedges v. United
States, 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005). In deciding a
motion to dismiss, a court must take all allegations in the
complaint as true and view them in the light most favorable
to the plaintiff. See Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490,
501 (1975); Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts, Inc. v.
Mirage Resorts Inc., 140 F.3d 478, 483 (3d Cir. 1998);
see also Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d
224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008) ("reasonable inferences"
principle not undermined by later Supreme Court
Twombly case, infra).
Civ. P. 8(a) does not require that a complaint contain
detailed factual allegations. Nevertheless, "a
plaintiffs obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his
'entitlement to relief requires more than labels and
conclusions, and formulaic recitation of the elements of a
cause of action will not do." BellAtl. Corp. v.
Twombly,550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Thus, the factual
allegations must be sufficient to raise a plaintiffs right to
relief above a speculative level, such that it is
"plausible on its face." See Id. at 570;
see alsoUmland v. PLANCO Fin. Serv., Inc.,542 F.3d 59, 64 (3d Cir. 2008). A claim has "facial
plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that
allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged."
Ashcroft v. Iqbal,556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing