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Charles v. Klingberg

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

July 13, 2018

CHARLES
v.
KLINGBERG, JR. and BRENDA KLINGBERG, Plaintiff,
v.
LISA HATCHER, RON MIDDLETON, SCOTT OBERMEIER, DAVE WALLACE, and GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP, Defendants.

          PETER M. KOBER, CHERRY HILL, ON BEHALF OF PLAINTIFF

          RICHARD L. GOLDSTEIN, MARSHALL, DENNEHEY, WARNER, COLEMAN & GOGGIN, PA ON BEHALF OF DEFENDANTS LISA HATCHER, RON MIDDLETON, SCOTT OBERMEIER, AND GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP

          JESSICA ANN JANNETTI OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF N.J. ON BEHALF OF DEFENDANT DAVE WALLACE

          OPINION

          NOEL L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.

         This matter concerns constitutional claims by Plaintiffs arising out of their fifteen-hour detention at a police station. The police were investigating a fire at Plaintiff's apartment. After the investigation, no charges were filed. Presently before the Court is the motion of Defendant Dave Wallace, one of the investigators, to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims against him. For the reasons expressed below, Defendant's motion will be granted with leave granted to amend.

         BACKGROUND[1]

         At 8:00 a.m. on January 27, 2016, Plaintiff Charles V. Klingberg, Jr., received a call at work that his apartment was on fire. He called his wife, Plaintiff Brenda Klingberg, who was also at work. Both Plaintiffs immediately left work and drove to their home in Gloucester Township, New Jersey. When they got to their apartment, they identified themselves to the Gloucester Township police officers at the scene. An officer directed Plaintiffs to get into a patrol car in order to be driven to the station to give a statement. Plaintiffs claim that they felt they had no choice but to follow that command.

         Once at the police station at 9:30 a.m., Plaintiffs were placed in separate interrogation rooms. Plaintiffs claim that Defendants Lisa Hatcher, Ron Middleton, Scott Obermeier, Gloucester Township police officers, did not permit them to speak to each other, make a phone call, or leave the station, despite being told they were not under arrest.

         According to Plaintiffs' amended complaint, at 4:30 p.m., Hatcher, Middleton, Obermeier, and Defendant Dave Wallace, an investigator with the Camden County Prosecutor's Office, [2] “or some of them, ” interrogated Brenda Klingberg. At 7:00 p.m., Obermeier met with Charles Klingberg and took his statement. At 10:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., Middleton and Wallace interrogated Charles Klingberg, described as “rough.” At 11:00 p.m., Charles Klingberg was administered a polygraph test.

         Plaintiffs claim that during their detention, they did not receive any food or drink until 11:00 p.m., and they were only allowed to use a jail cell toilet. At 1:00 a.m., they were permitted to leave the police station, and were never arrested.

         Plaintiffs claim that they were unreasonably seized and detained in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the New Jersey Civil Rights Act. Wallace has moved to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims against him because he is entitled to qualified immunity, and because Plaintiffs have failed to meet the proper pleading standard to state a viable claim against him. Plaintiff has opposed Wallace's motion.[3]

         DISCUSSION

         A. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

         This Court has jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' federal claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' ...


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