United States District Court, D. New Jersey
MCNULTY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
plaintiff, LuAnne Wagner, alleges that she was arrested and
imprisoned under false pretenses, that her purse was
unlawfully seized and searched, and that she was then
unlawfully retaliated against for taking leave pursuant the
Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 ("FMLA"), 29
U.S.C. 2601, et seq. She brings claims against her
employer, the Lyndhurst Board of Education
("LBOE"), and the Lyndhurst Police Department
("LPD"), as well as several employees of both
entities. Defendants, LBOE, James Corrino, Susan Robe, Elba
Castrovino, and Shauna DeMarco (i.e., the school-related
defendants), have moved pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) to
dismiss the complaint. For the reasons stated in this
opinion, I will deny their motion to dismiss.
Wagner is a tenured teacher of special education with the
LBOE. (Cplt. ¶ 5.) In August 2015, her husband
unexpectedly passed away. (Id. ¶ 14.) Though
still grieving, she returned to work. (Id. ¶
15.) Around lunchtime on October 29, 2015, Ms. Wagner was
overcome by this grief and started to cry in the main office
of the school. (Id. ¶¶ 13, 16.) She was
asked questions by Susan Robe, the school nurse, who
"took issue" with the medication prescribed by Ms.
Wagner's physician. (Id. ¶¶ 6, 18.)
Ms. Wagner then heard sirens and realized that the school had
contacted the police in response to her behavior.
(Id. ¶ 20.) Multiple police cars arrived, and
the school was placed on lockdown. (Id. ¶ 55.)
She asked to be allowed to go to her parents' house,
which was right across the street from the school, to take
time to recover. (Id. ¶¶ 21-22.) Ms.
Wagner left the main office and was walking on the sidewalk
when the LPD officers stopped and detained her. (Id.
staff at LBOE, including the school nurse and Elba
Castrovino, the school principal, told the LPD that Ms.
Wagner was "in the fetal position in a closet" and
that she was "suicidal." (Id. ¶¶
7, 25.) They also told die LPD that she was under the
influence of some drugs. (Id. ¶ 25.) Ms. Wagner
contends that these statements were false. (Id.)
After Ms. Wagner was detained, the officers searched her
purse without her permission. She was taken to the police
station, where she was held for an hour. (Id.
¶¶ 26-27.) She was "very upset" and was
"passing out" because she was in a state of shock
due to "the unjustified and surreal detainment."
(Id. ¶ 28.) Her mother then arrived at the
police station but had to wait 15 minutes before being
allowed to see her. (Id. ¶ 29.) Ms. Wagner
asked if she was free to leave but was told that she was not.
[Id. ¶ 30.) Instead, she was told that she must
go to the hospital. (Id.) Upon arrival at the
hospital, medical staff examined Ms. Wagner and quickly
determined that she was not a danger to herself or others,
after which they released her. (Id. ¶¶
the incident, Ms. Wagner was told by LBOE that she had to
participate in a "fitness for duty" evaluation,
which cost her $1, 000. [Id. ¶ 33.) At some
point (the date is unclear), Ms. Wagner took an FMLA leave of
absence and returned to work in February 2016. (Id.
¶ 34.) Upon her return, Ms. Wagner deemed to have used
up all her saved sick days. (Id. ¶ 35.) She
states that this was not done to another employee who took
administrative leave. (Id.) She also says that she
was taunted by her coworkers and was the subject of gossip
daily. (Id. ¶ 38.) On May 3, 2016, Ms. Wagner
was informed that her teaching assignment in the resource
room was assigned to someone else for the following school
year and that she would be assigned to a more onerous
position. (Id. ¶ 40.) The stated reason for the
reassignment was that she had the most experience and was the
most appropriate choice for the position. (Id.
¶ 41.) Ms. Wagner believes that the person who replaced
her in her previous assignment, however, had adequate
experience and could have been placed in the position she now
holds. (Id. ¶ 42.) In this new position, Ms.
Wagner has been physically assaulted by a student and has
been put into a "very difficult classroom
situation." (Id. ¶ 43.) Ms. Wagner sees
all of these actions as punishment for her taking FMLA leave.
The goal of the LBOE, she says, was to torment her into
retirement. (Id. ¶ 46.)
Wagner now sues many of the entities and people involved in
the October 29, 2015 incident and the alleged post-FMLA-leave
retaliation. She makes several claims against the defendants:
Deprivation of Liberty under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count I);
Civil Conspiracy under § 1983 (Count Ila); False
Imprisonment under § 1983 (Count lib); Unlawful Search
under § 1983 (Count III); Deprivation of Property under
§ 1983 (Count IV); Violations of the New Jersey Civil
Rights Act ("NJCRA"), N.J.S.A. 10:6-2(c) (Count V);
Violations of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination
("NJLAD"), N.J.S.A. 10:5-1, et seq. (Count
VI); and Unlawful Retaliation under the FMLA (Count VII).
Only Counts I, Ila, IV, V, VI, and VII pertain to the
school-related defendants who have brought this present
motion to dismiss.
defendants have moved to dismiss on several grounds. First,
they argue that Counts I, Ila, IV, and V fall outside the
Statute of Limitations. (Def. Br. at 8.) Second, they argue
that Ms. Wagner has failed to comply with the notice
provisions of the New Jersey Tort Claims Act
("NJTCA"), N.J.S.A. 59:1-1, et seq., for
Counts I and Ila. (Def. Br. at 11.) Finally, they argue that
Ms. Wagner has failed to allege sufficient facts to satisfy
the elements of the causes of action for Counts VI and VII.
(Def. Br. at 14.)
Discussion and Analysis
Standard on Rule 12(b)(6) motion
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 defendant, as the moving party, bears the
burden of showing that no claim has been stated. Animal
Science Prods,, Inc. v. China Minmetals Corp., 654 F.3d
462, 469 n.9 (3d Cir. 2011). For the purposes of a motion to
dismiss, the facts alleged in the complaint are accepted as
true and all reasonable inferences are drawn in favor of the
plaintiff. N.J. Carpenters & the Trustees Thereof v.
Tishman Const. Corp. of N.J., 760 F.3d 297, 302 (3d Cir.
Rule of Procedure 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 a formulaic recitation of the elements of a
cause of action will not do." Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Thus, the
complaint's factual allegations must be sufficient to
raise a plaintiffs right to relief above a speculative level,
so that a claim is "plausible on its face."
Id. at 570; see also West Run Student Hous.
Assocs., LLC v. Huntington Nat Bank, 712 F.3d 165, 169
(3d Cir. 2013). That facial-plausibility standard is met
"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
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). While "[t]he
plausibility standard is not akin to a 'probability
requirement'. . . it asks for more than a sheer
possibility." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(c), the statute of limitations constitutes an
affirmative defense to an action. Under the law of this and
other circuits, however, the limitations defense may be
raised on a motion under Rule 12(b)(6), but only if 'the
time alleged in the statement of a claim shows that the cause
of action has not been brought within the statute of
limitations.” Bethel v. Jendoco Constr. Corp.,
570 F.2d 1168, 1174 (3d Cir. 1978) (quoting Hanna v. U.S.
Veterans' Admin. Hosp., 514 F.2d 1092, 1094 (3d Cir.
1975)). If the time bar is not apparent from the face of the
complaint, "then it may not afford the basis for a
dismissal of the complaint under Rule 12(b)(6)."
Compliance with the NJTCA ...