United States District Court, D. New Jersey
DANIEL D. FISHER, SR., Plaintiff,
STEVEN PRATT, NEW JERSEY STATE FIRE MARSHAL OFFICE, and SOUTHAMPTON TOWNSHIP FIRE DEPARTMENT, Defendants.
D. FISHER, SR. Appearing pro se.
G. RAMOS CAPEHART & SCATCHARD LAUREL CORPORATE CENTER On
behalf of Defendants Steven Pratt and Southampton Township
DOMINIC LARUE GIOVA NEW JERSEY ATTORNEY GENERAL, DIVISION OF
LAW On behalf of Defendant New Jersey State Fire Marshal
L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.
matter arises from the demolition of Plaintiff Daniel Fisher,
Sr.'s house following a fire. Before the Court are a
Motion to Dismiss by Defendant New Jersey State Fire Marshal
(the “State Defendant”) and a Motion to Dismiss
or, in the alternative, for a more definite statement by
Defendants Steven Pratt and Southampton Township Fire
Department (the “Fire Department Defendants”).
Also before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to
reasons that follow, the Court will grant the State
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, the Court will grant in
part and deny in part the Fire Department Defendants'
Motion to Dismiss, and the Court will deny, without
prejudice, Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Amend.
Court takes its facts from Plaintiff's First Amended
Complaint. Around 12:35 AM on December 16, 2016, Plaintiff
smelled wood burning in his bedroom, which housed a chimney.
Plaintiff did not see smoke or fire in his bedroom. Plaintiff
proceeded to his dining room, which had a wood stove directly
under his bedroom. Plaintiff put the wood fire out and then
checked the front and sides of the chimney for excessive
heat, finding it cool to the touch.
then returned to his bedroom, where he found a fire burning
next to the chimney. Using two fire extinguishers, Plaintiff
attempted to put out the fire. After trying unsuccessfully to
use a garden hose to put out the fire after the fire
extinguishers ran out, Plaintiff dialed 9-1-1. Fifteen to
twenty minutes later, a fire truck from the Pemberton Borough
Fire Department arrived, followed by the Southampton Township
Fire Department and others.
makes various allegations regarding the insufficiency of the
firefighting efforts. He alleges “[t]he initial
firefighting efforts were misdirecting the water to the
east/northeast side of the north end of the house on the
second floor.” He also alleges at one point “they
simply stopped putting water onto the fire for two to three
minutes, allowing it to spread into another bedroom on the
west side of the house.”
2:00 AM, Plaintiff was taken to Virtua Hospital Emergency
Room to be treated for smoke inhalation. Plaintiff returned
to his home later that morning, where firefighters were still
present. Plaintiff was “confronted by a man who stated
to [him] that [his] house had to be torn down th[at] very
day.” Another fireman identified the individual as
Steve Pratt, the Chief of the Vincentown Fire Department.
Pratt informed Plaintiff “that both the County and New
Jersey State Fire Marshals” visited the property and
“recommended that the house needed to be torn
down.” While Plaintiff asked to speak to them, Pratt
refused to call them or give Plaintiff their contact
information. Plaintiff also told Pratt he wanted a structural
engineer to examine his house. Pratt told Plaintiff his house
was a danger to children. After removing some items from his
house, Plaintiff pleads he had a second conversation with
Pratt . . . stated to me . . . that he was also an
investigator from the State Fire Marshal's Office in
Trenton and that he had the backing of both the County and
State Fire Marshal's Office, as a representative of both
entities had been here while I was in the hospital between 2
AM to 6 AM. Mr. Pratt also stated that the house had to be
torn down today, and he had the authority to do so, and he
didn't want Southampton Township's fire department to
have to come back here again.
this conversation, smoke started coming out of the roof of
the house. Plaintiff told Pratt “to have the operator
of the excavator peel some of the roofing away where the
smoke was so the firemen could put out what was
burning.” The house was thereafter demolished.
filed a Complaint with this Court on December 15, 2017,
followed by a December 28, 2017 Amended Complaint. The
December 28, 2017 First Amended Complaint appears to assert
causes of action under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985.
Plaintiff asks for monetary compensation from Defendants.
January 29, 2018, the Fire Department Defendants filed a
Motion to Dismiss or, in the alterative, for a more definite
statement. On February 14, 2018, the State Defendant filed a
Motion to Dismiss. On February 20, 2018, Plaintiff filed a
Second Amended Complaint. The Court issued a March 14, 2018
Order requiring Plaintiff to file a formal motion with the
Court asking for leave to file the February 20, 2018 Second
Amended Complaint. Plaintiff thereafter filed a Motion for
Leave to Amend on March 27, 2018.
Court has federal question subject matter jurisdiction over
this matter ...