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Bridges v. Torres

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

March 18, 2019

MARY BRIDGES, Plaintiff,
v.
DETECTIVE JOSE M. TORRES, JR. Defendant.

          OPINION

          HON. JOSEPH H. RODRIGUEZ UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Presently before the Court is the Defendant Jose M. Torres, Jr.'s Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff Mary Bridges' Second Amended Complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The Court has considered the written submission of the parties, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 78 (b) and for the reasons that follow, grants the motion.

         Background

         Plaintiff Mary Bridges (“Bridges”) is the owner and sole resident of her home located at 12 Spruce Street, Bridgeton, New Jersey. Compl. ¶¶ 5, 6. She complains that the Cumberland County Prosecutor's Office targeted and searched her residence in connection to a drug task force investigation against a target named Wayne A. McClain (“McClain”). Id. at ¶¶ 7-12. McClain has no connection whatsoever to Bridges' home. Id. at ¶¶ 17-19.

         On November 16, 2015, Defendant, Detective Jose M. Torres, Jr. (“Torres”) successfully applied for a warrant to permit entry and search of Bridges' home. Id. at ¶¶ 10- 12. At the time, Torres was temporarily assigned to the Cumberland County Prosecutor's Office. The warrant was executed by the Bridgeton Police Department Tactical Entry Team on November 24, 2015, at approximately 12:24 in the afternoon, while Bridges was home. Id. at ¶¶ 13-17. Despite the warrant, Plaintiff claims entry was made into her home without her permission and that the Team determined that none of the evidence used to justify the warrant was found. She challenges the veracity of the information Torres proffered to obtain the warrant and claims that Torres failed to “take reasonable professional measures to ensure there was probable cause to search” her residence. Id. at ¶¶ 18-22.

         Plaintiff alleges that her rights under the Fourth Amendment and New Jersey State law were violated when members of the City of Bridgeton Police Department Tactical Entry Team mistakenly entered her home based upon an error in a search warrant/Affidavit prepared by City of Vineland Police Officer Jose M. Torres, Jr. in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, N.J.S.A. § 10:6-2, the New Jersey Civil Rights Act ("NJCRA") and N.J.S.A. 59:1-1, et seq., the New Jersey Tort Claims Act.

         Defendant Torres moves for dismissal pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12 (b) (6) on grounds that the search warrant was valid and/or that Torres' actions, at best, constitute negligence. In the alternative, Torres asserts he is entitled to qualified immunity. For the reasons that follow the motion to dismiss is granted.

         II. Standards of Review

         A. Motion to Dismiss

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows a party to move for dismissal of a claim based on “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A complaint should be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) if the alleged facts, taken as true, fail to state a claim. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). When deciding a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), ordinarily only the allegations in the complaint, matters of public record, orders, and exhibits attached to the complaint, are taken into consideration.[1] See Chester County Intermediate Unit v. Pa. Blue Shield, 896 F.2d 808, 812 (3d Cir. 1990). It is not necessary for the plaintiff to plead evidence. Bogosian v. Gulf Oil Corp., 561 F.2d 434, 446 (3d Cir. 1977). The question before the Court is not whether the plaintiff will ultimately prevail. Watson v. Abington Twp., 478 F.3d 144, 150 (2007). Instead, the Court simply asks whether the plaintiff has articulated “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).

         “A claim has facial plausibility[2] 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). “Where there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.

         Thus, a motion to dismiss should be granted unless the plaintiff's factual allegations are “enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all of the complaint's allegations are true (even if doubtful in fact).” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556 (internal citations omitted). “[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not ‘shown'-‘that the pleader is entitled to relief.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).

         B. 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Qualified Immunity

         Plaintiff's constitutional claims are governed by Title 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which provides a civil remedy against any person who, under color of state law, deprives another of rights protected by the United States Constitution. See Collins v. City ofHarker Heights, 503 U.S. 115, 120 ...


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