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Ingram v. County of Camden

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

March 29, 2019

XAVIER INGRAM and DARREN A. DICKERSON, Plaintiffs,
v.
COUNTY OF CAMDEN, et al., Defendants.

          Shelley Lynn Stangler, Esq. Terrence Michael McNamara, Esq. LAW OFFICES OF SHELLEY L. STANGLER, P.C. Attorneys for Plaintiff

          William M. Tambussi, Esq. William F. Cook, Esq. BROWN & CONNERY, LLP Attorneys for Defendants

          OPINION

          HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE, DISTRICT JUDGE

         On June 14, 2014, Plaintiff Xavier Ingram was allegedly assaulted by several Camden County Police Officers resulting in catastrophic injuries including quadriplegia, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. As the alleged assault unfolded, Plaintiff Darren A. Dickerson was a bystander who yelled curse words at the police officers about their misconduct and allegedly was also attacked by certain police officers, causing injury, also in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiffs filed separate suits in this Court which were consolidated by the Court under this case number on January 15, 2019. (See Order [Docket Item 211].)

         The Dickerson claims come before the Court by way of motion for summary judgment filed by Defendants County of Camden, Camden County Police Department, Chief John Scott Thomson, Orlando Cuevas, and Nigel Shockley (hereinafter, collectively, “Defendants”). (See Motion for Summary Judgment [Docket Item 56][1].) The present motion is opposed by Plaintiff Dickerson. (See Plaintiff's Brief in Opposition to Motion for Summary Judgment (hereinafter “Pl.'s Opp'n”) [Docket Item 67].) Thereafter, Defendants filed a reply brief. (See Reply Brief (hereinafter “Defs.' Reply”) [Docket Item 68].)

         The Court has considered the submissions and held oral argument on March 21, 2019. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion for summary judgment [Docket Item 56] will be granted in part and denied in part. The Court finds as follows:[2]

         I. Factual and Procedural Background.

         The factual and procedural background of this case was previously detailed in the Court's Memorandum Opinion of January 16, 2019, and shall not be repeated herein, except as necessary for the determination of the present motion. See Ingram v. Cty. of Camden, No. 14-5519, 2019 WL 231759 (D.N.J. Jan. 16, 2019). Discovery extending over several years has been completed and the motion is ripe for decision.

         II. Standard of Review.

         At summary judgment, the moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); accord Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once a properly supported motion for summary judgment is made, the burden shifts to the non-moving party, who must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986). In reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the court is required to examine the evidence in light most favorable to the non-moving party and resolve all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007); Halsey v. Pfeiffer, 750 F.3d 273, 287 (3d Cir. 2014).

         A factual dispute is material when it “might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law, ” and genuine when “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. The non-moving party “need not match, item for item, each piece of evidence proffered by the movant, ” but must present more than a “mere scintilla” of evidence on which a jury could reasonably find for the non-moving party. Boyle v. Cnty. of Allegheny, Pa., 139 F.3d 386, 393 (3d Cir. 1998) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252).

         III. Discussion.

         Defendants move for summary judgment as to three separate portions of Plaintiff Dickerson's Complaint [Docket Item 1]. Defendants allege that Plaintiff Dickerson's false arrest claim is barred by Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), or by the presence of probable cause, or because Defendant Shockley is protected by the doctrine of qualified immunity. (Defs.' Br. [Docket Item 56-1], 6-14.) Defendants further assert that they are entitled to summary judgment as to Plaintiff Dickerson's claim regarding the use of excessive force because the force used by Defendant Shockley against Plaintiff Dickerson was reasonable and because Defendant Shockley is protected by the doctrine of qualified immunity. (Id. at 14-21.) Finally, Defendants assert that they are entitled to summary judgment as to all claims against Defendants County of Camden, Camden County Police Department, John Scott Thomson, and Orlando Cuevas because the County's training, policies, and discipline meet applicable requirements.[3] (Id. at 21-23.)

         A. F ...


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