United States District Court, D. New Jersey
B. SIMANDLE U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court by way of motion for summary
judgment filed by Defendants City of Bridgeton, Officer
Ronald Broomall, and Officer James Riley (hereinafter,
collectively, “Defendants”). (See Motion for
Summary Judgment [Docket Item 71].) The present motion is
opposed by Plaintiff Jacqueline Love-Skinner. (See
Plaintiff's Brief in Opposition to Motion for Summary
Judgment (hereinafter “Pl.'s Opp'n”)
[Docket Item 76].) Thereafter, Defendants filed a reply
brief. (See Reply Brief (hereinafter “Defs.'
Reply”) [Docket Item 79].)
Court has considered the submissions and held oral argument
with regard to this motion on March 25, 2019. For the reasons
set forth below, Defendants' motion for summary judgment
[Docket Item 71] will be granted in part, denied in part, and
dismissed as moot in part. The Court finds as
Standard of Review.
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).
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).
move for summary judgment on seven separate bases, (see
Defs.' Br. [Docket Item 71-2]), each of which is
Plaintiff has not shown any violation of her rights under 42
U.S.C. § 1983.
assert that they are entitled to summary judgment in their
favor as to all claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, because
Plaintiff has failed to show that she suffered a violation of
her constitutional rights and that Defendant Broomall's
use of force was reasonable under the circumstances. (Defs.
Br. [Docket Item 71-2], 1-2.) Plaintiff responds that a
genuine dispute of material fact exists as to this issue,
because her expert opines that the alleged elbow strike to
Plaintiff's neck was not reasonable under the
circumstances. (Pl.'s Opp'n [Docket Item 76], 4-5.)
Taking the version of events in the light most favorable to
Plaintiff, as the non-moving party, the Court finds that the
facts as testified by Plaintiff and Plaintiff's
expert's testimony as to the reasonableness of Defendant
Broomall's alleged use of force against Plaintiff's
neck creates a genuine dispute of material fact and therefore
summary judgment is inappropriate at this time. This portion
of Defendants' motion shall therefore be denied.
Amount of force used by Defendant Broomall was
case, Plaintiff Love-Skinner has alleged a violation of her
Fourth Amendment rights to be free of excessive force during
the course of an arrest. (See Complaint [Docket Item 1],
¶¶ 24-27.) There are significant factual disputes
about the exact amount and type of force used against
Plaintiff and the events which led up to the use of force by
Defendant Broomall in arresting Plaintiff. Plaintiff's
version of events is as follows: as she was exiting her
vehicle in an apartment complex parking lot, Love-Skinner was
called an expletive word by Ms. Adams, a woman she had never
met, for no apparent reason. (Love-Skinner Dep. [Docket Item
71-4 at 14-42] at 20:7-21:2.) The two women started fighting
(Id. at 23-24:10) and, a few minutes later,
Defendants Broomall and Riley arrived at the scene.
(Id. at 25:1-7.) According to Plaintiff, neither
officer told Plaintiff or Ms. Adams to stop fighting with
each other. (Id. at 27:18-28:5.) Instead, Defendant
Broomall approached Plaintiff and, without warning, struck
her from behind in the back of her neck with his elbow and
Plaintiff fell to the ground, causing scarring to her face
and a broken ankle. (Id. at 31:7-13.) As
Love-Skinner was laying on the ground, Defendant Broomall
handcuffed her, sprayed her in the face with mace, dragged
her to the curb, and then sprayed her in the face with mace
again. (Id. at 32:22-35:7.) At this point, Plaintiff
was unable to see (id. at 35:8-9) and felt pain in her face,
knees, and ankle. (Id. at 38:2-7.) Plaintiff
Love-Skinner was subsequently arrested for fighting with Ms.
Adams. (Id. at 36:2-4.) She was 53 years old at the
time of the incident. (Pl.'s Opp'n [Docket Item 76]
Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989), a plaintiff has
the burden of showing that the amount of force directed at
him by an arresting officer was constitutionally excessive.
What is “excessive” is determined under all the
circumstances then confronting the arresting officer,
considering the Graham factors, among others, namely:
“ the severity of the crime at issue,  whether
the suspect poses an immediate threat to the safety of the
officers or others, and  whether he is actively resisting
arrest or attempting to evade arrest by flight.”
Graham, 490 U.S. at 396. The Third Circuit expounded
upon the Graham factors in Sharrar v. Felsing, 128
F.3d 810 (3d Cir. 1997), stating that
[o]ther relevant factors include the possibility that the
persons subject to the police action are themselves violent
or dangerous, the duration of the action, whether the action
takes place in the context of effecting an arrest, the
possibility that the suspect may be armed, and the number ...