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Kilgarriff v. Strunk

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

March 31, 2019

CORNELIUS J. KILGARRIFF, IV, Plaintiff,
v.
THOMAS I. STRUNK, MATEUSZ RYBA, COLBY MELOY, ROBERT PATANELLA, TIM SHARPE, STEPHEN SCHAFFER, CHAD CALLAHAN, OCEAN CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT, CITY OF OCEAN CITY, NJ, JOHN DOES 1-5, Defendants.

          Salvatore P. Difazio 84 Park Avenue Gavel Hall On behalf of Plaintiff

          A. Michael Barker Barker, Gelfand & James Linwood Greene On behalf of Defendants

          OPINION

          NOEL L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.

         This matter concerns claims by Plaintiff that an Ocean City, New Jersey police officer used excessive force when he arrested Plaintiff at a party where there was underage drinking. Presently before the Court is the motion of Defendants to dismiss Plaintiff's claims against them on various bases.[1] For the reasons expressed below, Defendants' motion will be granted.

         BACKGROUND

         On June 21, 2016, Plaintiff, Cornelius J. Kilgarriff, IV, who was 18 years old at the time, was a guest at a party in a home in Ocean City, New Jersey. Plaintiff claims that several officers entered the home because they suspected that underage drinking was occurring. According to Plaintiff, Defendant Thomas I. Strunk, an Ocean City police officer, opened the door to the room where Plaintiff was located and pointed his gun in Plaintiff's face. Plaintiff questioned why it was necessary for Strunk to act in that manner. Ultimately, Strunk arrested Plaintiff and placed him in handcuffs.

         Plaintiff claims that after he was handcuffed, Strunk violently assaulted him on the front porch with his fists, arms and knees. Plaintiff claims that Strunk then violently threw Plaintiff's head against a pole on the porch. As Strunk walked Plaintiff to the patrol car, Plaintiff claims that he protested that Strunk's actions constituted police brutality, and in response, Strunk slammed Plaintiff's head and body into the patrol car before forcing him into the back seat. Plaintiff claims that during this entire encounter he was handcuffed and did not resist. Plaintiff also claims that other Ocean City police officers, Defendants Mateusz Ryba, Colby Meloy, Robert Patanella, and Tim Sharpe, should have known that Strunk's use of force was excessive and intervened to stop him.

         Plaintiff was taken to the police station, processed, and then released in the middle of the night. Plaintiff claims that no one asked him about his injuries. He obtained medical treatment the next day.

         Plaintiff alleges that his constitutional rights were violated by Strunk's use of excessive force and the other officers' failure to intervene. Plaintiff also alleges that Ocean City and the Ocean City Police Chief, Defendant Chad Callahan, as well as Sergeant Stephen Schaffer, violated his constitutional rights by failing to train and supervise Ocean City officers in the proper use of force, and by fostering a policy and custom of using unlawful force. Monell v. Dept. of Social Services of City of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978).

         Ocean City[2] has moved do dismiss Plaintiff's Monell claim as boilerplate pleading lacking any factual underpinning.[3] For the same reason, the Defendant officers, except for Strunk, have moved to dismiss Plaintiff's failure to intervene claims, and Callahan and Schaffer have moved to dismiss Plaintiff's supervisory liability claims.[4] Plaintiff has opposed Defendants' motion, arguing that Defendants are sufficiently on notice of his claims and that he is entitled to discovery to flush out the facts to support his claims.

         DISCUSSION

         A. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

         Plaintiff has brought claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This Court has jurisdiction over Plaintiff's claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

         B. Standard for ...


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