United States District Court, D. New Jersey
Renée Marie Bumb United States District Judge.
Plaintiff Liudmila Smith, both as the administratrix of the
estate of Clayton Smith and in her own right, (hereinafter
“Plaintiff”) brings this action against
Defendants City of Wildwood, James Neill, Louis Raniszewski,
Ryan Troiano, and Aldo Sacco (hereinafter, collectively,
“Defendants”) alleging a variety of claims arising
from the unfortunate death of Clayton Smith on February 19,
2016. (See Complaint [Docket Item 1].)
Factual and Procedural Background.
factual and procedural background of this case was previously
detailed in Judge Simandle's Memorandum Opinion of
September 27, 2018, Estate of Smith v. City of
Wildwood, No. 16-0925, 2018 WL 4639182 (D.N.J. Sept. 27,
2018), and shall not be repeated herein, except as necessary
for the resolution of the present motion.
February 19, 2016, Plaintiff filed the instant action.
(See Complaint [Docket Item 1].) Defendants filed
their Answer to Plaintiff's Complaint on May 12, 2016.
(See Answer [Docket Item 11].) On October 31, 2017,
the parties stipulated to the dismissal, with prejudice, of
Counts Two and Five of Plaintiff's Complaint.
(See Stipulation of Dismissal [Docket Item 40].) On
September 27, 2018, the Honorable Jerome B. Simandle,
U.S.D.J., granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants
with respect to Plaintiff's claims for “punitive
damages arising at state law and in relation to
Plaintiff's claims for relief under the
‘state-created danger' exception to [42 U.S.C.]
§ 1983.” (Order [Docket Item 53], Sept. 27, 2018,
1-2.) In the same Opinion and Order, Judge Simandle dismissed
as moot a portion of Defendants' motion for summary
judgment, “because Plaintiff is not seeking to hold
City Defendant liable for any civil rights violations under
42 U.S.C. § 1983 or Monell, ” (Estate
of Smith, 2018 WL 4639182, at *6; Order [Docket Item
53], Sept. 27, 2018, 2), and further noted that as Judge
Simandle “grant[ed] summary judgment in favor of EMT
Defendants with regard to all claims under [42 U.S.C.] §
1983, th[e] portion of Defendants' motion, ”
seeking summary judgment with regard to punitive damages in
connection with such § 1983 claims, “shall be
dismissed as moot.” (Estate of Smith, 2018 WL
4639182, at *6; Order [Docket Item 53], Sept. 27, 2018, 2.)
Thereafter, Judge Simandle granted Defendants leave to file a
second motion for summary judgment,
addressing any or all of the three remaining claims; those
three claims are understood as: (1) A federal constitutional
claim for denial of equal protection to a “Class of
One” under Section 1983; (2) a state law claim on
behalf of the Estate for negligence resulting in denial of
lost chance of survival; and (3) a Portee claim for
bystander distress to Liudmila Muraviva arising from the tort
in (2) above
Order [Docket Item 75], Apr. 9, 2019, 2.) On June 13, 2019,
Defendants filed the present motion for summary judgment
[Docket Item 76], seeking summary judgment in Defendants'
favor with respect to each of the three claims remaining, as
enumerated in Judge Simandle's Scheduling Order,
supra. Briefing is now complete and the motion is
ripe for disposition. The Court will decide the motion
without oral argument, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 78.
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).
Court shall address Defendants' request for summary
judgment pertaining to Plaintiff's remaining federal
claim and then proceed to discuss Plaintiff's remaining
state law claims.
Plaintiff's federal constitutional claim for denial
of equal protection to a “Class ...