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Brown v. City of Newark

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

September 26, 2019

CITY OF NEWARK, et al., Defendants.



         Currently before the court are two motions to dismiss the Amended Complaint ("AC", DE 20) for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The first (DE 25) is brought on behalf of defendants the City of Newark, Newark Municipal Jail, and Mayor Ras J. Baraka (collectively, the "City"). The second (DE 28) is brought on behalf of the County of Essex, Essex County Jail, and County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr.[1] (collectively, the "County").

         Chief Judge Linares, to whom the case was previously assigned, granted die defendants' motions to dismiss the complaint in its original form, without prejudice to amendment. (DE 18, 19) The plaintiff, Anthony Brown, through counsel, then filed the Amended Complaint. (DE 20) Thereafter, on May 20, 2019, the current motions to dismiss the Amended Complaint were filed. Upon Judge Linares's retirement, the case was reassigned to me. (DE 30) Because over three months had passed without counsel having filed any opposition to the motions to dismiss, on September 10, 2019, I filed an Order to Show Cause requiring the plaintiff to file an opposition within 21 days with a motion to file out of time, with a warning that if he did not do so, the motions to dismiss might be treated as unopposed and granted. (DE 31) The deadline set in the Order to Show Cause has come and gone. I will therefore decide the motions based on the submissions that are before me.


         The allegations of the Amended Complaint, taken as true for purposes of this motion only, are as follows.

         Mr. Brown was arrested and confined in jail cells for a total of approximately three days, until his release on June 2, 2016. Initially hek was placed in the Newark Municipal Jail, but was transferred at some point to the Essex County Jail. (AC ¶¶ 1, 4)

         While confined, Mr. Brown "made request for treatment to the officers on duty to see the medical staff because of the pain and suffering experienced from staying in the cell and the bedding conditions." (AC ¶ 2) The officers, however, "refused to grant him a visit to the infirmary." (AC ¶ 3) The officers thus "deprived the plaintiff of health treatment and exhibited a deliberate indifference by the plaintiff not being treated." (AC ¶ 5) "The deprivation caused the plaintiff to suffer and experiencing marital and social discord by not being treated in a timely manner experienced pain and suffering and unsightly markings about his body. Plaintiff was in extreme discomfort and was refused treatment." (AC ¶ 6)

         The Amended Complaint asserts two counts under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Count 1 alleges that the City is liable for the alleged conduct because of a policy or practice whereby it failed to train the officers properly. Count 2 alleges that the County is similarly liable.


         Rule 12(b)(6), Fed. R. Civ. P., provides for the dismissal of a complaint if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The defendant, as die moving party, bears the burden of showing that no claim has been stated. Animal Science Products, Inc. v. China Minmetals Corp., 654 F.3d 462, 469 n. 9 (3d Cir. 2011). For the purposes of a motion to dismiss, the facts alleged in the complaint are accepted as true and all reasonable inferences are drawn in favor of the plaintiff. New Jersey Carpenters & the Trustees Thereof v. Tishman Const. Corp. of New Jersey, 760 F.3d 297, 302 (3d Cir. 2014).

         Federal Rule of Procedure 8(a) does not require that a complaint contain detailed factual allegations. Nevertheless, "a plaintiffs obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Thus, die complaint's factual allegations must be sufficient to raise a plaintiffs right to relief above a speculative level, so that a claim is "plausible on its face." Id. at 570; see also West Run Student Housing Assocs., LLC v. Huntington Nat Bank, 712 F.3d 165, 169 (3d Cir. 2013). That facial-plausibility standard is met "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw die 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). While *[t]he plausibility standard is not akin to a 'probability requirement'. . . it asks for more than a sheer possibility." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.


         I interpret these claims as Fourteenth Amendment claims of deliberate indifference to a detainee's serious medical needs. The standard, which is at least as high as the Eighth Amendment standard that applies to convicted defendants, is well established:

To demonstrate an Eighth Amendment violation, [die inmate] must show "acts or omissions sufficiently harmful to evidence deliberate indifference to serious medical needs." Estelle v. Gamble,429 U.S. 97, 106, 97 S.Ct. 285, 50 L.Ed.2d 251 (1976). We have interpreted this to mean that there are two prongs to the inquiry: (1) deliberate indifference on die part of prison officials; and (2) the prisoner's medical needs are serious. Monmouth County Corr. Inst. Inmates ...

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