United States District Court, D. New Jersey
MELODY CUNNINGHAM, Guardian Ad Litem for JAWARA MCINTOSH and MELODY CUNNINGHAM, Individually, Plaintiffs,
COUNTY OF BERGEN, et al., Defendants.
WILLIAM J. MARTINI, U.S.D.J.
Cunningham, guardian ad litem, for Jawara McIntosh alleges
that McIntosh's civil rights were violated when he was
seriously injured during an assault while housed at the
Bergen County Jail. Cunningham names as defendants Bergen
County, the Bergen County Jail, Jail Warden Steven Ahrendt,
Sheriff Michael Saudino, various officers, and inmate Kyrie
Baum. This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Bergen
County's motion to dismiss. ECF No. 23. For the reasons
stated below, Bergen County's motion is
February 21, 2017, while an inmate at the Bergen County Jail,
Jawara McIntosh was allegedly seriously injured when he was
assaulted by another inmate, Kyrie Baum. Compl. ¶¶
24-25. Melody Cunningham, McIntosh's mother and guardian
ad litem, commenced this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
and New Jersey law, against the County of Bergen, former
Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino, Jail Warden Steven
Ahrendt, other sheriffs officers, and Kyrie Baum, Mr.
McIntosh's alleged attacker. Id. at ¶¶
1-23. Cunningham alleges that McIntosh's constitutional
rights were violated as a result of various defendants'
failure to train, supervise, monitor, and discipline
corrections officers, provide adequate policies and protocols
for the handling of inmate on inmate violence, and provide
adequate medical assistance. Id. at ¶¶
STANDRARD OF REVIEW
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal
of a complaint, in whole or in part, if the plaintiff fails
to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The moving
party bears the burden of showing that no claim has been
stated. Hedges v. United States, 404 F.3d 744, 750
(3d Cir. 2005). In deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule
12(b)(6), a court must take all allegations in the complaint
as true and view them in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff. See Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 501
(1975). "A Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal is appropriate if, as
a matter of law, it is clear that no relief could be granted
under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with
the allegations." Wilson v. Rackmill, 878 F.2d
772, 774 (3d Cir. 1989).
Bergen County moves to dismiss Plaintiffs Complaint against
it, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6),
because Bergen County had no supervision or control over the
County Sheriff, Sheriffs officers, or Kyrie Baum. Def.'s
Mot. 1. Bergen County argues that Bergen County and the
Bergen County Sheriff are separate and distinct entities,
that Bergen County lacks oversight over the Bergen County
Jail, and that Bergen County does not control the Sheriff or
other individual defendants. Id. at 6-13.
Bergen County Does Not Have Oversight over the Bergen
County of Bergen and the Bergen County Sheriff are legally
distinct entities. Compare N.J.S.A. 40:18-1
("[t]he inhabitants of each of the several counties
shall be a body politic and corporate ...")
with New Jersey Const., Art. 7, § 2, ¶ 2
("sheriffs shall be elected by the people of their
respective counties at general elections"); Bergen
Coty PBA Local 134 v. Donovan, 436 N.J. Super 187, 197
(App. Div. 2014).
County does not operate the Bergen County jail and the County
is not a custodian of prisoners there-the Sheriff is.
"[T]he sheriff of every county shall have the care,
custody and control of the county jail or jails and all
prisoners therein, and shall be responsible for the conduct
of any keeper appointed by him." N.J.S.A. §
30:8-17. The Sheriff, not the County, selects the jail's
warden and sheriffs' officers. See N.J.S.A.
§§ 30:8-17.1, 40A:9-117.
argues that N.J.S.A. § 30:8-16.8 vests "ultimate
authority over the jail" with the County and contends
that "[t]he County controls the jails and the Sheriff
operates them as agents of the County." Pl.'s Resp.
8-9. Section 30:8-16.8 states:
Subject to the requirements of centralized administration and
control of county correctional services under subsection b.
(4) of section 5, and the provisions of agreements between
cooperating counties permitted pursuant to subsection b. of
section 4, the governing body of a participating county shall
retain all authority for the expenditure of funds, including
grants of financial assistance received from the State under
this act, and for the implementation ...