United States District Court, D. New Jersey
THE ESTATE OF ROBERT WAYNE LEWIS, et. al., Plaintiffs,
CUMBERLAND COUNTY, et al., Defendants.
B. Kugler United States District Judge.
matter comes before the Court by way of Plaintiffs, the
Estate of Robert Wayne Lewis by and through its
administrator, Tammy Wilson, and Ms. Wilson in her own
right's (collectively “Plaintiff) Second Amended
Complaint, asserting violations of the Eighth and Fourteenth
Amendments, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and related state
law claims. Presently before the Court are Defendant Balicki
and Cumberland County's motion for summary judgment (ECF
No. 120), Defendant CFG Health Systems, LLC's
(“CFG”) motion for summary judgment (ECF No.
118), Plaintiffs motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 119),
and the County Defendants' motion to seal (ECF No. 122).
The parties filed their respective oppositions (ECF Nos. 128,
129, 130), and all parties, with the exception of Plaintiff,
filed replies (ECF Nos. 136, 137). For the reasons set forth
below, the Court will grant Defendants' motions for
summary judgment, deny as moot Plaintiffs motion for summary
judgment, and grant the motion to seal as unopposed.
parties are intimately familiar with the facts of this case,
and because the Court has already set forth the background of
this matter in an earlier Opinion (ECF No. 80), the Court
will only state those facts necessary to address the instant
case arises from the suicide of Robert Lewis, during his
pretrial detention at the Cumberland County Jail. On October
27, 2015, Mr. Lewis underwent an intake screening at the
jail. Mr. Lewis did not appear despondent, exhibit any
bizarre behavior, or appear to be under the influence of
drugs during that screening. Mr. Lewis denied having any cuts
or open wounds, and the intake officer did not observe any
scars or wounds. The intake officer testified that if he had
seen any scars or wounds, he would have recorded that
information and notified medical staff.
Lewis then underwent a mental health screening with a CFG
intake nurse, where he denied having any thoughts or plans to
commit suicide, prior suicide attempts, mental health issues,
psychiatric history, or drug issues. Additionally, Mr. Lewis
did not appear to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs,
and was neat, alert, clean, oriented, and conducted himself
appropriately. Approximately two months prior, Mr. Lewis was
admitted to the jail, but on that occasion, responded that he
had heroin issues and a prior suicide attempt.
occasion, Plaintiff alleges that the nurse did not check Mr.
Lewis' prior medical history, or his wrists, which had
scars from a prior suicide attempt. After intake, officials
placed Mr. Lewis in general population without a mental
October 29, 2015, officials conducted a cell check at 10:30
p.m. with no issues to report. At approximately 10:56 p.m.,
staff discovered Mr. Lewis hanging by a sheet in the shower
area of that part of the jail. Approximately two minutes
later, officers attended to Mr. Lewis and performed CPR until
medical staff took over.
arrived and transported Mr. Lewis to Inspira Hospital and was
pronounced dead in the morning of October 30, 2015. The
Cumberland County Prosecutor's Office and the jail
completed investigations of the incident.
discussed in the Court's earlier Opinion, Plaintiff filed
a Second Amended Complaint against Defendants raising §
1983 and related state law claims. (ECF No. 26). CFG filed a
motion for partial summary judgment with regard to
Plaintiff's failure to serve a proper affidavit of merit.
(ECF No. 38). The Court granted that motion in part and
permitted Plaintiff's negligence claims against CFG to
proceed only under the common knowledge exception. (ECF No.
80). At the conclusion of discovery, all parties filed their
respective motions for summary judgment.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
should grant summary judgment “if the movant shows 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); see also Tolan v. Cotton, 572
U.S. 650, 656-57 (2014). In deciding a motion for summary
judgment, a court must construe all facts and inferences in
the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See
Cotton, 572 U.S. at 657. The moving party bears the
burden of establishing that no genuine issue of material fact
remains. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317,
322-23 (1986). “[W]ith respect to an issue on which the
nonmoving party bears the burden of proof, ” the moving
party may discharge its burden “by
‘showing'-that is, pointing out to the district
court-that there is an absence of evidence to support the
nonmoving party's case.” Id. at 325.
moving party meets its threshold burden, the opposing party
must present actual evidence that creates a genuine issue as
to a material fact for trial. See Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); see
also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c) (setting forth types of
evidence that may show that genuine issues of material fact
exist). The non-moving party must at least present probative
evidence from which the jury might return a verdict in his
favor. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 257. Where the
non-moving party fails to “make a showing sufficient to
establish the existence of an element essential to that
party's case, and on which that party will bear the
burden of proof at trial, ” the movant is entitled to
summary judgment. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322.
“[Unsupported allegations . . . and pleadings are
insufficient to repel summary judgment.” Schoch v.
First Fid. Bancorporation, 912 F.2d 654, 657 (3d Cir.
when plaintiffs move for summary judgment, they bear a
heavier burden. See, e.g., Dunkin Donuts Franchising LLC
v. Claudia III, LLC, No. 14-2293, 2015 WL 4243534, at *1
(E.D. Pa. July 14, 2015). As plaintiffs have the burden of
proof at trial, they must produce on a motion for summary
judgment, “evidence satisfying each element of [their]
claims and show there is ‘no genuine dispute as to any
material fact that would prevent the court from rendering
judgment in the movant's favor.'” Id.
(quoting Moore's Federal Practice §
56.40(1)). Indeed, a plaintiffs evidence “must be so
powerful that no reasonable jury would be free to disbelieve
Plaintiffs Failures to Comply with Rule 56(c)(1)(A)
discussing the merits of these motions, the Court must
address the deficiencies within Plaintiffs oppositions, which
complicate the task before the Court and act to Plaintiffs
great detriment. Under Rule 56(c)(1)(A), any party asserting
that a fact is or is not in dispute must support that
assertion by “citing to particular parts of
materials in the record, including depositions, documents,
electronically stored information, affidavits or
declarations, stipulations . . ., admissions, interrogatory
answers, or other materials.” (emphasis added).
parties fail to follow Rule 56, a court may “(1) give
an opportunity to properly support or address the fact; (2)
consider the fact undisputed for purposes of the motion; (3)
grant summary judgment if the motion and supporting
materials-including the facts considered undisputed-show that
the movant is entitled to it; or (4) issue any other
appropriate order.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e).
Civil Rule 56.1(a) supplements the federal rule and provides
in relevant part:
The opponent of summary judgment shall furnish, with its
opposition papers, a responsive statement of material facts,
addressing each paragraph of the movant's statement,
indicating agreement or disagreement and, if not agreed,
stating each material fact in dispute and citing to the
affidavits and other documents submitted in connection with
the motion; any material fact not disputed shall be
deemed undisputed for purposes of the summary judgment
an “opponent may . . . furnish a supplemental statement
of disputed material facts, in separately numbered paragraphs
citing to the affidavits and other documents submitted in
connection with the motion, if necessary to substantiate
the factual basis for opposition.” Id.
differently, expressing a general disagreement “without
identifying the facts disputed and without [citing]
to evidence in the record that raises an issue of fact
regarding that point, is insufficient to survive summary
judgment.” Malik v. Hannah, 799 F.Supp.2d 355,
358 (D.N.J. 2011) (emphasis added); see, e.g., Juster
Acquisition Co., LLC v. N. Hudson Sewerage Auth., No.
12-3427, 2014 WL 268652, at *5 n. 4 (D.N.J. Jan. 23, 2014)
(admonishing the defendant for falsely claiming that facts
were in dispute, and noting that “any statement that is
not explicitly denied with a proper citation to the record in
a responsive Rule 56.1 statement is deemed admitted.”);
Walters v. Carson, No. 11-6545, 2013 WL 6734257, at
*9 n.11 (D.N.J. Dec.19, 2013).
those principles in mind, Plaintiff's responsive
statement of material facts as to the County Defendants only
denies or partially denies 13 of the 100 paragraphs with
any citations to the record. (ECF No. 130-1). The
rest of Plaintiff's denials, “attempt to dispute
a fact asserted and supported from the record by Defendants,
without supporting [her] position with a citation to the
record.” See Soto-Muniz v. Corizon, Inc., No.
10-3617, 2015 WL 1034477, at *3 n.3 (D.N.J. Mar. 10, 2015),
aff'd sub nom. Soto-Muniz v. Martin,
665 Fed.Appx. 226 (3d Cir. 2016).
in 10 of the 13 remaining paragraphs in “dispute,
” Plaintiff is “attempting to deny a fact not
actually asserted by Defendants” or mischaracterizes
the cited evidence. Id.; (See ECF No.
130-1, at ¶¶ 13, 15, 27, 33, 40, 60, 72, 80, 81, 90
(misnumbered)). In these instances, Plaintiff submits a
denial, and then cites to, at best, supplemental related
information. Although the Court will consider this
supplemental information, such evidence is insufficient to
dispute their respective facts in question. See,
e.g., Soto-Muniz, 2015 WL 1034477, at *3,
Juster, 2014 WL 268652, at *5 n. 4. Accordingly, the
Court will regard the entirety of the County Defendants'
statement of facts, with the exception of paragraphs 31, 34,
and 69, as undisputed for the purpose of the County
Defendants' motion for summary judgment.
as Plaintiff did not file a supplemental statement of facts
under Local Rule 56.1(a), the Court will only consider the
alleged facts in Plaintiff's brief that have proper
citations to the record. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
56(c)(1)(A), 56(e); Malik, 799 F.Supp.2d at 358.
That said, Plaintiff's entire brief contains only four
citations to the record, two of which, appear to cite to the
entirety of an expert's deposition. (ECF No. 130).
Astonishingly, County Defendants emphasized these failures in
their reply, and yet Plaintiff appears to have made no effort
to remedy these deficiencies.
as to CFG's motion, Plaintiff's responsive statement
of material facts only denies or partially denies 22 of the
100 paragraphs with any citations to the record.
(ECF No. 129-1). Once again, the rest of Plaintiff's
denials, “attempt to dispute a fact asserted and
supported from the record by Defendants, without supporting
[her] position with a citation to the record.” See
Soto-Muniz, 2015 WL 1034477, at *3 n.3.
in 19 of the 22 remaining paragraphs in “dispute,
” Plaintiff is “attempting to deny a fact not
actually asserted by Defendants, ” mischaracterizes the
cited evidence, or fails to cite evidence with any
particularity. Id.; (See ECF No. 129-1, at
¶¶ 18-29, 79, 80, 83, 85, 86, 89, 99). Critically,
in paragraphs 18 through 29, Plaintiff appears to have copied
and pasted a conclusory denial, and then cited to the
entirety of her statement of facts from her motion for
summary judgment. (ECF No. 129-1, ¶¶ 18-29). ...