BATTLE v. THE CITY OF ELIZABETH et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER, The clerk shall replace the Elizabeth Police Department with the City of Elizabeth as a defendant in this action; The Complaint shall be permitted to proceed against the three defendants named in the complaint: (1) Alexander Gon zalez; (2) Michael Nicolas; and the City of Elizabeth; Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1915(d) that the Clerk shall issue a summons and the U.S. Marshal shall serve the summons and a copy of the complaint and this Order on defendants Gonzalez, Nicolas and the City of Elizabeth, with all costs of service advanced by the United States, etc.. Signed by Judge Kevin McNulty on 10/27/2015. (anr)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
Civ. No. 1 56737 (KM) (JBC)
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
ELIZABETH POLICE DEPARTMENT, et al.,
The plaintiff Koctrell Battle, is currently incarcerated at the Union County Jail, in
Elizabeth, New Jersey. He is proceeding pro se with a civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C.
1983, alleging illegal arrest, excessive use of force, and the denial of medical care at the police
station. It names as defendants two officers, Alexander Gonzalez and Michael Nicolas, as well
as the Elizabeth Police Department.
This Court has screened the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A
to determine whether it should be dismissed as frivolous or malicious, for failure to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted, or because it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is
immune from suit. Upon screening the complaint, this Court will permit the complaint to proceed
past screening in its entirety against defendants Gonzalez and Nicolas.
The Court construes Mr. Battle’s claim that the Elizabeth Police Department should be
investigated for the police brutality that “is being practiced there” as a claim under Monell v.
Dep ‘t ofSoc. Servs. New York City, 436 U.S. 658 (1978). This claim shall be permitted to
proceed past screening as well at this early stage of the proceedings. The Elizabeth Police
Department, however, is not technically the proper entity to be sued. As this Court has noted:
A New Jersey municipal police department is not an independent
entity with the capacity to be sue and be sued, but only “an
executive and enforcement function of municipal government.”
N.J. STAT. ANN. § 40A:14—118. The case law under Section 1983
uniformly holds that the proper defendant is therefore the
municipality itself, not the police department. See Jackson v. City
ofErie Police Dep’t, 570 F. App’x 112, 114 n.2 (3d Cir. 2014) (per
curiam) (“We further agree with the District Court that the police
department was not a proper party to this action. Although local
governmental units may constitute ‘persons’ against whom suit
may be lodged under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a city police department is
a governmental sub-unit that is not distinct from the municipality
of which it is a part.”) (citation omitted); see also Bonenberger v.
Plymouth Twp., 132 F.3d 20, 25 n.4 (3d Cir.1997) (Court “treat[s]
the municipality and its police department as a single entity for
purposes of section 1983 liability”); Michaels v. State ofNew
Jersey, 955 F.Supp. 315, 317 n. 1 (D.N.J. 1996) (Newark police
department not a proper party).
*5 (D.N.J. May 20,
Santa Maria v. City ofElizabeth (7VJ.), No. 15-3243, 2015 WL 2414706, at
2015). I will therefore direct the clerk to substitute the City of Elizabeth as defendant.
Accordingly, IT IS this 27th day of October, 2015,
ORDERED that the clerk shall replace the Elizabeth Police Department with the City of
Elizabeth as a defendant in this action; and it is further
ORDERED that the complaint shall be permitted to proceed against the three defendants
named in the complaint: (1) Alexander Gonzalez; (2) Michael Nicolas; and (3) the City of
Elizabeth; and it is further
ORDERED pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(d) that the Clerk shall issue a summons and the
U.S. Marshal shall serve the summons and a copy of the complaint and this Order on defendants
Gonzalez, Nicolas and the City of Elizabeth, with all costs of service advanced by the United
States; and it is further
ORDERED that defendants Gonzalez, Nicolas and the City of Elizabeth shall file and
serve a responsive pleading within the time specified by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12; and
it is further
ORDERED that the Clerk shall serve this Order on plaintiff by regular U.S. mail.
United States District Judge
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