FERRANTE et al v. COUNTY OF MONMOUTH et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION filed. Signed by Judge Mary L. Cooper on 11/21/2016. (mmh)
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
ROBERT FERRANTE, et al.,
COUNTY OF MONMOUTH, et al.,
CIVIL ACTION NO. 16-3496 (MLC)
COOPER, District Judge
Plaintiffs allege that the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office distributed a pamphlet
on heroin use to students and parents at Monmouth County high schools, including
Manasquan High School, in September 2013. (Dkt. 1-1 at 4.)1 According to the Complaint,
the pamphlet was distributed at school meetings and also released on The Patch, an internet
news website, by a press release from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office. (Id. at 5.)
Plaintiff Robert Ferrante’s driver’s license photograph was used in the pamphlet as one of the
“Faces of Heroin.” (Id.) The press release also included the photograph. (Id.) The
photograph was released by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission without the
permission of Ferrante. (Id.) Ferrante has “never used or [been] associated with Heroin use.”
The Court will cite to the documents filed on the Electronic Case Filing System (“ECF”) by the
designation of “dkt.” Pincites reference ECF pagination.
(Id.) As a result of the distribution of the photograph, Plaintiffs Robert Ferrante and Doreen
Ferrante claim to have sustained psychological damages. (Id.)
Plaintiffs filed a complaint in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Monmouth County
against the State of New Jersey and the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (“State
Defendants”), the County of Monmouth and the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office
(“Monmouth County Defendants”), the Manasquan Board of Education and Manasquan High
School (“Manasquan Defendants”), The Patch, an online news website, and various parties
and individuals to be identified later. (Id. at 12.) The matter was removed to this Court.
Plaintiffs alleged in Count Two that the Monmouth County Defendants, Manasquan
Defendants, State Defendants, and The Patch, through their actions or omissions, violated
Plaintiffs’ federal civil rights in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by “(A) [p]sychologically
attacking the plaintiffs; (B) falsely accusing the plaintiff; [and] (C) treating the plaintiff in a
discriminatory manner.” (Dkt. 1-1 at 7–8.)2
The Court dismissed Plaintiffs’ Section 1983 claims against both the Manasquan
Defendants and the State Defendants with prejudice. (Dkt. 22 at 7–9; dkt. 23; dkt. 24.) At
that time, the Monmouth County Defendants had not filed an Answer or a Motion to Dismiss.
In conjunction with the opinion, the Court issued an order to Show Cause for the
parties to address “why Count Two (‘Violation of Plaintiff’s Civil Rights as Protected under
The other counts from the Complaint were not part of the Order to Show Cause, and will not be
discussed in this opinion. These counts were summarized in the Court’s prior opinion. (Dkt. 22 at 3–
the U.S. Constitution’) against County of Monmouth, Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office,
and The Patch should not be dismissed with prejudice for failure to state a claim.” (Dkt. 21;
dkt. 22 at 10–11.)
Plaintiffs neither responded to this Court’s Order to Show Cause, nor filed a reply to
the responses of the Manasquan Defendants (dkt. 25), the Monmouth County Defendants
(dkt. 26), or the State Defendants (dkt. 27).
For the following reasons, this Court will dismiss Plaintiffs’ federal claim, Count Two,
against the Monmouth County Defendants with prejudice.
Plaintiffs have not provided this Court with any justification as to why the federal
Section 1983 claim against Monmouth County should not also be dismissed, as the federal
claims against the State Defendants and the Manasquan Defendants were.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) permits a court to dismiss a complaint for
failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. When evaluating a motion to
dismiss, a court must accept all factual allegations as true, construe the complaint in the light
most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether, under any reasonable reading of the
complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief. See Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d
203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009). In other words, a complaint survives a motion to dismiss if it
contains sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to “state a claim to relief that is plausible
on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
In evaluating the sufficiency of a plaintiff’s factual pleadings, a court must take three
First, the court must take note of the elements a plaintiff must
plead to state a claim. Second, the court should identify
allegations that, because they are no more than conclusions, are
not entitled to the assumption of truth. Finally, where there are
well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their
veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an
entitlement for relief.
Santiago v. Warminster Twp., 629 F.3d 121, 130 (3d Cir. 2010) (citations and quotation
However, “a court need not credit a plaintiff’s ‘bald assertions’ or ‘legal conclusions’ when
deciding a motion to dismiss.” Sands v. McCormick, 502 F.3d 263, 268 (3d Cir. 2007)
To state a claim for relief under Section 1983, a plaintiff must allege: (1) the
violation of a right protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States; and (2) that
the alleged deprivation was committed or caused by a person acting under color of state
law. See Harvey v. Plains Twp. Police Dep’t, 635 F.3d 606, 609 (3d Cir. 2011); see also
West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).
At no point have Plaintiffs identified any specific constitutional or civil rights that the
Monmouth County Defendants have violated. Plaintiffs did not assert a specific federal
constitutional or civil right in the Complaint or in response to this Court’s Order to Show
Cause. The Court finds that Plaintiffs have failed to allege sufficient facts against the State
Defendants that support a federal claim upon which relief may be granted. Even if Plaintiffs
had alleged that the Monmouth County Defendants deprived them of their constitutional
rights under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments, as they did against the Manasquan Defendants
(see dkt. 22 at 7–8), the Court finds that those bald assertions would be insufficient here as
well. See Sands, 502 F.3d at 268.
For the reasons outlined above, and for the reasons expressed in the Court’s prior
opinion, the Court will dismiss Count Two, the Section 1983 claim against the Monmouth
County Defendants, with prejudice.
The Court will issue an appropriate Order.
s/ Mary L. Cooper
MARY L. COOPER
United States District Judge
Dated: November 21, 2016
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