Carson v. Vernon Township, — F. Supp. — (D.N.J. 2010)

Practice Areas: Public Entity and Civil Rights Litigation, School/Municipal Leaders' Liability

Plaintiff, a former member of the Township Council (“Council”) of defendant, sued defendants for allegedly engaging in a conspiracy and a coordinated pattern of threats, extortion, coercion, harassment and intimidation to force him to vote and take positions on public issues as they demanded, which he alleges eventually forced him to resign from the Council.  Plaintiff also asserted claims of racketeering in violation of the United States Racketeer and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. §§ 1962(b), 1962(c) and 1962(d) (“RICO”), as well as claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the First and Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution, related State law statutes and various State common law claims.  The District Court granted defendants’ motion to dismiss the federal and state RICO claims, agreeing that plaintiff did not allege the presence of RICO racketeering activity as defined by 18 U.S.C. § 1961(1).  The Court also dismissed the police department as an independent defendant, agreeing that it was not a separate legal entity, but rather a part of the municipality it serves.  The Court also granted, without prejudice, the dismissal of plaintiff’s claims of abuse of process (as redundant), fraud and deception, intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault, tort and conspiracy, reasoning that plaintiff failed to address the facts and elements pertinent to each common law claim, nor did he detail specific facts that raise his right to relief above the speculative level.  All that remained of plaintiff’s once multi-count Complaint were claims of deprivation of free speech and religious right, right of assembly, his Section 1983 claim and a claim of conspiracy to deprive him of rights under the New Jersey Civil Rights Act.

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