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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

RICHARD GREENBERG VS. NEW JERSEY STATE POLICE TROOPER NICHOLAS J. PRYSZLAK, ET AL. A-5925-10T1


RICHARD GREENBERG VS. NEW JERSEY STATE POLICE TROOPER NICHOLAS J. PRYSZLAK, ET AL.   A-5925-10T1

Following a dispute between plaintiff and defendant Oil Station, Inc. (OSI), which had performed an oil change on plaintiff's vehicle and allegedly damaged the vehicle's battery
in the process, plaintiff closed the bank account on which he had made the original payment of $129.44 and provided OSI a check for $31.02, the amount which plaintiff felt was due.  OSI contacted the State Police, which conducted an investigation and
ultimately concluded there was probable cause to believe plaintiff violated the bad check statute, N.J.S.A. 2C:21-5.  Plaintiff was arrested in his home and held at a state police
barracks until he agreed to pay the full amount OSI claimed was due.

 Plaintiff commenced this action, alleging false arrest, false imprisonment, various constitutional violations, and other common law torts.  The trial judge granted summary judgment in favor of the State Police and the other State defendants, as well as OSI and its representative.  The court reversed, concluding that an arrest within the home was unlawful absent an arrest warrant or exigent circumstances -- both of which were
absent -- or consent, which turned on disputed questions of fact that could not be decided at the summary judgment stage.  The court also held there were genuine questions of material fact regarding the State defendants' claim that probable cause to arrest existed and on the defense of qualified immunity, thereby precluding summary judgment.

 In addition, the court reversed the summary judgment entered in favor of OSI and its representative because that judgment was based on the trial judge's dismissal of the claims
against the State defendants.  The court also found there was evidence to support plaintiff's theory that OSI and its representative conspired with the State defendants to falsely arrest and imprison plaintiff because, among other things, OSI had previously enlisted the aid of the State Police in the collection of OSI's unpaid bills. 06-26-12