Wildoner v. Borough of Ramsey

162 N.J. 375 (2000)

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Wildoner v. Borough of Ramsey

New Jersey Supreme Court
162 N.J. 375 (2000)

  • Written by Haley Gintis, JD

Facts

On September 15, 1993, the Borough of Ramsey Police Department (department) (defendant) received a call from the manager of Woodlands Senior Home. The manager reported that a resident had heard 70-year-old Wildoner (plaintiff) threatening to throw knives at his wife, Cecilia Wildoner (Cecilia). Officers (defendants) arrived to investigate and confirmed with the resident what she had heard. The officers then entered the Wildoners’ apartment. The officers observed a knife on the floor and a mark on Cecilia’s arm. The officers arrested Wildoner, under the New Jersey Domestic Violence Act (DVA). The officers signed a domestic-violence complaint charging Wildoner and sought a temporary restraining order to prevent Wildoner from returning to the apartment. Cecilia refused to sign the complaint and had no role in seeking the restraining order. The court granted the order, and a hearing was held the following day. Because Cecilia’s testimony during the hearing contained no domestic-violence allegations, the court vacated the order. Wildoner then filed a suit against the department, the town, and the officers (defendants). Wildoner claimed that the officers had violated his rights by falsely arresting and imprisoning him. The department moved to dismiss the complaint on the ground of immunity. The court held a hearing, at which the officers and the Wildoners shared their versions of the arrest. The officers stated that Cecilia had admitted that she and Wildoner were arguing and that he had been abusive throughout the marriage. Cecilia testified that she never told the officers that Wildoner was abusive. The court granted the motion to dismiss. The matter was appealed. The appellate division reversed, concluding that a jury could find that there was no probable cause to arrest Wildoner. The New Jersey Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Garibaldi, J.)

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