Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

WILLIAMS v. CITY OF NEW YORK

January 18, 1990

LEROY WILLIAMS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE CITY OF NEW YORK, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert P. Patterson, Jr., District Judge.

Plaintiff applies pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988 for $99,075.00 in attorneys' fees and for $5,381.75 in costs, based on his having received a jury award of damages of $100,000 which was subsequently reduced to $10,000 by remittitur, to which plaintiff consented.

On December 3, 1981, plaintiff filed this Section 1983 action pro se while he was a pretrial detainee at the Rikers Island Facility of the New York City Department of Corrections. The named defendants were two corrections officers, two captains and an assistant deputy warden at the Rikers Island Facility. The original complaint alleged: (1) Corrections Officer Stinger (Stinger) discriminated against plaintiff in the practice of his religion by denying plaintiff a kosher meal; (2) Stinger assaulted the plaintiff; (3) an unnamed corrections officer also assaulted plaintiff; and (4) the other defendants observed the assault and did nothing to stop it.

On March 24, 1983, the firm of Schnapp and Cordover notified the Court of their retention by plaintiff. On January 26, 1984, Schnapp and Cordover moved to amend the complaint. The Court granted the motion despite "the dilatory manner in which plaintiff's counsel has proceeded in this case." The amended complaint filed February 3, 1984 alleged the following claims:

  (1) against Stinger for assaulting plaintiff and
      refusing to serve plaintiff a kosher meal in
      violation of the First, Fifth, Fourteenth and
      Eighth Amendments to the United States
      Constitution and Article One of the New York
      State Constitution. ¶¶ 22-25.
  (2) against Stinger and Corrections Officer Joseph
      Calabrese (Calabrese) for assaulting plaintiff
      in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth
      Amendments to the United States Constitution
      and Article One of the New York State
      Constitution. ¶¶ 26-28a.
  (3) against Captain Thomas O'Shea (O'Shea),
      Captain John Ogden (Ogden) and Deputy Warden
      James Rosa (Rosa) for witnessing and failing
      to supervise the acts of Stinger, in violation
      of the First, Fifth, Fourteenth and Eighth
      Amendments to the United States Constitution
      and Article One of the New York State
      Constitution. ¶¶ 29-30.
  (4) against Stinger, Rosa and O'Shea for
      subjecting the plaintiff to disciplinary
      charges, failing to advise him of his rights
      to present testimony and call witnesses, and
      placing him in punitive segregation, in
      violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth
      Amendments to the United States Constitution.
      ¶¶ 31-33.
  (5) against the City of New York (the City) for
      failing to promulgate written rules by which
      kosher meals for inmates would be dispensed
      "thereby permitting its agents, servants
      and/or employees to invidiously discriminate
      against individuals who exercise their freedom
      of religion and observance." ¶ 34.

A trial commenced on March 20, 1985 and lasted until March 29, 1985. During the trial, the City relied on the regulations of the City Department of Corrections to validate the manner in which defendants conducted the disciplinary hearing. The judge then permitted the pleadings to be amended to conform to the proof and organized the case thereby providing for an appropriate charge for the jury and a simplified verdict sheet. Before the case went to the jury, the Court dismissed the allegations against defendant Ogden and directed a verdict against the City on a single Section 1983 claim premised on a violation of procedural due process. See Carey v. Piphus, 435 U.S. 247, 98 S.Ct. 1042, 55 L.Ed.2d 252 (1977). The judge delivered the directed verdict after reviewing the regulations of the City Department of Corrections pertaining to disciplinary hearings and deciding that the City's

  regulations do violate due process and equal
  protection rights of a pretrial detainee, and in
  this case the pretrial detainee's liberty interest
  to stay in the general population . . . was
  diminished because . . . the hearing that was
  afforded him does not comport with constitutional
  standards.

Tr. at 1085.

The case went to the jury on the issue of damages on the directed verdict claim and on the issues of liability and damages on all the other claims. The jury found for defendants on all issues of liability and awarded plaintiff damages of $100,000 against the City for its denial of due process in the conduct of the disciplinary hearing.

The City then moved for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict, or in the alternative for either a new trial or a remittitur. Plaintiff cross-moved for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict on his First Amendment claim and for a new trial on damages. By Order filed November 10, 1987, the Court granted the City's motion for a new trial on the issue of the amount of damages to be awarded for the deprivation of plaintiff's right to due process in connection with the disciplinary hearing. The Order reasoned that a new trial on damages was necessary because the Court had neglected to charge the jury that nominal damages could be awarded for a procedural due process violation. By the same Order, it also granted plaintiff the right to file an amended complaint.

On January 12, 1988, plaintiff filed an amended complaint, alleging a claim against the City based on the unconstitutionality of its disciplinary hearing regulations. The amended complaint also re-alleged, in a modified form, those claims for which the jury had exonerated defendants. After the Court found the inclusion of the unsuccessful claims in the amended complaint to be unauthorized, plaintiff filed a second ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.