The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sweet, District Judge.
Defendant Steven Saroff ("Saroff") has moved pursuant to Rule
56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for summary judgment
or in the alternative, partial summary judgment to dismiss the
claims of either plaintiff Wallie Cooper Simpson ("Simpson") or
plaintiff Lower East Side International Community School, Inc.
("LESICS") separately. For the reasons set forth below the
motion is denied.
Simpson is the principal and director of LESICS which, prior
to its eviction, operated out of a building at 203 Rivington
Street in the borough of Manhattan.
Saroff is a sergeant in the New York City Police Department
and assigned to the 7th Precinct located at 19 1/2 Pitt Street
in Manhattan. He is presently and was on November 6, 1987 a
Patrol Supervisor, which involves supervising police officers
and also responding to serious crimes.
Simpson commenced this action on May 27, 1988 under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
alleging that Simpson was falsely arrested and
imprisoned, assaulted and illegally searched and that Saroff
violated LESICS' Fourth Amendment right to be free from
unreasonable governmental intrusions. Saroff moved for summary
judgment urging dismissal of all claims on the grounds that
Saroff had probable cause to arrest Simpson for obstruction of
governmental administration and that undisputed material facts
indicate that the police in arresting Simpson did not use
excessive force and that LESICS had no reasonable expectation
of privacy because of its holdover tenant status. The motion
was heard and submitted on February 16, 1990.
A. The Events of November 6, 1987
The following facts are uncontroverted:
On November 6, 1987, Saroff responded to a radio call which
required his presence at a public school located at 100
Attorney Street. Upon arrival, Saroff entered the school and
was informed by a police officer who had preceded Saroff's
arrival, that two of the public school students had been beaten
and another child had been robbed, apparently by students from
a nearby private school. Those three children, as well as the
principal of the public school, an aide to the principal and
the father of two of the children, Reverend Rodriquez
("Rodriguez"), were present in the kitchen area of the public
school. After arrival, Rodriguez asked Saroff if he would
accompany them to talk with the principal, Simpson, of the
private school, LESICS. Saroff instructed two of the officers
to attempt to locate the mother of the one child who was robbed
and on the way to the school Saroff learned that the officers
were unable to locate the mother.
Upon arrival at the door of LESICS, the police officers rang
the school's bell and Simpson and another woman opened the
door. At that time there were seven police officers, including
two plainclothes officers,*fn1 standing in front of the school
building, along with the group of civilians.
What follows is disputed. According to Saroff, Simpson asked
what the problem was, and Saroff told Simpson that students
from LESICS had been accused of assaulting and robbing students
from the public school. Simpson then expressed annoyance at the
civilians for involving the police and questioned the
culpability of her students. She indicated to Saroff that she
wanted to call her lawyers, and she instructed an assistant to
do so. While a call was being placed to the lawyer, Simpson
remained in the doorway, and Saroff remained on the steps in
front of the door. Saroff maintains that he asked whether the
police, the principal, and Rodriguez could enter to speak with
Simpson. Simpson refused. Simpson and the Reverend allegedly
engaged in a heated discussion about Rodriguez's children.
While waiting in the doorway
for the call to the attorney, Simpson, according to Saroff
said, in effect, "Why don't you people come in and we'll talk."
Saroff claims to have understood her to mean that everyone
should come in, both the civilians and the officers. Rodriguez,
his two children, the public school aide, the other child and
the public school principal started to walk into LESICS. As the
civilians entered LESICS, Saroff told the two plainclothes
officers to accompany them. Saroff intended to wait outside on
the steps until the attorney called back.
When the plainclothes officers attempted to follow the
civilians in, Simpson allegedly blocked the doorway with her
body and grasped each side of the door with her hands. At this
point Saroff allegedly told Simpson that he had brought the
civilians to LESICS and that he wanted the two plainclothes
officers to be with the civilians while they were inside the
building. Simpson said "No" and Saroff allegedly told her that
he wanted the civilians out of the school to which Simpson
again replied, "No." Although Saroff allegedly was unable to
see the ...