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PLATSKY v. KILPATRICK

November 4, 1992

HENRY PLATSKY, Plaintiff,
v.
DORIS KILPATRICK, MARIA CRUZ, ALBERT CRUZ, THE MAJESTIC HOTEL, THE NEW YORK URBAN COALITION HOUSING GROUP, GREGORY COHEN, DONALD ELLIOT, STEVEN COHEN, SETH MILLER, CINDY FREIDMUTTER, INSPECTOR QUINLAN, DETECTIVE MALEY, and THE 84TH PRECINCT OF THE NEW YORK CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: I. LEO GLASSER

 GLASSER, United States District Judge:

 Plaintiff pro se Henry Platsky brings this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. ยงยง 1985(3) and 1986 against Doris Kilpatrick, Maria Pino, *fn1" Albert Cruz, Gregory Cohen, Donald Elliot, the Majestic Hotel, and the New York Urban Coalition Housing Group (the "Urban Coalition") (collectively, the "Coalition defendants"); against Steven Cohen, Seth Miller, and Cindy Freidmutter (collectively, the "state defendants"); and against Inspector Quinlan, Detective Maley, and the 84th Precinct of the New York Police Department (collectively, the "municipal defendants"). The complaint in this action, first filed on August 25, 1991, alleges that defendants Kilpatrick, Pino, and Cruz violated Section 1985(3) through their attempts "to deprive plaintiff of equal privileges and immunities under the law by conspiring to harass, intimidate, threaten, falsely arrest and evict plaintiff because of his political beliefs." (Complaint P 4) In addition, the complaint alleges that the other Coalition defendants, the state defendants, and the municipal defendants violated Section 1986 by "neglecting to prevent said conspiracy despite having knowledge of the wrongs conspired to be done and being in position where reasonable diligence could have prevented said wrongs." (Id. P 5)

 FACTS

 At the time of the events that gave rise to this action, plaintiff was a long-time resident of the Majestic Hotel in Brooklyn. (Transcript of Platsky Deposition at page 8 [hereinafter Tr. ])3 In 1990, the Urban Coalition, a private, not-for-profit corporation, acquired the hotel for the purpose of making certain units available for mentally handicapped residents. *fn4" (Affidavit of Gregory Cohen P 6) To help finance its purchase and renovation, the Urban Coalition applied for and received funding from two state agencies: the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal Office of Rent Administration ("DHCR") and the New York State Office of Mental Health ("OMH"). *fn5" (Id. P 8) Both grants were obtained pursuant to agreements by which the Urban Coalition promised to operate the Majestic Hotel as a permanent rental residence for low income single people; to set aside at least 30 units for occupancy by people with a history of mental illness; and to comply with the laws of the State of New York. (Id. Exhs. C & D)

 Defendant Gregory Cohen is Vice President of the Urban Coalition and defendant Elliot is the former Chairman of that organization. (Id. PP 1, 12) During the time period covered by plaintiff's complaint, defendants Kilpatrick, Pino, and Cruz were employed by the Urban Coalition in the following capacities: Kilpatrick was a manager of the Majestic hotel; Pino was the assistant manager and maid; and Cruz was a clerk. (Id. P 11) Plaintiff alleges that "upon taking over as Manager of the hotel, Ms. Kilpatrick, assisted by [Ms. Pino and her] son Albert began a systematic campaign to harass plaintiff." (Complaint P 6) Among the harassing acts about which plaintiff complains are: repeated fire alarms in the building (Tr. 97-98, 127); disruptive behavior at plaintiff's door by another resident of the hotel allegedly at the Coalition defendants' direction (Tr. 144-48); threats of physical harm by Kilpatrick (Tr. 168-71, 175-76, 223-24); unauthorized entry of plaintiff's room (Tr. 171, 177-78); setting off car alarms beneath his window (Tr. 172-75); threats with a firearm by Cruz (Tr. 206-09); and repeated announcements over the loudspeaker (Tr. 198-99).

 Plaintiff states that he "came to learn, through confidential communication on the part of employees of the hotel, that the reason for this campaign of harassment was the socialist politics of the plaintiff." (Complaint P 7) In his deposition, plaintiff acknowledges that this statement is partly erroneous: only a single person ("Cliff") delivered this "confidential communication" (Tr. 113-14, 116); he had no evidence that Cliff was a hotel employee other than seeing him do odd jobs; and Cliff never explicitly mentioned plaintiff's socialist politics (Tr. 109-10, 295-97, 337-38). However, plaintiff points to the following evidence to substantiate his assertion that the Coalition and its employees discriminated against him on the basis of his political beliefs: a table set up in the hotel lobby that had a copy of Spy magazine on it (Tr. 118-19); a memorandum from Kilpatrick stating that plaintiff "is the type to 'recruit' support amongst the tenancy" (Tr. 300); *fn6" a conversation with Kilpatrick where she responded to his complaints by telling him to "go and fight the state" (Tr. 120); the similarity between the harassment he was suffering at the hotel and harassment he experienced in other aspects of his life (Tr. 117); and his intuition. (Tr. 98, 102) Plaintiff provides no direct evidence that Kilpatrick or other hotel employees knew of his socialist beliefs. (Tr. 140, 181-82) In their affidavits, all the Coalition defendants expressly deny knowledge of plaintiff's political beliefs until they received his complaint in this action. (Cohen Aff. P 17; Cruz Aff. P 4; Pino Aff. P 3; Kilpatrick Aff. P 3)

 Plaintiff informed both DHCR and the Urban Coalition of the alleged situation at the hotel. (Tr. 127, 143-44, 303-10) Sometime in July of 1990, plaintiff and the hotel managers entered into a mediation agreement in which the former agreed to pay his rent in a timely manner, and the latter agreed to advise plaintiff before entering his room for renovation purposes and to repair the hotel alarm systems. (Tr. 143-44, 160-62, 311-13); Complaint, Exh. 2) Later in July, the DHCR, represented by defendant Seth Miller, also met with plaintiff and heard his complaints. (Tr. 303-10) *fn7" At no time during these mediation proceedings did plaintiff tell anyone at the DHCR that he believed the motivation for the alleged harassment was his socialist beliefs. (Tr. 163)

 Plaintiff alleges that the Coalition defendants continued to harass him and failed to abide by their part of the agreement, leading him to file a second complaint with the DHCR in August of 1990. (Tr. 182) Plaintiff also claims that defendant Miller was not responsive to his complaints or to a subsequent letter dated November 24, 1990 in which plaintiff set forth a long list of harassing incidents that had occurred since the date of the mediation conference. (Complaint, App. 1)

 Plaintiff first contacted the OMH in the fall of 1990 by delivering a copy of this letter to defendant Freidmutter. (Tr. 326) Freidmutter, OMH's Director of Housing Development, (Freidmutter Aff. P 1), arranged for a November 30, 1990 meeting among plaintiff, the hotel managers, and an OMH representative. (Complaint P 9; Tr. 329) Plaintiff, however, was arrested on the morning of November 30, 1990 by officers of the defendant 84th Precinct "on a false complaint filed by Albert Cruz . . . ." (Complaint PP 9 - 10; Tr. 218-220) plaintiff therefore missed the scheduled meeting; he alleges that Freidmutter refused to schedule a second conference, (Tr. 329-330), although she does not recall speaking with him after the scheduled meeting date. (Freidmutter Aff. PP 9, 11)

 Citing the alleged incidents of harassment discussed above, plaintiff stopped paying his rent in June 1990. (Tr. 137-38) He resumed payments for five weeks following the execution of his mediation agreement with the Urban Coalition but permanently stopped making payments in August of 1990, stating that the harassment did not cease but rather intensified. (Tr. 184) In November of 1990, the Urban Coalition brought an eviction proceeding against plaintiff in housing court because of his failure to pay rent. The parties entered into a stipulated judgment pursuant to which plaintiff agreed to move out of the Majestic Hotel and, in exchange, the Urban Coalition released him from any obligation to pay back rent. (Tr. 241-42, 245-46) Plaintiff left the hotel in January, 1991. (Tr. 333)

 DISCUSSION

 Summary judgment is appropriate when the moving party establishes that there exist no issues of material fact that bar the court from granting judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. Once the moving party has carried its burden under Rule 56, the non-moving party must "come forward with 'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'. . . Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no 'genuine issue for trial." Matsushita Electrical Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87, 89 L. Ed. 2d 538, 106 S. Ct. 1348 (1986). Therefore, summary judgment may be granted if "the evidence is merely colorable, . . . or is not significantly ...


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