Other than the possibility of a property right arising out of the judgment entered in the District Court, plaintiff does not cite any support for the argument that any of these sources vested him with a property right. The oath the offending officers may have made, the fact that the City decided to represent the officers, and then indemnify the officers, have no effect on plaintiff. Those factors may define the relationship between the officers and the City, but they do not affect the rights of the plaintiff who was a stranger to those issues. The fact that the City declined to find that the officers engaged in excessive force prior to the initiation of Posr I likewise has no effect on the property entitlements of plaintiff.
The only source of plaintiff's claimed property right that he does offer any support for is the principle that an entitlement flowed from the entry of a judgment finding that the police officers engaged in the use of excessive force. Plaintiff cites to Coffman v. Wilson Police Department, 739 F. Supp. 257 (E.D. Pa. 1990), where a court found a property interest in a court order. Coffman, however, is completely distinguishable from the case at bar because the property right arising from the court order was an interest in seeing the terms of the order enforced.
In Coffman, a battered woman sought a restraining order barring her husband from entering her home, and from inflicting bodily injury on her. The order she obtained directed the police department to enforce the order. Despite the fact that her husband violated the order a number of times, the police declined to take any action. Shortly thereafter, her husband accosted her in a bank and shot her. From the time of the first protective order to the shooting, the police never restrained or arrested the husband. The plaintiff later sued the police department. The court found that the court order created a property interest. Id., at 265.
Coffman, however, held that the property right created by the court order was that the court order would be enforced. It did not vest plaintiff with any rights other than what was specified in the order. The plaintiff in the case at bar is alleging that the property right created by the judgment went beyond what was set forth in the court order. There is no dispute that the judgment vested in him the right to collect certain monies to compensate him for his damages. However, plaintiff is claiming entitlement to property rights that go beyond the provisions of the judgment. He is alleging that the finding that police officers used excessive force gave rise to a right that he be able to require that the officers be disciplined. There is no support for that proposition.
Plaintiff may well have had an expectation that the officers would be disciplined following an adverse jury verdict. That expectation, however, did not rise to the level of a constitutionally protected interest. Accordingly, a City decision not to discipline the officers did not violate any of plaintiff's constitutional rights.
Plaintiff's claim fails largely because it is based on a shaky premise -- that the City was without discretion and had no choice but to discipline the officers after a jury found them liable for using excessive force. It is true that a consistent failure to discipline can give rise to a finding that a municipality has a policy of not disciplining. See Turpin v. Mailet, 619 F.2d 196, 202-03 (2d Cir. 1980); Anderson v. City of New York, 657 F. Supp. 1571 (S.D.N.Y. 1987). No court, however, has ever held that a municipality is required to discipline every officer upon a finding of wrongdoing. "At the same time, it is not improper to fail to punish an officer for a single incident of illegal behavior." Turpin, supra, 619 F.2d at 202-03. See also Butler v. City of Norman, 992 F.2d 1053, 1056 (10th Cir. 1993) ("we cannot hold that the failure of a police department to discipline in a specific instance is an adequate basis for municipal liability under Monell."); Berry v. McLemore, 670 F.2d 30, 33 (5th Cir. 1982) (an unconstitutional policy "cannot be inferred from a municipality's isolated decision not to discipline a single officer for a single instance of illegality."). In Turpin, the Second Circuit indicated that there can be many reasons for not disciplining an officer after a single incident.
There is no basis in law for plaintiff's claim that the City was without discretion, and had an affirmative obligation to discipline the officers. Accordingly, plaintiff's claim is dismissed.
III. Plaintiff's Other Claims
Plaintiff's Equal Protection and Thirteenth Amendment claims are equally without basis in the law. Defendants' motion to dismiss these claims is granted. As the motion to dismiss is granted as to all federal claims, the Court declines to assert jurisdiction over plaintiff's pendant state claims. Those claims are dismissed without prejudice.
IV. Motion for Sanctions
Defendants ask for sanctions under Rule 11, Fed. R. Civ. P. While I have decided that the complaint must be dismissed, I think that plaintiff's counsel is making "a good faith argument for the extension" or "modification" of existing civil rights law. Counsel must also have preceded that effort by "reasonable inquiry." The case is close, but I decline to impose sanctions.
V. Motion to Intervene
The New York City Chapter of the National Congress of Puerto Rican Rights (the "NCPRR") seeks to intervene in this action pursuant to Rule 24(2), Fed. R. Civ. P. NCPRR alleges that it is an organization devoted to addressing issues of discrimination and rights violations against Puerto Ricans. It contends that the New York City Police Department has a policy of not punishing officers who are found to have engaged in excessive force, thus ratifying the wrongful conduct of the officers.
The Court is granting the defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint. Accordingly, there is no action in which the NCPRR may intervene, and its motion to do so is denied.
The defendants are directed to settle a judgment consistent with this opinion on seven (7) days' notice.
It is SO ORDERED.
Dated: New York, New York
September 7, 1993
CHARLES S. HAIGHT, JR.