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CROSBY v. HARE

July 19, 1996

ODONNA CROSBY, Plaintiff,
v.
SGT. HARE, et al., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: LARIMER

 Plaintiff, Odonna Crosby, commenced this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against various law enforcement officers and agencies. By stipulation of the parties, plaintiff has dismissed her claims against all the defendants except Henry Joncas, Jeanne Daumen, Richard Hare, Thomas Meehan, Petra Martinez, David Mace, and Patrick Carney. Defendants have moved for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

 FACTUAL BACKGROUND

 Plaintiff's factual allegations, the truth of which must be assumed for purposes of these motions, are as follows. On the morning of April 13, 1992, a group of law enforcement officers arrived at plaintiff's residence at 650 Jay Street in the City of Rochester to execute a search warrant that had been signed earlier that day by then-United States Magistrate Kenneth R. Fisher. The warrant authorized the police to search several sites, including 650 Jay Street, for items described in an affidavit submitted by John F. Ferster, a Special Agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration. The affidavit stated that Ferster had probable cause to believe that certain persons, including plaintiff and one Errol Taylor, were engaged in drug trafficking. Ferster stated that the items to be seized were firearms, illegal drugs, and other items related to drug trafficking.

 All the defendants were members of the search team. Daumen is a Special Agent of the United States Customs Service. Joncas is a Special Agent of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. The other defendants were Rochester Police Officers.

 Plaintiff alleges that she was taking a shower in an upstairs bathroom when the officers entered. She does not allege that the entry itself was unlawful. Errol Taylor, who was then plaintiff's boyfriend, was in her bedroom. He did not reside at 650 Jay Street, but was visiting plaintiff.

 Plaintiff claims that when she heard the officers entering the house, she opened the bathroom door to see what was going on. Because she had been taking a shower, she was not wearing any clothes. Defendant Hare, a male, entered the bathroom and ordered plaintiff at gunpoint to get down on the floor, which she did. Hare yelled to the other officers, "We need a female officer," and Daumen, who is female, came and continued to hold plaintiff in custody in the bathroom. Daumen also had her gun drawn. When Daumen entered the bathroom, the male officer who had first entered withdrew into the hallway.

 Plaintiff alleges that she asked if she could get dressed and that Daumen would not let her. Plaintiff was forced to remain naked and because the door was partly open, male officers in the hallway were able to see her when they walked by while conducting their search. Daumen also allegedly would not allow plaintiff to cross her arms or legs. For much of the time that Daumen was in the bathroom with plaintiff, however, Daumen was standing in the doorway. Id. at 43.

 After plaintiff asked Daumen more than once what was going on, Daumen told her that the police were looking for "records and documents." Crosby Deposition at 40. Plaintiff asked to see the search warrant, and the warrant was brought and shown to her.

 Plaintiff again asked if she could get dressed and Daumen gave her some clothes from a hamper in the bathroom. The clothes belonged to plaintiff's brother, who also lived in the house, and were too big on plaintiff, so she asked if she could go into her bedroom and put on some of her own clothes.

 In the meantime, Taylor had been taken into custody. In response to plaintiff's request to change her clothes, Daumen said, "Let me take Errol downstairs, and I will take you in the room to get some clothes." Id. at 49. After Taylor was taken downstairs, Daumen did escort plaintiff into plaintiff's bedroom. Plaintiff estimated that at that point, about fifteen to twenty minutes had elapsed since the officers first entered the house. Id. at 50.

 Once plaintiff had dressed, Daumen handcuffed her, stating as she did so that it was for safety reasons. Id. at 53. She then took plaintiff downstairs into the living room. Taylor was there in handcuffs, along with a number of police officers. The police continued to search the house, remaining there for about another ninety minutes. Id. at 167. It does not appear that any contraband was found. Before they left, the officers removed plaintiff's handcuffs, and she was released. She was never formally arrested or charged with any crime in connection with these events.

 Taylor was taken from the house in custody. He was subsequently charged with a number of offenses and eventually pleaded guilty to engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 848. On December 27, 1993, United States District Judge Michael A. Telesca sentenced Taylor to a term of imprisonment of 168 months.

 Based on these allegations, plaintiff contends that her civil rights were violated in two ways. First, she alleges that defendants held her in custody without probable cause to believe that she had committed a crime. This claim, then, is essentially a false arrest or imprisonment *fn1" claim under the Fourth Amendment. Second, she alleges that defendants ...


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