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TYLER v. NEW YORK

January 28, 1997

CHRISTOPHER TYLER, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE OF NEW YORK, et al, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: LARIMER

 This action is brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff, Christopher Tyler ("plaintiff"), claims that the above-captioned defendants violated his constitutional rights when he was arrested and prosecuted for criminal sale of a controlled substance.

 Pending before me are: (1) plaintiffs motion for leave to take the deposition of an inmate; (2) plaintiff's motion for leave to amend the complaint to add three additional defendants; and (3) defendants' motion for summary judgment.

 FACTUAL BACKGROUND

 In July 1990, Archie Taylor ("Taylor") contacted Geneva City Police Officer Edward McGuigan ("McGuigan") and told him that Louinet Fontilus ("Fontilus") was dealing crack cocaine out of his apartment. Taylor indicated that he would be willing to introduce an undercover officer to Fontilus for the purpose of effecting a controlled buy.

 McGuigan had worked with Taylor several times over the past year, and each time Taylor had supplied reliable information, which led to arrests and convictions for drug trafficking. McGuigan, therefore, contacted the New York State Police to enlist the assistance of several Troopers, including Kevin M. Woody ("Woody"), Joaquin Aymerich ("Aymerich"), and Luis Rodriguez ("Rodriguez").

 On July 12, 1990, Taylor and Woody attempted to locate Fontilus, while McGuigan, Aymerich, and Rodriguez acted as surveillance and backup. When they finally found Fontilus, Taylor and Woody told him that they wanted to purchase sixty dollars worth of crack cocaine. Fontilus agreed and then walked away; another individual appeared and handed them the crack cocaine.

 After the buy, Taylor and Woody met with the other officers. Taylor told the officers that the person who handed them the drugs was "Giz." McGuigan responded that "Giz" was Christopher Tyler--an individual the Geneva Police had arrested in the past and was known to be involved with drugs. *fn1" In a tape-recorded conversation with plaintiffs criminal attorney, Taylor claims that he then told the officers that they better show him some mug shots because he did not know anyone by the name of Christopher Tyler. Interview of Archie Taylor by Bruce A. Rosekrans, Esq. on 9/27/91, at 12-13 & 17. No photographs were ever shown to Taylor. It is interesting to note that none of the officers testified at their depositions, or were even asked by plaintiff's counsel, about Taylor's request to see photographs. Nevertheless, none of the officers have come forward, by affidavit or otherwise, to dispute Taylor's claim that he requested to see photographs of plaintiff, the alleged drug distributor.

 Thereafter, McGuigan provided Rodriguez with plaintiff's birth date. Rodriguez ran a criminal history on plaintiff, the results of which revealed that plaintiff had been arrested by the Geneva Police Department before and that his nickname was, in fact, "Giz." Rodriguez prepared the felony complaint, charging Fontilus and plaintiff with criminal sale of a controlled substance. Woody read and signed the complaint, indicating that the person who sold him the drugs was plaintiff. A Geneva City Court Judge then issued a warrant for plaintiff's arrest.

 On July 29, 1990, Geneva City Police Officer Peter Libertore ("Libertore") arrested plaintiff. Plaintiff was arraigned and remanded to the Ontario County Jail, where he remained until August 9, 1990. On that date, all charges were dismissed, and plaintiff was released from custody, when Woody was unable to testify at a preliminary hearing due to the death of his father.

 Subsequently, the Ontario County District Attorney's Office presented plaintiff's case to the grand jury. At the hearing, Woody testified that plaintiff sold him the drugs. Ultimately, the grand jury handed down an indictment. Libertore arrested plaintiff on October 3, 1990, and plaintiff was held in custody until November 5, 1990, at which time he was released on bail.

 On April 9, 1991, Woody appeared at the courthouse for plaintiff's trial. At that time, Taylor approached Woody and told him that plaintiff was the "wrong guy." Taylor claimed that he had been trying to contact the Geneva Police Department and the District Attorney's Office. Further, Taylor maintained that he had told McGuigan over the phone that plaintiff was not the man who handed the drugs to the undercover officer. Interview of Archie Taylor by Bruce A. Rosekrans, Esq. on 9/27/91, at 23-24. According to Taylor, McGuigan did not believe him and simply dismissed him as trying to cover up for or protect the plaintiff. Id. McGuigan, however, denies ever receiving a phone call. Once Woody saw plaintiff, he realized that plaintiff was not, in fact, the individual who handed him the drugs. All charges against plaintiff were dismissed.

 Plaintiff commenced this action, alleging false arrest and malicious prosecution. Plaintiff moves for leave: (1) to take the deposition of Taylor, an inmate currently incarcerated at Mohawk Correction Facility in Rome, New York; and (2) to amend the complaint to add McGuigan, Aymerich, and Rodriguez as defendants.

 State Trooper Kevin M. Woody, State Trooper Jane Doe, State Trooper John Doe, City of Geneva, Geneva City Police, City Police Officer Jane Doe, and City Police Officer John Doe move for summary judgment on the grounds that: (1) probable cause existed for the officers' action; (2) even if probable cause was lacking, the officers are entitled to qualified immunity; and (3) the claims against the City of Geneva and Geneva City Police must be dismissed because there are neither allegations nor proof that these defendants acted to deprive ...


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