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HANSEL v. SHERIDAN

January 14, 1998

RONALD HANSEL, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN SHERIDAN, STEPHEN MEYER, MELINDA BLAKE, JOE VALENTINE, MARK A. CAPOZUCCO, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MCAVOY

 Plaintiff Ronald Hansel brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of his Fourth, Fifth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. He also brings state law claims for assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence. Defendants move for partial summary judgment and for an order, in limine, precluding plaintiff from introducing certain evidence at trial.

 I. BACKGROUND

 A. Facts

 Plaintiff Ronald Hansel resides in Richfield Springs, New York. Defendant John Sheridan is an investigator for the New York State Attorney General's Office. Defendants Stephen Meyer, Melinda Blake, Joe Valentine and Mark A. Capozucco are New York State Troopers. On May 17, 1993, an Otsego County Grand Jury returned an indictment against plaintiff and two fuel-oil businesses with which he was involved (L & F Fuels and M.O.T.S., Inc.) alleging violations of New York Environmental Conservation Law § 71-2711(3). See Def. Ex. A (May 17, 1993 Indictment). The charges stemmed from an alleged business practice of allowing stored fuel tanks to leak waste petroleum into the ground.

 After plaintiff allegedly failed to show for an initial appearance, County Judge George S. Kepner, Jr. issued a bench warrant for his arrest on May 24, 1993. Pl. Ex. 6 at 5 (Transcript of 5/24/93 Proceedings in Otsego County Court). On May 25, 1997, defendants went to plaintiff's home to arrest him pursuant to the warrant. As plaintiff returned home in his tanker truck that day, he saw a New York State Police car pull into his yard, approximately 600-700 feet ahead of him. Pl. Ex. 11 at 295 (Transcript of Pl. 4/9/94 Criminal Trial). He approached his driveway and pulled in; ahead of him, the police car was now parked. When plaintiff's truck reached the police car, the door of the car suddenly opened, and its occupant, Trooper Capozucco, began to get out. Plaintiff blew his horn, but did not see Capozucco exit. Id. at 295-96. As plaintiff continued up the driveway, he saw Trooper Meyer standing behind another police car. Id. at 295. As plaintiff drove by, he heard a noise that he thought was Meyer hitting the truck with his fist. Id.1

 Plaintiff got out of his truck and approached the defendants, all of whom were present. He alleges that defendants, in effectuating his ensuing arrest, used excessive force on him. Defendants allege that plaintiff resisted arrest.

 Plaintiff subsequently was charged with one count of resisting arrest and two counts of second-degree reckless endangerment. See Def. Exs. D, E (Informations). Bail was set at $ 10,000. After a jury trial in the Town of Springfield Justice Court in April of 1994, plaintiff was convicted on the charge of resisting arrest and acquitted on the reckless endangerment charges. Def. Ex. L. (Certificate of Conviction dated 4/18/94); Pl. Ex 14. at 352-53 (Transcript of Pl. Criminal Trial of April 9, 1994). The conviction was reversed on appeal by the County Court on the ground that the Justice Court erred in instructing the jury that plaintiff's arrest was authorized as a matter of law. Def. Ex. M (Decision and Order of Judge Hugh C. Humphreys dated 11/4/94). The matter was remanded for a new trial in the Oneonta City Court, but was later dismissed on speedy trial grounds. Def. Ex. N (Decision of Oneonta City Court Judge Walter L. Terry, III dated 10/2/95).

 B. Procedural History

 Plaintiff's Amended Complaint was filed April 10, 1997. The Amended Complaint names the remaining defendants, and alleges § 1983 claims for excessive force, failure to intercede, malicious prosecution, excessive bail and conspiracy to deprive plaintiff of civil rights, all in violation of his rights under the Fourth, Fifth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. Plaintiff also brings pendent state law claims for assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence.

 Defendants now move for partial summary judgment dismissing the Fifth Amendment, malicious prosecution, excessive bail, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence claims. Defendants also move for dismissal of, or in limine relief with respect to certain elements of plaintiff's damages.

 The Court will address defendants' arguments seriatim.

 II. DISCUSSION

 A. Standard for Summary Judgment

 Under Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c), if there is "no genuine issue as to any material fact . . . the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law . . . where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party." Matsushita Electrical Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 89 L. Ed. 2d 538, 106 S. Ct. 1348 (1986). The burden to demonstrate that no genuine issue of material fact exists falls solely on the moving party, Heyman v. Commerce and Industry Insurance Co., 524 F.2d 1317 (2d Cir. 1975), and the trial court must resolve all ambiguities and draw all inferences in favor of that party against whom summary judgment is sought. Ramseur v. Chase Manhattan Bank, 865 F.2d 460, 465 (2d Cir.1989); Eastway Construction Corp. v. City of New York, 762 F.2d 243, 249 (2d Cir. 1985) cert. denied 484 U.S. 918, 98 L. Ed. 2d 226, 108 S. Ct. 269 (1987).

 Once the moving party has met its burden, the non-moving party must come forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 585-86. A dispute regarding a material fact is genuine "if evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986). When reasonable minds could not differ as to the import of the evidence, then summary judgment is proper. Bryant v. Maffucci, 923 F.2d 979, 982 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 502 U.S. 849, 116 L. Ed. 2d 117, 112 S. Ct. 152 (1991). The motion will not be defeated by a non-movant who raises merely a "metaphysical doubt" concerning the facts or who only offers ...


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