The opinion of the court was delivered by: Barrington D. Parker, Jr., District Judge.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
Plaintiff Shlomo Lieber originally brought this suit pro se
against the Village of Spring Valley, seeking damages stemming
from an alleged July 29, 1996 false arrest and unlawful
imprisonment at the Spring Valley Police Station, after a
"trespass" at the Finkelstein Memorial Library (the "Library").
Lieber also instituted a separate action against the Library,
which was consolidated with this action on May 15, 1998.
On June 4, 1998, Eric A. Israel, Esq. filed a Notice of
Appearance for Lieber in both cases. On August 27, 1998, this
Court granted Lieber leave to serve an amended complaint, which
was done on August 31, 1998. The same day, Lieber's counsel
served by fax another amended complaint, which "supercede[d] all
prior versions." The amended complaint names as defendants the
Village of Spring Valley, the Spring Valley Police Department,
Spring Valley Chief of Police Howard Goldin (sued individually
and officially), various police officers of the Spring Valley
Police Department (sued individually and officially)
(collectively, the "Spring Valley defendants"), and the East
Ramapo Central School District, Finkelstein Memorial Library, the
library director Eleanor Wolven (sued individually and
officially), and several security officers employed by the
Library (collectively, the "Library defendants"). Lieber seeks
damages and injunctive relief against the Library defendants for
their allegedly unwarranted expulsion and banning of Lieber from
the Library without a pre-banning hearing, their instigation of
Lieber's false arrest by Spring Valley police officers on the
grounds of trespass, and their malicious prosecution of Lieber
based on trespass charges.
Lieber's claims against the Spring Valley defendants relate to
an alleged false arrest, a full-body strip search, false
imprisonment in the police station and a locked cell, the use of
excessive force in executing the strip search and in forcing
Lieber into the lobby of the police station, and deficient
supervision and training of the Spring Valley police officers
that amounted to deliberate indifference to Lieber's
constitutionally protected rights.
Defendants now move for dismissal of the amended complaint on
the grounds of: 1) undue delay in making the application to
amend; 2) futility of the amendment; and 3) prejudice to the
defendants. The defendants also seek dismissal of the New York
common law claims (Lieber's Claims 12, 13, and 14) on the grounds
that 1) Lieber failed to properly serve a notice of claim on the
defendants as set forth in General Municipal Law §§ 50-e and
50-i, and 2) Lieber's claims are barred by the applicable statute
of limitations. In addition, defendants contend that the
"relation back" doctrine does not apply to allow Lieber to
maintain his claims against the newly added defendants. For the
reasons set forth below, defendants' motion is denied in part and
granted in part.
In deciding a motion pursuant to Rule 12(b), the court is, of
course, obligated to construe the pleadings in the plaintiff's
favor. Cooper v. Parsky, 140 F.3d 433, 440 (2d Cir. 1998). The
following facts are accordingly construed.
Lieber suffers from a mental illness known as Obsessive
Compulsive Disorder ("OCD"). This illness compels him to engage
in repetitive actions and avoid certain circumstances out of a
fear of contamination or other perceived danger. His condition
was first diagnosed in 1979.
Over the past few years, Lieber has frequented the Library,
where he reads books and newspapers available to the general
public. In late 1995 or early 1996, Lieber contends that he
personally informed defendant Eleanor Wolven, the Library
Director, of his mental disability.
Lieber alleges that on July 25, 1996, he went to the third
floor of the Library to read the newspapers there. When he
arrived, a Library patron, Mr. Friedman, was holding several
newspapers Lieber wished to read, and was conversing with a
Library employee, a male with a ponytail, who had made
disparaging remarks to Lieber on several occasions because of his
disability. Because his OCD created an obsessive fear of dirtying
his hands with newspaper print, Lieber was wearing disposable
gloves, a fact that Mr. Friedman and the Library employee
Lieber contends that he approached Mr. Friedman and asked to
read the newspapers he was holding. Friedman said no, and went
downstairs with the papers, a practice forbidden by a sign posted
on the third floor of the Library. Lieber brought the violation
to the attention of a female employee of the Library, but
Friedman returned to the third floor with the newspapers.
Before talking to Friedman, Lieber had inquired of another
Library patron, Eva Kaplan, whether he could look at a section of
the newspaper that she was reading. Following the incident with
Friedman, Lieber again asked Kaplan for the section of the paper,
which she gave him, he read, and returned to her. At this point,
Lieber contends that the employee of the library with the
ponytail told Lieber that he was bothering Kaplan. Although
Lieber denied bothering Kaplan, the man with the ponytail called
for Library security.
Lieber contends, upon information and belief, that Library
security guards tried to intimidate Kaplan into making a
complaint against Lieber based on the events of that day. On July
26, 1996, however, Kaplan wrote and addressed a note to the
Director of the Library, stating, "Mr. Shlomo Lieber has not
disturbed me in any way during my presence at the library on July
25, 1996. I do not wish to lay any complaints against him."
When Library security arrived, defendant security officers
Vincent Abrahams and Lenny Smolenski took Lieber's belongings,
picked Lieber up from his chair, took him to the elevator, and
removed him from the building. Once outside, the officers asked
Lieber his name, address, and telephone number. Because the
officers refused to return his belongings to him, Lieber declined
to answer these questions. The officers refused to tell Lieber
why he had been involuntarily removed from the library.
In the meantime, Library personnel had called the Spring Valley
police department. Two Spring Valley police officers soon
arrived. They took Lieber's name and mailing address, retrieved
his belongings from the security officers, and told Lieber that
he should not return to the Library.