The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wexler, District Judge.
These are consolidated civil rights lawsuits brought by
plaintiffs Earl Strong and Tarika Strong against the County of
Nassau and several individuals, each of whom were neighbors of
the plaintiffs (the "Individual Defendants"). Briefly stated,
plaintiffs' allege that their arrest and prosecution following an
altercation at a block party amounted to a violation of their
civil rights. The Individual Defendants are alleged to have
conspired among themselves and with law enforcement officials to
effectuate the false arrest and subsequent prosecution.
At a conference held on July 21, 1999, this court considered
the Individual Defendants' motions for summary judgment. The
court granted the summary judgment motions to the extent that
they were directed to the claims of Earl Strong and denied the
motions to the extent they were directed to the claims of Tarika
Strong. The court indicated that a written opinion would follow
detailing the legal basis for the court's rulings. This is that
At all relevant times, plaintiffs and the Individual Defendants
were neighbors on Woodland Avenue in South Hempstead, New York.
Plaintiffs Earl Strong and Tarika Strong are father and daughter.
Their claims arise from events that took place on August 5, 1995,
during a block party on Woodland Avenue and the ensuing
prosecution of the Strongs on August 6, 1995 and thereafter.
During the block party, an altercation involving Earl Strong and
defendants Julia Wilkerson and her son, Freddie Wilkerson, took
place. The other Individual Defendants appear to have been
witnesses to the altercation. One of these individuals, defendant
Nancy Staub, called for emergency police assistance.
B. The Arrest and Prosecution of Plaintiffs
Nassau County police officers responded to the call of Nancy
Staub. Thereafter, Earl Strong was arrested and charged, under
New York State criminal law, with assault in the third degree and
harassment in the second degree. Plaintiff Tarika Strong, who was
not involved in the initial physical altercation, was arrested
and charged with harassment in the second degree.
The charges against Earl Strong arose out of his altercation
with the Wilkersons. The crime report completed by the arresting
officers states that they responded to a claim of a fight at a
block party. Upon their arrival at the scene, Julia Wilkerson and
Freddie Wilkerson stated that Earl Strong, while in a verbal
fight with the Wilkersons, grabbed Julia Wilkerson and threw her
to the ground. Freddie Wilkerson stated that when he tried to
stop Mr. Strong, he too, was punched and thrown to the ground.
The police officers arrested Earl Strong and the Wilkersons were
taken to a local hospital by the South Hempstead Fire Department.
Tarika Strong was arrested on August 6, 1995, the day after the
block party. The charge against Tarika arose out of threats she
was alleged to have made to defendant Maria Montalvo. Montalvo
provided police officers with sworn testimony that Tarika Strong
threatened her because Montalvo gave a statement to police
concerning Earl Strong's behavior at the block party. The
remaining Individual Defendants also gave statements to police
officials concerning the altercation at the block party. These
individuals were further involved in the prosecution of the
Strongs by acting as witnesses.
C. The Outcomes of the Criminal Proceedings Against the
Both parties have annexed to their submissions papers detailing
the criminal prosecution of Earl Strong. As noted, Mr. Strong was
charged with assault in the third degree and harassment in the
second degree. He was convicted on both counts after a jury
trial. On appeal to the Appellate Term of the Supreme Court of
the State of New York (the "Appellate Term"), the conviction on
the assault charge was reversed, but the conviction on the
harassment charge was affirmed.
The court digresses, here, to express its dissatisfaction, to
say the least, with the submission of Mr. Strong. The judgment of
the Appellate Term is a one page document setting forth the
reversal of the assault conviction and the affirmance of the
harassment conviction. Annexed to the Appellate Term judgment is
the opinion of that court. Both Mr. Strong and Ms. Mallay
appended the judgment of the Appellate Term to their papers.
Mallay's submission includes the opinion of the appellate court.
Mr. Strong's submission does not include the full opinion of the
Appellate Term, but only the one page judgment.
When reviewing the papers and comparing the judgments submitted
by Mallay and Strong, the court noted a glaring difference in the
papers submitted. Mallay's judgment stated, as noted above, that
the conviction on the assault charge was reversed but the
conviction on the harassment charge was affirmed. These two
holdings appear on two separate lines of the judgment.
The Appellate Term judgment appended to Mr. Strong's papers
does not contain the last line of the judgment — the notation
that the conviction on the harassment charge was affirmed.
Instead, it appears that the judgment submitted by Mr. Strong was
altered to delete the reference to the affirmance of the
harassment charge, and thus have it appear that Earl
Strong was cleared of all charges arising out of the block party
Reluctant to believe, based only on the parties' submissions,
that a judgment had been altered, the court further investigated
the matter by contacting the Appellate Term to obtain a copy of
that court's judgment concerning Mr. Strong's criminal case. The
judgment subsequently forwarded by the Appellate Term confirmed
this court's suspicions that Mr. Strong had attempted to defraud
this court by presenting an altered document in support of his
position.*fn1 The court is satisfied that it would be wholly
justified in dismissing Mr. Strong's case in its entirety based
solely on the fraud attempted to be perpetrated on this court.
This ultimate sanction is not, however, necessary, because Mr.
Strong's case, as discussed below, is otherwise dismissible on
D. The Opinion of the Appellate Term Regarding Mr. Strong's
The Appellate Term opinion states that the assault conviction
against Earl Strong was reversed on the ground that the
accusatory instrument was jurisdictionally defective for failure
to properly allege the requisite element of physical injury.
However, the jury was found to have properly convicted Earl
Strong of harassment and the conviction on that charge was
affirmed. Specifically, the Appellate Term found that the
evidence established that Earl Strong initiated the altercation
with his neighbors when he was prohibited from driving his car
onto the street. See People v. Strong, 179 Misc.2d 809,
689 N.Y.S.2d 341 (App. Term 1999). More specifically, the state court
appellate opinion indicates that Earl Strong "displayed a
belligerent and hostile attitude toward his neighbors which was
clearly manifested in his unprovoked physical confrontation with
a defenseless 62 year old woman." Id.
E. Tarika Strong's Criminal Case
While the court has been provided, as described above, with
documents clearly outlining the criminal prosecution of Earl
Strong, the documents regarding the prosecution of Tarika Strong
are more sparse. What is clear to the court is that Tarika
Strong's arrest for harassment took place after Maria Montalvo
swore to a complaint stating that Ms. Strong threatened Ms.
Montalvo the day after the arrest of Earl Strong. Ms. Montalvo's
statement was corroborated by that of defendant Diane Mallay
which states that she observed Tarika Strong screaming threats at
It is also clear that Tarika Strong was convicted of the
harassment charge and the conviction was reversed on appeal. The
reversal of Tarika Strong's conviction states only that the
People "failed to establish that defendant's conduct was anything
more than en emotional outburst, and thus the conviction must be
reversed." People v. Tarika Strong, No. 95-1747 NCR (App.T.
Jan. 27, 1998).
Not surprisingly, there is nothing in the opinion to
substantiate the claim set forth in the Strongs' papers that the
Appellate Term specifically found that Tarika Strong's
constitutional rights were violated. Nonetheless, it is clear
(unless the court has been provided with another altered
document) that Tarika Strong's conviction was reversed on appeal.
F. The Eviction of the Strongs
II. Plaintiffs' Complaint
Plaintiffs' complaint against the Individual Defendants details
plaintiffs' version of the events of August 5, 1995 and
plaintiffs' subsequent arrests and prosecutions. Construing the
pro se complaint liberally, it appears that plaintiffs seeks to
allege a conspiracy, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1985, to deprive
plaintiffs of their constitutional rights. Although not
specifically stated, the conspiracy alleged took place between
and among the Individual Defendants and Dennis Dillon, the
District Attorney of Nassau County. An act in furtherance of the
conspiracy is alleged in the form of a meeting that allegedly
took place between the Individual Defendants and the Nassau
County District Attorney on the day after the block party. The
alleged object of the conspiracy was to have plaintiffs falsely
arrested, maliciously prosecuted and driven from their homes.
According to plaintiffs, Dennis Dillon knew that no crime was
committed by the Strongs and they were nonetheless arrested and
falsely charged and prosecuted. The Individual Defendants are
alleged to have met with Dennis Dillon on the day after the block
party at the office of the District Attorney. At that meeting, it
is alleged that the District Attorney encouraged the Individual
Defendants to fabricate charges and swear to false statements
about the Strongs so that they could be falsely prosecuted. All
acts of the Individual Defendants, some of whom are white and
others of whom are African-American, are alleged to have been
motivated by the fact that plaintiffs are African-American and
for this reason alone, the Individual Defendants did not want
plaintiffs living in their neighborhood.*fn2
A. Motion to Dismiss and Summary Judgment Standards
Presently before the court are motions to dismiss as well as
motions for summary judgment. Specifically, each Individual
Defendant has moved to dismiss. Plaintiffs have moved for summary
A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure, for failure to state a claim, is
properly granted only if "it appears beyond doubt that the
plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which
would entitle him to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41,
45-46, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957); Harsco v. Segui,
91 F.3d 337, 341 (2d Cir. 1996); Bernheim v. Litt, 79 F.3d 318,
321 (2d Cir. 1996). When considering a motion to dismiss for
failure to state a claim, the court can consider only the facts
as set forth in the complaint or documents attached thereto. When
considering the facts pled, the court must accept as true all
factual allegations in the complaint. All reasonable inferences
must be drawn in favor of the non-moving party. Hamilton Chapter
of Alpha Delta Phi, Inc. v. Hamilton College, 128 F.3d 59, 62
(2d Cir. 1997). A complaint should not be dismissed "simply
because a plaintiff is unlikely to succeed on the merits."
Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236, 94 S.Ct. 1683, 40 L.Ed.2d