The opinion of the court was delivered by: William C. Conner, District Judge.
Plaintiffs Victoria and Anthony Bisignano bring the instant
action on behalf of their minor daughter Amanda Bisignano against
defendants Harrison Central School District (the "District") and
teacher Vincent Nicita. Plaintiffs claim that defendants falsely
imprisoned Amanda, subjected her to excessive force, and deprived
her of her property in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth
Amendments, the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and
New York State law. Plaintiffs also assert claims against
defendants for negligence and intentional infliction of emotional
distress. The District, claiming that Nicita's acts may not be
imputed to it, now moves for summary judgment pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(b). The District seeks dismissal of plaintiffs'
complaint and Nicita's cross-claim against it, or, in the
alternative, an order removing this case to state court. Nicita
also moves for summary judgment and dismissal of plaintiffs'
complaint, or, in the alternative, for removal to state court.
For the reasons that follow, the District's motion for summary
judgment is granted as to plaintiffs' federal law claims against
it and plaintiffs' state law claims against the District are
dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Defendant
Nicita's motion for summary judgment is granted as to plaintiffs'
procedural and substantive due process claims, but in all other
respects is denied. Defendant Nicita's cross-claim against the
District is dismissed without prejudice.
At the time of the events underlying the instant lawsuit,
Amanda Bisignano was thirteen years-old and an eighth-grade
student at Louis M. Klein Middle School in Harrison, New York.
Amanda took a gym class taught by defendant Nicita every other
day. Nicita began working as a coach in the District in 1983, and
as a physical education teacher in 1991.
Amanda said that after Nicita dismissed the class, she ran out
of the gymnasium laughing and Nicita ran after her. (Bisignano
Dep. at 47.) Amanda testified that Nicita told her she could not
leave until she returned the twenty-dollar bill to him and then
he gave her "a little push" into an equipment closet. (Id. at
48.) Nicita testified during his deposition that he did not push
Amanda into the closet, but that she ran into the closet herself.
(Nicita Dep. at 53.)
Amanda testified that the doors to the closet were completely
closed and there was no light inside the closet. (Bisignano Dep.
at 52-53.) Nicita said he believed the lights were on. (Nicita
Dep. at 59.) Amanda said she remained in the closet for slightly
more than thirty seconds while Nicita held the doors shut from
the other side. (Bisignano Dep. at 52-53.) Amanda said she
demanded to be released from the closet, but Nicita told her he
would not release her until she gave him the money. According to
Amanda, Nicita, who was laughing, then opened the door about a
foot, and Amanda slipped out.
Nicita remembered the incident differently. He testified that
he pushed the door closed, then walked away from it. (Nicita Dep.
at 60.) He said Amanda then exited the closet. (Id. at 62.)
Amanda testified that after she exited the closet, Nicita
grabbed and twisted her left wrist, and yelled at her to give him
back his twenty dollars. She said she screamed for help. Then,
when she reached into her pocket to retrieve the bill, Nicita
grabbed her upper right arm. (Bisignano Dep. at 54-59.) Amanda
said she threw the bill, which glanced off Nicita's chest and
fell to the ground. Nicita told her to pick up the bill and hand
it to him "like a human being." (Id. at 60.) Nicita testified
that when Amanda left the closet, she was holding the bill in her
hand. (Nicita Dep. at 79.) He said he "just held her hand as it
was there," (id. at 75), and that he held her hand "[t]ight
enough so that she couldn't get away, but not that tight," (id.
at 81). Nicita said Amanda threw the bill on the floor, and he
told her to pick it up and hand it to him. (Id. at 80.)
Amanda said she ran out of the room and went into the girls'
locker room where she showed her friends the red marks on her
arms. She was crying. (Bisignano Dep. at 64.) She then went to
the nurse's office, where the nurse put ice packs on her arms.
Ann Doniger, a health assistant, testified that Amanda's arm was
"slightly red" near her wrist. (Doniger Dep. at 15.)
Nicita came to the nurse's office and asked Amanda to take a
walk with him. Amanda said they went to Nicita's office and
Nicita apologized and told her that he did not mean to hurt her.
(Bisignano Dep. at 63.) Rosemary Brooke, the principal of the
middle school, said that when Amanda came to her office following
the incident, Amanda had marks on her upper arm and wrist.
(Brooke Dep. at 151.) Brooke described Amanda's injuries as
"slight." (Id. at 154.) Brooke telephoned Amanda's parents and
Amanda chose to spend the rest of the day in school rather than
go home. Brooke testified that she reported the incident to the
District superintendent. Subsequently, the principal and
superintendent met with plaintiffs and Nicita.
In her deposition, Amanda testified that during the spring 1998
softball season, Nicita, who was her coach, told her that "we
should do the batting order by my I.Q. and instead of playing I
should bring a pillow so I can sit on it." (Id. at 11.)
Brooke testified that other students had incidents with Nicita.
Brooke said that a memorandum in her correspondence file reported
that Nicita, "in correcting an incident in the locker room[,] . .
. said to [a student] you were a little faggot, I should lock you
in the room to have someone beat your ass." (Brooke Dep. at 8.)
Brooke said she did not speak with Nicita about the incident and
did not report the incident to the District superintendent.
(Id. at 11.) Brooke also testified that a May 1997 document
made "reference to a youngster who reported to the nurse that he
had a sore arm," and that "Mr. Nicita twisted his arm to take
candy from him, area slightly red, ice applied." (Id. at 15.)
In a 1992 memorandum from Brooke to Nicita, Brooke reprimanded
Nicita for telling a student, "You turn me on." (Berg Aff., Ex.
Brooke testified that during her tenure as principal, the
District provided teachers with a handbook and at times invited
speakers to discuss "being sensitive to the kids" with faculty,
but did not offer training focused on disciplining students or
interpersonal skills. (Brooke Dep. at 12-13, 114.)
I. Summary Judgment Standard
A district court may grant summary judgment only if the
evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the party
opposing the motion, presents no genuine issue of material fact,
and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct.
2505, 2510, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). The court must resolve all
ambiguities and draw all reasonable inferences in the light most
favorable to the party opposing the motion. See Quaratino v.
Tiffany & Co., 71 F.3d 58, 64 (2d Cir. 1995). "If, as to the
issue on which summary judgment is sought, there is any evidence
in the record from which a reasonable inference could be drawn in
favor of the nonmoving party, summary judgment is improper."
Vann v. City of New York, 72 F.3d 1040, 1049 (2d Cir. 1995).
The party seeking summary judgment has the burden of showing that
no genuine factual dispute exists. See Adickes v. S.H. Kress &
Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157, 90 S.Ct. 1598, 1608, 26 L.Ed.2d 142
II. Plaintiffs' Claims Against Nicita
Plaintiffs claim that defendant Nicita falsely imprisoned
Amanda, subjected her to excessive force and deprived her of her
property in violation of her Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment
rights, as made actionable by the Civil Rights Act of 1871,
42 U.S.C. § 1983. Section 1983 provides:
Every person who, under color of any statute,
ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State
or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects,
or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United
States or other person within the jurisdiction
thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges,
or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws,
shall be liable to the party injured in an action at
law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for
Not every state law tort becomes an actionable constitutional
tort under section 1983 simply because it was committed by a
state actor. Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 146, 99 S.Ct.
2689, 2695-96, 61 L.Ed.2d 433 (1979). Thus, our initial inquiry
is whether the alleged actions, if taken as true, deprived Amanda
Bisignano of a constitutional right. See Albright v.
Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271, 114 S.Ct. 807, 811, 127 L.Ed.2d 114
(1994) ("The ...