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DICKERSON v. MONROE COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPT.

September 26, 2000

ANTHONY DICKERSON, ET AL., PLAINTIFF,
V.
MONROE COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Larimer, Chief Judge.

DECISION AND ORDER

INTRODUCTION

This is a civil rights action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff, Anthony Dickerson ("Dickerson"), brought claims of malicious prosecution, false arrest, false imprisonment, and malicious abuse of process against defendants Leon Hill, ("Hill") of the Monroe County Sheriff's Department, and Allen Dombroski ("Dombroski"), of the New York State Police. Plaintiff's wife, Mary Dickerson, also brings a loss of consortium claim under New York law. Defendant Dombroski now moves for summary judgment.

FACTS

The events that led to this action began on June 14, 1994, when defendant Dombroski telephoned plaintiff at his home and stated that one "Mr. Dickerson" or "Mr. MacDonald" had called the television show "America's Most Wanted" with information concerning a missing child, Kali Ann Poulton. Dickerson Aff., ¶ 2. Plaintiff informed Dombroski that he did not make the phone calls and did not have any information about the missing child. Id. at ¶ 3.

Later that day, defendants Hill and Dombroski went to plaintiff's home to question him further. Plaintiff claims that he denied making the phone calls and told the officers to leave his property. Dickerson Aff., ¶ 11. After an unpleasant exchange with Dombroski, plaintiff returned to his backyard where he had been removing maple tree roots. Id. at ¶¶ 12-13. When he picked up a sledgehammer to continue work, one of the defendants ordered him to put it down. Id. at ¶ 14. Plaintiff complied by dropping the sledgehammer to his side and turning around, and the defendants left soon after. Id. at 14-15.

Immediately following the incident, Dombroski and Hill discussed filing a menacing charge against plaintiff. Dombroski Dep., pp. 151-52, 161. Dombroski decided not to act immediately, but intended to arrest plaintiff at a later time. Id. at 151-56. Dombroski and Hill then met with their superiors from the County and the State. Id. at 162-64. During the meeting, the officers concluded that since the County intended to file charges, Dombroski would not file duplicate charges but would serve as a witness. Id. at 163, 168-69. Following the discussion, both Dombroski and Hill filed a report with the Irondequoit Police Department ("Irondequoit") indicating that an "officer safety issue" had occurred in that jurisdiction. Id. at 179-80.

The next day, June 15, Dombroski and Hill met with the assistant district attorney to discuss whether the additional charge of obstructing governmental administration ("OGA") should be lodged against plaintiff. Dombroski Dep., pp. 222-27. During the meeting, Dombroski spoke with plaintiff on the telephone. Id. at 227. Plaintiff informed Dombroski that he planned to file a harassment complaint. Id. at 229-30. At the conclusion of the meeting, the assistant district attorney indicated that the County would file a menacing and an OGA charge. Id. at 232-33. The three also discussed obtaining a warrant for plaintiff's arrest. Id.

That same day, plaintiff contacted Irondequoit about filing a complaint against Hill and Dombroski. Dickerson Aff. ¶ 16. Irondequoit Officer Dennis Saeva ("Saeva") went to plaintiff's home and informed him that defendants had filed a report stating that plaintiff had threatened them with a sledgehammer. Dickerson Aff., ¶ 17. Saeva convinced plaintiff not to file a complaint and suggested that nothing would come of the defendant's report. Dickerson Aff., ¶ 20.

On June 24, Hill and another officer arrested plaintiff at his place of employment. Dickerson Dep., p. 23. Plaintiff alleges that he was transported to the Monroe County Sheriff's Department and detained in a cell for four hours, then spent another four hours in a "holding tank" at the Irondequoit Police Department until his arraignment.

At the criminal trial, Dombroski testified against plaintiff. Brown Aff., ¶ 33. The court dismissed the charge of OGA sua sponte. Id. A jury acquitted plaintiff of the menacing charge after five minutes of deliberation. Id. at ¶ 34.

DISCUSSION

Summary Judgment is appropriate where "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and . . . the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). A "genuine issue" exists "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). Under Rule 56(e), a party opposing the motion for summary judgment "may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of the adverse party's pleading, but . . . must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." This Court's function in deciding a motion for summary judgment "is not to weigh the evidence or resolve issues of fact, but to decide instead whether, after resolving all ambiguities and drawing all inferences in favor of the non-moving party, a rational juror could find in favor of ...


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