The opinion of the court was delivered by: McMAHON, District Judge.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT AS TO
DEFENDANT TOWN OF CLARKSTOWN
Plaintiffs William Polite, Alexander Price, Peter Buxton and
Cipriam Lynch allege that Clarkstown Police Officers stopped
their car, physically abused them and used racial epithets, in
violation of their civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. They
bring their claims against the Town of Clarkstown ("the Town"),
the Town of Clarkstown Police Department ("the Police"), Officer
Michael Doyle in his individual capacity, and certain John and
Jane Does, officers of the Clarkstown Police Department who are
In an order dated August 6, 1999, I granted defendant Doyle's
motion to dismiss on the grounds of inadequate service. On that
same date, I granted defendant Town of Clarkstown Police
Department's motion for summary judgment on the grounds that
municipal departments of New York State — such as the Clarkstown
Police Department — are not amenable to suit, and no claims can
lie directly against them.
I denied a motion for summary judgment to the Town of
Clarkstown because it was premature to dismiss the complaint on
Monell grounds (or on any grounds) at the pre-discovery stage.
For the reasons stated below, I now grant the Town of
Clarkstown's renewed motion for summary judgment.
FACTS PERTINENT TO THE MOTION
On a motion for summary judgment the Court views the facts
most favorably to the non-moving party — in this case, the
On June 22, 1997, at approximately 10:00 p.m., two off-duty
volunteer ambulance personnel related over the ambulance
frequency to the Clarkstown Police Department dispatch that
their vehicle "was almost carjacked," and that the suspect
vehicle was a maroon Plymouth Voyager, with license plate number
"New York R89-4LY." The ambulance personnel indicated that the
suspect vehicle was occupied by at least three black males, and
that one of the black males was wearing a white tank top.
The ambulance personnel followed the car from the site of the
incident at Smith Street and Route 59 in Nanuet, New York, to
the vicinity of Second Avenue, Spring Valley, New York.
The dispatcher broadcast the incident as a larceny attempt, a
possible attempted carjacking, and described the suspects as
four black males in a maroon Plymouth Voyager, with license
plate number "R894LY." Officer Fred Parent received the call,
and observed a car of that description heading southbound in
Bethune Boulevard in Spring Valley. Officer Parent activated his
lights to initiate a car stop.
The plaintiffs saw the lights, but thought the officer was
attempting to pass rather than to pull them over. Not realizing
that the police intended for them to pull over, Plaintiff
William Polite continued to drive on Bethue Boulevard. After he
turned onto Clinton Street with police following, Polite pulled
Peter Buxton was in the passenger seat; Price was in the next
row of van seats; and Lynch was in the back. Officer Parent
directed Polite to throw the car keys out the window, which he
The plaintiffs contend that many officers made racial threats
and threats of violence during the period subsequent to the
stop. The police officers allegedly called them "niggers," and
placed handguns and rifles to their heads and threatened to pull
the trigger. Defendants have ...