The opinion of the court was delivered by: David N. Hurd, United States District Judge.
MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER
Plaintiff Deborah LaLonde ("plaintiff" or "Ms. LaLonde") brought this
action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, 1985, 1986, 1988, the First,
Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States
Constitution,*fn1 and New York State law, claiming that Rome City Police
Officers Timothy Bates ("Officer Bates") and David Bruce ("Officer
Bruce") (collectively referred to as "defendants"), and the City of
Rome, New York, violated her civil rights.*fn2 The defendants moved for
summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. Plaintiff opposed.
Oral argument was heard on July 6, 2001, in Utica, New York. Decision
On March 22, 1999, at about 7:30 p.m., Investigator Hall conducted a
briefing at the Rome Police Station at which time he provided a number of
police officers, including Officer Bates and Officer Bruce, with
information regarding the search warrant. He informed the officers that
Breton was suspected of being in possession of crack cocaine and a
handgun, that he might be alone or accompanied by one or two women, and
gave out the license plate number of the black Cavalier covered by the
search warrant. During the briefing, two confidential informants called
the police station and informed police that Breton was on his way to the
apartment named in the search warrant. A number of police officers,
including Investigator Hall, Officer Bates, and Officer Bruce, then
proceeded to the apartment to await Breton's arrival.
On the date of this incident, plaintiff*fn3 resided in Apartment # 4
at 326 East Bloomfield Street in Rome, New York, which is approximately
nine buildings away from the apartment named in the search warrant, and
owned a 1986 blue Chevrolet Celebrity automobile, license plate number
M800BZ. At approximately 8:00 p.m. on March 22, 1999, Ms. LaLonde left
her apartment, went out to her car and started it up. It had been
snowing that day, and plaintiff asserts she allowed the heater and rear
window defroster to run while she brushed the snow off all the windows
and the front and back of the car, including the headlights, taillights,
and license plates. Ms. LaLonde then got into her car and exited the
parking lot of the apartment complex onto East Bloomfield Street, with the
intention of picking her boyfriend up from work.
Almost immediately, plaintiff's car was pulled over by Officers Bates
and Bruce. They had been instructed to stop the vehicle by Investigator
Hall after he observed the plaintiff's dark colored Chevrolet exiting the
parking area of the apartment complex. After pulling her vehicle off to
the side of the road and rolling down the driver's side window, plaintiff
was verbally instructed to turn off the car and throw her keys out the
window. She was then ordered to exit the vehicle, place her hands behind
her head and walk backwards toward the officers. Plaintiff was then told
to get down on her knees and lie face down on the road with her arms
outstretched. Plaintiff complied with all of these demands. Ms. LaLonde
repeatedly asked the officers why she had been stopped and what she had
done wrong, only to be told to be quiet.
As she was lying in the street, Officer Bruce grabbed the back of
plaintiff's jacket as Officer Bates held her right arm behind her back,
and they both pulled her off the ground. At this time, Investigator Hall
arrived at the scene and instructed Officers Bates and Bruce not to
handcuff plaintiff, as she was not a suspect. He then asked plaintiff to
get into her car and drive to a nearby parking lot. While at the parking
lot, Investigator Hall explained to Ms. LaLonde that the police had made
a mistake, apologized to her, and told her she was free to go.
Plaintiff asserts that fifteen to twenty minutes passed between the
time she was pulled over to the time she was told she was free to go, and
that for at least part of the incident, the officers had their guns
drawn. Following this incident, plaintiff was counseled by Certified
Social Worker, John Carroll, who diagnosed her with post-traumatic stress
disorder, with various symptoms including depression, flashbacks,
nightmares, and panic attacks, stemming from the incident.
A. Summary Judgment Standard
Summary judgment must be granted when the pleadings, depositions,
answers to interrogatories, admissions, and affidavits show that there is
no genuine issues as to any material fact, and that the moving party is
entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56;
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986); Lang v.
Retirement Living Pub. Co., 949 F.2d 576, 580 (2d Cir. 1991). The moving
party carries the initial burden of demonstrating an absence of a genuine
issue of material fact. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56; Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986); Thompson v. Gjivoje, 896 F.2d 716, 720 (2d
Cir. 1990). Facts, inferences therefrom, and ambiguities must be viewed
in a light most favorable to the nonmovant. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co.
v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986); Project Release v.
Prevost, 722 F.2d 960, 968 (2d Cir. 1983).
When the moving party has met the burden, the non-moving party "must do
more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the
material facts." Matsushita Elec. Co., 475 U.S. at 586. At that point,
the non-moving party "must set forth specific facts showing that there is
a genuine issue for trial." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56; Liberty Lobby Inc., 477
U.S. at 250; Matsushita Elec. Co., 475 U.S. at 587. To withstand a
summary judgment motion, evidence must exist upon which a reasonable jury
could return a verdict for the nonmovant. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
at 248-49; Matsushita Elec. Co., 475 U.S. at 587. Thus, summary judgment
is proper where there is ...