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VIVES v. CITY OF NEW YORK

United States District Court, Southern District of New York


February 4, 2003

CARLOS VIVES, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE CITY OF NEW YORK, ET AL., DEFENDANTS

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Henry Pitman, United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff's application to compel production of documents in response to plaintiff's Document Requests 4-6 and 8-10 is denied without prejudice to renewal in the event that the liability of the individual defendants is established in this matter.

This is a civil rights action arising out of the allegedly illegal arrest of plaintiff by two officers employed by The New York City Police Department. Stated generally, the Document Requests in issue seek documents concerning certain Police Department policies and practices and actions taken as a result of an unrelated false arrest case. I agree with plaintiff that discovery concerning the facts and circumstances by which plaintiff came to be arrested is relevant to this matter. The discovery requests in issue, however, do not relate to plaintiff's case, but rather relate to policies and practices in general and an unrelated matter purported to involve analogous facts. Since the legality of plaintiff's arrest must be assessed against a constitutional standard, the content of the Police Department's regulations in internal policies can neither augment nor diminish plaintiff's federal rights. The Police Department's response to the unrelated arrest referenced in the Document Requests is irrelevant for the same reason.

To the extent plaintiff's claims that discovery concerning the unrelated arrest is relevant because the unrelated arrest is mentioned in the complaint, plaintiff's argument is unconvincing. If a party could unilaterally alter the scope of discovery merely by including extraneous allegations in the complaint, the limitations on discovery contemplated by Rule 26 quickly become a dead letter.

Finally, to the extent the discovery sought is relevant to plaintiff's Monell claim, I conclude that the Monell claims should be tried separately and that discovery concerning those claims should be stayed until the liability of the individual defendants is established. See e.g., West v. City of New York, No. 88 Civ. 1801, 1996 WL 240161 (S.D.N.Y. May 8, 1996); Tenenbaum v. Williams, 862 F. Supp. 962, 967-68 (E.D.N.Y. 1994); Brennan v. Lang, No. 90 Civ. 7533, 1993 WL 439150 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 28, 1993); Grant v. City of New York, No. 92 Civ. 2614, 1993 WL 5834 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 4, 1993); Padilla v. City of New York, No. 92 Civ. 1212, 1993 WL 5833 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 4, 1993); Fisher v. City of New York, No. 90 Civ. 8163, 1992 WL 77606 (S.D.N.Y. March 23, 1992); Quick v. Short, No. 87 Civ. 695, 1990 WL 422418 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 24, 1990); Ismail v. Cohen, 706 F. Supp. 243, 251 (S.D.N.Y. 1989), aff'd and rev'd in part on other grounds, 899 F.2d 183 (2d Cir. 1990).

Finally, to the extent plaintiff argues that the discovery in issue is relevant to the scope of possible injunctive relief, I conclude that injunctive relief against the City should be assessed in conjunction with the Monell claims.

SO ORDERED.

20030204

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