The opinion of the court was delivered by: FREDERICK SCULLIN, Chief Judge, District Page 2
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
In his amended complaint, Plaintiff Steven Cea asserts thirteen causes
of action. Plaintiff's first cause of action alleges that Defendant
Bradley denied him due process and
infringed on his rights under the Second and Fourteenth Amendments
to the United States Constitution.*fn2 His second and third causes of
action allege that Defendant Faluotico. swore to a false instrument in
violation of Plaintiff's rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth
Amendments to the United States Constitution and in violation of his
right to equal protection under the New York State Constitution. He also
alleges that Defendant Faluotico. falsified the criminal information,
failed to verify the information, caused an invasion of Plaintiff's home
in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, and that his
actions led to malicious prosecution and physical injury in violation of
his Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. See Snyder
Aff. at Exhibit "A" at ¶¶ 147-153. Plaintiffs fourth cause of action
alleges that Defendants Cunningham and Remsen unlawfully seized him and
used excessive force. See id. at ¶¶ 154-168. Plaintiff also
claims that Defendant Knox confined him and deprived him of liberty.
See id. at ¶¶ 166-167. Plaintiff's fifth cause of action
alleges that Defendants Cunningham and Remsen engaged in an unlawful
search and seizure without a warrant and without probable cause by
searching the bedrooms of his house in violation of the Fourth and
Fourteenth Amendment. See id. at ¶¶ 169-173. Plaintiffs sixth
cause of action alleges that Defendants Cunningham and Remsen denied him
medical treatment. See id. at 174-186.*fn3 Plaintiff's seventh
cause of action
alleges, once again, that Defendants unlawfully detained him and
denied him medical treatment. See id. at ¶¶ 187-191.
Plaintiffs eighth cause of action alleges, once again, that Defendants
Cunningham, Remsen and the Ulster County Sheriff's Office deprived him of
liberty. See id. at ¶¶ 192-194. Plaintiff's ninth cause of
action alleges that Defendant Bradley violated his right to equal
protection and repeats his allegation that Defendants conducted an
illegal search of his home. Plaintiff's tenth cause of action repeats the
claim that Defendants' search of Plaintiff's home violated his rights
under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. See id. at ¶¶
199-200. In his eleventh cause of action, Plaintiff alleges that the
Ulster County Sheriff's Office and Defendant Bockelmann ratified the
actions of the individual Defendants. See id. at ¶¶ 201-211.
In his twelfth cause of action, Plaintiff asserts that he was deprived of
his state and common law rights and that the County is vicariously liable
for the torts of the individual Defendants. See id. at ¶¶
212-214. Finally, in his thirteenth cause of action, Plaintiff alleges
that Defendants were negligent and that the County failed to adequately
hire, train and supervise its employees.
Presently before the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment
pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The Court
heard oral argument in support of, and in opposition to, this motion on
February 25, 2004, at which time the Court issued an oral decision from
the bench. The Court also advised the parties that a written decision
would follow. The following constitutes the Court's written decision
regarding the pending motion.
Plaintiff's claims arise from an incident that occurred on March 29,
1999. Based upon a criminal information that Defendant Faluotico
prepared, an arrest warrant was issued against Plaintiff for the crime of
Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree, as a result of Plaintiff's
failure to turn in his pistol and pistol permit pursuant to a New York
State Supreme Court order. See Snyder Aff. at ¶¶ 6-7 and
Exhibit "F" (a copy of the arrest warrant and the Criminal Information)
and Exhibit "G" (a copy of the Letter Orders of the Supreme
Court, Ulster County, issued by Justice Vincent G. Bradley, revoking
Plaintiff's pistol permit because of pending criminal charges against him
and ordering Plaintiff to surrender possession of his permit and his
According to Plaintiff's deposition testimony, on March 29, 1999, he
heard someone pounding on his door, saw several figures outside his house
telling him to open the door, and refused to open the door. See
id. at ¶ 22 and Exhibit "H" at 66-70. Plaintiff called an
attorney and his brother on the telephone and then heard glass breaking.
See id. at ¶ 22 and Exhibit "H" at 77-86. One of the
individuals kicked the door in and then Defendant Cunningham, with his
weapon drawn, stepped into the house and pointed his gun at Plaintiff and
his daughter, Teresa Cea. See id. at ¶ 22 and Exhibit "H" at
88-89. Defendant Cunningham then stepped closer to Plaintiff, stuck the
gun in his face, and cocked the hammer of the gun, at which point
Plaintiff asked him if he was going to shoot him. See id. at
¶ 22 and Exhibit "H" at 89-94. Plaintiff then looked at his wife and
children and, when he turned back, Defendant Cunningham had
reholstered his gun and then sprayed Plaintiff with pepper spray.
See id. at ¶ 22 and Exhibit "H" at 94-100.
Plaintiff also testified that, after Defendant Cunningham sprayed him,
Plaintiff asked him if he was Black Irish and Defendant Cunningham then
grabbed him in a choke hold around his neck and dragged him while still
sitting in his chair to the front door. See id. at ¶ 23 and
Exhibit "H" at 108-116. In addition, Plaintiff testified that, after he
was sprayed, he saw two officers go into the house and walk past the
living room. See id. at ¶ 23 and Exhibit "H" at 112-13.
After Plaintiff was taken into the entranceway, he asked for medical
assistance. See id. at ¶ 23 and Exhibit "H" at 118.
Defendants called an ambulance and medical personnel arrived, treated
Plaintiff for pepper spray, and then left after Plaintiff refused to sign
papers refusing treatment or transfer because he could not see them.
See id. at ¶ 23 and Exhibit "H" at 118-21. According to the
ambulance report, the paramedics washed out Plaintiff's eyes and
Plaintiff refused transport and refused to sign the release for refusal
of treatment/transportation. See id. at ¶ 24 and Exhibit
Plaintiff was transferred from his home to the Esopus substation,
booked and taken to Kingston City Court. See id. at ¶ 25 and
Exhibit "H" at 128-30. Plaintiff had pain in his eyes, throat, chest and
neck, had difficulty breathing, and was in pain all over. See
id. at ¶ 25 and Exhibit "H" at 130-31. Plaintiff again asked for
a doctor but was told that he should have signed the papers and that he
was the one who refused medical treatment. See id. at ¶ 25
and Exhibit "H" at 131.
Plaintiff was charged with criminal contempt and resisting arrest and,
after appearing in Kingston City Court, was transported to jail. See
id. at ¶ 26 and Exhibit "H" at 133-34. Plaintiff
again requested medical attention while en route to the jail. When
he arrived at the jail, he was placed in the main reception area and was
left waiting there until a nurse came and told him that they did not have
the facilities to treat him. See id. at If 26 and Exhibit "H" at
137-38. Plaintiff asked for medical assistance while at the jail but he
was laughed at or ignored. See id. at ¶ 26 and Exhibit "H"
at 143-44. Once Plaintiff left the jail, he was nearly unconscious.
See id. at ¶ 26 and Exhibit "H" at 144. Plaintiff went to
his attorney's office, and his attorney told him to go to the hospital.
See id. at ¶ 26 and Exhibit "H" at 145-47. Plaintiff went to
Castle Point VA Hospital with complaints of severe pain in the neck, left
arm, shoulder, hands, and upper torso. See id. at Exhibit "H" at
Subsequently, after a probable cause hearing, Justice Feeney dismissed
the charge of criminal contempt in the second degree. With these facts in
mind, the Court will address each of the issues raised in Defendants'
motion in turn.
A. Summary judgment standard*fn7
A court will grant a motion for summary judgment if there is no genuine
issue of material
fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The moving party has the burden to
demonstrate that no genuine issue of material fact exists. See
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once the moving
party has met its burden, the non-moving party must come forward
with specific facts demonstrating that a genuine issue exists for trial.
See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986). The ultimate inquiry is whether a reasonable jury
could find for the non-moving party based upon the evidence
presented. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242,
252 (1986). "All reasonable inferences and any ambiguities are drawn in
favor of the nonmoving party." Thompson v. Gjivoje,
896 F.2d 716, 720 (2d Cir. 1990) (citation omitted).
With this standard in mind, the Court will address Defendants' motion.
B. Plaintiff's federal claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
1. Plaintiff's claims against Defendants Bockelmann and Knox
in their individual capacities
Under § 1983, supervisors may be held liable for their own actions
as well as, in some instances, the acts of their subordinates. See
Rose v. Zillioux, No. 5:98-CV-1882, 2001 WL 1708796, *8 (N.D.N.Y.
Dec. 27, 2001) (citation omitted). A supervisor may be held liable for
violating a plaintiff's rights in several ways:
"[He] may have directly participated in the
infraction. . . .[He], after learning of the
violation through a report or appeal, may have
failed to remedy the wrong. . . .[He] may be
liable because he  created a policy or custom
under which unconstitutional practices occurred,
or allowed such a policy or custom to
continue. . . . Lastly, [he] may be personally
liable if he  was grossly negligent in managing
subordinates who caused the unlawful condition or
event. . . ."
With respect to Plaintiffs claims against Defendant Bockelmann,
Plaintiff does not allege that Defendant Bockelmann was present during
the incident or that he was, in any way, personally involved in the acts
that allegedly violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights. Moreover,
although Plaintiff alleges in a conclusory fashion that Defendant
Bockelmann condoned or adopted the actions of his subordinates, he offers
no evidence to support this claim. Accordingly, the Court grants
Defendants' motion for summary judgment with respect to all of
Plaintiff's claims against Defendant Bockelmann in his individual
With respect to Plaintiff's claims against Defendant Knox, Defendants
assert that Defendant Knox did not participate in the arrest or
imprisonment of Plaintiff and that, at his deposition, Plaintiff could
not state a specific allegation of a constitutional deprivation against
Plaintiff has not responded to Defendants' arguments regarding his
claims against Defendant Knox. Moreover, based upon his testimony at his
deposition, Plaintiff has failed to articulate a specific basis for his
claims against Defendant Knox. Accordingly, the Court grants Defendants'
motion for summary judgment with respect to all claims against Defendant
2. Plaintiff's false arrest and/or false imprisonment
"A Section 1983 claim for false arrest [or false imprisonment] rest[s]
on the Fourth Amendment right of an individual to be free from
unreasonable seizures, including arrest without probable cause.'"
Sulkowska v. City of N.Y., 129 F. Supp.2d 274, 287 (S.D.N.Y.
2001) (quotation omitted). To establish a false arrest claim under either
federal or New York law, a plaintiff must demonstrate that ""`(i) the
defendant intended to confine [the plaintiff], (ii) the plaintiff was
conscious of the confinement, (iii) the plaintiff did not consent to the
confinement, and (iv) the confinement was not otherwise privileged.'""
Id. (quotation omitted). An arrest is "otherwise privileged, if
there was probable cause to arrest." Id. (citations omitted).
Thus, if there was probable cause for the arrest, there can be no claim
for false arrest. See Martinetti v. Town of New Hartford Police
Dep't, 112 F. Supp.2d 251, 252 (N.D.N.Y. 2000) (citation omitted).
The general rule is that "[a]n arrest pursuant to a valid warrant ...