The opinion of the court was delivered by: HAROLD BAER, JR., District Judge
Plaintiff, Caryll Kramer brought a civil rights claim, under
42 U.S.C. § 1983, against Defendants, the City of New York ("City"),
New York City Police Department ("NYPD"), Police Officer Craig De
Oliviera ("Oliviera"), Detective Patrick Kennedy ("Kennedy"),
Shield 2041, and Unidentified New York City Police officers
(collectively, "Defendants"). Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 56, Defendants move for summary judgment.*fn1 For
the reasons set forth below, Defendants motion for summary
judgment is GRANTED.
Noel Kramer had consulted the same physician, Dr. Jonathan
Raskin ("Raskin"), for over 12 years. In fear, Noel Kramer asked
Raskin to run tests to determine whether, in fact, Plaintiff had
attempted to kill him. Raskin, aware of Plaintiff's alleged
alcoholism, alleged abusiveness, and his patient's belief that
his wife had attempted to poison him (Raskin Dep. at 23:5-24:16),
ran tests in April 2001, and the results indicated that the
arsenic level in Noel Kramer's blood were seven times greater
than normal. (Raskin Dep. at 21:7-15).
In response to consistent illness because of his wife's food
and fear for his safety, on May 10, 2001, Noel Kramer,
accompanied by Oliveira and a nurse's aide, entered the 17th
Precinct and lodged a complaint, which alleged that his wife, the
Plaintiff here, had attempted to poison him. In support of his allegation, Noel Kramer informed the police of (1)
a lab analysis that indicated an increased level of arsenic (NYPD
Compl. Rep. #2001-17-0032932); (2) "that his doctor couldn't
explain why he had such high levels of arsenic in his system";
(3) that his wife would not allow anyone else to prepare his
food; and, (4) that his relationship with his wife had
significantly deteriorated. (Kennedy Dep. at 18:23-24:2).
To discern the legitimacy of Noel Kramer's criminal complaint,
the New York County District Attorney's Office directed that
newly prepared food be tested for poison. (Hughes Dep. at
23:22-24:14). On the evening of May 10, 2001, at the direction of
the Assistant District Attorney, Noel Kramer returned to his
apartment and ordered food. The police entered the apartment and
Plaintiff refused to follow the police officer's directions.
(Heiman Dep. at 22:11). Plaintiff went for her purse and Heiman
pushed the pocketbook away and looked inside to make sure there
were no weapons. (Heiman Dep. at 22:11; Kennedy Dep. at
66:10-67:22; Sullivan Dep. at 31:2-19; Pl. Dep. at 137:9-138:22).
The Detectives handcuffed Plaintiff and escorted her out of the
apartment. (Pl. Dep. at 139:16-20). Plaintiff never complained or
sought treatment for any injuries that resulted from the arrest
and never sought medical treatment for any injuries she allegedly
sustained as a result of being handcuffed. (Pl. Dep. at
Upon arrival at the 17th Precinct, the police locked
Plaintiff in a holding cell. (Pl. Dep. at 156:4-9). Plaintiff was
in the holding cell for several hours, but not searched until she
requested to use the bathroom. (Pl. Dep. at 154:19-155:23). On
the evening of the arrest, while at the 17th Precinct,
Plaintiff requested the use of the ladies room twice. (Pl. Dep.
at 154:23). During both occasions, a female law enforcement
officer escorted Plaintiff into the bathroom where Plaintiff "had
to bear" her "derriere." (Pl. Dep. at 154:18-24). The following
morning, May 11, 2001, Plaintiff was escorted to Central Booking
and later that day arraigned for attempted murder in the second
degree and resisting arrest. Bail was set at $100,000. (N.Y.
County Dock. No. 2001NY041680, dated May 11, 2001).
In response to the arrest, Noel Kramer cancelled all of his
wife's credit cards, changed all the joint bank accounts over to
his name, and stopped payments on Plaintiff's health insurance.
(Pl. Dep. at 174:17-183:15). On November 16, 2001, the charges
against Plaintiff were dismissed after the District Attorney's
Office failed to prosecute.
On April 29, 2002, Plaintiff filed an action against the City,
the NYPD, Oliviera, and Noel Kramer in New York County Supreme Court. Kramer v. New York,
No. 108657/02 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Nov. 26, 2003). Plaintiff alleged
that on May 10, 2001 she was falsely arrested and maliciously
prosecuted because of the accusations fabricated by Noel Kramer
and Oliviera. In response, Oliviera filed a motion for summary
judgment to dismiss the State Court action. On November 26, 2003,
Judge Soto dismissed the malicious prosecution charge, but the
false arrest and imprisonment, intentional infliction of
emotional distress, libel/slander, and defamation of character
charges against Oliviera survived. Id.
On January 7, 2004, Plaintiff filed a Federal action based on
the same May 10, 2001 events. The action alleged that Plaintiff's
civil rights were violated, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and
named the City, the NYPD, Kennedy, and Oliviera as defendants.
The City and NYPD consented to the removal of the state-law
action to federal court. On March 26, 2004, Judge Soto stayed the
state law claims against Oliviera and, pursuant to Plaintiff's
request, dismissed the allegations against Noel Kramer.
A court will not grant a motion for summary judgment unless it
determines that there is no genuine issue of material fact and
the undisputed facts are sufficient to warrant judgment as a
matter of law. Fed.R. Civ. P. 56; Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986). The party opposing 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." Fed.R. Civ. P. 56(e).
In determining whether there is a genuine issue of material fact,
the Court must resolve all ambiguities, and draw all inferences,
against the moving party. United States v. Diebold, Inc.,
369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962) (per curiam); Donahue v. Windsor Locks
Bd. of Fire Comm'rs, 834 F.2d 54, 57 (2d Cir. 1987). It is not
the court's role to resolve issues of fact; rather, the court may
only determine whether there are issues of fact to be tried.
Donohue, 834 F.2d at 58 (citations omitted). However, a
disputed issue of material fact alone is insufficient to deny a
motion for summary judgment, the disputed issue must be "material
to the outcome of the litigation," Knight v. U.S. Fire Ins.
Co., 804 F.2d 9, 11 (2d Cir. 1986), and must be backed by
evidence that would allow "a rational trier of fact to find for
the non-moving party." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith
Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).
Pursuant to Fed.R. Civ. P. 56, Defendants move for summary
judgment contending that at this stage of the litigation: plaintiff's false arrest claim
should be dismissed because there was probable cause; plaintiff's
malicious prosecution claim is barred by the doctrine of
collateral estoppel, the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, and also
fails as a matter of law; plaintiff fails to state a claim under
the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth
Amendment; any purported conspiracy claim must be dismissed;
Detective Patrick Kennedy is entitled to qualified immunity; and,
plaintiff's state law claims should be dismissed as a matter of
Plaintiff alleges that Kennedy lacked the requisite information
that would lead a reasonable person to conclude that Plaintiff
had committed or is about to commit a crime and, therefore,
failed to have probable cause to justify an arrest. See Boyd v.
City of N.Y., 336 F.3d 72 (2d Cir. 2003). Plaintiff's § 1983
claim for false arrest "derives from an individual's right to
remain free from unreasonable seizures." Caldarola v.
Calabrese, 298 F.3d 156 (2d Cir. 2002). This includes the right
to remain free from arrest absent probable cause. Weyant v.
Okst, 101 F.3d 845, 852 (2d Cir. 1996). When reviewed in the
light most favorable to Plaintiff, Saucier v. Katz,
533 U.S. 194, 201 (2001), the complaint alleges that the police arrested
Plaintiff without probable cause in violation of the
constitution. Lee v. Sandberg, 136 F.3d 94, 102 (2d Cir. 1997)
("The right not to be arrested without probable cause is a
clearly established right.").
However, at the time of the arrest, it was "equally well
established that the existence of probable cause is an absolute
defense to a false arrest claim and affords the arresting officer
qualified immunity from litigation." Caldarola,
298 F.3d at 162. "Probable cause is a complete defense to a cause of action
for false arrest." Smith v. Edwards, 175 F.3d 99, 105 (2d Cir.
1999) (internal citation omitted). "Probable cause exists when an
officer has knowledge or reasonably trustworthy information
sufficient to warrant a person of reasonable caution in the
belief that an offense has been committed by the person to be
arrested." Savino v. City of N.Y., 331 F.3d 63, 77 (2d Cir.
1999) (internal citation omitted).
Noel Kramer walked into the 17th Precinct on May 10, 2001
and alleged that his wife was attempting to murder him. In
support of his allegations, Noel Kramer informed the police of
(1) consistent illness which he believed resulted from his wife's
food preparation; (2) his wife's unwillingness to allow anyone
but herself to prepare his dinner; and, (3) a deteriorating
marriage. Noel Kramer also provided the police with information
regarding lab results that indicated a high level of arsenic in
his blood and corroboration of the test results by a nurses' aid.
(Pl. Dep. at 123:23-124:9; NYPD Compl. Rep. #2001-17-0032932). Taken together,
these allegations establish probable cause to arrest Plaintiff
and "there can be no claim for false arrest where the arresting
officer had probable cause to arrest the plaintiff." Escalera v.
Lunn, 361 F.3d 737, 743 (2d Cir. 2004).
Accordingly, this claim must be dismissed.
B. Qualified Immunity*fn2
Assuming arguendo that Plaintiff was falsely arrested, the
individual defendants are still entitled to qualified immunity.
Qualified immunity shields a government official acting in an
official capacity from suit for damages under Section § 1983
provided that the official did not violate "clearly established
rights of which an objectively reasonable official would have
known." Kinzer v. Jackson, 316 F.3d 139, 143 (2d Cir. 2003). "A
qualified immunity defense is established if (a) the defendant's
action did not violate clearly established law, or (b) it was
objectively reasonable for the defendant to believe that his
action did not violate such law." Kent v. Katz, 312 F.3d 568,
573 (2d Cir. 2002). The focus of a qualified immunity analysis is
on "objective circumstances rather than an officer's subjective
motivation." Bradway v. Gonzales, 26 F.3d 313, 319 (2d Cir.
1994) (citation omitted). "The Supreme Court has stated that the
immunity accorded officials by this doctrine protects all ...