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CARTER v. PORT AUTHORITY OF NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY

December 17, 2004.

HAROLD CARTER, Plaintiff,
v.
PORT AUTHORITY OF NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY; PORT AUTHORITY POLICE DEPARTMENT; ANDREW IADEVAIO, Port Authority Police Officer, Shield No. 322; FRANK VOGRIC, Port Authority Police Officer, Shield No. 2199; CITY OF NEW YORK; PAUL McCORMACK, NYCPO; and UNIDENTIFIED PORT AUTHORITY AND NEW YORK CITY POLICE OFFICERS, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: DENISE COTE, District Judge

OPINION & ORDER

Plaintiff Harold Carter ("Carter") has brought suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983") seeking compensatory and punitive damages against the City of New York ("City"), the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the Port Authority Police Department (collectively "Port Authority"), New York City Police Officer Paul McCormack ("McCormack"), and Port Authority Police Officers Andrew Iadevaio ("Iadevaio") and Frank Vogric ("Vogric"), in connection with his arrest while on duty as a supervisor for a security firm monitoring the arrivals area for Terminal One at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Following discovery, the defendants have moved for summary judgment. Those motions, which are unopposed, are granted in part.

  BACKGROUND

  The following facts are undisputed or stated in the light most favorable to the plaintiff unless otherwise noted. On August 11, 2002, Carter was on duty at his job as a supervisor for a security firm monitoring the arrivals area for Terminal One at John F. Kennedy International Airport. That evening, McCormack drove up and parked an unmarked vehicle by the curb in front of the arrivals area at Terminal One, placing a New York City Police Department plaque in the windshield. McCormack asserts that he was there on official police business to pick up visiting Irish dignitaries because he speaks Gaelic. McCormack does not recall, however, whether he had a police radio with him, whether he had any weapons or any other police gear aside from his badge, and he does not recall who the Irish dignitaries were. According to Iadevaio's deposition, McCormack was in plainclothes. There is no evidence in the record to corroborate the existence of such a visit by foreign dignitaries. Carter states in his deposition that whenever there are visiting diplomats or dignitaries, the security staff of Terminal One are notified in advance, and that there had been no such notification for that evening.

  There is no dispute that Carter approached McCormack's vehicle and informed him that he could not park in the restricted area by the curb. Carter asserts in his deposition that McCormack explained that he was a police officer, that he wanted to pick up his girlfriend, who was buying food at the McDonald's restaurant in Terminal One, and that he wished for Carter to extend him a professional "courtesy" to allow him to park in the restricted area briefly. Carter states that he refused to permit McCormack to park in that location pursuant to his understanding of Terminal One policies, because McCormack was not on official police business. There is no dispute that after a brief conversation between Carter and McCormack, McCormack drove away and parked at a different location outside Terminal One.

  According to the defendants' summary judgment papers, Iadevaio and Vogric, in uniform and in a marked Port Authority police car, drove up beside McCormack's vehicle and made contact with McCormack, causing him to identify himself as a police officer. McCormack states in his deposition that when asked why he had not parked in the restricted passenger pickup area, "I told them that a black security guy basically kicked me out of there. They basically said, follow us in and, you know, we'll get to the bottom of this." Iadevaio acknowledges in his deposition that a crime had not been committed at the point when the officers decided to return to Terminal One to confront Carter. McCormack admits then following the Port Authority officers back to the Terminal One arrivals area. He states that he parked his car behind the Port Authority squad car, one of the officers got out of the Port Authority car, and "came back to my car to ask me if I see the black security guard and I did see him on the sidewalk down by the indented area. I said, that's him over there. I pointed him out to him."

  There is no dispute that Iadevaio then approached and confronted Carter, that a scuffle ensued, that Carter was forced face-down onto the sidewalk, that he sustained injuries to his face and arm, and that he was arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. There appears to be no dispute that McCormack stayed to observe the scene as Carter was taken down and arrested, although the role Vogric played in using force against Carter is unclear based on the papers submitted to this Court. According to the deposition of McCormack, however, both of the Port Authority officers were at one point on the ground handcuffing Carter. How the scuffle between Iadevaio and Carter began is a source of dispute. Iadevaio claims that he calmly approached Carter to ask him why he had not extended a courtesy to McCormack, and that Carter began screaming and pointing at Iadevaio the moment Iadevaio began approaching him. He claims that Carter continued to scream, which "caused a crowd to gather, public alarm," which led Iadevaio to the conclusion that he would arrest Carter for disorderly conduct. He also claims that he asked Carter for identification, which Carter refused to give, and that Carter then struck Iadevaio's hand and grabbed onto it, leading Iadevaio to force Carter to the ground. Vogric states that he took the names of two witnesses, but did not gather any witness statements other than the statement of McCormack.

  Carter claims that Iadevaio approached in an aggressive and intimidating manner and began to question Carter about why he refused to allow McCormack to park in the restricted area. Carter stated in his deposition that he explained his understanding of Terminal One parking policies, and that McCormack should not have been permitted to park there. He states that Iadevaio responded by stating, "Well, ha, ha, ha, what did you think would happen if you tried to call me to remove the vehicle?" Carter states that he responded: "I don't know what you would do, I just know what my responsibilities are." Carter believes Iadevaio responded: "Well, I don't think you know your job." Carter states that he replied: "I think I know what my procedures and my job is, but I think you're unaware of exactly what your position is." At this point, Carter states that the conversation became heated, and that Iadevaio grabbed Carter's tie, initiating contact with Carter, and that Carter attempted to push Iadevaio's hand away. At this point, Carter claims that Iadevaio threw him to the ground and arrested him. Carter states that he was wearing his identification badge on a chain around his neck, face-out, so that it would have been unnecessary for Iadevaio to ask for his identification. He states that this chain was broken when Iadevaio grabbed his tie and Carter attempted to push his hand away.

  There is no dispute that Carter was detained for a number of hours by the Port Authority at Kennedy Airport, and was released at approximately 5:00 a.m. Iadevaio signed the criminal court complaint against Carter, and Vogric signed the corroborating affidavit to the criminal court complaint. McCormack signed a witness statement regarding his observations of the incident. There is no dispute that Carter was forced to make a number of court appearances with regard to the criminal charges that were brought against him. Ultimately, however, on May 2, 2003, all criminal charges against Carter were dismissed. On June 6, 2003, Carter filed a Notice of Claim with the Comptroller's Office of the City, alleging unlawful arrest, seizure, search, and imprisonment, violations of his New York and Federal constitutional rights, assault, libel, slander, negligence, reckless conduct, malicious prosecution, and discrimination. On November 5, 2003, Carter filed the civil complaint that initiated this lawsuit.

  The Complaint contains six causes of action. First, the Complaint alleges Section 1983 violations against McCormack, Iadevaio, and Vogric, including false arrest, unlawful imprisonment, malicious prosecution, and assault as deprivations of Carter's Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights under the United States Constitution. Second, the Complaint alleges New York state law intentional tort claims against McCormack, Iadevaio, and Vogric, including false arrest and imprisonment, libel and slander, malicious prosecution, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and invasion of privacy. Third, the Complaint alleges negligent and reckless hiring claims against the City and Port Authority. Fourth, the Complaint alleges negligent and reckless training claims against the City and Port Authority. Fifth, the Complaint alleges state law negligence claims against McCormack, Iadevaio, and Vogric, including negligent and reckless performance of police duties. Sixth, the Complaint alleges claims against the City and Port Authority based on a policy and pattern of deliberate indifference to violations of constitutional rights by police officers.

  Defendants filed motions for summary judgment on October 1, 2004. Plaintiff's opposition to the motion was due on October 22, 2004, but was never filed. As a consequence, the assertions of fact in the defendants' Local Rule 56.1 Statements are taken as true and uncontroverted to the extent they are supported by admissible evidence.

  ...


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