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MALONE v. CITY OF NEW YORK

August 9, 2005.

Walter Malone, Plaintiff,
v.
The City of New York, Detective William Campisi, P.O. Schaaf [Shield #2279], Unknown Individual New York City Police Officers, City of Beacon, Detective Donald Williams, County of Duchess, and Jeffrey Walraven, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SANDRA TOWNES, District Judge

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

Defendants City of Beacon, Detective Donald Williams, County of Duchess, and Jeffrey Walraven move for summary judgment dismissing Plaintiff's third, fourth, and sixth causes of action. For the reasons discussed herein, their motions are hereby GRANTED.

BACKGROUND

  On September 13, 2001, plaintiff Walter Malone ("Plaintiff" or "Malone") commenced this action against defendants City of New York, Detective William Campisi. P.O. Schaaf [Shield # 22979], Unknown Individual New York City Police Officers, City of Beacon, Detective Donald Williams ("Williams"), County of Duchess, and Jeffrey Walraven ("Walraven").*fn1 In his complaint, he alleges six causes of action under both state and federal law, namely 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 ("Section 1983") and 1985(3) ("Section 1985"). First, he alleges that he was assaulted, battered, and falsely arrested and imprisoned. Second, he alleges that he was falsely arrested and imprisoned without a warrant. Third, he alleges that he was maliciously prosecuted. Fourth, he alleges that the "governmental defendants, the City of New York, City of Beacon, and the County of Duchess, were careless, negligent and reckless in hiring, [supervising], retaining and training its employees," and that as a result, he as falsely arrested and imprisoned. (Compl. ¶¶ 32; 33.) Fifth, he alleges excessive force was used against him when the defendants "acted with malice or at least deliberate indifference by interfering with" his EMS treatment. (Compl. ¶¶ 37; 38.) Sixth, he alleges that the individual defendants conspired to deprive him of his constitutional rights. (Compl. ¶ 41.)

  This civil action arises out a September 22, 1999 incident involving all of the defendants.*fn2 On that day, Williams and Walraven went to Elmhurst General hospital to interview Malone's daughter, Tylisha Scott ("Tylisha"). (Beacon 56.1 Stat. ¶ 15.) After completing that interview, they went to interview Malone in connection with Tylisha's allegations that he struck her. (Duchess 56.1 Stat. ¶ 11.) Williams accompanied Walraven to execute a warrant for criminal contempt in the second degree, which was issued as a result of complaints filed by Tylisha's mother, Tina Scott ("Scott"), and her mother's boyfriend, Scott Nelson ("Nelson"), claiming that Malone had violated orders of protection issued by Beacon City Court. (Beacon 56.1 Stat. ¶¶ 16; 17.)

  Before arriving at Malone's home in the County of Queens, Williams called the New York City Police Department for help in executing this warrant. (Beacon 56.1 Stat. ¶ 18; see also Duchess 56.1 Stat. ¶ 16.) He was then informed that the New York City Police Department also had a warrant for Malone for felony robbery. (Duchess 56.1 Stat. ¶ 9.) Two uniformed New York City police officers escorted Williams and Walraven to Malone's residence. (Duchess 56.1 Stat. ¶ 18.) Malone refused to leave his residence or allow the officers or Walraven to enter his home. (Duchess 56.1 Stat. ¶ 18; Beacon 56.1 Stat. ¶ 21.) The defendants claim that none of the police officers or Walraven entered Malone's apartment at any time. (Beacon 56.1 Stat. ¶ 22; Duchess 56.1 Stat. ¶ 20.) Malone, however, claims that Williams, and not Walraven, pushed him out of the his window causing him to fall three stories and sustain serious injuries. (Duchess 56.1 Stat. ¶ 13; Beacon 56.1 Stat. ¶ 10.)*fn3

  The defendants relate a different story. They state that as they were leaving the building, they were informed that Malone had fallen out of the window. (Beacon 56.1 Stat. ¶ 23.) An ambulance was then called, and Malone was taken to Elmhurst General hospital. (Beacon 56.1 Stat. ¶ 24.) At the hospital, Williams issued Malone a desk appearance ticket ("DAT") on the basis of the criminal contempt warrant. (See Beacon 56.1 Stat. ¶ 25; Walsh Aff., Ex. K.) On November 17, 1999, the warrant was vacated; Malone was never prosecuted on the charge of criminal contempt. (Beacon 56.1 Stat. ¶ 26.) By stipulation and order of settlement dated March 13, 2003, defendants City of New York, William Campisi and Joseph Schaff were dismissed from the case. (Dkt. No. 24.) Two years later, Malone and the remaining defendants agreed to dismiss Malone's first, second and fifth causes of action and all the state law causes of action against all of the defendants. (Dkt. No. 43.) They also agreed to dismiss certain other causes of action against certain other defendants. Accordingly, on this motion, the only causes of action remaining are:
• Against City of Beacon:
• Claims for false arrest, false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution (third cause of action);
• Claims for failure to, inter alia, train and supervise (fourth cause of action);
• Civil rights conspiracy claim (sixth cause of action);
• Against Williams:
• Claims for false arrest, false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution (third cause of action);
• Civil rights conspiracy claim (sixth cause of action);
• Against County of Duchess:
• Claims for failure to, inter alia, train and supervise (fourth cause of action);
• Civil rights conspiracy claim (sixth cause of action);
• Against Walraven:
• Civil rights conspiracy claim (sixth cause of action).
  On February 23, 2005, Walraven and County of Duchess (collectively the "County Defendants") served their motion for summary judgment on Malone. The next day, Williams and City of Beacon (collectively the "Beacon Defendants") did likewise. The parties filed the fully briefed motion with the Court on April 6, 2005. Summary Judgment Standard

  Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure state that summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). In the process of ruling on a motion for summary judgement, the Court "is to resolve all ambiguities and draw all permissible factual inferences in favor of the party against whom summary judgment is sought." Childers v. United States Postal Service, 2003 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9993, at *5 (W.D.N.Y. Apr. 15, 2003). "The burden is upon the moving party to demonstrate that no genuine issue respecting any material fact exists." Gallo v. Prudential Residential Servs., L.P., 22 F.3d 1219, 1223 (2d Cir. 1994). Specifically, "a `genuine' issue is one that could be decided in favor of the non-moving party based on the evidence by a reasonable jury." Patterson v. County of Oneida, 375 F.3d 206, 219 (2d Cir. 2004). Yet, "conclusory allegations (by the non-moving party) will not suffice to create a genuine issue." Id. In fact, the nonmoving party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Finally, "[u]nlike a motion to dismiss that limits it[s] review to the complaint and determines its legal feasibility, but does not assay the weight of evidence which might be offered in support thereof, a motion for summary judgment allows the court to evaluate the pleadings, depositions, affidavits, answers to interrogatories, and admissions in ruling on the motion." Konigsberg v. Lefevre, 267 F. Supp. 2d 255, 259 (E.D.N.Y. 2003) (citing Schering Corp. v. Home Insurance Co., 712 F.2d 4, 9 (2d Cir. 1983)). Section 1983

  Title 42, Section 1983 of the United States Code states:
Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity . . .
42 U.S.C. § 1983. This statute is a "method for vindicating federal rights elsewhere conferred." Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994) (quoting Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 144 n. 3 (1979)). "In order to establish liability under Section 1983[, Malone] must satisfy two essential elements: (1) the defendant[s] acted under color of state law; and (2) as a result of the defendant[s'] actions, [Malone] suffered a denial of [his] constitutional rights or privileges." Tuturro v. Continental Airlines, 2004 U.S. Dist LEXIS 26138, at *8 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 3, 2005) (citing Annis v. County of Westchester, 136 F.3d 239, 245 (2d Cir. 1998)).

  I. Third Cause of Action: Malicious Prosecution and False Arrest

  In Malone's third cause of action, he claims that Williams arrested and imprisoned him falsely, prosecuted him without probable cause and with malice, and that the prosecution resulted in a favorable disposition against him. (See Compl. ¶ 28.) He seeks damages from both Williams and City of Beacon. Id. In their moving brief, the Beacon Defendants claim that the City of Beacon did not initiate a prosecution against Malone through the issuance of a desk appearance ticket. Malone disagrees. Nevertheless, in its reply brief, they argue that even if City of Beacon did initiate a prosecution against Malone, it had probable cause to do so. Since it is dispositive, only this last argument is addressed. "Constitutional claims brought under Section 1983 for false arrest are analyzed under state law." See Coleman v. City of New York, 177 F. Supp. 2d 151, 156 (S.D.N.Y. 2001), aff'd, 49 Fed. Appx. 342 (2002) (citing Weyand v. Okst, 101 F.3d 845, 852 (2d Cir. 1996)). This is also true for claims for malicious prosecution. See Hickey v. City of New York, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23941, at *20 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 29, 2004) ("The Supreme Court long recognized that the elements and defenses of both [false arrest and malicious prosecution] are to be construed with reference to state common law."). Yet, under New York law "[t]he elements of false arrest and false imprisonment under § 1983 are `substantially the same.'" Boyd v. City of New York, 336 F.3d 72, 75 (2d Cir. 2003). Accordingly, to the extent that Malone asserts a claim for false imprisonment, that claim is not analyzed separately from his false arrest claim.

  As the Beacon Defendants argue, it is well settled that the existence of probable cause is a complete defense to claims for both false arrest and malicious prosecution. Hickey, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23941, at *22 (citing Boyd, 336 F.3d at 75); see also Singer v. Fulton County Sheriff, 63 F.3d 110, 118-119 (2d Cir. 1995), aff'd, 517 U.S. 1189 (1996) ("There can be no federal civil rights claim for false arrest where the arresting officer had probable cause.") (citing Bernard v. United States, 25 F.3d 98, 102 (2d Cir. 1994)); Coyle v. Coyle, 354 F. Supp. 2d 207, 213 (E.D.N.Y. 2005) (Spatt, J.) ("As with false arrest, a showing of probable cause to prosecute is a complete defense to . . . malicious prosecution claim.") (citing Colon v. City of New York, 455 N.E.2d 1248, 1250, 60 N.Y.2d 78, 82, 468 N.Y.S.2d 453, 455 (1983)). With respect to Malone's false arrest claim, "[p]robable cause is established when the arresting 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.'" O'Neill v. Town of Babylon, 986 F.2d 646, 650 (2d Cir. 1993) (quoting Calamia v. City of New York, 879 F.2d 1025, 1032 (2d Cir. 1989)). The issuance of a warrant "creates a presumption that probable cause existed, and is rebuttable only though proof of fraud, perjury or the misrepresentation or falsification of evidence." Artis v. Liotard, 934 F. Supp. 101, 103 (S.D.N.Y. 1996). Regarding his malicious prosecution claim, "`a finding of probable cause supporting an arrest defeats a malicious prosecution claim unless plaintiff can demonstrate that at some point subsequent to the arrest, additional facts came to light that negated probable cause.'" Coyle, 354 F. Supp. 2d at 213 (quoting Dukes v. City of New York, 879 F. Supp. 335, 342 (S.D.N.Y. 1995)). Accordingly, the issues on this motion are: (1) whether or not a reasonable jury could find that there was no probable cause for the issuance of the desk appearance ticket; and (2) whether facts did or did not come to light after Malone's arrest that would negate that probable cause.

  In his deposition, Malone states that there were no orders of protection against him. (Malone Dep. at 47.) By attaching orders of protection signed by Malone, dated June 16, 1999, the Beacon Defendants contradict this statement. (Reply Dec., Ex. A.) They also submit the criminal complaints upon which the warrant was issued. (Walsh Aff., Ex. I; see also Beacon 56.1 Stat. ¶ 17.) In them, Scott and Nelson affirm that Malone violated the June 16, 1999 orders of protection. See id. Although it is also undisputed that this warrant was subsequently vacated and that Malone was never prosecuted for the offense upon which it relied, Malone has failed to demonstrate that, in light of the evidence presented, Williams' issuance of the DAT was unreasonable or that the facts changed between that act and the vacatur of the DAT that rebutted the presumption of probable cause created by the issuance of the warrant. As a result, no reasonable juror would find that there was no probable cause for William's action or that Malone was prosecuted without probable cause. Consequently, the Beacon Defendants' motion for summary judgment on plaintiff's third cause of action is granted as to Williams. In light of this conclusion, summary judgment is also be ...


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