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Concepcion v. City of New York

August 4, 2006

JUDY CONCEPCION, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE CITY OF NEW YORK, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James C. Francis IV United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This is one of more than eighty related cases in which hundreds of persons who were arrested during the 2004 Republican National Convention have sued the City of New York, various police officers and officials, and, in some cases, the Republican National Committee (the "RNC"), alleging deprivation of their constitutional rights. The plaintiff now moves pursuant to Rule 37 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for an order compelling the defendants to produce two documents governing the relationship among the entities responsible for the logistical organization of the convention: the Site City Agreement for the 2004 Republican National Convention (the "Site City Agreement") and the City Agreement for the 2004 Republican National Convention (the "City Agreement"). Neither document is relevant in its entirety to the claims raised in this litigation; both, however, contain relevant portions that must be disclosed.

Background

The plaintiff, Jody Concepcion, is a college student and amateur photographer. (Complaint ("Compl."), ¶ 10). On August 31, 2004, at approximately 6:30 p.m., she was walking along the sidewalk on East 16th Street near Union Square East in Manhattan, taking photographs of persons protesting the Republican National Convention. (Compl., ¶¶ 9-10). According to her complaint, officers of the New York City Police Department arrested her along with a number of the demonstrators without warning and without ordering them to disperse. (Compl., ¶ 11).

After being held approximately three hours, Ms. Concepcion was transported to a holding facility at Pier 57, located at 11th Avenue and West 15th Street in Manhattan. (Compl., ¶ 13). She was held there in purportedly unsanitary conditions along with approximately 1,000 other arrestees for about fourteen hours. (Compl., ¶ 14). She was then transferred to the Police Department's Central Booking facility. (Compl., ¶¶ 14, 20). She was released approximately 48 hours after her arrest and given a desk appearance ticket for a violation. (Compl., ¶ 18). Ms. Concepcion alleges that during the period of her detention she was placed in excessively tight handcuffs and deprived of food, sleep, and proper toilet facilities for unreasonable periods of time. (Compl., 16, 17).

The plaintiff was ultimately charged with disorderly conduct and parading without a license. (Compl., ¶¶ 21, 22). She appeared in court on three occasions, and on November 29, 2004, all charges against her were dismissed. (Compl., ¶ 24).

Ms. Concepcion then filed this action asserting violations of her federal constitutional rights in connection with allegations of false arrest, malicious prosecution, and use of excessive force. She also asserts pendent state claims. In addition to her allegations against the arresting officers, the plaintiff has asserted claims against the City of New York (the "City") under Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1978), alleging that the deprivation of her rights was a consequence of the City's policies and practices. Finally, she contends that the Republican National Committee conspired with the other defendants to violate her rights and those of the persons protesting during the convention.

During the course of discovery, the plaintiff became aware of the Site City Agreement and the City Agreement. The Site City Agreement is an agreement among three parties: the New York City Host Committee 2004 (the "Host Committee"), a non-profit corporation created to coordinate arrangements for the convention; the RNC; and the Committee on Arrangements for the 2004 Republican National Convention, a committee of the RNC. It governs a wide variety of aspects of the event. The City Agreement, an exhibit to the Site City Agreement, is a contract between the Host Committee and the City of New York that addresses the City's role in the convention.

When the defendants declined to produce the agreements in response to Ms. Concepcion's request, she filed the instant motion. The disputes concern the discoverability of the agreements in their entirety, provisions relating to security, and indemnification clauses. As requested by both parties, I have reviewed the agreements in camera, and I will address each issue in turn. Discussion

A. The Entire Agreements

The plaintiff's argument for disclosure of the agreements in full is best captured by a paragraph from her reply brief:

Plaintiff contends that not only are these two agreements relevant to the gravamen of her complaint of conspiracy to violate the civil rights of people during the Republican National Convention, but are essential to understanding how the relationship between the City of New York and the Republican National Committee was structured and who held the decision making power between the parties thereto during the Republican National Convention in 2004. Financial arrangements between the City of New York and the Republican Party are also important to understanding how and why the New York City Police Department held unprecedented numbers of innocent people in inhumane conditions for days, on the strength of allegations of mere violations, not crimes. Furthermore, it is plaintiff's contention that thousands of innocent people, both bystanders and demonstrators were removed from the streets of New York on legal pretexts by the NYPD, in order to further the political interests of the Republican Party. This is the basis of the conspiracy allegation in the complaint before this Honorable Court, and the written agreements, both text and subtext, are essential pieces of evidence which the plaintiff has the right to examine.

(Plaintiff's Memorandum of Law in Reply ("Pl. Reply Memo.") at first unnumbered page).*fn1

But not every tidbit of information about the relationship between two parties is reasonably likely to lead to evidence of a conspiracy between them. For example, it is hard to imagine how sections of the Site City Agreement relating to topics such as toilet facilities (§ 5.11), novelties and souvenirs (§ 6.2), or the severability of contractual provisions (§ 8.7) could have any bearing either on the arrest of Jody ...


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