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Krug v. County of Rennselaer

September 18, 2006

ROBERT L. KRUG AND BONNIE S. KRUG, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
THE COUNTY OF RENNSELAER; THE CITY OF TROY POLICE DEPARTMENT; NICHOLAS KAISER, POLICE CHIEF; JACK MAHAR, CAPTAIN; JOHN WATERS, SERGEANT; RICHARD SCHOONMAKER, POLICE OFFICER; LEE F. HESS, POLICE OFFICER; CHRISTOPHER CIEPLICK, FBI SPECIAL AGENT, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN THEIR OFFICIAL CAPACITIES, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Thomas J. McAVOY, Senior United States District Judge

DECISION & ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiffs Robert L. and Bonnie S. Krug commenced this action pro se alleging, inter alia, violations of their rights secured by the United States Constitution and New York State law. Plaintiffs' claims arise from the events surrounding Plaintiff Robert L. Krug's arrest, prosecution, and conviction for attempted armed robbery. See generally Am. Compl. and ¶¶ 17-25, 28, 29, 36 [dkt. #40]. Presently before the Court are motions for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure by (1) the City of Troy, New York and all individual defendants employed by the City of Troy ("the City defendants") [see dkt. # 66]; (2) the County of Rensselaer ("County defendant") [see dkt. # 67]; and (3) the United States of America representing Defendant Christopher Cieplick ("the federal defendant") [see dkt. # 77]. For the reasons that follow, all three motions are denied with leave to renew.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

As discussed more fully below, all three motions are denied for the failure of at least one party to each motion to follow the requisite procedural requirements of these motions. Because the motions are denied with leave to renew, and because the Court anticipates that the motions will be renewed, the standard for summary judgment is forth below to educate the parties and, hopefully, to avoid similar mistakes in the future.

The Court may grant summary judgment only where "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and ... the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c). An issue is genuine if the relevant evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A party seeking summary judgment bears the burden of informing the court of the basis for the motion and of identifying those portions of the record that the moving party believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact as to a dispositive issue. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).

If the movant is able to establish a prima facie basis for summary judgment, the burden of production shifts to the party opposing summary judgment who must produce evidence establishing the existence of a factual dispute that a reasonable jury could resolve in her favor. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). The nonmoving party must show, by affidavits or other evidence, admissible in form, that there are specific factual issues that can only be resolved at trial. Colon v. Coughlin, 58 F.3d 865, 872 (2d Cir. 1995). In determining whether to grant summary judgment, the Court must resolve all ambiguities and draw all reasonable inferences from the submitted materials in a light most favorable to the non-moving party. Patterson v. County of Oneida, N.Y., 375 F.3d 206, 219 (2d Cir. 2004). However, a party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment may not rest upon "mere allegations or denials" asserted in the pleadings, Rexnord Holdings, Inc. v. Bidermann, 21 F.3d 522, 525-26 (2d Cir. 1994), or on conclusory allegations or unsubstantiated speculation. Scotto v. Almenas, 143 F.3d 105, 114 (2d Cir. 1998). In this regard, a plaintiff may not create a question of fact by simply making vague, conclusory allegations or broad denials, Govan v. Campbell, 289 F. Supp.2d 289, 295 (N.D.N.Y. 2003), or by submitting an affidavit that contradicts prior sworn testimony. Hayes v. New York City Department of Corrections, 84 F.3d 614, 619 (2d Cir. 1996). The nonmoving party cannot defeat summary judgment by "simply show[ing] that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts," Matsushita., 475 U.S. at 586, or by a factual argument based on "conjecture or surmise." Bryant v. Maffucci, 923 F.2d 979, 982 (2d Cir. 1991). Summary judgment will be granted when it is apparent on the facts presented that no rational trier of fact could find in favor of the nonmoving party because evidence supporting the essential elements of the non-movant's claim is lacking. FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c); Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322.

The Local Rules of the Northern District provide a mechanism for the efficient resolution of summary judgment motions. See N.D.N.Y.L.R. 7.1(a)(3). This mechanism places the onus on the parties to marshal the evidence that either supports, or defeats, the motion. In this regard, Local Rule 7.1(a)(3) requires a party moving for summary judgment to submit a "Statement of Material Facts" which shall set forth, in numbered paragraphs, each material fact about which the moving party contends there exists no genuine issue. Each fact listed shall set forth a specific citation to the record where the fact is established. The record for purposes of the Statement of Material Facts includes the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions and affidavits. It does not, however, include attorney's affidavits.

N.D.N.Y.L.R. 7.1(a)(3). The failure of a moving party to file a properly supported Local Rule 7.1 Statement of Material Facts is fatal to a summary judgment motion. Riley v. Town of Bethlehem, 5 F. Supp. 2d 92, 93 (N.D.N.Y. 1998)(McAvoy, J.).

Once a properly supported Local Rule 7.1(a)(3) Statement is submitted, the Local Rules require that the party opposing summary judgment file a response to the [movant's] Statement of Material Facts. The non-movant's response shall mirror the movant's Statement of Material Facts by admitting and/or denying each of the movant's assertions in matching numbered paragraphs. Each denial shall set forth a specific citation to the record where the factual issue arises. The non-movant's response may also set forth any additional material facts that the non-movant contends are in dispute in separately numbered paragraphs. Any facts set forth in the Statement of Material Facts shall be deemed admitted unless specifically controverted by the opposing party.

Id. (underscoring in original; bolded emphasis added).

The responding Statement of Material Facts is not a mere formality, and the Courts of the Northern District apply this rule strictly. See N.Y. Teamsters Conference Pension & Ret. Fund v. Express Servs., Inc., 426 F.3d 640, 648-49 (2d Cir. 2005)(upholding grant of summary judgment where "[t]he district court, applying Rule 7.1(a)(3) strictly, reasonably deemed [movant's] statement of facts to be admitted" because the non-movant submitting a responsive Rule 7.1(a)(3) statement that "offered mostly conclusory denials of [movant's] factual assertions and failed to include any record citations."); Gubitosi v. Kapica, 154 F.3d 30, 31 n. 1 (2d Cir. 1998)(per curiam)(accepting as true material facts contained in unopposed local rule statement of material facts); Meaney v. CHS Acquisition Corp., 103 F. Supp.2d 104, 108 (N.D.N.Y. 2000)(deeming movant's Rule 7.1(a)(3) Statement admitted where non-movant's response "set forth no citations -- specific or otherwise -- to the record")(emphasis in original); McKnight v. Dormitory Auth. of State of N.Y., 189 F.R.D. 225, 227 (N.D.N.Y. 1999)(McAvoy, J.)("deem[ing] the portions of Defendants' 7.1(a)(3) statement that are not specifically controverted by Plaintiff to be admitted"); Osier v. Broome County, 47 F. Supp.2d 311, 317 (N.D.N.Y. 1999) (McAvoy, J.)(deeming admitted all facts in defendants' Rule 7.1(a)(3) statement where "plaintiff submitted thirteen pages of purported facts without any indication where those facts can be located in the record").

When dealing with a pro se party, certain procedural rules apply so as to insure that the pro se litigant in not disadvantaged by the lack of legal training. Govan, 289 F. Supp.2d at 295. In this regard, the Local Rules require that:

[w]hen moving for summary judgment against a pro se litigant, the moving party shall inform the pro se litigant of the consequences of failing to respond to the summary judgment motion. Counsel for the moving party shall send a notice to the pro se litigant that a motion for summary judgment seeks dismissal of some or all of the claims or defenses asserted in their complaint or answer and that their failure to respond to the motion may result in ...


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