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Aguilera v. County of Nassau

September 18, 2006

JORGE C. AGUILERA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE COUNTY OF NASSAU, POLICE OFFICER JOHN DOE #1, AND POLICE OFFICER JOHN DOE #2, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Spatt, District J.

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER

Jorge C. Aguilera (the "plaintiff") commenced this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983") alleging that the County of Nassau (the "County") and two unnamed police officers of the Nassau County Police Department (collectively, the "defendants") falsely arrested him and denied him medical assistance in violation of his rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and New York State law.

The plaintiff commenced this action on August 22, 2005. On March 27, 2006, the Court dismissed the complaint without prejudice for failure to state a claim. On April 26, 2006, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint. Presently before the Court is the defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure ("Fed. R. Civ. P.") dismissing the amended complaint.

I. BACKGROUND

The following facts are derived from the amended complaint and the plaintiff's testimony at a hearing conducted pursuant to section 50(h) of New York's General Municipal Law, which was annexed to the amended complaint as an exhibit. The facts are taken as true for the purpose of this motion.

The plaintiff was born on April 8, 1944, making him sixty years old at the time of the incident giving rise to this lawsuit. On August 26, 2004, the plaintiff was driving his employer and his employer's wife home in a limousine on the Long Island Expressway ("LIE") in the area of Syosset in Nassau County. The plaintiff worked for the couple he was driving as a driver and a caretaker for twenty-one years.

At approximately 8:00 p.m., the plaintiff began to experience difficulty focusing. This caused the plaintiff to operate the vehicle in an erratic manner. Two police officers of the Nassau County Police Department witnessed the plaintiff's vehicle driving erratically, and pulled the plaintiff over when he stopped at a red light on a service road of the LIE.

During the traffic stop, the officers asked the plaintiff to step out of the car. The plaintiff complied, but as he "started walking . . . [he] started falling down. [The plaintiff] had to grab the top of the limo, falling down. [The plaintiff ] didn't know what to do, what to say . . . [his] left side wasn't responding." Responding to an inquiry from one of the officers, the plaintiff informed the officers that he had not been drinking alcohol and had not taken any medication. At this time, the officers directed the plaintiff to submit to field sobriety tests, including an alcohol breathalyzer test. The plaintiff voluntarily complied. However, the plaintiff again became disoriented and fell down, needing to be helped to his feet by one of the officers. At some point the plaintiff dropped his wallet and all of the contents fell out. The plaintiff attempted to retrieve the contents of this wallet, but could not due to a lack of coordination. One of the officers commented that the plaintiff "looked like he was having a stroke." The plaintiff informed the officers that he was "not feeling well"; that "something [was] wrong" with him; that it was "not normal" for him to feel that way; and that he did not understand what was happening to him. The plaintiff requested medical attention.

During the traffic stop, the plaintiff's employer informed the police that he believed the plaintiff was ill. According to the complaint, the plaintiff's employer specifically told defendant officers that he "wanted to give [the plaintiff] medical attention immediately, because, "something had to be wrong with [him], he must be sick with something, because [the plaintiff] has been my driver for 21 years and I never was involved in any kind of accident. He's a champion runner, he's a Jones Beach lifeguard, he doesn't drink, he doesn't use drugs. Something has to be wrong with him."

The plaintiff's employer requested that the officers take the plaintiff to a hospital.

Rather than call for medical assistance, the officers handcuffed the plaintiff and arrested him for "erratic driving." In their memorandum in support of their motion for judgment on the pleadings, the defendants indicate their belief that the plaintiff was arrested for Driving While Intoxicated under either section 1192(3) or 1192(4) of the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law ("DWI"). The precise offense for which the plaintiff was charged is not specified. The officers drove the plaintiff to the police station, which took approximately one half hour of travel time. One of the officers told the plaintiff in the police car that "someone will look at you," although according to the plaintiff that never happened. The plaintiff's employer drove himself and his wife home after the plaintiff was removed from the scene of the traffic stop.

Upon arriving at the police station, the plaintiff was "chained to a bench." At the police station, the plaintiff was feeling worse and continued to request medical attention. He continued to have problems with coordination, and was feeling "lousier" and suffering from a headache. He told the arresting officer that he "need[ed] to see a doctor." He requested that his handcuffs be removed, because they were "too tight"; were cutting off the circulation to his hands; and that his hands had become numb.

At some point, a third police officer took the plaintiff to a restroom to collect a urine sample. The plaintiff had difficulty producing the sample, at one point dropping the sample cup which fell into the urinal. Finally, the plaintiff was able to produce a urine sample, a process that took approximately one half hour. After the plaintiff provided a urine sample he was returned to a bench and secured to it with handcuffs and a chain. In all, the plaintiff was handcuffed to a bench for approximately two hours during the night without receiving medical attention. According to the plaintiff, none of the sobriety or other tests conducted on him indicated the presence of alcohol or drugs.

Later, a paramedic arrived to take a blood sample from the plaintiff. The paramedic told the arresting officer that the plaintiff needs to see a doctor. Officers carried the plaintiff to an ambulance which brought him to Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, New York. When they arrived at the hospital, a doctor commented that the plaintiff exhibited symptoms of a stroke. The plaintiff asked the arresting officer if he heard what the doctor said, to which the officer responded "Yes. Don't worry. We dismiss everything. Don't worry about it." The charges against the plaintiff were apparently dropped or never filed.

The plaintiff remained at Winthrop University Hospital overnight and was told by a doctor that had a stroke. The following day, the plaintiff left Winthrop University Hospital and his employers had him admitted to North Shore Long Island ...


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