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Parker v. City of New York

January 7, 2008

ROY LEE PARKER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE CITY OF NEW YORK, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: P. Kevin Castel, U.S.D.J.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff Roy Lee Parker brings suit against the City of New York ("City"), former City Department of Corrections Commissioner Bernard Kerik, and Corrections Officers Claudio Medina and Antonio Fernandez, alleging that defendants, acting under color of state law, conspired to deprive him and did, in fact, deprive him of rights protected by the Constitution. 18 U.S.C. § 241; 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He also alleges various state law claims. Specifically, Parker claims that, while being held in the custody of the City Department of Corrections, he was assaulted by corrections officers and then falsely arrested and maliciously prosecuted in connection with the incident. Pre-trial discovery in this case has concluded. Defendants now move for summary judgment on the state law claims and the section 1983 claims for false arrest, malicious prosecution, conspiracy, and violations of due process, and some aspects of the section 1983 excessive force claim. Defendants also move for summary judgment on the grounds that the City and Kerik are not liable for the actions of Officers Medina and Fernandez (collectively, "the individual defendants").

I. Factual Background

In setting forth the facts, I accept non-movant Parker's version of the facts and any facts proffered by defendants which Parker does not dispute. I draw all reasonable inferences in favor of Parker. In opposing summary judgment, Parker has submitted an affidavit and numerous documents. He also relies on the transcript of his March 21, 2006 deposition.

A. The Events of June 28, 2001

On June 28, 2001, Parker was produced at Manhattan Criminal Court, located at 100 Centre Street, on a scheduled criminal court matter, and was directed into a prisoner detention pen by defendant Officer Fernandez. (Pl. Rule 56.1 Statement ¶ 4.) Later that day, defendant Officer Medina retrieved Parker from the holding cell and removed him, without handcuffs, into the hallway known as the 12-2 corridor. (Id. ¶¶ 8-10.) Medina and Parker walked down the corridor to the front of the door which opened into Courtroom Part 60. (Id. ¶ 8.) Parker was thereafter informed by Medina that his criminal case had been adjourned to July 6, 2001. (Id. ¶ 11.) Parker then asked Medina to request a second call on his behalf so that he could submit some papers to the Court. (Id. ¶ 12.) Medina refused to do so. (Id.) Parker asked to see the area supervisor; Medina refused again. (Id. ¶ 13.) Parker alleges that Officer Medina then struck him in his left eye once, using his closed right fist. (Id. ¶ 17.)

Other officers, including Officer Fernandez, quickly arrived on the scene. (Id. ¶¶ 20-22.) Parker asserts that Officer Fernandez punched him in the upper body and face. (Id. ¶ 112; Jacobi Decl., Exs. J, M, N. ) Parker alleges that Officer Medina pushed him, causing him to hit his upper back against the marble wall and fall to his knees, landing face-down on the floor on top of Medina, who had also fallen to the floor. (Pl. Rule 56.1 Statement ¶¶ 18, 21, 24-25, 104, 107, 116.) According to Parker, while he was on top of Medina, his hands were together under his chest. (Id. ¶ 117.) The officers tried various methods to get Parker into restraints, including administering body blows and using batons to try to force his arms behind his back. (Id. ¶¶ 23-27, 113; Parker Dep. 124-26; Jacobi Decl. Ex. E.) Parker admits that he resisted producing his left arm, but claims he gave up his right arm freely. (Parker Dep. 125-26.) According to Parker, the officers did not give him verbal instructions during the time they were trying to physically restrain him. (Id. 127.) Parker was placed in handcuffs behind his back. (Pl. Rule 56.1 Statement ¶ 119.) Parker alleges that his shoulders were injured as he was lifted by his arms off of the ground. (Id.)

After the incident, Parker was seen by medical staff at the courthouse (id. ¶ 46), at Riker's Island (id. ¶ 51), and at the Manhattan Detention Center (id. ¶ 52). According to an Inmate Injury Report completed after the incident, Parker suffered a superficial abrasion to his right eyebrow with swelling and discoloration, a superficial abrasion on the bridge of his nose, minor trauma, and abrasion to his right knee. (Jacobi Decl., Ex. E.) Parker asserts that he suffered back pain for one to two weeks after the incident. (Pl. Rule 56.1 Statement ¶ 122.) Fernandez and Medina were both treated for injuries sustained during the incident. (Id. ¶¶ 57-58.)

Parker asserts that the use of physical force by the officers was unprovoked and unjustified. Defendants claim that Officer Medina was only defending himself against Parker's attack, and that the force used by the officers was only that which was necessary in order to restrain Parker.

B. The Charges Brought Against Parker

On June 28, 2001, the day after the alleged assault, Parker was served with an infraction notice, charging him with assault on staff and other violations. (Id. ¶ 60.) Medina and Fernandez both submitted reports regarding the incident. (Id. ¶ 63.) On June 29, 2001, both the investigating supervisor and other supervisors recommended Parker's arrest. (Id. ¶ 64.) On July 5, 2001, an infraction hearing was conducted and Parker denied the charges.

(Id. ¶¶ 65-66.) Parker was found guilty of all charges and sentenced to confinement in punitive segregation. (Id. ¶ 68; Parker Dep. 154-55.) He challenged the disposition through a special proceeding brought pursuant to Article 78 of the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules, on the grounds that his due process rights were violated because he was not presented with the evidence against him and the hearing was not taped. (Jacobi Decl. Exs. Q, R.) The Article 78 challenge was heard by Hon. Leonard Bernstein. (Jacobi Decl Ex. R.) The petition was sustained as to 120 days of the total 130-day infraction penalty time. (Pl. Rule 56.1 Statement ¶ 79; Jacobi Decl. Ex. R.)

On July 10, 2001, Medina and Fernandez submitted administrative reports relating to the June 28 altercation. (Pl. Rule 56.1 Statement ¶ 132.) On July 26, 2001, Parker was arrested on charges of assault on staff and other offenses relating to the June 28 altercation, and processed at 100 Centre Street. (Id. ¶ 72.) Parker was arraigned on July 26 and was represented by a public defender. (Id. ¶ 74.) The matter was adjourned to await the filing of corroborating depositions. (Id. ¶ 75.) Parker was never produced before the court to answer the charges brought against him. (Id. ¶ 137.) On March 5, 2002, the charges were dismissed on speedy trial grounds. (Id. ¶ 85.)

C. Parker's Unrelated Incarceration and Parole Hearing

Parker had entered the City Department of Corrections system on or about November 2, 2000, following his arrest for, inter alia, criminal sale of a controlled substance near school grounds. (Id. ¶ 3.) He was convicted of that crime in August 2001 and sentenced to four-and-a-half to nine years in state custody. (Jacobi Decl., Ex. Z.) He was transferred to state custody in September 2001. (Pl. Rule 56.1 Statement ¶ 80.) Parker was released from state custody in October 2006. (Oct. 27, 2006 Ltr. from Parker to the Court.) Thus, at all times relevant to the events described herein, Parker was detained in either City or state custody in connection with the drug charges.

In late 2004 and again in early 2005, Parker was interviewed in regards to possible early parole on his drug conviction. (Id. ¶¶ 90-91.) The Parole Board denied Parker an early release. (Id. ¶ 93.) The decision was based on Parker's extensive pattern of larcenous and drug-related offenses dating back to the early 1980s, including approximately 21 misdemeanor convictions, one youth offender felony conviction, and four prior felony convictions. (Id. ¶ 95.) Parker appealed the denial of parole and submitted an appeal brief on June 9, 2005. (Id. ¶ 97.) The Appeal Board affirmed the decision denying early release. (Id. ¶ 98.) There is no mention in either the Parole Board's decision or the Appeal Board's decision that they denied Parker early release because of the June 28, 2001 incident. (Id. ¶ 99.)

II. Summary Judgment Standard

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 a judgment as a matter of law." Rule 56(c), Fed. R. Civ. P. It is the initial burden of a movant on a summary judgment motion to come forward with evidence on each material element of his claim or defense, demonstrating that he or she is entitled to relief. A fact is material if it "might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law . . . ." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The evidence on each material element must be sufficient to entitle the movant to relief in its favor as a matter of law. Vermont Teddy Bear Co., Inc. v. 1-800 Beargram Co., 373 F.3d 241, 244 (2d Cir. 2004) (citations omitted).

When the moving party has met this initial burden and has asserted facts to demonstrate that the non-moving party's claim cannot be sustained, the opposing party must "set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial," and cannot rest on "mere allegations or denials" of the facts asserted by the movant. Rule 56(e), Fed. R. Civ. P. In raising a triable issue of fact, the non-movant carries only "a limited burden of production," but nevertheless "must 'demonstrate more than some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts,' and come forward with 'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Powell v. Nat'l Bd. of Med. Exam'rs, 364 F.3d 79, 84 (2d Cir. 2004).

An issue of fact is genuine "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. The Court must "view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable inferences in its favor, and may grant summary judgment only when no reasonable trier of fact could find in favor of the nonmoving party." Allen v. Coughlin, 64 F.3d 77, 79 (2d Cir. 1995) (quotations and citations omitted); accord Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587-88 (1986). In reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the court must scrutinize the record, and grant or deny summary judgment as the record warrants. Rule 56(c), Fed. R. Civ. P. In the absence of any disputed material fact, summary judgment is appropriate. Id.

III. Request to Reopen Discovery

The Court sees no reason to reconsider its prior decision denying Parker's application to reopen discovery. (Dec. 29, 2006 Order.) Summary judgment is inappropriate when the non-moving party has not "had the opportunity to discover information that is essential to his opposition [to summary judgment]." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250 n.5. "But the trial court may properly deny further discovery if the nonmoving party has had a fully adequate opportunity for discovery." Trebor Sportswear Co., Inc. v. The Limited Stores, Inc., 865 F.2d 506, 511 (2d Cir. 1989) (citations omitted); see also, Allen v. City of New York, 480 F. Supp. 2d 689, 720-21 (S.D.N.Y. 2007) (denying motion to reopen discovery where pro se plaintiff was fully aware of the relevance of information in question during discovery, and could have developed information at that time).

From the outset of this litigation, Parker was made aware of the required elements of his false arrest and malicious prosecution claims and the requirements for bringing a claim against the City. (Feb. 4, 2005 Order.) There are no circumstances suggesting that Parker had anything less than a full opportunity to discover evidence relevant to his claims. More than one year elapsed between the time Parker filed his amended complaint ("A.C.") and the time defendants filed their motion for summary judgment. Parker has failed to present the Court ...


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