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Munoz v. City of New York

February 16, 2008

JOSEFA MUNOZ, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CITY OF NEW YORK, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John G. Koeltl, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINON AND ORDER

The plaintiff, Josefa Munoz, brings this action on behalf of herself and purportedly as the Administratix for the estate of Valentine Munoz, her late husband.*fn1 The plaintiff alleges false arrest under state and federal law and a state law claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. She has sued the City of New York and Police Officers Jeffrey Millenbach, Ruben Ortiz, Michelle Guy, and Lisa Stokes (collectively the "defendants" and "Individual Defendants" referring to the Police Officer defendants).*fn2 The defendants now move for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. I.

The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted. As of August 11, 2003, the plaintiff lived with her husband, who was suffering from a variety of medical conditions, including diabetes, prostate cancer, and a heart condition. (Def.'s Rule 56.1 St. ¶¶ 1-2; Pl.'s Rule 56.1 St. ¶¶ 1-2.) Due to his medical condition, Mr. Munoz was receiving services from a visiting nurse in August, 2003. (Def.'s Rule 56.1 St. ¶ 3; Pl.'s Rule 56.1 St. ¶ 3.) On August 11, 2003, Jamie Keenan provided nursing services to Mr. Munoz at his apartment and determined that his blood sugar was "very high" and that Mr. Munoz had a gangrenous toe. (Def.'s Rule 56.1 St. ¶¶ 7-8; Pl.'s Rule 56.1 St. ¶¶ 7-8.) At approximately 3:00 p.m., Ms. Keenan called 911 without seeking Ms. Munoz's permission. (Def.'s Rule 56.1 St. ¶¶ 12, 17; Pl.'s Rule 56.1 St. ¶¶ 12, 17.) Shortly thereafter, two police officers, Michelle Guy and Lisa Stokes, arrived at the Munoz apartment. (Def.'s Rule 56.1 St. ¶¶ 30-31; Pl.'s Rule 56.1 St. ¶¶ 30-31.)

According to the computer-assisted dispatch report (the "CAD report") generated by EMS, the first EMS team, EMTs Casey Ennis and Barbie Joe Geller, arrived at the scene shortly after 3:00 p.m. (Def.'s Rule 56.1 St. ¶¶ 18-19; Pl.'s Rule 56.1 St. ¶¶ 18-19.) Ms. Keenan told Geller and Ennis about Mr. Munoz's medications and medical history and informed them that Mr. Munoz's blood sugar was extremely high and that his toe was gangrenous. (Def.'s Rule 56.1 St. ¶¶ 41-43; Pl.'s Rule 56.1 St. ¶¶ 41-43.)

After attempting to convince Mr. and Mrs. Munoz that Mr. Munoz needed to go to the hospital, the EMTs called the online medical control doctor, Dr. Silverman, to report a possible refusal of medical assistance and to determine whether Mr. Munoz was permitted to refuse medical treatment. (Def.'s Rule 56.1 St. ¶¶ 20, 50; Pl.'s Rule 56.1 St. ¶¶ 20, 50.) Dr. Silverman was unable to determine Mr. Munoz's capacity to refuse medical treatment, and ascribes such inability to the language barrier between himself and Mr. Munoz, despite the presence of an AT&T interpreter, and to Mr. Munoz's hearing loss. (Def.'s Rule 56.1 St. ¶¶ 56-59; Pl.'s Rule 56.1 St. ¶¶ 56-59.) EMTs Geller and Ennis called for a supervisor, and EMS Lieutenant Trudell Hiller responded and arrived at the Munoz apartment, and spoke with Mr. Munoz. (Def.'s Rule 56.1 St. ¶¶ 61, 62, 64; Pl.'s Rule 56.1 St. ¶¶ 61, 62, 64.)

At some point after their arrival, Officers Guy and Stokes requested a translator, after which Police Sergeant James Beatty and Officer Ruben Ortiz arrived at the Munoz apartment. Officer Ortiz speaks Spanish, and was the only Spanish speaking officer at the scene. (Def.'s Rule 56.1 St. ¶¶ 70-73; Pl.'s Rule 56.1 St. ¶¶ 70-73.) At 4:39 p.m. the CAD report indicates that the police dispatcher noted an uncooperative female at the location, and five minutes later a second EMS team, EMTs Jennifer Barton and Nilda Santiago, was assigned to the Munoz apartment. (Def.'s Rule 56.1 St. ¶¶ 25-26; Pl.'s Rule 56.1 St. ¶¶ 25-26.) The CAD report indicates that the first EMS team was en route to the hospital with one patient at 4:52 p.m., and the second EMS team was en route to the hospital with one patient at 5:08 p.m. (Def.'s Rule 56.1 St. ¶¶ 28-29; Pl.'s Rule 56.1 St. ¶¶ 28-29.)

Ms. Munoz was not handcuffed by the police on August 11, 2003, and was never told she was under arrest. (Def.'s Rule 56.1 St. ¶¶ 81-82; Pl.'s Rule 56.1 St. ¶¶ 81-82.) However, the plaintiff testified that for some period of time she was held down on her bed, by the two policewomen, and that she was prevented from leaving the room. (See, e.g., Aff. in Opp. Ex. B at 155:16-18, 160:7-8, 161:24-162:3, 165:1-12). She also alleges that this restraint resulted in visible bruising for which she went to the hospital and that she complained about this restraint at the time. (See, e.g., Aff. in Opp. Ex. B at 155:22-23, 161:24-162:13, 165:18-20, 166:15-18, 167:9-12, 185:4-186:4, 187:13-17). Ms. Munoz testified at her deposition that she does not know the name of any police officer who was in her home or who allegedly touched her physically on August 11, 2003, except for "Santiago." (Def.'s Rule 56.1 St. ¶¶ 89-90; Pl.'s Rule 56.1 St. ¶¶ 89-90.) Police Officer Jeffrey Millenbach's role on August 11, 2003, consisted primarily of waiting around at the apartment in case he was needed. (Def.'s Rule 56.1 St. ¶ 91; Pl.'s Rule 56.1 St. ¶ 91.)

II.

The standard for granting summary judgment is well established. Summary judgment may not be granted unless "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." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317 (1986); Gallo v. Prudential Residential Servs. Ltd. Partnership, 22 F.3d 1219, 1223 (2d Cir. 1994). "The trial court's task at the summary judgment motion stage of the litigation is carefully limited to discerning whether there are genuine issues of material fact to be tried, not to deciding them. Its duty, in short, is confined at this point to issue-finding; it does not extend to issue resolution." Gallo, 22 F.3d at 1224. The moving party bears the initial burden of "informing the district court of the basis for its motion" and identifying the matter that "it believes demonstrate[s] the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. The substantive law governing the case will identify those facts which are material and "only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

In determining whether summary judgment is appropriate, a court must resolve all ambiguities and draw all reasonable inferences against the moving party. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (citing United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962)); see also Gallo, 22 F.3d at 1223. If the moving party meets its burden, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to come forward with "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). With respect to the issues on which summary judgment is sought, if there is any evidence in the record from any source from which a reasonable inference could be drawn in favor of the nonmoving party, summary judgment is improper. See Chambers v. TRM Copy Ctrs. Corp., 43 F.3d 29, 37 (2d Cir.1994).

III.

A.

As an initial matter, the claims purportedly brought on behalf of the estate of Valentine Munoz are dismissed without prejudice. The plaintiff concedes that Ms. Munoz has not been appointed as the Administratrix for the estate of Mr. Munoz and that no administrator has been appointed for Mr. Munoz. As a result, Mr. Munoz is not a party to this action and Ms. Munoz lacks standing to pursue any claims on his behalf. Barrett v. United States, 689 F.2d 324, 331 (2d Cir. 1982); see also Harrison v. Harlem Hospital, et al., 2007 WL ...


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