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Pollock v. Daniels

February 4, 2009

MICHAEL POLLOCK, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DAVID P. DANIELS, JAMIE BELL, SHEILA V. HAGAN, TERRY SEIDLER, GARY HACKETT, C. TED ELLINGSEN, CHENANGO COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, AND THE NEW YORK STATE POLICE, DEFENDANTS.



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

DECISION and ORDER

Plaintiff commenced the instant action asserting various causes of action against Defendants arising out of the repossession of his tractor and Jeep and arising out of his arrests. Presently before the Court are motions by Defendants Bell, Chenango County, and Ellingsen for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 seeking dismissal of the Amended Complaint in its entirety.

I. FACTS

Prior to May 2004, Plaintiff Michael Pollock was in a relationship with Sheila Hagan. During that time, Plaintiff was in the logging business. Hagan loaned Plaintiff $700 purportedly to complete repairs on a tractor used for the logging business. As collateral for the loan, Plaintiff signed over to Hagan title to his 1997 Jeep. Plaintiff took the signed title and placed it in a file box kept in Hagan's home. The relationship between Plaintiff and Hagan ended in May 2004.

As is pertinent hereto, Plaintiff received two other loans in 2003. Terry Seidler loaned Plaintiff $10,000 as a prepayment to Nola Daniels to secure a logging contract with her. Seidler's boyfriend, Gary Hackett, was in the logging business with Plaintiff. Seidler also loaned Plaintiff $4,000 for the purchase of a tractor. There are no documents detailing the terms of these loans.

On May 6, 2003, Plaintiff entered into a logging contract with Nola Daniels. At the time of the contract, Nola Daniels was married to Guilford Town Judge David Daniels, although they were in the process of being divorced.

On or about June 14, 2004, Seidler and Hagan met with Judge Daniels to determine whether they could repossess the tractor and Jeep that were used as collateral on the loans made to Plaintiff. Plaintiff alleges that Judge Daniels advised Hagan and Seidler that they could repossess the vehicles.

On June 15, 2004, Plaintiff was logging on Nola Daniels' property. Defendant Jamie Bell, who was at all times hereto a New York State Trooper, received a report of a dispute over property. Bell responded to scene of the dispute. Shortly thereafter, Chenango County Deputy Sheriff Deborah Ives also arrived on the scene.

Seidler advised Bell that she owned the tractor and wanted to repossess it. Seidler claimed that she recently purchased the tractor. Bell advised the women that the dispute concerning the ownership of the vehicles was a civil matter and declined to arrest Plaintiff for theft. Bell was then advised that Plaintiff and his logging crew were trespassing and that the property belonged to Judge Daniels. Bell telephoned Judge Daniels who advised Bell that the property belonged to his ex-wife and that she had repeatedly told Plaintiff not to conduct any logging on the property. Daniels further informed Bell that his ex-wife would want Plaintiff arrested if he was logging on the property after being told not to do so. Bell, therefore, arrested Plaintiff for violating N.Y. Penal Law § 140.05. Plaintiff was taken to the State Police barracks.

Shortly thereafter, Nola Daniels appeared at the police station and confirmed that she had told Plaintiff not to go on her property. Nevertheless, based on her statements to Bell that she may have left Plaintiff a message not to return to her property and not directly informed him not to return, Bell concluded that an arrest for trespass was not appropriate. Accordingly, Bell released Plaintiff and transported Plaintiff back to the logging road. When Bell and Plaintiff returned to the logging road, they observed that the tractor had been removed. Bell believed the matter to be a civil dispute and declined to intervene.

At approximately 7:00 p.m., Defendant Chenango County Deputy Sheriff C. Ted. Ellingsen received a call from dispatch advising that a Sheriff's Deputy was required to stand by for the retrieval of personal property. Ellingsen responded to the location where he met Hagan. Ellingsen asserts that Hagan presented to him the title to the Jeep and stated that she was the rightful owner. Plaintiff disputes whether Hagan ever presented the title to Ellingsen.*fn1 Ellingsen claims that he advised the parties that the matter was a civil dispute that needed to be resolved in court. Plaintiff denies that Ellingsen ever spoke with Hagan or advised Hagan that the ownership issue was a civil matter. Ellingsen claims that he never touched Plaintiff during the incident whereby Hagan took possession of the Jeep. Plaintiff, on the other hand, alleges that he objected to the license plates being removed and that Ellingsen "bear hugged" him and restrained Plaintiff from retrieving personal property from inside the Jeep.

On or about June 27, 2004, Hagan filed a criminal complaint with the Chenango County Sheriff's Department alleging that Plaintiff committed the crimes of Harassment in the Second Degree, Unlawful Imprisonment, and Criminal Trespass. Ellingsen took the report from Hagan. Deputy Sheriff Joshua Gould interviewed Hagan and assisted her in preparing a supporting deposition. Hagan prepared and signed a violation Information accusing Plaintiff of harassment in the second degree. Gould prepared misdemeanor informations charging Plaintiff with Unlawful Imprisonment in the Second Degree and Criminal Trespass in the Second Degree. Based upon information supplied by Gould, Plymouth Town Justice Gladys Branagan issued a warrant for Plaintiff's arrest. The City of Norwich Police Department executed the arrest warrant. The charges against Plaintiff were dismissed for lack of a speedy trial.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedures governs motions for summary judgment. It is well settled that on a motion for summary judgment, the Court must construe the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, see Tenenbaum v. Williams, 193 F.3d 581, 593 (2d Cir. 1999), and may grant summary judgment only where "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and . . . the moving party is entitled to 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). A party opposing a properly supported motion for ...


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