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Reinhart v. City of Schenectady Police Dep't

February 10, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gary L. Sharpe U.S. District Judge


I. Introduction

Kelly Reinhart ("Reinhart") filed this consolidated civil rights action alleging that Schenectady Police Detective Robert Glasser ("Glasser") and jail matron Diane Updyke ("Updyke") violated her Fourth Amendment rights by, respectively, causing her arrest and prosecution, and by seizing her brassiere.*fn2 (See Compl., Dkt. No. 1; see also 42 U.S.C. § 1983.) She also alleges companion state claims based on her Fourth Amendment theories, and a state claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress. Lastly, she alleges Monell*fn3 claims against the City of Schenectady.*fn4

Both parties have cross-moved for summary judgment. (See Dkt. Nos. 57, 64; see also FED.R.CIV. P. 56.) For the reasons that follow, Reinhart's motion is denied, the defendants' motion is granted, and these consolidated actions are dismissed in their entirety.

II. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate "if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED.R.CIV. P. 56(c); see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986); Globecon Group, LLC v. Hartford Fire Ins. Co., 434 F.3d 165, 170 (2d Cir. 2006) (citation omitted). When evaluating the material facts, the court must "construe the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party." Tenenbaum v. Williams, 193 F.3d 581, 593 (2d Cir. 1999). Thus, the movant must demonstrate the absence of genuine issues of material fact, Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986); Thomas v. Roach, 165 F.3d 137, 142 (2d Cir. 1999), a burden it can meet "if [it] can point to an absence of evidence to support an essential element of the nonmoving party's claim."

Goenaga v. March of Dimes Birth Defects Found., 51 F.3d 14, 18 (2d Cir. 1995).

If the movant satisfies its burden, the nonmoving party must offer specific evidence showing that a genuine issue of material fact warrants a trial. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. "A 'genuine' dispute over a material fact only arises if the evidence would allow a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Dister v. Cont'l Group, Inc., 859 F.2d 1108, 1114 (2d Cir. 1988) (citation omitted). A genuine dispute does not arise simply from the allegations or denials in the pleadings. Instead, material disputes must be based on specific facts as reflected in the adverse party's response, by affidavits or as otherwise authorized by Rule 56, see St. Pierre v. Dyer, 208 F.3d 394, 404 (2d Cir. 2000), and affidavits must be based on personal knowledge. See Harriscom Svenska, AB v. Harris Corp., 3 F.3d 576, 581 (2d Cir. 1993). The bald assertion of some alleged factual dispute will not defeat a properly supported motion. See Rexnord Holdings, Inc. v. Bidermann, 21 F.3d 522, 525 (2d Cir. 1994) (citation omitted). "Conclusory allegations, conjecture and speculation . . . are insufficient to create a genuine issue of fact." Kerzer v. Kingly Mfg., 156 F.3d 396, 400 (2d Cir. 1998). Naturally, reasonable inferences may defeat a summary judgment motion, but only when they are supported by affirmative facts and relevant, admissible evidence. See Gen. Accident Ins. Co. of Am. v. Merritt-Meridian Constr. Corp., 975 F. Supp. 511, 515 (S.D.N.Y. 1997) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). "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, 477 U.S. at 248. From the court's perspective, the parties have expended considerable energy debating facts and circumstantial conclusions that are irrelevant to the material issues.

III. Facts*fn5

On April 12, 2002, Rose Melanson ("Melanson") personally appeared at the Schenectady Police Department and first told an intake officer and later Detective Glasser that she had received threatening and harassing telephone calls. (See Att. 3, Ex. A ("April 12 Report"), Dkt. No. 57.) On May 8, she filed a second face-to-face report, and conveyed new instances of threatening calls directed at her grandchildren. (See Att. 3, Ex. B ("May 8 Report"), Dkt. No. 57.) Reinhart does not dispute that the substance of the calls provided the factual basis for an Information eventually filed in the Schenectady City Court, and that those facts provided a reasonable basis to believe that the caller committed the crime of Aggravated Harassment. See N.Y. PENAL LAW § 240.30(1) (McKinney 2008). Thus, probable cause to believe that someone committed the crime is conceded.

As to the identity of the culprit, Melanson told the intake officer on April 12 that the caller was a female, and identified herself as "Kelly." (See April 12 Report.) Melanson was then referred to Detective Glasser who reviewed the report and told her that there was insufficient information to obtain an arrest warrant. (See Def.'s. SMF ¶ 7-8; Dkt. No. 57.)

When Melanson personally appeared a second time on May 8, she reported the new instances of threatening calls, identified the caller's last name as "Reinhart," and opined that her landlord was behind the calls. (See May 8 Report.) Once again, she was referred to Glasser. (See Def.'s. SMF ¶ 11; Dkt. No. 57.)

Glasser prepared an Information charging Reinhart with Aggravated Harassment. (See Att. 5, Ex. C ("Information"), Dkt. No. 57.) Glasser did not sign the Information. Instead, Melanson signed it as the complainant and attested to the truth of the Information's factual allegations under the penalty of perjury. (See Information; see also Def.'s. SMF ¶ 15, Dkt. No. 57.) Glasser then forwarded the Information, the police reports and a request for a warrant to Schenectady City Court Judge Karen Drago for her review. (See Def.'s. SMF ¶ 18, Dkt. No. 57.)

On May 10, 2002 a criminal action was commenced against Reinhart when Judge Drago filed Melanson's Information. (See Att. 6, Ex. D ("Arrest Warrant"), Dkt. No. 57; Def.'s SMF ¶ 19, Dkt. No. 57.) Finding the Information facially sufficient, Judge Drago issued an arrest warrant for Reinhart. (See Arrest Warrant; Def.'s. SMF ¶ 19, Dkt. No. 57.)

On May 23, Reinhart was arrested at the police station pursuant to Judge Drago's warrant. (See Def.'s. SMF ¶ 20, Dkt. No. 57.) She was then processed and placed in a holding cell pending her arraignment. After she entered the holding cell, jail matron Updyke directed her to remove her brassiere, and Reinhart complied. (See Att. 9, Ex. G, Dkt. No. 57; Def.'s. SMF ¶ 25, Dkt. No. 57; Pl.'s SMF ¶ 40, Dkt. No. 60.)

Updyke testified that the brassiere was seized as a safety precaution, and Reinhart testified that she understood the purpose. (See Updyke Dep. 26:2-4; Reinhart Dep. 54:1-3, Att. 28, Ex. N, Dkt. 57.) Updyke also testified that while she did not specifically remember Reinhart, her usual practice was to permit women to slip the brassiere from under their clothes.

Moreover, she normally turned her back to afford additional privacy. (See Updyke Dep. 26:23-27:2.) For the safety of inmates and to prevent suicide, Schenectady Police Department policy requires all females to remove their brassieres when placed in a holding cell. (See Def.'s. SMF ¶¶ 26-27, Dkt. No. 57.)

On February 1, 2003, Melanson died. (See Att. 8, Ex. F, Dkt. No. 57; Def.'s. SMF ¶ 21, Dkt. No. 57.) On March 10, the criminal charge against Reinhart was dismissed. (See Def.'s. SMF ¶ 22, Dkt. No. 57.)

Reinhart argues that the following disputed facts-- direct and circumstantial-- are material to the pending motions: Melanson called police dispatch before her first visit, and identified the harassing caller as "Melanie" (see Schockmel Affirmation, Ex. H, Dkt. No. 61); Glasser prepared the Information - dated May 6 - and the warrant application two days before the second Melanson meeting (see Information; see also Def.'s. SMF ¶ 15, Dkt. No. 57 and Pl's RSMF ¶¶ 10, 15, 18, Dkt. No. 60); Glasser failed to examine Melanson and Reinhart telephone records to verify the source of the harassing calls (see Pl's Counter SMF ¶ 18-19, Dkt. No. 60); Glasser failed to compare the harassing caller's voice recorded on a Melanson audiotape with that of Reinhart (see id. at ¶¶ 15-17); Glasser failed to retrieve records and information from the Telephone Annoyance Bureau (see id. at ¶¶ 20-23); and Glasser failed to disclose this additional information to Judge Drago (see id. at ¶¶ 26-31).

IV. Discussion

A. False Arrest and Malicious ...

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