Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Burdick v. Johnson

June 17, 2009



Plaintiff pro se John Burdick ("Plaintiff" or "Burdick") commenced the instant action against Defendants Trooper Willie J. Johnson, Trooper Guaney, Trooper Kaneg and Sergeant James Doyle*fn1 (collectively "Defendants") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Complaint (Dkt. No. 1). Presently before the Court is Defendants' unopposed Motion for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Motion (Dkt. No. 35).


The undisputed facts are as follows.*fn2 On December 2, 2003, at approximately 3:10 p.m., Defendant Trooper Willie J. Johnson ("Defendant Johnson") was dispatched to take a complaint from a woman by the name of Catherine Derusha. Ambrosio Decl., Ex. A at 4 (Dkt. No. 35, Ex. 8). Ms. Derusha complained that her ex-husband, the Plaintiff in this action, was leaving harassing messages on her answer machine. Id. at 4. Ms. Derusha asked Defendant Johnson to advise Plaintiff to stop calling her. Id. Defendant Johnson then drove to Plaintiff's residence. Id. Plaintiff, who appeared highly intoxicated, answered the door. Id. Defendant Johnson informed Plaintiff about Ms. Derusha's complaint and directed Plaintiff to cease all contacts with Ms. Derusha. Id. Plaintiff appeared agitated by Defendant Johnson's statements. Id.

After Defendant Johnson left Plaintiff's residence, Plaintiff called 911. Burdick Dep. at 43, 46-50, 57-64 (Dkt. No. 35, Ex. 3); Munkwitz Decl., Ex. B (Dkt. No. 35, Ex. 4). Plaintiff was audibly extremely upset and ranted to the dispatcher about, amongst other things, being "threatened" by a police officer. Burdick Dep. at 59-60; Munkwitz Decl., Ex. B at 1-3. During the course of this call, Plaintiff stated that "if he comes back, I'm going to shoot the son-of-a-bitch," and "if he comes in my house and says this stuff again to me, I'm going to wipe him out." Munkwitz Decl., Ex. B at 3, 6. Both comments were presumably in reference to Defendant Johnson.

Defendant Sergeant James M. Doyle ("Defendant Doyle") was the supervisor in charge at the State Police Brunswick station on the day of the incident that forms the basis for this action. Doyle Decl.¶ 2 (Dkt. No. 35, Ex. 10). At approximately 4:00 p.m., Defendant Doyle was advised of Plaintiff's 911 call. Id. Defendant Doyle drove to the vicinity of Plaintiff's residence where he was joined by Defendant Trooper Guaney ("Defendant Guaney"), Defendant Trooper Johnson ("Defendant Johnson"), and Defendant Trooper Kaneg ("Defendant Kaneg"). Id. ¶¶ 3-4.

When Defendant Doyle arrived at Plaintiff's residence, the dispatcher, who was still on the telephone with Plaintiff, directed Plaintiff to exit his residence unarmed. Id. Plaintiff approached Defendant Doyle's patrol car. Id. ¶ 4; Guaney Decl.¶ 3 (Dkt. No. 35, Ex. 11); Kaneg Decl. ¶¶ 3-4 (Dkt. No. 35, Ex. 12). Defendant Doyle visually inspected Plaintiff to determine that he was not armed and then patted Plaintiff down to confirm that he was, in fact, not armed. Doyle Decl. ¶¶ 4-5; Guaney Decl. ¶¶ 3-4; Kaneg Decl. ¶¶ 3-4. Plaintiff did, however, appear to be highly intoxicated. Doyle Decl. ¶¶ 4, 8; Guaney Decl. ¶ 6. Following this inspection, Defendant Doyle directed Defendants Gauney, Johnson and Kaneg to respond to Plaintiff's residence and stand by outside. Doyle Decl. ¶¶ 4-5; Guaney Decl. ¶¶ 3-4; Kaneg Decl. ¶¶ 3-4.

With Plaintiff's consent, Defendant Doyle and, later, Defendant Guaney entered Plaintiff's residence. Doyle Decl. ¶¶ 4-5, 6; Guaney Decl. ¶¶ 5-6. Defendant Doyle explained to Plaintiff that he would be taken to Samaritan Hospital for an evaluation pursuant to section 9.41 of the New York Mental Hygiene Law ("MHL"). Doyle Decl. ¶ 6; Guaney Decl. ¶¶ 5-6. Plaintiff insisted that he would not go to the hospital. Doyle Decl. ¶¶ 4, 8; Guaney Decl. ¶ 6. Defendants Doyle and Guaney approached Plaintiff, who was seated in a chair, and pulled him out of the chair to place him in handcuffs. Doyle Decl. ¶ 8; Guaney Decl. ¶ 7. Notably, Defendants Kaneg and Johnson were not present in Plaintiff's house during this process or at any time on December 2, 2003. Doyle Decl. ¶ 15.

While Defendants were in the process of handcuffing Plaintiff, Plaintiff advised the officers that he had previously broken his arm and asked that they be careful. Doyle Decl. ¶ 8; Guaney Decl. ¶ 7. Defendant Doyle inspected Plaintiff's arm but did not observe a case or visible injury. Doyle Decl. ¶ 8. Plaintiff was placed in handcuffs. Doyle Decl. ¶ 9; Guaney Decl. ¶ 9. Plaintiff made no complaint of pain. Id.

As Plaintiff was being escorted from his residence to the ambulance that was waiting to transport him to Samaritan Hospital, he began laughing and yelling that he was going to sue for false arrest. Doyle Decl. ¶ 10; Kaneg Decl. ¶¶ 6-7; Guaney Decl. ¶¶ 10-11. At no time during this transport did Plaintiff complain to the Emergency Medical Technicians ("EMTs") that he was in pain nor did he seek any medical treatment from them. Doyle Decl. ¶ 12; Kaneg Decl. ¶ 7; Guaney Decl. ¶ 11; Ambrosio Decl., Ex. A (Dkt. No. 35, Ex. 8).

Upon his arrival at Samaritan Hospital, Plaintiff was taken to an examination room in the psychiatric unit. Doyle Decl. ¶ 13; Kaneg Decl. ¶ 9. There Plaintiff's handcuffs were removed and he was physically restrained by the hospital staff to a bed until he was able to see a counselor. Id.; Burdick Dep. at 97-98. While in the presence of the Defendants at Samaritan Hospital, Plaintiff made no complaints about pain in his arm or hand nor did he request any medical attention. Doyle Decl. ¶ 13; Kaneg Decl. ¶ 9.

Plaintiff had, in fact, been diagnosed with a fractured hand on or about November 4, 2003, over one month prior to the events alleged in the Complaint. Munkwitz Decl. ¶ 8; Munkwitz Decl., Ex. C (Dkt. No. 35, Ex. 5). On December 9, 2003, Plaintiff was again treated for an injury to his hand, this time resulting from an alleged assault that had occurred on the previous evening, December 8, 2003, six days after the events alleged in the Complaint. Munkwitz Decl. ¶ 9; Munkwitz Decl., Ex. C.

On December 4, 2006, Plaintiff commenced this action with the assistance of counsel pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Complaint (Dkt. No. 1). Plaintiff claims that Defendants falsely arrested him and used excessive force, which resulted in injury to his wrist. On May 1, 2007, Plaintiff's attorney moved to withdraw as counsel. Dkt. No. 10. This Court granted that Motion on June 7, 2007, and Plaintiff has subsequently proceeded pro se. On October 4, 2007, this Court denied Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. Dkt. No. 19.

On February 18, 2009, Defendants filed the Motion for summary judgment presently before this Court. Dkt. No. 35. Plaintiff never ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.