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Edwards v. City of New York

June 29, 2009

KEDAR EDWARDS AND KAREEM EDWARDS, BY THEIR MOTHER AND NATURAL GUARDIAN FRANCINE EDWARDS, AND FRANCINE EDWARDS, INDIVIDUALLY, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
THE CITY OF NEW YORK AND POLICE OFFICERS "JOHN DOES NOS. 1-5," WHOSE NAMES AND BADGE NUMBERS ARE PRESENTLY UNKNOWN, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles P. Sifton (electronically signed) United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

SIFTON, Senior Judge.

Kedar Edwards and Kareem Edwards, by their mother and natural guardian Francine Edwards, and Francine Edwards, Individually ("plaintiffs"), commenced this action against the City of New York (the "City") and Police Officers "John Does Nos 1-5" on December 19, 2007. The complaint, which arises out of a search of plaintiffs' home by New York City police officers, alleges that plaintiffs were deprived by defendant police officers of their rights under the Fourth Amendment to be secure in their persons and under the Fourteenth Amendment to equal protection of the laws, both in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiffs allege that the City may be held vicariously liable for the intentional torts of the officers. Third, plaintiffs allege that defendant City is liable for negligent hiring, retaining, and training of defendant police officers and negligent investigation of the charges giving rise to an allegedly illegal search of plaintiffs' house. Plaintiffs seek a declaratory judgment that defendants violated the plaintiffs' constitutional rights, compensatory damages, punitive damages, fees, and costs. Now before the court is a motion by plaintiffs to amend the complaint to include eighteen additional individual defendants, who are police officers alleged by plaintiffs to have been involved in the search of plaintiffs' home. For the reasons stated below, the motion is denied.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are taken from the plaintiffs' complaint and the parties' submissions in connection with this motion. For purposes of this motion, the allegations of the original complaint and proposed amended complaint are assumed to be true.

The plaintiffs are residents of State of New York. Defendants John Does 1-5 ("defendant police officers"), who are sued in their official and individual capacities, were at all relevant times employed by the City of New York as police officers, and were stationed at the 77th Precinct of the New York City Police Department, located in Kings County, New York.

Defendant City of New York is a municipal corporation organized and existing under the laws of the State of New York.

On April 3, 2007, at approximately 5:30 a.m., defendant police officers forcibly entered plaintiffs' apartment, located at 410 St. Marks Avenue, Brooklyn, New York. Compl. at ¶ 13. Defendant police officers searched the apartment and destroyed plaintiffs' personal property, including the door to the apartment. Id. Defendant police officers handcuffed and searched plaintiffs Kedar and Kareem Edwards and took them to a police van where they were held for approximately one hour. Id. at ¶ 14. Plaintiffs did not commit any crimes and were not observed committing any crimes by defendants. Id. at ¶ 15. The officers entered plaintiff's home pursuant to a warrant that authorized them to search for weapons. Declaration of Gabriel Harris, Ex. B.

Plaintiffs seek to amend the complaint to add the following 18 additional individual defendants: Deputy Inspector John Cosgrove, Officer Daniel Mallick, Detective Michael Windsor, Captain John DeRose, Deputy Inspector Robert Hanson, Lieutenant Kevin Gallagher, Sergeant David Lippert, Sergeant Dwight Smith, Sergeant David Cheesewright, Officer Nicolas Salvitti, Sergeant Thomas Glaudino, Sergeant Gerard Flood, Detective Kevin Concannan, Detective Philip Scarangella, Detective Dale Schultz, Detective Thomas Longa, Detective Robert Goldstein, and Officer Joseph Wendler. Aside from the addition of these 18 names to the caption, the proposed amended complaint is identical to the original complaint.

DISCUSSION

Plaintiffs cite liberal pleading standards in support of their application to amend the complaint. Defendants oppose the motion on the ground that amendment would be futile.

I. Applicable Standards

A. Standard for Amendment of Complaint

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2) provides that, after a responsive pleading (as is in the case here), a party may amend its pleading by leave of the court. "The court should freely give leave when justice so requires." Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2). The decision whether to permit or disallow amendment of a pleading is within the district court's discretion. Zenith Radio Corp. v. Hazeltine Research, Inc., 401 U.S. 321; 91 S.Ct. 795; 28 L.Ed. 2d 77 (1971). Although leave to amend is not automatic, "only 'undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party ... [or] futility of the amendment' will serve to prevent an amendment prior to trial." ...


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