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Cadet v. Miller

September 10, 2009

ROBINSON CADET, SR. AND VANESSA CADET, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
P.O. JOHN MILLER, SHIELD NO. 0286, P.O. JOSEPH GIACONE, SHIELD NO. 2796, P.O. KURT FARACZEK, SHIELD NO. 1586, P.O. NATALIE COPPOLA, SHIELD NO. 2509, AND THE COUNTY OF NASSAU, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hurley, Senior District Judge

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

Plaintiffs Robinson Cadet Sr. ("Robinson") and Vanessa Cadet ("Cadet") (collectively "Plaintiffs") commenced this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as well as New York State law, against Nassau County (the "County") and Nassau County Police Officers John Miller ("Miller"), Joseph Giacone ("Giacone"), Kurt Faraczek ("Faraczek"), and Natalie Coppola ("Coppola") (collectively the "Officers").*fn1 Plaintiffs allege that the Defendants violated their constitutional rights and committed common law torts during an encounter that occurred on January 28, 2005 between Cadet and the Officers. Specifically, Plaintiffs assert their Fourth Amendment rights were violated as a result of a false arrest and illegal entry and search of the their home and that Defendants committed the following common law torts: battery, false arrest/false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, destruction of property, and negligent employment. Presently before the Court is the Defendants' motion for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent employment are dismissed,*fn2 and the motion for summary judgment is granted in part and denied in part.

Background

The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted: During the afternoon of January 28, 2005, Cadet, then an eleventh grade high school student, was home alone in the two-story, single family home she shared with her parents and two older siblings at 96 Carroll Avenue in Valley Stream (the "home" or "residence"). The first floor of the home consists of a living room, kitchen, dining room, and bathroom. The second floor has three bedrooms and a bathroom. The home also has a basement that contains two bedrooms and a bathroom. There are four entrances into the home: two in the kitchen (a front door and a side door), one in the living room, and one in the basement.

Cadet arrived home at approximately 12:15 p.m. and entered the home through the side kitchen entrance. The other three entrances were locked. When she arrived home she went to her bedroom on the second floor to watch television. While upstairs, she heard a noise similar to a door closing and thought someone was in the house. She called out "hello" and, when no one answered, proceeded down the stairs. As she descended, she again heard the sound of a door closing. She entered the kitchen and called down the basement stairs that she was "going to call the cops."

Cadet then made several calls to 911. On the first call, she hung up when the operator answered. The 911 operator called back and Cadet told the operator that someone was in her house "bothering her," but then hung up a second time. Approximately five minutes later, Cadet again called 911 and told the operator that she believed someone was robbing her house. The operator advised her that police officers were being dispatched to the home. Cadet then went down to the basement to check the bedrooms to see if her brother or sister was home; the operator remained on line while she did so. When Cadet returned to the kitchen, she spoke to the operator again. Approximately three minutes later, Cadet called 911 for the final time.

She apologized for the calls and said that she did not need the police because her sister had been "playing around." According to the mobile digital transmissions records submitted, this last call was received at 1:09:42 p.m.

At about the time Cadet was on the final call to the 911 operator, Officers Faraczek and Giacone arrived at the premises within approximately two minutes of each other. The two officers were responding to a radio transmission from the Nassau County Police Department Communications Bureau, which indicated that there was a possible burglary in progress.*fn3 The two officers called for back-up and officers Miller and Coppola (at the time a police recruit) arrived at 1:16:03 p.m. The Officers were at the residence between 25 and 45 minutes.

The parties' versions of what happened while the Officers were at the residence are markedly different. The Court shall set forth Cadet's version, followed by the version offered by the Defendants.

According to Cadet, after she spoke with the 911 operator for the last time, she started to go upstairs. As she did so, she looked out the front door window and saw police officers approaching the house with their guns drawn. She opened the door and told the officers everything was fine; she had just spoken to the 911 operator and their services were not needed. The two officers at the door were Giacone and Faraczek. Cadet made no attempt to prevent Giacone and Faraczek from entering the house. They asked Cadet who was at the house and who she was. She responded that "no one is here" and that "I am a resident here." Cadet maintains that before she had an opportunity to identify herself as Vanessa Cadet, Giacone responded he did not know that she was a resident and ordered the other officer to cuff her. As she was being cuffed, she told the officers she had identification on her - in the back pocket of her blue jeans. The officers ignored her although she repeated a number of times that her identification was in her jean's pocket. They pushed her inside, up against a wall, and cuffed her behind her back. As she was standing by the wall, officers Miller and Coppola entered the house through the open front door. Coppola, who had been directed to watch Cadet, then brought her into the kitchen and sat her down. Cadet remained handcuffed in the kitchen with Coppola for approximately twenty minutes. During this period of time, Cadet begged for the cuffs to be released because they were so tight and asked several times for a tissue as she was crying. She also repeatedly requested that the Officers call her father; she gave the Officers her parents' cell phone numbers. She also demanded an attorney. While she was cuffed and in the kitchen, she could see the officers searching the first floor of the house. After approximately twenty minutes, Officers Miller, Giacone and Faraczek returned to the kitchen. One of them had Cadet's driving permit. According to Cadet, her permit had been in the pocket of a coat that was hanging in her closet. She maintains she never told the Officers that she had identification in the pocket of her coat. Rather, she told them throughout the time in question that her identification was in her back pocket; however, none of the Officers made any attempt to look at this identification during the time they were in the house. Once the officers returned to the kitchen with Cadet's identification, Coppola was directed to remove the handcuffs. Miller informed Cadet she could be arrested for filing a false claim and asked her where she attended school. When she replied "Central," he told her that he was very good friends with her principal and that "he'll talk to him." Cadet also spoke to one of the other male officers, who was going through mail that was in the kitchen. She asked him to call her parents. He said he would do so later. The Officers then left.

After the Officers departed Cadet went upstairs to get a coat to go over to a friend's house. Her room was in disarray; it had not been so prior to the Officers' arrival. Her dresser drawers were open, the clothes in her closet were separated, and the bed sheets were folded as if someone was looking under her bed. She did not look at the other rooms in the house at that time. It was not until later that she learned the drawers of the furniture in the other bedrooms had also been opened. After retrieving a coat, Cadet left the house to visit some friends. Thereafter, she went to get her nails done before returning home.

When Cadet arrived back home, her whole family was there. Her room was still in disarray. Her parents were on the telephone, so it was nearly forty-five minutes before she was able to tell her parents anything about what happened with the police. At this point her wrists had begun to swell. About a week later, Cadet sought medical attention for her wrist.

According to Robinson, Cadet's father, nothing appeared out of the ordinary on the first floor of the house when he arrived home, but the second floor was in disarray. Among other things, clothes were on the floor in the bedrooms and his armoire, where he keeps a number of expensive pens, was open. It was a couple of days later that he realized that a Mont Blanc pen he owned was missing.

The course of events, as testified to by the Officers, was as follows. Officers Giacone and Faraczek approached the house at 96 Carroll at the same time. Faraczek opened the screen door and tried getting into the house, but there was a female behind the wooden door pushing it closed. The female (Cadet) was screaming "Get out, get out, I don't want you here." Faraczek pushed his way in, causing the female to fall backwards. He kept asking her "what was going on." Her only response was "This is my house. Get out, get out." But as she is yelling, "she is looking behind herself, towards the back of the house," leading the officers to believe that there is someone else in the house. Because he did not know if she was a victim or a suspect, Faraczek handcuffed Cadet's hands behind her back. He checked the cuffs to make sure they were not too tight. He asked her to calm down, what was going on, and who called 911. Cadet did not answer these inquiries, but rather kept screaming "I want you out of here. Get out, get out." Faraczek grabbed her arm, told her to slowly bend her knees and put her down on the floor. At this point in time Giacone was calling for back-up. Faraczek stood next to Cadet looking towards the back of the house until officers Miller and Coppola arrived. Once they arrived, the Officers decided to search the house to determine whether a home invasion or other criminal activity was occurring. They un-holstered their guns and Faraczek, Miller, and Giacone proceeded to search the house looking solely in areas that a person could be hiding, e.g., in closets and under beds. No one was found and they returned to the kitchen where Coppola was guarding Cadet. As Cadet was then calm and answering question, they uncuffed her. It was at this time that Cadet first told them where her ...


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