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Carpiniello v. Hall

March 17, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Paul G. Gardephe, U.S.D.J.


The Complaint in this action alleges claims under (1) 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of the Plaintiffs' First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights; and (2) 18 U.S.C. § 2520 for interception of wire, oral or electronic communications in violation of Title III. Defendants have moved for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion for summary judgment is GRANTED.


Plaintiffs were Harrison, New York police officers when the incidents giving rise to this action occurred. Defendant Hall was the Chief of Police, and Defendant Marraccini was a captain in the Police Department. (Def. Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 2, 130)*fn1 The claims set forth in the Complaint stem from the Defendants' installation of a video camera in the Police Department's men's locker room.

The Police Department's men's locker room contains seventy-two individually assigned lockers. (Id. ¶¶ 6, 10) The door to the locker room has a combination lock. (Id. ¶ 16) The lock's combination is commonly known, however, and may be provided to any Department employee. (Id.) In addition to police officers, civilian employees of the Department, custodians, other town employees, and a laundry worker commonly enter the locker room. These individuals either know the lock's combination or are admitted by a Department employee. (Id. ¶¶ 12, 14-15) The Chief of Police's female administrative assistant also enters the locker room in performing her duties.*fn2 (Id. ¶ 13) The locker room contains mailboxes for each of the officers, several bulletin boards containing Police Department notices, an exercise area, a shower area, and a bathroom. (Id. ¶¶ 17-18, 24) A door separates the shower area and the bathroom from the main locker room area. (Id. ¶¶ 24-25)

In the spring of 2005, Captain Marraccini decided that a video camera should be installed in the locker room.*fn3 (Id. ¶ 27) After obtaining Chief Hall's approval (id. ¶ 29; Pltf. Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 209), Marraccini asked Sergeant Dominick Pascale, the officer in charge of the Police Department's telecommunications and computer systems, to arrange for installation of a camera. (Def. Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 30-31) Pascale contacted Andrew Natarelli -- who had previously installed and maintained telecommunications systems and equipment for the Police Department -- about installing the camera (id. ¶¶ 32--34), and in April 2005, Natarelli and Pascale installed a video camera in the ceiling of the locker room.*fn4 (Id. ¶ 35--36.)

Defendants have offered evidence that the camera had video but not audio capability (id. ¶¶ 38-39), and it appears to be undisputed that the camera lacked the equipment necessary for audio recording. (Def. Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 43; Pltf. Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 250)

The camera was designed to work with DigiVue computer software that had been installed on Marraccini's computer. (Def. Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 45, 48) Recording was to be triggered by a sensor designed to detect movement within the camera's field of vision. (Id. ¶ 53) The motion sensor never worked as designed, however. (Id. ¶ 55) Pascale and Natarelli attempted to procure upgraded software that would have enable the camera to function with a motion sensor as intended, but they were unsuccessful, and the upgraded software was never installed. (Id. ¶¶ 57--59)

On May 4, 2005, Pascale and Natarelli captured two still images from the camera using the DigiVue software. (Id. ¶ 69) No one is visible in either picture. (Id. ¶ 70) Defendants have offered evidence that these are the only images captured by the camera. (Id.) Pascale, Natarelli, Marraccini, and Hall all swear in their affidavits that they have never seen or heard any audio or video recordings of anyone in the locker room, and Marraccini, Hall, and Pascale affirm that they never observed anyone in the locker room on camera. (Id. ¶¶ 71--77) Plaintiffs point out, however, that the camera worked on at least one other occasion, because Natarelli states in his affidavit that he observed Pascale walking in front of the camera as part of a test. (Pltf. Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 242)

In mid to late 2005, Marraccini instructed Pascale to remove the camera from the locker room and to uninstall the DigiVue software from Marraccini's computer. (Def. Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 79.) The software was uninstalled from Marraccini's computer, but the two still images captured in May 2005 were not deleted. (Id. ¶¶ 80, 82) Moreover, the camera remained in the locker room for several additionalmonths. (Id. ¶ 88)

On December 24, 2005, Officer Michael Marinelli and Officer Jeff Nardi, a plaintiff in this action, observed the camera in a ceiling vent in the locker room. (Pltf. Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 201) The following day, another officer observed the camera protruding from the vent. (Id. ¶ 206) When the existence of the camera was brought to his attention, Chief Hall disconnected it. (Id. ¶ 208.)

The installation and potential use of the camera was discussed during at least one PBA meeting, and PBA President Ralph Tancredi and PBA counsel Richard Bunyan raised the issue with Hall and Marraccini. (Def. Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 92, 95-97, 100) During a December 2005 meeting, Tancredi and Bunyan told Hall that they intended to report the installation of the camera to an outside law enforcement agency. (Id. ¶ 101) PBA members Duffelmeyer and Walther also expressed objections to the installation of the video camera in the locker room. (Pltf. Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 276, 283)

Plaintiffs (other than Forrest and Nardi) allege that they were retaliated against because of statements they made concerning the video camera. For example, in March 2006, Carpiniello was transferred from the Training Division to the Patrol Division*fn5 (Def. Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 122), while in June 2006 and December 2007, Duffelmeyer was passed over for promotion.*fn6 (Pltf. Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 277-78) Plaintiffs have presented evidence that Walther lost overtime pay as part of a court security detail and received less desirable work assignments.*fn7

(Id. ¶¶ 284-291) Plaintiffs also contend that Spiconardi was accused of misconduct by Hall and Marraccini*fn8 (id. ¶¶ 170-72), and that Marraccini threatened Marinelli with criminal charges.*fn9 (Id. ΒΆΒΆ 173-74) Finally, Plaintiffs present evidence that ...

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