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Glowczenski v. Taser International Inc.

May 13, 2010

MARY JANE GLOWCZENSKI, AND JEAN GRIFFIN, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS THE CO-ADMINISTRATRIX OF THE ESTATE OF DAVID GLOWCZENSKI, PLAINTIFF(S),
v.
TASER INTERNATIONAL INC., VILLAGE OF SOUTHAMPTON, SOUTHAMPTON VILLAGE POLICE DEPARTMENT, POLICE OFFICER BRIAN PLATT IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY, POLICE OFFICER MARLA DONOVAN, IN HER INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY, POLICE OFFICER CHRIS WETTER, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY, POLICE OFFICER ARTHUR SCHUCHT, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY, COUNTY OF SUFFOLK, SUFFOLK COUNTY POLICE DEPT., LIEUTENANT JACK FITZPATRICK, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY, LIEUTENANT HOWARD LEWIS, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY, JOHN DOES 1-10, WHO ARE KNOWN BY NAME TO THE DEFENDANTS BUT AS OF YET ARE NOT FULLY KNOWN TO THE PLAINTIFFS, OFFICE OF THE SUFFOLK COUNTY MEDICAL EXAMINER, JAMES C. WILSON, M.D., DEPUTY MEDICAL EXAMINER, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY, SOUTHAMPTON VILLAGE VOLUNTEER AMBULANCE (A.K.A. SOUTHAMPTON E.M.T. UNIT), MELISSA CROKE, EMT, IN HER INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY, KEITH PHILLIPS, EMT, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY, TIM CAMPBELL, EMT, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY, AND JAMES MOORE, AMBULANCE DRIVER, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY, DEFENDANT(S).



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wall, Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

Before the court is a motion for partial summary judgment by defendants Village of Southampton, Southampton Village Police Department, Police Officer Marla Donovan, Police Officer Christopher Wetter, Sgt. Arthur Schuct and Lt. Howard Lewis, in their individual and official capacities ("the Village defendants"). DE[103] & [105]. Also before the court is a motion for partial summary judgment by defendant Police Officer Brian Platt. DE[110] & [116]. The motions are opposed by the plaintiffs. DE[68], [136] & [135]. The parties have consented to my jurisdiction for all purposes.

For the reasons set forth herein, the motions are GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART, as follows:

(1) Summary judgment is granted on the false arrest claims;

(2) summary judgment is denied as to the negligence claims, with the proviso that no negligence claims based on intentional conduct or on the false arrest claim will go to the jury;

(3) summary judgment on the negligent failure to hire or train claim against the Police Department and the Village is denied;

(4) summary judgment on the Monell failure to train claim is denied;

(4) to the extent that Platt has moved for summary judgment on the claim of excessive force, the motion is denied.

BACKGROUND

This lawsuit arises from the death of plaintiffs' decedent, David Glowczenski, on February 4, 2004. David Glowczenski was a 35 year old man with a history of schizophrenia, described by the plaintiffs as an "Emotionally Disturbed Person" ("EDP"). The plaintiffs are his mother, Mary Jane Glowczenski, and sister, Jean Griffin. Many of the following facts are taken from the exhibits provided by the Village defendants and are reported to set forth the documentary history of the Village Police with the Glowczenski family. The parties agree that most or all of the individual defendant officers were familiar with Glowczenski and his mental problems.

Glowczenski was in a psychiatric facility for the first time when he was 11 or 12 years old, and had been hospitalized at various institutions, including Pilgrim State Psychiatric Center, Kings Park Psychiatric Center, Stony Brook University Hospital, Eastern Long Island Hospital and the Lake Grove Treatment Center, over the years. See DE[68], Vill. Defs. Ex. D, 51:9-20; Vill. Defs. Ex. F, pp. 1, 92, 133-34. Mr. Glowczenski was no stranger to the Village Police prior to February 4, 2004. In 1994, complaints about Glowczenski were made to the police by Glowczenski's father, Theodore Glowczenski, in 1994 and 1995, and, in June 1994, the Village Police transported Glowczenski to Kings Park Hospital when the ambulance company refused to transport a patient deemed violent. Defs. Ex. H. Additional complaints by Glowczenski's father were filed in the summer of 1995. See Defs. Exs. I, J. In August 1995, Glowczenski was arrested for Criminal Mischief in the fourth degree after he threw a telephone at a wall and created a hole in the wall. Defs. Exs. J, K. On the same date, his father filed a complaint of harassment in the second degree, alleging that Glowczenski had threatened to kill him and burn the house down. Defs. Ex. K.

On September 29, 1995, Glowczenski was arrested for striking a police officer in the shoulder with his fist and resisting arrest by kicking the police officers. Defs. Ex. N. In connection with that incident, Glowczenski's doctor, Nicholas H. Pott, M.D. wrote a letter to the Southampton Town Court, stating that Glowczenski suffered from bipolar disorder, and that when he took his medication he was, for the most part, "rational and appropriate in his behavior." Defs. Ex. O. He further reported that Glowczenski had discontinued his medication about six weeks prior to the incidents leading to his arrest. The doctor reported that as of the date of the letter, October 24, 1995, Glowczenski was "clear in his mind that he must continue to take his medication, and in this state I do not see him as a threat to himself or to the public order." Id.

The next indication of police involvement with the Glowczenskis that appears in the record was in April 2000, when Glowczenski's sister, the plaintiff Jean Griffin, complained that he was drunk and had threatened to kill her. Defs. Ex. P. On August 8, 2000, the police responded to a complaint that Glowczenski had telephoned a man named Mark Snyder and threatened to shoot Snyder and a woman named Gail. Defs. Ex. Q. On June 12, 2002, the police responded to a complaint by Glowczenski's brother, Teddy, that Glowczenski had pushed him. The report states that both brothers were drunk and Teddy chose not to press charges. Defs. Ex. S. On January 30, 2003, Mary Jane Glowczenski called the police and reported that Glowczenski had punched Teddy in the nose and had menaced her and Teddy with a hammer. Defs. Ex. S. Teddy had allegedly hit Glowczenski in the head with a metal cane. Mrs. Glowczenski further stated that Glowczenski had told her that if she called the police, he would kill her. Both brothers were taken into custody. Id. Mary Jane Glowczenski testified at her deposition that following the incident in 2003, Glowczenski was given the option of going into a rehab program and he was admitted to the Lake Grove Treatment Center from February 2003 until September 2003. The treatment there included AA meetings. See Defs. Ex. D, 78-80. She further testified that Glowczenski had stopped taking his medication several days before the February 4, 2004 incident because he was afraid that the medication would cause him to develop diabetes. Defs. Ex. D, 82:1-83:17.

At approximately 9:00 a.m. on the morning of February 4, 2004, the Village Police Department received a 911 call from Mrs. Glowczenski saying that David Glowczenski was having a "psychotic episode," and was hearing voices. Defs. Ex. C. The transcript of the call reports Mrs. Glowczenski as saying that Glowczenski was "very psychotic" and that she "did not know if he [would] harm himself." Id. She reported that he "had been up all night and for about two or three days he's been getting worse." Id. She also reported that they were going to take him to the doctor that day, but "he just took off." Id. At her deposition, Mary Jane Glowczenski testified that she called the police because she feared that her son "might get victimized or something," and she wanted him in protective custody. Defs. Ex. D, 21:19-22:4. The police responded to the call at the Glowczenski home, but Glowczenski was not there when they arrived. Mary Jane Glowczenski testified that her son came home while the police were there, and that she told the police the family would handle the situation themselves. Defs. Ex. D. 92:11-16. The 911 records state that at 9:20 a.m., Mary Jane Glowczenski called and said Glowczenski had returned home, and that at 9:28 ...


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