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.

Arthur Barksdale v. Anthony Colavita

October 5, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Andrew T. Baxter, U.S. Magistrate Judge


On June 22, 2011, with the consent of all parties, this matter was referred to me for all further proceedings, including the entry of final judgment, by Senior United States District Judge Neal P. McCurn, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), Fed. R. Civ. P. 73, and Local Rule N.D.N.Y. 73.1. (Dkt. No. 17). Liberally construed, plaintiff's complaint alleges that defendants violated his constitutional rights, falsely imprisoned plaintiff, and assaulted plaintiff. (Dkt. No. 1).

Presently before this court is defendants' motion for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. (Dkt. No. 18). Plaintiff has responded in opposition to the motion. (Dkt. Nos. 19--22). Defendants filed a reply. (Dkt. No. 24). For the following reasons, the court will grant defendants' motion for summary judgment, dismissing the complaint in its entirety.

I. Facts and Contentions

The following facts are uncontroverted. On February 13, 2009, plaintiff went to the Carousel Mall with his daughter. (Dkt. 18-9 ¶ 6). They stopped at the food court, where a domestic incident*fn1 had just taken place, and an individual had been taken into custody by three City of Syracuse police officers. (Dkt. No. 18-9 ¶¶ 7, 10, 11). Defendants Officers Colavita and Quatrone, in uniform, arrived to assist, and stayed on the food court level to prevent the crowd from interfering with the other three officers escorting the arrestee down the escalator. (Dkt. No. 18-9 ¶ 12, 13). Plaintiff got on the escalator with his daughter after the three officers, who were accompanying the arrestee. (Dkt. No. 18-9 ¶ 14). Officer Colavita, who had remained on the upper level with Officer Quatrone, then observed the arrestee struggling with the officers on the first floor. (Dkt. No 18-9 ¶ 15).

Officer Colavita brought the incident to Officer Quatrone's attention, and they got on the crowded escalator, on their way to the first floor. (Dkt. No. 18-9 ¶¶ 17, 18). Officer Quatrone went first, touching people on the shoulder and saying "Excuse me,

[p]olice." (Dkt. No. 18-9 ¶¶ 19, 20). Officer Quatrone passed by plaintiff, who did not see the officer until after he had passed. (Dkt. No. 18-9 ¶ 21, 22). Officer Colavita was a few steps behind Officer Quatrone. (Dkt. No. 18-9 ¶ 23).

Plaintiff and defendants disagree on exactly what happened on the escalator and certain details about what happened once plaintiff reached the bottom.*fn2 All agree, however that when Officer Colavita and plaintiff arrived at the bottom of the escalator, Officer Quatrone grabbed plaintiff and pulled him off the escalator. (Dkt. No. 18-9 ¶ 30). Officer Colavita grabbed plaintiff's left arm, and he and other officers pulled plaintiff's hands together behind his back and handcuffed him. (Dkt. No. 18-9 ¶ 34). Plaintiff was arrested and charged with Obstructing Governmental Administration in the Second Degree, Resisting Arrest, and Harassment in the Second Degree. (Ex. A, Dkt. No. 18-2; Barksdale Dep. 44-45, Dkt. No. 18-6). He was later acquitted on all charges, following a trial in Syracuse City Court. (Barksdale Aff. ¶ 8, Dkt. No. 19).

II. Summary Judgment--Legal Standards

Summary judgment may be granted when the moving party carries its burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56*fn3 ; Thompson v. Gjivoje, 896 F.2d 716, 720 (2d Cir. 1990). "Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under governing law will properly preclude summary judgment." Salahuddin v. Coughlin, 674 F. Supp. 1048, 1052 (S.D.N.Y. 1987) (citation omitted). A dispute about a genuine issue of material fact exists if the evidence is such that "a reasonable [fact finder] could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

In meeting its burden, the party moving for summary judgment bears the initial responsibility of informing the court of the basis for the motion and identifying the portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986); Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 (c)(1)(A). If the moving party satisfies its burden, the nonmoving party must move forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Salahuddin v. Goord, 467 F.3d 263, 272--73 (2d Cir. 2006). In determining whether there is a genuine issue of material fact, a court must resolve all ambiguities, and draw all inferences, against the movant. See United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962). However, when the moving party has met its burden, the nonmoving party must do more than "simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 585--86 (1986); see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. at 247--48.

III. Municipal Liability

A. Legal Standards

Plaintiff names the City of Syracuse as a defendant in this action. "In a § 1983 action against a municipality, the plaintiff must establish that 'he was unconstitutionally treated and that the constitutional violation resulted from an identified policy, custom, or practice of the municipality.'" Mackey v. Property Clerk of N.Y. City Police Dep't, 26 F. Supp. 2d 585, 590 (S.D.N.Y. 1998) (citing Williams v. New York City Police Dep't, 930 F. Supp. 49, 54 (S.D.N.Y. 1996)); see also Monell v. Dep't of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978). A claim under § 1983 against a municipality cannot be based on the theory of respondeat superior. Monell, 436 U.S. at 691. A plaintiff must demonstrate that the government official who violated plaintiff's constitutional rights did so because of a municipality's policy. Id. at 694.

A municipality may not be found liable simply because one of its employees committed a tort. Bd. of the County Comm'rs v. Brown, 520 U.S. 397, 403 (1997) (internal quotations omitted). Plaintiff must show that the municipal action was taken with the requisite degree of culpability and must demonstrate a causal connection between the municipal action and the deprivation of federal rights. Id. at 404. Where the plaintiff claims that the municipality has not directly inflicted and injury, but has "caused" an employee to do so, "rigorous standards of culpability an causation must be applied" so that the municipality is not held liable solely for the actions of an employee. Id. at 405. "'[B]oilerplate assertions that a municipality has a custom or policy ...

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.