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Ryan M. Duryea v. the County of Livingston

January 19, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael A. Telesca United States District Judge



Plaintiff, Ryan M. Duryea ("Plaintiff"), brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and New York state law, alleging various claims arising out of his arrest and transfer to Livingston County Jail on June 7, 2005. Several of Plaintiff's claims were dismissed by this Court in a Decision and Order dated April 26, 2007. What remains is a claim for malicious prosecution (Count IV) and claims asserted pursuant to § 1983 (Count VII) for violations of the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments*fn1 , against the County and the remaining individual defendants.*fn2 Plaintiff's state law claims for battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress also remain pending against the County.

Defendants now move for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Defendants contend, inter alia, that the Plaintiff has not pointed to any genuine issues of material fact and that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Plaintiff opposes Defendants' Motion. For the reasons set forth herein, this Court grants in part and denies in part Defendants' motion.


The following material facts are taken from the parties' submissions in connection with this motion and the record in the case. (Docket No. 44; 47-56). Plaintiff was arrested pursuant to a bench warrant in Collier County, Florida on May 19, 2005, after failing to follow the terms of his probation relating to an August 2004 guilty plea. Plaintiff was held in Collier County Jail until June 7, 2005, when Defendants Deputy Sheriff Daniel Rittenhouse and Investigator Ron Huff from the Livingston County Sheriff's Department traveled to Florida to transport the Plaintiff back to Livingston County, New York.

Following a flight from Florida to Rochester, New York, Huff and Rittenhouse drove the Plaintiff to the Livingston County Jail. Plaintiff states that during this drive, Huff and Rittenhouse questioned him about certain church burglaries, but Plaintiff stated he was not involved. Plaintiff was not further questioned about the church burglaries or charged with any crime related to a church burglary.

While seated in the backseat, Plaintiff's hands came free of his handcuffs and he noticed that the back door of the car was unlocked. When the car stopped just before entering the jail, Plaintiff opened the door and ran from the car. Huff, Rittenhouse and Defendant Deputy Boe Langless, who was on patrol that night, pursued Plaintiff to a nearby service station, where he was apprehended. Defendant Deputies Andrew Eichhorn, Michael Anne, and William Baker also came to the scene to assist in apprehending and re-arresting Plaintiff.

The record is unclear as to the amount of force applied to place Plaintiff in custody. The officers indicate that Plaintiff who was physically resisting arrest, was taken to the ground with his head held on the ground, a gravel surface, and that Plaintiff was forcibly handcuffed and placed in a police car to be transported back to the jail. One of the Deputies also claims that Plaintiff kicked him in the face, knocking his glasses to the ground. The Deputy's glasses were later found broken. Plaintiff contends that he was thrown to the ground, choked, hit repeatedly in the back of the head, punched directly in the nose by Defendant Rittenhouse, kicked in the side of his body and later dragged up the stairs inside the jail while the Deputies transported him to intake. Plaintiff was then booked, showered, photographed and confined in the Livingston County Jail.

Plaintiff was seen on the morning of June 8, 2005 by Livingston County Jail Nurse, Kathy Link. She noted abrasions on the side of his face, neck and elbows and a laceration on the bridge of his nose. His pulse, blood pressure and pupil dilation were normal. Plaintiff, at the time, was in a suicide smock and Nurse Link noted that he was very angry and that he did not want to be seen by her at that time. She advised Plaintiff to clean his wounds with soap and water.

Plaintiff later saw Dr. Richard Aguirre at the jail on June 13, 2005. He noted that Plaintiff complained of orange colored urine, and he questioned whether this may be blood. However, a urinalysis was negative. He noted swelling in the nasal bridge, without orbital rim stepoffs or gross irregularity, and head abrasions. He ruled out a nasal fracture based on his physical exam. Later, at his deposition, he was shown pictures of the Plaintiff taken while he was at the jail. He additionally noted black and blue eyelids and redness on the throat after viewing the photographs. Later, in June 2006, Plaintiff saw an otolaryngologist, Dr. John Sheilds, who stated that Plaintiff reported a history of trauma to the face, but that he did not find evidence of a prior fracture to the nose. Dr. Shields' reported that Plaintiff had a mild/moderate deviation of the nasal septum, but he testified that he could not conclude from the x-rays or CT scans when the deviation occurred.

Sometime between June 7 and June 13, Plaintiff filed a grievance, using the appropriate grievance procedures with the Livingston County Jail, relating to his claim that the sheriff's deputies used excessive force in apprehending and arresting him on June 7, 2005. On June 13, Defendant Major Ray Ellis met with the Plaintiff to discuss this complaint. Plaintiff did not request his lawyer to be present when he spoke with Major Ellis, but Plaintiff refused to sign a statement drafted by Major Ellis after the meeting without consulting with his lawyer.

On June 8, 2005, accusatory instruments were filed against Plaintiff and he was later indicted by a grand jury on charges of escape, resisting arrest, assault, and two counts of criminal mischief. The trial court judge dismissed the charge of criminal mischief in the fourth degree for lack of evidence and ruled that Plaintiff had not produced evidence to support his claim that any statements made during the June 13 interview were the product of coercion, physical duress or legal compulsion, or that his right to counsel. A jury later convicted Plaintiff of escape in the second degree and resisting arrest. He was acquitted of assault in the second degree and criminal mischief in the third degree. The charge of criminal mischief in the fourth degree related to a deputy's pants being damaged when he fell chasing the ...

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