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Wayne v. City of New York and

April 30, 2012

WAYNE HARTNAGEL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF NEW YORK AND FRANCISCO PONCE DEFENDANTS,



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Tucker L. Melancon United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM RULING AND ORDER

Before the Court is defendants City of New York and Police Officer Francisco Ponce's Motion for Summary Judgment [Rec. Doc. 32]. The pro se plaintiff failed to submit a memorandum of law or any evidence in opposition to defendants' motion for summary judgment by the Court's deadline despite receiving proper summary judgment notice in accordance with Local Rule 56.2 [Rec. Doc. 36]. Accordingly, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(e), the Court may "grant summary judgment if the motion and supporting materials - including facts considered undisputed -show that the movant is entitled to it." For the reasons that follow, defendants' motion will be GRANTED.

Plaintiff's Amended Complaint [Rec. Doc. 7] alleges that defendants unlawfully searched his house and seized his possessions on November 14, 2008. Plaintiff also alleges that defendants unlawfully detained his mother. Plaintiff brings an unlawful search, deprivation of property, and a Monell claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff also attempts to bring a false imprisonment claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on behalf of his mother.*fn1

I. Background

On November 14, 2008 at 10:00 a.m., plaintiff alleges that defendant Officer Ponce forced his way into his house without a warrant and told his mother to take a seat. He told her that he did not have a warrant but would come back with one later. Defendants deny that they went to plaintiff's house during the morning of November 14, 2008. Based on information from a confidential informant, the NYPD obtained a warrant to search plaintiff's home for stolen goods. Plaintiff alleges that the NYPD returned to his house at 7:00 p.m. to conduct an unduly and destructive search. Defendants concede that they searched the house in the evening pursuant to a search warrant, and seized power tools and GPS devices from plaintiff's house. Plaintiff also alleges that defendants seized IPODs and a digital camera from the premises.

Defendants filed their first motion for summary judgment [Rec. Doc. 24] on October 21, 2011 but failed to provide adequate notice pursuant to Local Rule 56.2, which required defendants to serve and file a statement to the pro se plaintiff explaining the nature of a summary judgment motion. The Court denied defendants first motion for summary judgment without prejudice to re-file their motion in accordance with Local Rule 56.2 [Rec. Doc. 31]. Defendants properly filed the instant motion for summary judgment on March 26, 2012 in accordance with the Local Rules.

II. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate only when the record reflects that "there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). Such a determination is to be made "after construing the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and drawing all reasonable inferences in its favor." Sledge v. Kooi, 564 F.3d 105, 108 (2d Cir. 2009).

Initially, the party moving for summary judgment must demonstrate the absence of any genuine issues of material fact. When a party seeking summary judgment bears the burden of proof at trial, it must come forward with evidence which would entitle it to a directed verdict if such evidence were uncontroverted at trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986). As to issues which the nonmoving party has the burden of proof at trial, the moving party must satisfy this burden by demonstrating the absence of evidence supporting the non-moving party's claim, and if the moving party succeeds the burden shifts to the non-moving party to show that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id. at 322-23.

Once the burden shifts to the non-moving party, he must direct the attention of the court to evidence in the record and set forth specific facts sufficient to establish that there is a genuine issue of material fact requiring a trial. Id. at 324. The non-moving party may not rest on mere allegations or denials of the adverse party's pleadings as a means of establishing a genuine issue worthy of trial, but must demonstrate by affidavit or other admissible evidence that there are genuine issues of material fact or law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-49 (1986); Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 159 (1970).

There is no genuine issue of material fact if, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, no reasonable trier of fact could find for the non-moving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). If no issue of fact is presented and if the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, the court is required to render the judgment prayed for. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a); Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322.

III. False Imprisonment Claim

Plaintiff alleges that his mother, Diane Kern, was unlawfully detained for nine hours on November 14, 2008. Amend. Compl. at ¶7. To the extent that this allegation is construed as a claim for false imprisonment on behalf of Diane Kern, it must be dismissed for lack of standing to sue. Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 499 (1975) ("A federal court's jurisdiction ... can be invoked only when the plaintiff himself suffered some threatened or actual injury resulting from the putatively illegal action.") ...


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