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Nina M. Hardy v. Erie County

May 17, 2012

NINA M. HARDY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ERIE COUNTY, NEW YORK; SHERIFF TIMOTHY B. HOWARD; POLICE OFFICER "JOHN DOE," INDIVIDUALLY,*FN1 DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William M. Skretny Chief Judge United States District Court

DECISION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Nina M. Hardy brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments. Plaintiff's claims arise out of the alleged deprivation of her civil rights as a result of a one-hour detention by police officers. Presently before this Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Docket No. 16). For the following reasons, Defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Facts

For purposes of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, this Court assumes the truth of the following factual allegations. See Sharkey v. Quarantillo, 541 F.3d 75, 83 (2d Cir. 2008); Hamilton Chapter of Alpha Delta Phi, Inc. v. Hamilton Coll., 128 F.3d 59, 63 (2d Cir. 1997).

On May 7, 2010 Plaintiff, an African-American woman, while on a lunch break, entered the Best Buy store located at 4401 Transit Road, Williamsville, New York 14221.

(Am. Comp. ¶¶ 6, 14, Docket No. 15.) Plaintiff decided to purchase a camera and use a pair of coupons to lower its cost. (Id. ¶¶ 15, 16.) Unable to finish the transaction in time to return to her job, Plaintiff asked that the camera be held, along with the coupons, until 5:30 p.m., when she would return to complete the purchase. (Id. ¶ 17.)

Plaintiff returned to the Best Buy store at approximately 5:35 p.m., and approached the register at which she had previously been assisted. (Id. ¶ 18.) Due to problems processing her coupons, the sales representative asked the store manager for assistance. (Id.) The manager did not immediately assist Plaintiff, but instead looked at her for a period of time, during which two Erie County Sheriff's deputies entered the store. (Id.) Plaintiff completed her purchase, but, while exiting the store, was stopped by the deputies who instructed her to accompany them. (Id. ¶ 19.) The deputies refused to answer Plaintiff's queries about what they wished to speak to her about. (Id.) Meanwhile, a crowd of onlookers gathered. (Id. ¶ 20.)

The deputies then took Plaintiff into a side room inside the store. (Id.) There, she was questioned for approximately one hour. (Id.) It was over the course of this questioning that Plaintiff learned that there had been a theft in the shopping mall containing the Best Buy store by an individual described by the deputies as a "black girl with blonde hair." (Id. ¶ 21.) The deputies accused Plaintiff of being that individual. (Id. ¶¶ 21, 22.) At the time Plaintiff's hair was almost black. (Id. ¶ 22.)

The deputies proceeded to search Plaintiff's person. (Id. ¶ 24.) Thereafter, she was released and informed that a detective would contact her later. (Id. ¶ 26.)

B. Procedural History

Plaintiff commenced this action on December 16, 2010 by filing a complaint in the United States District Court for the Western District of New York. (Docket No. 1.) When Defendants failed to respond, Plaintiff filed a request for entry of default. (Docket No. 3.) Defendants thereafter filed a notice of appearance, but an entry of default was nevertheless entered on February 1, 2011. (Docket No. 6.) This Court, on August 3, 2011, issued a Decision and Order granting Defendants' motion to set aside default and vacating the entry of default. (Docket No. 10.) Defendants filed their first Motion to Dismiss on August 24, 2011. (Docket No. 11.) Plaintiff responded by filing an amended complaint on September 12, 2011 (Docket No. 15), which this Court took to moot Defendants' motion (Docket No. 22.) Defendants filed a second ...


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