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Paul Topolski v. J.J. Cottrell

August 9, 2012

PAUL TOPOLSKI, PLAINTIFF,
v.
J.J. COTTRELL, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mae A. D'Agostino, U.S. District Judge:

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

On October 11, 2011, Plaintiff commenced this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Defendant Cottrell violated his constitutional rights when he was pulled over and arrested for driving while intoxicated on the evening of September 9, 2009. See Dkt. No. 32. On December 29, 2011, Defendant filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). See Dkt. No. 28-1. On November 21, 2012, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint. See id. In response, Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint. See id.

Currently before the Court is Defendant's motion to dismiss. See Dkt. No. 28-1.*fn1

II. BACKGROUND

On the evening of September 9, 2009, at approximately 7:23 p.m., Defendant Cottrell pulled over Plaintiff because of alleged 911 calls that earlier reported a blue Ford Pickup "swerving all over the road." See Dkt. No. 25 at ¶ 4(a). After exiting the Nice and Easy gas station, Plaintiff was immediately pulled over. See id.; see also Dkt. No. 32. Defendant then ordered him out of his car and instructed him to raise his hands and place them on the hood of his car. See id. at ¶ 4(b). Although Plaintiff had complied with Defendant's orders, Defendant nevertheless struck Plaintiff in the head with a hard object causing him to fall and strike his face on the ground. See id. Upon hitting the ground, Plaintiff maintains that Defendant approached him from behind and punched the left side of his face multiple times knocking him nearly unconscious. See id. Thereafter, Defendant handcuffed Plaintiff and placed him in the patrol car, securing the handcuffs very tightly. See id.

After arriving at the police station, photographs of Plaintiff's injuries were taken and, according to Plaintiff, his hands had become very swollen and painful because the handcuffs had been secured too tightly. See id. at ¶ 4(c). While at the police station, Plaintiff was asked to blow into a machine to measure his blood alcohol content but was unable to do so because his face was severely swollen. See id. at ¶ 4(d). Therefore, Plaintiff was charged with felony driving while intoxicated, aggravated unlicensed operation, and resisting arrest. See id. Plaintiff was also charged with six traffic infractions. See id. At no point in time while in Defendant's custody was Plaintiff offered medical attention because his injuries were determined to be minor. See id.

Four hours after arriving at the police station, Plaintiff was transported to the Onondaga County Justice Center. See id. at ¶ 4(e). Upon arrival, Plaintiff was immediately sent to SUNY Upstate Medical Center to have is injuries evaluated. See id. According to Plaintiff, after taking X-Rays and C.T. Scans, Nurse Deborah Mann diagnosed Plaintiff with a broken jaw, specifically a fractured "'Lumina Payracea.'" See id.

On September 14, 2009, charges of felony driving while intoxicated, resisting arrest, and aggravated unlicensed operator were submitted to the grand jury. See Dkt. No. 32. On November 18, 2009, Plaintiff pled guilty to Operating a Motor Vehicle While in an Intoxicated Condition and was sentenced to two-to-six years imprisonment. See Dkt. No. 28-1.

On August 11, 2010, Plaintiff brought a number of claims against Defendant in the New York State Supreme Court and sought relief to file a late Notice of Claim. See Dkt. No. 28-1. On October 26, 2010, the Hon. Brian F. DeJoseph denied Plaintiff's excuse for failing to file a timely Notice of Claim; and, therefore, Plaintiff's claims were dismissed without a determination of their merits. See Dkt. No. 28-1.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983

Section 1983 imposes liability for "conduct which 'subjects, or causes to be subjected' the complainant to a deprivation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws." Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362, 370-71 (1976) (quotation omitted). Not only must the conduct deprive the plaintiff of rights and privileges secured by the Constitution, but the actions or omissions attributable to each defendant must be the proximate cause of the injuries and consequent damages that the plaintiff sustained. See Brown v. Coughlin, 758 F. Supp. 876, 881 (S.D.N.Y. 1991)(citing Martinez v. California, 444 U.S. 277, 100 S. Ct. 553, 62 L. Ed. 2d 481, reh. denied, 445 U.S. 920, 100 S. Ct. 1285, 63 L. Ed. 2d 606 (1980)). As such, for a plaintiff to recover in a section 1983 action, she must establish a causal connection between the acts or omissions of each defendant and any ...


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