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Ligon v. City of New York

United States District Court, S.D. New York

August 21, 2012

Jaenon LIGON, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
CITY OF NEW YORK, et al., Defendants.

Page 518

Alexis Karteron, Esq., Christopher Dunn, Esq., Daniel Mullkoff, Esq., Taylor Pendergrass, Esq., New York Civil Liberties Union, John Nathanson, Esq., Mayer Grashin, Esq., Paige Berges, Esq., Tiana Peterson, Esq., Shearman & Sterling LLP (NY), Foster Maer, Esq., Roberto Concepcion, Esq., LatinoJustice PRLDEF, Juan Cartagena, Esq., Community Service Society, New York, NY, J. McGregor Smyth, Jr., Esq., Mariana Kovel, Esq., The Bronx Defenders, Bronx, NY, for Plaintiffs.

Mark Zuckerman, Heidi Grossman, Joseph Marutollo, Richard Weingarten, Assistant Corporation Counsel, New York City Law Department, New York, NY, for Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

SHIRA A. SCHEINDLIN, District Judge.

This putative class action challenges the New York City Police Department's implementation of Operation Clean Halls, a program allowing police officers to patrol inside and around thousands of private residential apartment buildings throughout New York City. Plaintiffs allege that they and their minor children have been unlawfully stopped, questioned, frisked, and/or arrested in or around their homes or their family members' homes.

Plaintiffs have informed defendants and the Court of their intention to move for a preliminary injunction to prevent police officers from " stopping people outside of Clean Halls buildings because of their proximity to a Clean Halls building (whether by virtue of their having exited, trying to enter, or simply being near the

Page 519

building)." [1] Defendants believe that " the Court should use its equitable powers to deny plaintiffs' application" summarily, prior to the holding of an evidentiary hearing.[2] Because plaintiffs allege an ongoing and egregious violation of their constitutional rights, I decline to deny them the opportunity to seek a preliminary remedy.

Preliminary injunctions, a traditional tool of courts sitting in equity, are governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65. The Second Circuit has explained that " [w]hen seeking a preliminary injunction that will affect government action taken in the public interest pursuant to a statutory or regulatory scheme, the moving party must show: (1) it will suffer irreparable harm absent the injunction and (2) a likelihood of success on the merits." [3]

Plaintiffs' Complaint alleges that

[f]or residents of Clean Halls Buildings and their visitors, merely exiting a Clean Halls Building frequently leads to being stopped, searched, and interrogated by NYPD officers on public sidewalks and in exterior courtyards. These stops typically involve full searches and questioning as to the person's reason for having been inside the building, and frequently result in arrest or the issuance of a summons if the person cannot affirmatively justify his presence to the police officer's satisfaction....
Residents of some Clean Halls Buildings are stopped, questioned, and searched by NYPD officers on a regular basis— sometimes multiple times a week. For many young men of color in particular, being searched and seized by NYPD officers in and around their homes has become normalized and is simply a routine part of their lives....
[The NYPD] has ignored the problems of suspicionless stops, searches, citations, and arrests in and around Clean Halls Buildings....
The NYPD's abusive practices of stopping, questioning, searching, citing, and arresting residents of Clean Halls Buildings and their visitors without adequate cause violate the United States and New York ...

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