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Alan G. Bigwarfe v. David Whitton

December 3, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Thomas J. McAVOY Senior United States District Judge


Plaintiff Alan Bigwarfe commenced the instant action against Defendants David Whitton, Jason Whitton, Steven Young, Gordon Ayen, and the Village of Gouverneur arising out of his arrest. Presently before the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 seeking dismissal of the Complaint in its entirety.


At all times relevant hereto, Plaintiff was on parole. Under the terms of his parole, Plaintiff had a curfew from 9:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. every day and he was prohibited from consuming alcohol or being in an establishment the primary purpose of which was for the consumption of alcohol.

In the early morning hours of November 19, 2006 (after 9:00 p.m. and before 6:00 a.m.), Plaintiff was walking with two women on West Main Street in the Village of Gouverneur. Plaintiff was under the influence of alcohol and was carrying beer in a duffel bag. One of the women accompanying Plaintiff stepped off the curb into the lane of traffic. Thereafter, Plaintiff and the two women were approached by Defendants Jason Whitton and Young, police officers in the Village of Gouverneur, in a marked police car. Plaintiff submitted to a breathalyzer test. The test indicated a blood alcohol content of .14. According to Jason Whitton, he determined to charge Plaintiff later in the day with unlawfully providing alcohol to a minor and directed Plaintiff and his companions to go home. Plaintiff then proceeded to the local VFW. Whitton claims that he saw Plaintiff standing outside the VFW, that he knew alcohol was served at the VFW, and he knew that Plaintiff continued to be out beyond his curfew. Accordingly, Whitton and Young proceeded toward the VFW.

Plaintiff observed Whitton and Young drive into the driveway of the VFW. Plaintiff ran inside the VFW and locked himself in the women's bathroom. Plaintiff initially refused to come out of the bathroom. When management at the VFW offered to remove the door hinges for the officers, Plaintiff came out of the bathroom. Plaintiff claims that Whitton then grabbed Plaintiff by the front of his shirt (tearing the shirt) and forced him against the wall while applying handcuffs. Defendants deny that Plaintiff was handcuffed at this time. Plaintiff claims that Whitton pulled Plaintiff out of the VFW by his shirt (causing it to tear even more) and causing Plaintiff to remain off balance. Plaintiff further alleges that Whitton pushed Plaintiff against the rear passenger side of the police car, opened the door, and pushed Plaintiff into the back seat of the car.

Defendants contend that, at the police station, Plaintiff resisted efforts to remove him from the police vehicle and bring him into the station and that, as a result of Plaintiff's resistance, Plaintiff and Whitton fell to the floor. According to Plaintiff, Whitton opened the rear door of the car, pulled Plaintiff out by his shirt, and slammed his face onto the hood of the police car (causing Plaintiff to bite his tongue) and then onto the pavement, at which time Whitton "jumped off his feet and drove his right knee into plaintiff's left, upper chest and shoulder area, which was hard enough to cause plaintiff to deficate [sic] (shit) his pants. . . ." Pl. Mem. of Law at 3. Whitton then brought Plaintiff into the police station and pushed him to the floor. Whitton denies jumping on Plaintiff or otherwise assaulting him.

Plaintiff was charged with unlawfully dealing with a child, obstruction of governmental administration, and resisting arrest. Plaintiff pleaded guilty to resisting arrest in satisfaction of all charges and was incarcerated.

Based on the foregoing, Plaintiff commenced the instant action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claiming that he was falsely arrested and subjected to the excessive use of force. Presently before the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment seeking dismissal of the Complain in its entirety.


Defendants move for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56. It is well settled that, on a motion for summary judgment, the Court must construe the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, see Tenenbaum v. Williams, 193 F.3d 581, 593 (2d Cir. 1999), and may grant summary judgment only where "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). An issue is genuine if the relevant evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A party seeking summary judgment bears the burden of informing the court of the basis for the motion and of identifying those portions of the record that the moving party believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact as to a dispositive issue.

Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). If the movant is able to establish a prima facie basis for summary judgment, the burden of production shifts to the party opposing summary judgment who must produce evidence establishing the existence of a factual dispute that a reasonable jury could resolve in his favor. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). A party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment may not rest upon "mere allegations or denials" asserted in his pleadings, Rexnord Holdings, Inc. v. Bidermann, 21 F.3d 522, 525-26 (2d Cir. 1994), or on conclusory allegations or unsubstantiated speculation. Scotto v. Almenas, 143 F.3d 105, 114 (2d Cir. 1998).

With these standards in mind, the Court will address the ...

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