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Sims v. Farrelly

United States District Court, Second Circuit

August 2, 2013

NATHANIEL SIMS, Plaintiff,
v.
DETECTIVE FARRELLY, Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

EDGARDO RAMOS, District Judge.

Defendant Detective Farrelly ("Farrelly") brings this Motion for Summary Judgment seeking dismissal of the Second Amended Complaint in its entirety pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. Doc. 80. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

I. Background

A. Procedural History

Plaintiff Nathaniel Sims ("Plaintiff"), appearing pro se, commenced this action on June 17, 2010, by filing a declaration in support of his request to proceed in forma pauperis and a complaint asserting constitutional claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the White Plains, N.Y. Police Dep[artment] Narcotic[s] Division and the White Plains, N.Y. Police Dep[artment] Special Response Team. Doc. 2 ("Compl."). In his original complaint, Plaintiff alleged that on April 24, 2010, he was falsely and forcibly arrested, unreasonably strip searched, and subsequently released without charges. Compl. 3. By Order dated June 17, 2010, the Honorable Loretta A. Preska granted Plaintiff's request to proceed in forma pauperis and directed him to submit an amended complaint within sixty days. Doc. 3. Specifically, Judge Preska instructed Plaintiff to amend his complaint to properly state a claim against a municipal defendant pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and to name as defendant(s) the individual(s) involved in the alleged deprivations of his rights. Id.

Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on July 26, 2010, asserting the same constitutional claims against defendants Detective Farrelly and "P.O. John Doe, " as well as new claims relating to his treatment at a Veterans Administration hospital in July 2010 against defendants Dr. Goldfarb and Dr. Sheikh. Doc. 6 ("Am Compl."). On July 29, 2010, Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint, alleging claims relating to his treatment at a different Veterans Administration hospital and at St. John's Hospital against Dr. David Wiley, Myrtho Gardiner, Dr. Lebron, Nurse Assistant Greer, Social Worker Stanley and Charles Carrol. Doc. 9. Although the Second Amended Complaint was improperly filed, the district court judges to whom this case was previously assigned considered the Second Amended Complaint as if it had been properly filed, in light of Plaintiff's status as a pro se litigant, as a supplemental pleading asserting claims in addition to those asserted in the Amended Complaint, and not as a substitute for the Amended Complaint.[1] See Docs. 40, 51, 57. The Court notes that the parties to this action have likewise treated the Amended Complaint together with the Second Amended Complaint as the operative pleadings throughout the course of this litigation.

On January 25, 2011, Defendants Carrol, Greer, Lebron and Stanley filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Doc. 24. Defendants Gardiner, Goldfarb, Sheik and Wiley filed a motion to dismiss on February 9, 2011. Doc. 32. Farrelly filed an answer on March 25, 2011, wherein he asserted cross-claims against defendants Goldfarb, Sheikh and P.O. John Doe. Doc. 39. By Memorandum and Order dated April 4, 2011, the Honorable J. Frederick Motz granted the motions to dismiss, and dismissed Plaintiff's claims in the Amended and Second Amended Complaints against defendants Carrol, Greer, Lebron, Stanley, Gardiner, Goldfarb, Sheik and Wiley. See Docs. 40, 41.

On April 7, 2011, defendants Sheikh and Goldfarb filed a motion to dismiss Farrelly's cross-claim. Doc. 47. By letter to Farrelly dated May 16, 2011, Judge Motz stated that Farrelly's original answer and cross-claim had not been properly filed, and instructed Farrelly to re-file the answer and cross-claim electronically on or before May 28, 2011. Doc. 51. Judge Motz also noted that Farrelly "may be able to file a motion to dismiss the complaint against him on the ground that the facts alleged by plaintiff do not state a claim upon which relief can be granted, " and granted Farrelly leave to file such a motion in lieu of his answer and cross-claim. Id. Farrelly re-filed his Answer to the Second Amended Complaint on May 24, 2011.[2] Doc. 52. On September 26, 2011, the motion to dismiss Farrelly's cross-claim against Sheikh and Goldfarb was granted. Doc. 57.

At a pre-motion conference before this Court on July 31, 2012, Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed his claims against the John Doe defendant. See Minute Entry dated July 31, 2012. Accordingly, the only defendant remaining in this case is Detective Farrelly, and the only remaining claims are Plaintiff's § 1983 claims for violations of his Fourth Amendment rights.[3] See Stmt. Fact Pursuant to Rule 56.1 ("Def.'s 56.1 Stmt.") ¶ 13, Doc. 81.

B. Factual Background

The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted.

On April 22, 2010, non-party Detective Jim Tassone of the White Plains Police Department ("WPPD") filed an affidavit in support of a search warrant application for the basement apartment at 188 Fisher Avenue, White Plains, N.Y. (the "Residence"), the person of non-party Gregory R. Moore ("Moore"), any and all persons located in the Residence, and any storage area associated with the Residence, for the purpose of seizing evidence relating to a narcotics investigation of Moore. See Maria Aff. Ex. G.[4] A search warrant order was entered by a Justice of the City Court for the City of White Plains on April 22, 2010. Ex. H.

The WPPD executed the search warrant at the Residence at approximately 9:00 pm on April 24, 2010. Ex. L2, at 1. Plaintiff, along with a number of other individuals, was playing cards at the Residence when a number of police officers in riot gear entered the apartment with guns drawn and ordered everyone to get down on the floor and not to move. Ex. F ("Sims Dep.") 26:4-20, 57:10-13; see also Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 3. Plaintiff testified that an unidentified police officer "more or less pushed [him] down and then [] put his foot forcibly on [Plaintiff's] back while th[e police] were getting everything under control because people were scattering."[5] Sims Dep. 38:22-39:5, 57:10-59:10. Plaintiff remained on the floor with the officer's foot on his back for ten to fifteen minutes before the officers took everyone outside and lined them up against a wall, at which point they were handcuffed and asked "various questions." Sims Dep. 39:6-13, 59:11-14, 60:10-61:7; see also Ex. L2, at 2; Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 5. The WPPD detained all eight individuals who were located inside the Residence at the time the warrant was executed, Ex. L2, at 1-2, and eventually transported them to the WPPD while the search of the Residence was completed. Id. at 2; Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 5.

Detective Farrelly, who was assigned to the Intelligence Unit of the WPPD at the time, was asked to participate in the execution of the warrant. Aff. Det. Farrelly Supp. Mot. Summ. J. ("Farrelly Aff.") 1, Doc. 83. Farrelly's participation was limited to "guard[ing] the perimeter" while the warrant was executed, which meant that he "stood outside to see if anyone in the premises tried to escape or if any items were thrown out of windows and/or doors." Id. at 2; see also Ex. I, at 8. Farrelly avers that he "was ...


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