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McKay v. The Village of Spring Valley

United States District Court, Second Circuit

October 23, 2013

DAVID G. McKAY, individually, JAMIE E. GALAN-McKAY, individually, DAVID G. McKAY and JAMIE E. GALAN-McKAY, as parents and natural guardians of D.H., a minor child, Plaintiffs,
v.
THE VILLAGE OF SPRING VALLEY, a Municipality of the State of New York; SPRING VALLEY POLICE DEPARTMENT; JOHN DOES/JANE DOES

Stephen M. Honan, Feerick Lynch MacCartney PLLC, South Nyack, New York, Counsel for Plaintiffs.

Brian S. Sokoloff, Melissa L. Holtzer, Sokoloff Stern LLP, Carle Place, New York, Counsel for Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

CATHY SEIBEL, District Judge.

Before the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment of Defendants Village of Spring Valley ("the Village"), Spring Valley Police Department ("SVPD"), and John Does/Jane Does "1" through "8", (Doc. 14). For the following reasons, Defendants' Motion is GRANTED.

I. Background

Plaintiffs commenced this matter by filing a complaint in the Rockland County Supreme Court on April 6, 2012. (Holtzer Decl. Ex. A.)[1] Plaintiffs alleged a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for the violation of their rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution, claiming that the Village had a practice and policy to overlook civil rights abuses by its officers, and had failed to supervise and train its officers to prevent civil rights abuses. Plaintiffs also filed claims under state law for false arrest and imprisonment, assault, battery, and additional "state common law" claims. The complaint stems from the wrongful entry of several members of the United States Drug Enforcement Agency ("DEA") and one member of the SVPD into Plaintiffs' residence when the officers executed an arrest warrant on the wrong home. On April 19, 2012, Defendants filed a Notice of Removal, removing the matter to federal court. (Doc. 1.) Plaintiffs bring this claim against the Village, SVPD, and John Does/Jane Does "1" through "8."[2]

The following facts are undisputed, except where noted. Officer Kimberly Gray has worked for the SVPD since June 2003. (Ds' 56.1 ¶ 6; Ps' Reply 56.1, at 2-3.)[3] Before joining the SVPD, Officer Gray attended the Rockland County Police Academy, where she received training regarding the Fourth Amendment. (Ds' 56.1 ¶¶ 7-8; Ps' Reply 56.1, Counter Statement ¶ 34.) Upon completing her studies, Officer Gray joined the SVPD, and worked with a training officer for six months. (Ds' 56.1 ¶ 9; Ps' Reply 56.1, at 4.) During her time with the SVPD, she has attended in-service training on a variety of subjects. (Ds' 56.1 ¶ 10; Ps' Reply 56.1, at 4.)

On January 13, 2011, Officer Gray was specially assigned to a DEA-organized operation. (Ds' 56.1 ¶¶ 11-12; Ps' Reply 56.1, at 5.) This was not part of Officer Gray's daily tour, and she was the only SVPD officer on the team. (Ds' 56.1 ¶¶ 12, 14; Ps' Reply 56.1, at 5-6.) She knew that the team's goal was to travel to an address and effectuate an arrest warrant, but was not aware of the address and did not see the warrant that the team was assigned to execute. (Ds' 56.1 ¶¶ 15-16; Ps' Reply 56.1, at 6-7.) Officer Gray understood that her function was to "be present" during the operation. (Ds' 56.1 ¶ 24.) Officer Gray traveled with other officers in an unmarked police car to Sharon Drive in Spring Valley, arriving at approximately 5:30 a.m. ( Id. ¶¶ 19-21; Ps' Reply 56.1, at 9.) Officer Gray did not know how the location was chosen, and was not sure if she even knew of the location before she arrived because "we [the SVPD] weren't running the operation." (Ds' 56.1 ¶¶ 22-23; Ps' Reply 56.1, at 10.) Officer Gray followed behind the other officers when they approached the residence. (Ds' 56.1 ¶¶ 26-27; Ps' Reply 56.1, at 11-12.)

David McKay opened the door to the home without the officers having to use any kind of breaching tool. (Ds' 56.1 ¶¶ 29-30; Ps' Reply 56.1, at 12-13.) Plaintiffs were seated on the couch in the living room when Officer Gray entered. (Ps' Reply 56.1, at 15.)[4] Jamie Galan-McKay was dressed in underwear and a shirt, and after receiving permission from the officers, moved towards the kitchen to get dressed. (Ds' 56.1 ¶¶ 35-37; Ps' Reply 56.1, at 14-15.) When a male officer began to follow Ms. Galan-McKay into the kitchen, Ms. Galan-McKay indicated that she would rather Officer Gray accompany her because Officer Gray was the only female officer present. (Ds' 56.1 ¶ 39; Ps' Reply 56.1, at 15-16.) Ms. Galan-McKay dressed in another room, and Officer Gray escorted her back to the living room before departing shortly thereafter. (Ds' 56.1 ¶¶ 41-43; Ps' Reply 56.1, at 16-17.) Officer Gray did not touch Plaintiffs or their property, and Plaintiffs do not recall Officer Gray drawing a gun at any point. (Ds' 56.1 ¶¶ 45-47; Ps' Reply 56.1, at 18.) The only other thing Officer Gray did was ask the occupants, as did the other officers, if someone named Michael was present. (Ps' Reply 56.1, Counter Statement ¶¶ 21-28.) The officers realized that they had entered the wrong residence - 36 Sharon Drive rather than 46 Sharon Drive - and thereafter departed. ( Id. ¶ 72.)

II. Discussion

A. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate when "the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). "[T]he dispute about a material fact is genuine'... if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A fact is "material" if it "might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.... Factual disputes that are irrelevant or unnecessary will not be counted." Id. On a motion for summary judgment, "[t]he evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor." Id. at 255. The movant bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, and, if satisfied, the burden then shifts to the non-movant to present evidence sufficient to satisfy every element of the claim. Holcomb v. Iona Coll., 521 F.3d 130, 137 (2d Cir. 2008) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986)). "The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the [non-movant's] position will be insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the [non-movant]." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252. Moreover, the non-movant "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, " Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986), and he "may not rely on conclusory allegations or unsubstantiated speculation, " Fujitsu Ltd. v. Fed. Express Corp., 247 F.3d 423, 428 (2d Cir. 2001) (internal quotation marks omitted).

"A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by... citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials...." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). Where an affidavit is used to support or oppose the motion, it "must be made on personal knowledge, set out facts that would be admissible in evidence, and show that the affiant... is competent to testify on the matters stated." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(4); see Major League Baseball Props., Inc. v. Salvino, Inc., 542 F.3d 290, 310 (2d Cir. 2008). In the event that "a party fails... to properly address another party's assertion of fact as required by Rule 56(c), the court may, " among other things, ...


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