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Sethi v. Nassau County

United States District Court, E.D. New York

June 3, 2014

NASSAU COUNTY, NASSAU COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT, NASSAU COUNTY P.O. JEFF BIGGER, sued herein individually and in his official capacity, P.O. EVISCERATE, sued herein in his individual and official capacity, RXR SECURITY GUARD RANDY LNU, RXR MANAGEMENT COMPANY, Defendants,



On December 30, 2011, plaintiff Harsharan Sethi ("plaintiff') commenced this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983") against Nassau County, Nassau County Police Department, Police Officer Jeff Biggers (s/h/a "P.O. Jeff Bigger"), and Police Officer Gregory Echevarria (s/h/a "P.O. Eviscerate") (collectively, the "County Defendants"), and RXR Management Company and "RXR Security Guard Randy" (together, "RXR").[1] Compl. On March 23, 2012, the County Defendants answered and asserted a cross-claim against RXR. [Docket Entry No. 2], On March 13, 2013, this Court granted RXR's motion for summary judgment and dismissed all claims and cross-claims against RXR with prejudice. [Docket Entry No. 261 Now before the Court is the County Defendants' motion for summary judgment. [Docket Entry No. 451. For the reasons that follow, the County Defendants' motion is GRANTED.

I. Factual Background[2]

On December 1, 2011, Michelle Trabucchi ("Trabucchi")[3] called 911 to report that a former employee of Cambridge, whom she identified as plaintiff Harsharan Sethi, was seen taking photographs of employees in the lobby level of the office building, located at 498 RXR Plaza, Uniondale, New York ("RXR Plaza"). (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 2-4; Nassau Cnty. P.D. Event Search, at 1-2). Trabucchi informed the 911 operator that Cambridge "has an ongoing lawsuit with [plaintiff], " that plaintiff was "now pacing back and forth" and "looks a little off, " and that employees were "very upset" and "very nervous." (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 3; Nassau Cnty. P.D. Event Search, at 2).

In response to Trabucchi's 911 call, Officer Biggers and Officer Echevarria (together, the "Officers") arrived at RXR Plaza and spoke with Cambridge personnel. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 7, 9). The Officers were told that plaintiff had been fired from his position at Cambridge. (Ben-Sorik Deck, Ex. H ("Biggers Depo."), at 30). The Officers were informed that "one of [Cambridge's] employees was down in the cafeteria and being followed by [plaintiff] and he was taking pictures... of her." (Ben-Sork Decl., Ex. G ("Echevarria Depo."), at 12-13). The Officers were shown a postcard with "derogatory statements" about Cambridge, purportedly sent by plaintiff to Cambridge employees and/or clients, which included photographs of Cambridge employees. (Biggers Depo., at 29-31; Echevarria Depo., at 12-13; Trabucchi Depo., at 30-32). Following their conversation with Cambridge personnel, the Officers returned to the lobby level of RXR Plaza, where a female Cambridge employee identified plaintiff. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 10-11; Echevarria Depo., at 13-15).

The Officers approached plaintiff and asked him for identification, but plaintiff refused to provide identification and "became very agitated." (Echevarria Depo., at 15-17; Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 13-17). According to Officer Biggers, plaintiff "was immediately being combative with us" and "[r]efused to show us his T.D." (Biggers Depo., at 22). At some point, plaintiff told the Officers that he was at RXR Plaza for a dental appointment and presented an appointment card for a future date.[4] (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 18; Biggers Depo., at 23-24; Transcript, at 4-5). Officer Biggers went to the dentist's office and was informed that "[plaintiff] was not a patient, [and] was not there for an appointment." (Biggers Depo., at 28; Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 19-20). Upon concluding that plaintiff "had no legitimate reason to be in the building, " the Officers asked plaintiff to leave RXR Plaza. (Biggers Depo., at 28-29; Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 21-23).

When plaintiff did not immediately leave RXR Plaza following the Officers' request, the Officers escorted plaintiff outside, with Officer Echevarria holding plaintiffs right wrist and triceps, and Officer Biggers with a hand on plaintiff's back.[5] (Defs.' 56A Stmt. ¶¶ 24-27; Echevarria Depo., at 28-30; Biggers Depo., at 36-41). Once outside, the Officers instructed plaintiff to "get in [his] car" and "leave the property." (Transcript, at 11-12).

Plaintiff did not seek medical treatment for any injuries alleged to have been incurred during the December 1, 2011 encounter with the Officers, nor has plaintiff sought any mental health counseling. (Sethi Depo. at 138, 141). Plaintiff did not file a complaint with any agency regarding the events of December 1, 2011. (Id. at 145).

II. Analysis

A. Standard of Review

"Summary judgment must be granted where the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Brown v. Eli Lilly & Co., 654 F.3d 347, 358 (2d Cir. 2011) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a)). "In ruling on a summary judgment motion, the district court must resolve all ambiguities, and credit all factual inferences that could rationally be drawn, in favor of the party opposing summary judgment and determine whether there is a genuine dispute as to a material fact, raising an issue for trial." McCarthy v. Dun & Bradstreet Corp., 482 F.3d 184, 202 (2d Cir. 2007) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). "A fact is material if it might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law, and an issue of fact is genuine if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Ramos v. Baldor Specialty Foods, Inc., 687 F.3d 554, 558 (2d Cir. 2012) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). "Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no genuine issue for trial." Ricci v. DeStefano, 557 U.S. 557, 586, 129 S.Ct. 2658, 174 L.Ed.2d 490 (2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted); see also Fabrikant v. French, 691 F.3d 193, 205 (2d Cir. 2012).

"The moving party bears the burden of establishing the absence of any genuine issue of material fact." Zalaski v. City of Bridgeport Police Dep't, 613 F.3d 336, 340 (2d Cir. 2010) (citation omitted). If this burden is met, "the opposing party must come forward with specific evidence demonstrating the existence of a genuine dispute of material fact." Brown, 654 F.3d at 358 (citation omitted). In order to defeat summary judgment, the nonmoving party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts and may not rely on conclusory allegations or unsubstantiated speculation." Id. (internal quotation marks and citations omitted); see also Jeffreys v. City of N.Y., 426 F.3d 549, 554 (2d Cir. 2005) ("At the summary judgment stage, a nonmoving party must offer some hard evidence showing that its version of the events is not wholly fanciful." (internal quotation marks and citation omitted)).

B. Section 1983

Section 1983 of Title 42 of the United States Code provides, ...

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