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Hardee v. City of New York

United States District Court, S.D. New York

August 14, 2014

CITY OF NEW YORK, et al., Defendants.


PAUL A. ENGELMAYER, District Judge.

Plaintiff Stanley Hardee ("Hardee"), proceeding pro se, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the City of New York (the "City") and four individual defendants: Sergeant Christopher Siani ("Siani"), Sergeant Stephen Loud ("Loud"), Police Officer Kieran Kailer ("Kailer"), and retired Detective Joseph Cosaluzzo ("Cosaluzzo") of the New York City Police Department ("NYPD") (collectively, the "individual defendants"). Hardee asserts claims of: (1) excessive force, in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, against the individual defendants; (2) municipal liability for the claim of excessive force against the City; and (3) assault and battery under New York State law against the City and the individual defendants. These claims stem from a July 31, 2010 traffic stop that resulted in Hardee's arrest. Hardee alleges that, during that stop, Siani, Loud, and Kailer "ransacked" his vehicle and physically assaulted him, causing fractures to his teeth and lacerations to his face and arms. Hardee seeks $1 million from the City, and $500, 000 from each individual defendant, for a total of $3 million in damages.

Defendants now move for summary judgment as to: (1) all claims against Cosaluzzo and the City; and (2) the assault and battery claims against the individual defendants. For the reasons that follow, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.

I. Background[1]

A. Facts

Shortly after 1 a.m. on July 31, 2010, Hardee was driving his car south on Lexington Avenue near 116th Street in Manhattan, New York. Def. 56.1 ¶ 1; see also Nam Decl. Ex. B ("Hardee Dep.") at 21. Alice Simmons ("Simmons"), an associate of Hardee's, was in the front passenger seat. Def. 56.1 ¶ 2; see also Hardee Dep. at 10, 22.

Three plainclothes officers of the Manhattan North Anti-Crime Unit of the NYPD- Siani, Loud, and Kailer-were on patrol and riding in an unmarked vehicle. Def. 56.1 ¶ 3. Kailer was driving, Loud was in the front passenger seat, and Siani was in the backseat behind Kailer. Nam Decl. Ex. C at 2. At approximately 1:22 a.m., Siani and Loud saw Hardee's car driving down Lexington Avenue at a speed that Loud estimated was 20 to 30 miles per hour above the speed limit. Def. 56.1 ¶¶ 4-5. Siani and Loud alerted Kailer to the speeding car; Kailer activated his lights and siren and followed Hardee's car south on Lexington Avenue. Nam Decl. Ex. C at 2. According to Siani and Loud, Hardee's car was "changing lanes and weaving in and out of traffic without signaling and appeared to be in a big hurry." Id. at 2-3. The officers pulled Hardee over on Lexington Avenue between 116th and 117th Streets. Def. 56.1 ¶¶ 6-7; see also Hardee Dep. at 21.

Kailer and Siani approached the driver's side of Hardee's car; Loud approached the passenger's side. Def. 56.1 ¶ 8. Siani testified that Hardee was "wide-eyed, " appeared to be nervous, moved around a lot, and looked at Simmons and the backseat "two or four times." Nam Decl. Ex. C at 3. According to Siani, Hardee was acting very animated to the point at which he thought Hardee might be on drugs because he was so "hyper." Id. Kailer told Hardee to stop moving around. Id. When Hardee continued to move and look around, Kailer asked him to step out of his car. Def. 56.1 ¶¶ 12-13; see also Hardee Dep. 22:7-8; Nam Decl. Ex. C at 3. Kailer frisked Hardee and asked him if he had any weapons. Def. 56.1 ¶¶ 13-14; see also Hardee Dep. 21:18-19, 22:9-13; Nam Decl. Ex. C at 4. Kailer then directed Hardee to place his hands in his front pockets and to stand by the rear of the car. Def. 56.1 ¶ 14.

While Hardee was waiting at the back of the car, he continued to look over his shoulders, at Loud, and into the back seat. Def. 56.1 ¶¶ 15-16. Siani testified that Hardee was acting "way too nervous, " and that, based on his behavior, Siani believed Hardee was either going to flee or fight the officers. Id. ¶ 18; Nam Decl. Ex. C at 5. Kailer told Hardee to stop looking back and warned him that he would be handcuffed if he did not comply. Def. 56.1 ¶ 17. Hardee immediately looked back into the car. Id. ¶ 18. Siani then attempted to handcuff Hardee. Id. ¶ 20. After Siani placed one of the handcuffs on Hardee's right wrist, Hardee began to resist arrest.[2] Id. ¶ 21.

Meanwhile, Loud, who was standing near the passenger side of Hardee's vehicle, asked Simmons, the passenger, to step out of the car. Id. ¶ 22. When she did so, Loud leaned through the open window and looked at the backseat where Hardee's attention had earlier appeared to be directed. Id. ¶ 23. In the backseat, Loud saw a "medium-sized, maroon plastic shopping bag with handles." Id. ¶ 24. Loud pulled the plastic bag toward him and saw that a smaller black bag was inside the shopping bag, and that the handle of a semiautomatic firearm was sticking out of that bag. Id. ¶ 25. Loud yelled "Gun" and ran over to assist Kailer and Siani, who were, at that time, struggling to subdue Hardee. Id. ¶¶ 26-27. Loud "started to hit [Hardee] to attempt to get him down on the ground." Nam Decl. Ex. C at 6. While Kailer, Siani, and Loud were struggling with Hardee, a uniformed officer who was on foot patrol came to their assistance and struck Hardee with his baton. Def. 56.1 ¶ 29. Hardee testified that two officers used their batons, and that they hit him in the head, legs, shoulders, arms, and mouth. Id. ¶¶ 31-32; see also Hardee Dep. 27-28. After "approximately forty-five seconds" of struggle, Kailer, Siani, and Loud were able to handcuff Hardee and place him under arrest. Nam Decl. Ex. C at 6; Def. 56.1 ¶ 30. The officers searched the car and seized a "defaced and loaded Black Ruger-Model P89 9mm pistol." Def. 56.1 ¶ 33.

On the night of Hardee's arrest, Detective Cosaluzzo was assigned to the NYPD's Manhattan South Detective Borough NightWatch, which is located at 230 West 13th Street, Manhattan, New York. Def. 56.1 ¶ 35; Nam Decl. Ex. F ("Cosaluzzo Decl.") ¶ 4. NightWatch "consists of detectives who investigate any incidents occurring between the hours of 1 a.m. and 8 a.m." Cosaluzzo Decl. ¶ 5. Cosaluzzo was assigned to investigate the incident involving Hardee. Id. ¶ 9. Cosaluzzo met with and interviewed Hardee at the 25th Precinct, Def. 56.1 ¶ 36, where Hardee was initially detained, id. ¶ 35; Hardee Dep. 40. Cosaluzzo prepared, as the investigating detective, an NYPD Complaint Follow-Up Informational System Report ("DD5s") regarding Hardee's arrest. Def. 56.1 ¶ 37; Cosaluzzo Decl. ¶¶ 12-13.

Hardee did not file a New York State notice of claim with respect to the events that allegedly occurred at the time of his arrest. Def. 56.1 ¶ 40; see also Hardee Dep. 18.

B. Procedural History

On October 6, 2010, Hardee filed his pro se Complaint in this case. Dkt. 2 ("Compl."). Hardee listed Cosaluzzo, Kailer, Loud, and Siani as defendants in this lawsuit based on the police report he received, because he could not recall the names of the officers involved in his arrest. Def. 56.1 ¶ 38. The Complaint seeks compensatory damages totaling $3 million: $1 million from the City for the alleged constitutional violation, i.e., the use of excessive force; and $500, 000 each from Siani, Loud, Kailer, and Cosaluzzo for his alleged "physical, mental, and emotional duress and anguish." Compl. at 4.

On October 15, 2010, Hardee's case was assigned to the Hon. Richard J. Holwell. Dkt. 4. On January 25, 2011, Judge Holwell granted defendants' motion to stay this action pending the disposition of Hardee's criminal case in New York State Supreme Court. See Dkt. 5. ...

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