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Corbley v. County of Suffolk

United States District Court, E.D. New York

September 22, 2014

BRENDAN CORBLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
THE COUNTY OF SUFFOLK, Defendant

Page 277

For Plaintiff: Andrew J. Campanelli, Esq., CAMPANELLI & ASSOCIATES, P.C., Merrick, NY.

For Defendant: Christopher M. Gatto, Esq., Assistant County Attorney, DENNIS M. BROWN, SUFFOLK COUNTY ATTORNEY, Hauppauge, NY.

Page 278

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

LEONARD D. WEXLER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

Before the Court is a motion to dismiss by Defendant County of Suffolk (" County" or " Defendant" ) and a cross-motion for summary judgment by Plaintiff Brendan Corbley (" Corbley" or " Plaintiff" ). For the reasons that follow, Defendant's motion is granted in part and denied in part, and Plaintiff's motion is denied in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

I. Factual Background

Plaintiff brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 seeking compensatory damages, and declaratory and injunctive relief for the violation of his constitutional rights as a result of the improper seizure and retention of his motor vehicle. Plaintiff's complaint alleges that the County did not follow the due process requirements for retention hearings laid down by the Second Circuit in Krimsotck v. Kelly, 306 F.3d 40 (2d Cir. 2002) and ordered by other courts in this District in other cases, or as required by Suffolk County Code. Plaintiff alleges these violations occurred not just in his case, but as a matter of policy and practice by the County in numerous other cases cited in the complaint. Plaintiff brings a procedural due process claim under § 1983, a substantive due process claim under § 1983, and a claim for declarative and injunctive relief that such policies, practices and procedures of the County are unconstitutional and must be enjoined.

II. Plaintiff's Complaint

Specifically, Plaintiff's complaint alleges that on February 3, 2013, his Toyota Corolla was seized by the County pursuant to a program by which certain vehicles are seized and subject to civil forfeiture as " instrumentalities of a crime." Complaint (" Cmplt" ), ¶ 9. Although not stated in the complaint, the vehicle was seized in connection with Plaintiff's (second) arrest for driving while intoxicated.[1]

As noted in the complaint, the Second Circuit, in Krimstock v. Kelly, 306 F.3d 40 (2d. 2002), cert. denied, 539 U.S. 969, 123 S.Ct. 2640, 156 L.Ed.2d 675 (2003), ruled that the due process requirements of the14th Amendment require that in order to retain vehicles seized pursuant to such programs, the municipality must provide the owner with a " prompt post-seizure, pre-judgment hearing" before a neutral judicial officer. Cmplt., ¶ 12, citing Krimstock. The hearing officer must determine the likelihood of success on the merits and whether there are alternative means to

Page 279

satisfy the municipalities need to reserve the vehicle. Krimstock, 306 F.3d 40, 67 (2d Cir. 2002). The Second Circuit remanded the matter to the district court to " fashion the appropriate procedural relief." Id., at 69. The district court thus crafted what is known as a Krimstock hearing, requiring the municipality to meet a three-pronged test: 1) that there was probable cause for the underlying arrest; 2) that the municipality is likely to succeed on the merits of the forfeiture action; and 3) that retention of the vehicle is necessary to protect the municipality's interest in the vehicle pending the forfeiture proceeding. Krimstock v. Kelly, 506 ...


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