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Gordon v. County of Onondaga

United States District Court, N.D. New York

November 13, 2014

VERNA GORDON, as Administrator of the Estate of Christopher H. Jackson; and VERNA GORDON, individually as mother of the deceased, Plaintiffs,
v.
COUNTY OF ONONDAGA; ONONDAGA COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT; TOWN OF CLAY; CLAY POLICE DEPARTMENT; and KEVIN DRUMM, as an employee of Clay Police Department and as an individual, Defendants.

CHRISTINA G. CAGNINA, ESQ., OFFICE OF CHRISTINA G. CAGNINA, Syracuse, New York, Attorneys for Plaintiff.

CAROL L. RHINEHART, ESQ., ONONDAGA COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF LAW, John H. Mulroy Civic Center, Syracuse, New York, Attorneys for Defendants County of Onondaga and Onondaga County Sheriff's Department.

KEVIN G. MARTIN, ESQ., MARTIN & RAYHILL, P.C., Utica, New York, Attorneys for Defendants Town of Clay, Clay Police Department, and Kevin Drumm.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

FREDERICK J. SCULLI, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff brings this action alleging various claims against Defendants for negligence, assault, battery, and excessive force, as well as various constitutional violations.

Plaintiff originally filed her complaint on September 30, 2009, in New York State Supreme Court, Onondaga County. On October 21, 2009, Defendants Town of Clay and Town of Clay Police Department removed the action to this Court on the basis that this Court has federal question jurisdiction over this matter. Plaintiff filed her Amended Complaint in this Court on July 1, 2010. In her Amended Complaint, Plaintiff seeks damages on all causes of action in the amount of $10, 000, 000.

In her Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Clay Police Officer Kevin Drumm used a TASER to subdue her son Christopher during an arrest on the evening of March 3, 2008. Christopher Jackson subsequently died and was declared dead at 10:40 p.m. that night. Plaintiff alleges that

Decedent Jackson was "tasered" [sic] wrongfully and without just cause due to the careless and negligent acts and/or omissions of the Onondaga County Sheriff's Department and/or the Town of Clay Police Department, their agents, servants, or employees... [who] were acting within scope of their employment... [and who] had a duty to exercise reasonable care and conduct themselves in such a manner as to insure the safety of the decedent Jackson under the circumstances... [and who] knew or should have known that the injuries to Decedent Jackson were reasonably foreseeable... [and a]s a direct and proximate result of the actions of the Defendants, Decedent Jackson endured pain and suffering, acute distress, and death.

Plaintiff also alleges that "no law enforcement officer made any attempt to render first aid or any aid to Mr. Jackson." Plaintiff also highlights the fact that Decedent had suffered a gunshot wound years earlier and still had a bullet in his head on the night of the incident.

Based upon these allegations, Plaintiff asserts eleven causes of action:

(1) A negligence claim against the Sheriff's Department and/or the Police Department for the wrongful and unjust use of a TASER on Decedent
(2) A negligence claim against Defendants for failing to recognize and treat Decedent's injuries
(3) A negligence claim against Defendants for negligent hiring, training, and supervision
(4) Apparently an assault claim against Defendants for the use of a TASER upon Decedent
(5) Apparently a battery claim against "Defendants" for "willfully, maliciously, and without just cause discharge[ing] a taser [sic] at Decedent Jackson causing him severe pain, suffering, and eventually death"
(6) A claim against Defendants for negligent assault, battery, and excessive force
(7) A claim against Defendants for violating Decedent's rights under the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments to the United States Constitution and the like clauses and ...

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