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Hines v. City of Albany

United States District Court, N.D. New York

January 5, 2015

CONSTANCE HINES and MARSHAY HINES, Plaintiffs,
v.
THE CITY OF ALBANY; ALBANY CHIEF OF POLICE JAMES W. TUFFEY; ASSISTANT CHIEF STEVEN KROKOFF; and OFFICERS BRIAN QUINN, JEFF ROBERTS, JOHN MONTE, ALFRED MARTIN, BRIAN PLANTE, ROBERT MULLIGAN, TIM HAGGERTY, JEFFREY HYDE, ROBERT SHUNCK, and MICHAEL HAGGERTY, Defendants.

COOPER ERVING & SAVAGE LLP, PHILLIP G. STECK, ESQ., KIMBERLY G. FINNIGAN, ESQ., Albany, NY, Counsel for Plaintiffs.

THOMAS MARCELLE, ESQ., Albany County Attorney's Office[1] Albany, NY, Counsel for Plaintiffs.

REHFUSS, LIGUORI & ASSOCIATES, P.C. STEPHEN J. REHFUSS, ESQ., Latham, NY, Counsel for Defendants.

DECISION & ORDER

GLENN T. SUDDABY, District Judge.

Currently before the Court in this civil rights action is a motion by Defendants to stay enforcement of this Court's June 13, 2014 Judgment awarding plaintiffs attorney's fees and costs pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1988 as well as an application for waiver of supersedeas bond. ( See Dkt. No. 119, 122.) Plaintiffs oppose the motion. For the following reasons, Defendants' motion is denied.

I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

Familiarity with the factual and procedural history of this action is presumed and will not be recited in this Decision and Order, which is intended primarily for the review of the parties. See Hines v. City of Albany, No. 06-cv-1517, 2011 WL 2620381 (N.D.N.Y. Jul. 1, 2011) aff'd, 520 F.Appx. 5 (2d Cir. 2013); Hines v. City of Albany, 542 F.Supp. 218 (N.D.N.Y. 2008). Rather, the Court will only briefly summarize the relevant procedural background leading up to the current motion.

Subsequent to the filing of a mandate by the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, affirming the July 1, 2011 decision of United States Senior District Judge Neal P. McCurn, which, among other things, granted summary judgment to Plaintiffs on Constance Hines' unlawful seizure claim, Plaintiffs filed a motion for attorney's fees. Plaintiffs sought $213, 395 in attorney's fees and $1, 548.62 in costs. Defendants opposed the motion on the ground, among others, that Plaintiffs were not the prevailing party. This Court granted in part and denied in part Plaintiff's motion, awarding them $132, 217.75 in attorney's fees and $1, 548.62 in costs. In doing so, the Court found that Plaintiff Constance Hines prevailed on the merits of her claim that certain of the Defendants, including the City of Albany, violated her constitutional rights regarding the seizure and retention of her vehicle. ( See Dkt. No. 116.)

Thereafter, Defendants filed a Notice of Appeal and Plaintiffs filed a Notice of Cross Appeal regarding this Court's Order and Judgment awarding attorney's fees and costs. ( See Dkt. No. 120, 125.)

A. Defendants' Motion

Generally, in support of their motion for a stay of judgment and application for a waiver of supersedeas bond, Defendants assert the following five arguments. First, Defendants argue, they are likely to succeed on their argument that Plaintiffs were not the prevailing party because (1) Plaintiffs' success here was on a "technical issue of whether [Constance Hines] was entitled to a hearing while her vehicle was being detained, " an issue which was "singular and easily separated from the other ninety[] causes of action" in this case; and (2) the law strongly favors Defendants because the issue on which Plaintiffs prevailed was not inextricably intertwined with the other ninety[] causes of action in this case. (Dkt. No. 122-1 at 5 [Defs.' Mem. of Law].) Second, Defendants argue, there is a risk of irreparable harm if a bond is required to effectuate the stay of judgment because the City of Albany would be immediately harmed by having to pay for the bond which would be "unduly burdensome and an unjustifiable injury" to Defendants during the pendency of the appeal. ( Id. at 5-6.) Third, Defendants argue, there are no third parties who would be harmed by the issuance of a stay. ( Id. at 6.) Fourth, Defendants argue, the public interest would be harmed in the absence of a stay because enforcing the judgment would unduly burden innocent taxpayers during the pendency of the appeal. ( Id. at 6-7.) Fifth, and finally, Defendants argue that waiver of supersedeas bond is necessary because filing the bond would irreparably harm Defendants and waiver would not impose any risk on Plaintiffs. ( Id. at 7-8.)

Generally, in opposition to the current motion, Plaintiffs assert the following five arguments. First, Plaintiffs argue, Defendants have failed to make a showing that they are likely to succeed on the merits of their appeal because it is beyond dispute that Plaintiff Constance Hines is the prevailing party in this action. ( See Dkt. No. 128 at 4-7 [Pls.' Mem. of Law].) Second, Plaintiffs argue, Defendants will not be irreparably harmed absent a stay and Defendants have failed to make a showing of harm beyond a monetary loss that is small compared to the City of Albany's budget. ( Id. at 8-9.) Third, Plaintiffs argue, Defendants assert that a stay will substantially harm other parties and therefore, this factor weighs in their favor, when in fact, there is no evidence of such harm here. ( Id. at 9-11.) Fourth, Plaintiffs argue, Defendants fail to establish how taxpayers will be seriously prejudiced by enforcement of the Judgment pending appeal. ( Id. at 11-12.) Fifth, and finally, Plaintiffs argue, Defendants fail to meet their burden to show why a supersedeas bond should be waived. ( Id. at 13-15.)

II. GOVERNING LAW

A. Motion for a Stay of ...


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