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MacIneirghe v. County of Suffolk

United States District Court, E.D. New York

April 1, 2015



STEVEN I. LOCKE, Magistrate Judge.

Presently before the Court in this civil rights action is a motion by Plaintiffs Brian Macineirghe ("Brian"), Ian Macineirghe ("Ian"), and Tomas Macineirghe ("Tomas", together with Brian and Ian, "Plaintiffs" or the "Macineirghes"), brought by Order to Show Cause ("OTSC"), DE [55], seeking to: (1) compel the production of surveillance footage alleged to be relevant to Plaintiffs' underlying claims; (ii) modify the scheduling order to permit Plaintiffs to conduct a deposition relating to the surveillance footage; and (iii) impose sanctions in the form of an adverse inference jury instruction for the alleged spoliation of evidence, in the event the surveillance footage no longer exists. The OTSC is directed at Defendants North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System Inc. ("LIJ"), Southside Hospital, Cesar Gregorio Benavides and Miguel Gonzales (collectively, the "Hospital Defendants"). On March 18, 2015, the Hospital Defendants submitted opposition to the OTSC, DE [62]. The remaining Defendants, County of Suffolk, Suffolk County Police Department, Suffolk County Sheriff's Department, Jonathan C. Allen, James Boswell, Peter Hansen, Charles Gambino, John Diffley, Mark Bendetti, Christopher Anskat, and Craig Knudsen (collectively, the "County Defendants") did not oppose the OTSC. For the reasons set forth below, the OTSC is granted in part and denied in part.

I. Background

Unless otherwise noted, the following facts are drawn from the Complaint ("Compl."). Plaintiffs are individuals who, at all relevant times, resided in East Islip, New York. See Compl. ¶ 5. Brian and Ian are brothers; Tomas is their father. See id. ¶ 45. Defendant Southside Hospital is a private hospital in Bay Shore, New York. See id. ¶ 21. Defendants Benavides and Gonzales were employed by Southside Hospital at the time of the complained-of events. See id. ¶¶ 22-23. The County Defendants consist of a municipality, its police and sheriff's departments, and several individual members thereof. See id. ¶¶ 6-16.

According to the Complaint, on Friday March 23, 2012, Brian was waxing his car in the backyard of Plaintiffs' property located at 27 Irish Lane, East Islip, New York (the "Premises"). See id. ¶ 29. Ian and Tomas were inside the residence on the Premises at the time. See id. ¶ 38. At approximately 1:30 p.m., though Brian "w[as] not acting in an unlawful and/or unreasonable manner, " Defendants Allen and Boswell, together with "other members of the Suffolk County Police Department, unlawfully entered upon the [Premises] without warrant and or justification." Id. ¶¶ 30-31.

While on the Premises, Defendants Allen and Boswell, together with others, "threatened, harassed, attacked, punched and/or kicked" Brian "without legal justification and/or lawful reason." Id. ¶ 32. Plaintiffs allege a litany of actions by Defendants Allen and Boswell, and others, including: "charg[ing] at" Brian and "slam[ing him] onto the hood of his automobile, " id. ¶ 33; "handcuff[ing]" Brian and "plac[ing him] under arrest without reason, legal justification and/or probable cause, " id. ¶ 34; "punch[ing] and/or otherwise str[iking]" Brian while his hands were handcuffed behind his back, id. ¶ 35; and "threaten[ing] to taze' Brian and cause other bodily harm" to him, id. ¶ 36.

Upon hearing Brian "plead[ing] for someone to help him, " Ian and Tomas responded and "continually asked why [Brian] was being placed under arrest." Id. ¶¶ 38-39. Plaintiffs claim that they did not "threaten, attack and/or act aggressively toward" any of the County Defendants. Id. ¶ 40. Defendants Hansen, Gambino, and other members of the County Police Department subsequently arrived at the Premises. See id. ¶ 41. Brian was placed under arrest, placed into a police car, and transported to Southside Hospital. See id. ¶¶ 42-43. According to Plaintiffs, the County Defendants "refused to inform Ian and Tomas where they were taking Brian." Id. ¶ 44.

Thereafter, Ian and Tomas learned that Brian had been taken to Southside Hospital and traveled there. See id. ¶ 45. Ian and Tomas entered the hospital and were given "visitor" passes. See id. ¶ 47. Upon entering, Ian and Tomas "found Brian seated in the hospital handcuffed to a chair rail, bleeding and under the control and supervision of [Defendants] Allen, Boswell, Anskat, Hansen, Gambino and other members of the Suffolk County Police Department." Id. ¶ 49. The County Defendants continually refused to inform Tomas why Brian had been arrested and why he was bleeding. See id. ¶ 50.

Plaintiffs claim that "Ian and Tomas attempted to leave [Southside Hospital] under their own power" but that they were followed into the hospital's parking lot by Defendant Boswell and others, and Tomas was "placed under arrest and handcuffed without warrant, probable cause or justification." Id. ¶ 52. Similarly, when Ian attempted to exit the parking lot in his vehicle, he "was unlawfully and without probable cause stopped, searched and subsequently handcuffed and placed under arrest by [Defendant] Knudsen and other members of the Suffolk County Police Department." Id. ¶ 53. The Macineirghes were all "held and unreasonably, unjustifiably and unlawfully imprisoned by" the County Defendants. Id. ¶¶ 57-58.

Plaintiffs allege that certain oral and written statements, including arrest reports, felony complaints, prosecution worksheets, and misdemeanor information sheets, were made by the County Defendants in connection with Plaintiffs' arrest and subsequent prosecution. See id. ¶ 59. In addition, Plaintiffs allege that oral and written statements were made by the Hospital Defendants, including Defendants Benavides and Gonzalez, in connection with Plaintiffs' arrest and prosecution. See id. ¶ 60. Specifically, Plaintiffs allege that members of the Suffolk County Police Department "instructed and/or conspired with" the Hospital Defendants "as to what to write on certain criminal complaints, court depositions and other statements." Id. ¶ 61.

The criminal prosecution commenced against Brian was "removed from the [Suffolk County] District Court Calendar and/or dismissed without notification to" Brian or his counsel. Id. ¶ 66. The criminal prosecutions commenced against Tomas and Ian were "dismissed as facially insufficient by the [Suffolk County] District Court." Id. ¶¶ 67-68.

Based on these events, Plaintiffs assert various causes of action against the County Defendants, including claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for excessive force, false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, and other civil rights violations. As against the County Defendants, Plaintiffs also allege claims of common law assault and battery, and violations of their rights under the United States and New York constitutions. As against the Hospital Defendants, Plaintiffs assert causes of action for libel, slander, negligence, conspiracy, and falsification of a document, all arising from the oral and written statements made by the Hospital Defendants, and Benavides and Gonzales specifically, in connection with the complained-of events.

II. Procedural Posture

By electronic Order dated June 6, 2014, Magistrate Judge William Wall approved a deadline of July 11, 2014, for the completion of discovery and directed that any party planning to make a dispositive motion was required to take the first action beginning the motion practice on or before July 23, 2014. On July ...

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