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Calderon v. City of New York

United States District Court, S.D. New York

May 4, 2015

MIGUELINA CALDERON, Plaintiff,
v.
THE CITY OF NEW YORK, et al., Defendants.

OPINION & ORDER

PAUL A. ENGELMAYER, District Judge.

In 2013, a three-month investigation revealed that one German Perez was trafficking in cocaine out of 275 East 201st Street, a Bronx apartment building. New York Police Department ("NYPD") Detective James South swore out an affidavit seeking search warrants for apartments 5F and 5K in that building; a state court judge issued a warrant to search those apartments. NYPD officers then conducted searches pursuant to these warrants. In apartment 5F, the officers found and briefly handcuffed plaintiff Miguelina Calderon, but the search of that apartment yielded no evidence of Perez, drug-dealing, or other criminal activity. In apartment 5K, the officers found and arrested Perez and seized drugs.

Calderon now brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law, alleging that Detective South made false statements in the affidavit seeking authority to search apartment 5F. In particular, she claims that the NYPD detectives falsely represented that they had seen Perez accessing apartment 5F shortly before and after selling drugs to a confidential informant outside the building, and that a magistrate presented with an accurate affidavit would not have issued the search warrant. She alleges that she was falsely arrested and wrongfully imprisoned as a result of the execution of the unjustified search of her apartment. She further alleges that the City of New York ("the City") failed to properly train and discipline its officers with respect to seeking search warrants. Calderon seeks compensatory damages of $1 million, plus punitive damages.

Defendants the City and South move to dismiss Calderon's Second Amended Complaint ("SAC") as to all claims. For the reasons that follow, the Court grants the motion to dismiss the SAC, but without prejudice to Calderon's right to replead.

I. Background[1]

A. The Parties

Calderon resides in apartment 5F of 275 East 201st Street ("the building") in the Bronx. SAC ¶ 6. She has lived there since July 2012. Id. ¶ 17.

Calderon has sued 12 defendants. Id. ¶¶ 7-13. The first, the City, is responsible for the NYPD. The second, South, swore out an affidavit in which he stated, inter alia, that he had personally seen Perez, a narcotics trafficking suspect, exit apartment 5F shortly before selling cocaine to a confidential informant outside the building, and that a fellow officer had seen Perez enter apartment 5F immediately after such a sale. The other defendants are 10 John or Jane Does - police officers and detectives "whose identities are currently unknown who are members of the NYPD who took place in the incident described herein." Id. ¶ 13. South and the 10 Does are sued in their individual and official capacities. Id. ¶¶ 9, 13.

B. Calderon's Occupancy of Apartment 5F Before the August 27, 2013 Search

In or about June 2012, Calderon signed a lease with her landlord for apartment 5F. Id. ¶ 16. In or about July 2012, she moved into apartment 5F with her husband and her son. Id. ¶ 17. No one else lived with them. Id. "In July 2012, the Con Edison bill for the apartment was put in [Calderon's] name." Id. ¶ 18.

As to access to the apartment, Calderon alleges that in July 2012, she "installed a top lock and only [she], her husband, and her son had the key. The key cannot be duplicated unless you have a special card. The building did not have a copy of the key or the card." Id. ¶¶ 19-21. Further, in August 2012, "ADT installed an alarm system that covered, among other places, the entrance to the apartment." Id. ¶ 22. This alarm "was always turned on when no one was in the apartment." Id. ¶ 23. If the alarm were activated, ADT would notify plaintiff by phone before contacting the authorities. Id. ¶ 24.

C. Detective South's Affidavit in Support of a Search Warrant

On August 22, 2013, South swore out a seven-page affidavit in support of warrants to search apartments 5F and 5K. See Dkt. 27 ("Siddiqi Decl."), Ex. B. In it, South stated, among other things, the following[2]:

1. In approximately May 2013, NYPD's Narcotics Borough Manhattan North unit began investigating narcotics activity at ...

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