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Dorsey v. Regan

United States District Court, N.D. New York

June 2, 2015

KASAAD DORSEY, Plaintiff,
v.
DETECTIVE JOHN REGAN, Badge# D204-2322; and DETECTIVE RUECKER, Badge# D123-2257, Defendants.

DECISION & ORDER

THOMAS J. McAVOY, Senior District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Kasaad Dorsey brought this action pro se pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He asserts that on October 1, 2013, he was beaten and falsely arrested/imprisoned by defendants Detective John Regan and Detective Ruecker. Compl. at 2-3. The Court previously dismissed plaintiff's claims of false arrest/imprisonment as barred by Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994), see 4/2/14 Dec. & Ord., dkt. #11, and denied his motion to amend the complaint. See 4/14/15 Ord., dkt. #53. Presently before the Court are cross-motions for summary judgment. See Plt. Mot., dkt. #56; Defs. Mot. dkt. #57. For the reasons that follow, plaintiff's motion is denied and defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

On a motion for summary judgment the Court must construe the properly disputed facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, see Scott v. Harris, 127 S.Ct. 1769, 1776 (2007), and may grant summary judgment only where "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see O'Hara v. Nat'l Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, PA, 642 F.3d 110, 116 (2d Cir. 2011). When considering cross-motions for summary judgment, the Court "must evaluate each party's motion on its own merits, taking care in each instance to draw all reasonable inferences against the party whose motion is under consideration." Hotel Employees & Rest. Employees Union, Local 100 of N.Y. v. City of N.Y. Dep't of Parks & Recreation, 311 F.3d 534, 543 (2d Cir. 2002)(citation omitted). "[N]either side is barred from asserting that there are issues of fact, sufficient to prevent the entry of judgment, as a matter of law, against it... [and] a district court is not required to grant judgment as a matter of law for one side or the other." Heublein, Inc. v. United States, 996 F.2d 1455, 1461 (2d Cir. 1993).

III. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff's verified complaint dated December 18, 2013 was filed in the Southern District of New York and transferred to this Court on December 26, 2013. Dkt. #s 2-4. In the complaint, plaintiff asserts that on October 1, 2013 at approximately 9:00 p.m. he was in a Home Depot parking lot in Albany, New York, purchasing marijuana from a seller. Compl. at 3. When Dorsey completed the transaction, two black trucks approached, at which point Dorsey and the seller began to run. Id. Dorsey states that while running, defendants tased him with a stun gun and hit him with an unmarked truck, causing him to fall to the ground. Id. He asserts that while on the ground and handcuffed, defendant Regan repeatedly punched him in the face. Id. Plaintiff suffered multiple injuries consisting of a swollen face, two black eyes, the removal of a taser prong, a chipped tooth, cuts to the inner lips, forehead, and right cheek bone, and lower back pain. Id. Dorsey was arrested for Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance, Third Degree, and later indicted for Assault, Second Degree. Id.

In the "Relief" section of the complaint, plaintiff demands:

Would like the court to charge defendants with attempt [ sic ] vehicular manslaughter, assault with a deadly weapon, and criminal assault. Request order pertection [ sic ] on Albany Police Department C.R.U. staff. I would like to sue Albany Police Department, and City of Albany County [ sic ]. Dismissal of charge against me of assault second-degree. However Detective John Regan sustained his injuries by causing my injuries.

Id.

Upon initial review of the pro se complaint, the Hon. Christian F. Hummel, United States Magistrate Judge, granted plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis; found plaintiff's excessive force allegations against defendants Detective John Regan and Detective Ruecker sufficient to state plausible claims under the Fourth Amendment; and recommended dismissal of plaintiff's false arrest and false imprisonment claims as barred by Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994). See 2/28/14 Rep. Rec., dkt. #10. On April 2, 2014, the Court adopted Magistrate Judge Hummel's recommendation and dismissed plaintiff's claims for false arrest and false imprisonment. 4/2/14 Dec. & Ord., dkt. #11.

On August 19, 2014, Magistrate Judge Hummel denied plaintiff's motions to strike the defendants' answer and stay civil proceedings during an undefined criminal proceeding related to the October 1, 2013 charges. See 8/19/14 Order, dkt. #31. On April 14, 2015, Magistrate Judge Hummel denied plaintiff's motion for leave to amend his complaint, and for a subpoena of camera footage and trial transcripts from plaintiff's state court criminal trial. See 4/14/15 Order, dkt. #53. On April 21, 2015, plaintiff and defendants each filed motions for summary judgment. See dkt. #s 56 (Pl. Motion); 57 (Defs. Motion).

IV. PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

In support of his motion for summary judgment, plaintiff submits a notice of motion, a statement of material facts, and an affidavit of service. Plaintiff makes vague legal arguments in both the notice of motion and statement of material facts. Defendants respond as if the arguments were presented in a memorandum of law, and the Court treats the arguments similarly.

a. Plaintiff's Statement of Material Facts in Support of his Motion

In his moving Statement of Material Facts ("PMSMF"), plaintiff asserts that his arrest on October 1, 2013 for Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance, Third Degree, was "unlawful." PMSMF ¶1. Defendants respond by: (1) noting that plaintiff's claims for false arrest and false imprisonment were dismissed, making the lawfulness of his arrest irrelevant; (2) citing plaintiff's complaint in which he admits to purchasing marijuana immediately before his arrest on October 1, 2013; (3) citing plaintiff's deposition testimony during which he admits that he was convicted upon his guilty plea of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance, Third Degree, arising out of the October 1, 2013 incident, and (4) citing plaintiff's deposition testimony during which he admitted he was convicted after a jury trial of Assault, Second Degree, for assaulting Detective Regan on October 1, 2013. See Defendants' Responsive Statement of Material Facts ("DRSMF"), ¶¶ 1, 3 (and citations contained therein).

While defendants are correct that plaintiff may not challenge the lawfulness of his arrest because his false arrest/imprisonment claims were dismissed, the crime or crimes for which the police believed they had probable cause to arrest is relevant to the reasonableness inquiry on an excessive force claim. See Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 394-95, 109 S.Ct. 1865, 104 L.Ed.2d 443 (1989);[1] Tracy v. Freshwater, 623 F.3d 90, 96 (2d Cir. 2010);[2] Sterlin v. City of New York, 2014 WL 2560595, at *4 (S.D.N.Y. June 06, 2014).[3] It is important to understand, however, that plaintiff's convictions for Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance, Third Degree, arising out of the October 1, 2013 incident, and Assault, Second Degree, for assaulting Detective Regan on October 1, 2013, establish probable cause as a matter of law. See McLaurin v. New Rochelle Police Officers, 439 Fed.Appx. 38, 39 (2d Cir. 2011);[4] see also Devenpeck v. Alford, 543 U.S. 146, 153, 125 S.Ct. 588, 160 L.Ed.2d 537 (2004);[5] Jaegly v. Couch, 439 F.3d 149, 154 (2d Cir. 2006).[6] Thus, the existence of probable cause to arrest plaintiff on October 1, 2013, and therefore the "lawfulness" of his arrest, will not be litigated before the jury. Rather, the issues to be litigated will be whether the defendants used constitutionally prohibited excessive force, or failed to intervene to stop another officer's use of constitutionally prohibited excessive force, under the circumstances as they existed at the time.

Defendants do not dispute plaintiff's contention that he suffered injuries on October 1, 2013 as alleged in the complaint and as set forth in the medical records from the Albany Medical Center Emergency Room, including a nasal fracture. However, whether those injuries were the result of defendants' use of constitutionally ...


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