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Al-Mohammedi v. City of Buffalo

United States District Court, W.D. New York

January 17, 2017

JASSIM AL-MOHAMMEDI, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF BUFFALO, P.O. ANN VANYO, P.O. HIBA KHALIL, P.O. JAY REUTHER, P.O. “KEATON SWAGGARD”, P.O. “JOHN” KEATON, P.O. “JOHN STEPHANY”, Defendants.

          DECISION AND ORDER

          HON. MICHAEL A. TELESCA United States District Judge.

         I. Introduction

         This matter is before the Court upon the Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) filed by Magistrate Judge Michael J. Roemer on March 23, 2016, recommending that the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by the City of Buffalo (“the City”), Buffalo Police Department (“BPD”) Officer Ann Vanyo (“Officer Vanyo”), [1] and BPD Officer Hiba Khalil (“Officer Khalil”) (collectively, “Defendants”) be granted in its entirety. On April 12, 2016, Jassim Al-Mohammedi (“Plaintiff”), through his attorney, filed Rule 72(b) Objections to the Magistrate's March 23, 2012 [sic] Summary Judgment Report and Recommendation (“Obj.”) (Dkt #36). On April 29, 2016, Defendants filed a Response to Plaintiff's Rule 72(b) Objections (“Defs' Resp.”).

         For the reasons discussed below, the Court denies Plaintiff's Objections except to the limited extent as discussed in Section III.C, below. Nonetheless, as discussed further below, the Court agrees with R&R in all other respects and adopts the Magistrate Judge's recommendation to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint in its entirety.

         II. Standard of Review

         “In reviewing the R & R of a dispositive matter from a magistrate judge, the district court ‘may adopt those portions of the Report to which no objections have been made and which are not facially erroneous.'” Nansaram v. City of N.Y., No. 12-CV-5038 NGG RLM, 2015 WL 5518270, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 17, 2015) (quotation and citation omitted); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b), Advisory Comm. Notes (when a party makes no objection, or only general objections to a portion of an R&R, the district judge reviews it for clear error or manifest injustice). An R&R is “clearly erroneous” when the court is, “upon review of the entire record, left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed.” United States v. Snow, 462 F.3d 55, 72 (2d Cir. 2006).

         To preserve a claim for review by the district court, the party must make sufficiently specific objections to the R&R. E.g., Mario v. P & C Food Mkts., Inc., 313 F.3d 758, 766 (2d Cir. 2002). When, however, a party makes specific objections, the district judge must undertake a “de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made[, ]” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C), and “may . . . receive further evidence[.]” Id.; see also Grassia v. Scully, 892 F.2d 16, 19 (2d Cir. 1989) (discussing § 636(b)(1)(B)).

         III. Discussion

         A. Plaintiff's Objections Based on His Previous Arguments are Insufficient (Obj. ¶ 1)

         Plaintiff states that he “repeats and maintains each and every argument and point of law as set forth in [his] underlying papers opposing [D]efendants' summary judgment motion, incorporated here by reference[.]” (Obj. ¶ 1). As the Second Circuit has explained, “[m]erely referring the court to previously filed papers or arguments does not constitute an adequate objection under either Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b), ” Mario, 313 F.3d at 766 (footnote omitted), or under this District's Local Rules. The Court declines Plaintiff's to request re-examine the arguments he previously made to the Magistrate Judge in considering the summary judgment motion. See Paterson-Leitch Co. v. Massachusetts Mun. Wholesale Elec. Co., 840 F.2d 985, 990-91 (1st Cir. 1988) (“We hold categorically that an unsuccessful party is not entitled as of right to de novo review by the judge of an argument never seasonably raised before the magistrate.”) (citation omitted).

         B. The R&R's Allegedly Erroneous Characterization of the Incident as a “Domestic Dispute” (Obj. ¶ 6[2])

         Plaintiff asserts that the Magistrate Judge erroneously characterized the incident at issue in his Complaint as a “domestic dispute.” (R&R at 1; Obj. ¶ 6). This objection, while specific, is baseless. Plaintiff asserts that on July 14, 2012, he was “arrested outside a building he owned by . . . [Officer] Vanyo and others, including off duty . . . [Officer] Khalil, ” who had “arrived at the home along with Plaintiff's wife, Eness Noairy, [3] who had just spent the night in jail after trashing the couple's apartment, and with Vanyo's assistance seized the couple's two children with no legal authority to do so.” (Obj. ¶¶ 2, 6). Plaintiff admits that “Noary informed [Officer] Vanyo that she had gone to the house ‘to get children and personal belongings[.]'” (Plaintiff's Rule 56 Counterstatement in Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (“Pl's Counterstmt”), Resp. to #4). These and other facts, as recited by Plaintiff in his Objections, show that the incident in question accurately was characterized as a “domestic dispute.”[4]. Finally, Plaintiff's objection to the term “domestic dispute” is disingenuous given that Plaintiff's attorney used that same term in posing questions to Officer Vanyo during her deposition. (E.g., Deposition Transcript of Ann Vanyo (“Vanyo Tr.”) at 15:5-11).

         C. Failure to Construe the Facts in the Light Most Favorable to Plaintiff (Obj'ns ¶¶ 6-7)

         Plaintiff next objects that the Magistrate Judge “state[d] as a fact that Noary ‘reported to the [BPD] that [Plaintiff] had been violent and had threatened her.'” (Obj. ¶ 7 (quoting R&R at 2)). According to Plaintiff, the Magistrate Judge's mention of the Noary's complaint to the BPD was a “misleading construction of the facts, and a failure to construe the admissible evidence in the light most favorable to [him][, ]” (id.), because the police report filed by Noary only was completed after Plaintiff's arrest, and Noary “was not even present at the scene until she arrived with police officers[.]” (Id.). The Court has reviewed the record as it stood at the time the R&R was issued, in conjunction with the deposition transcript of Officer Vanyo, [5] which was not before the Magistrate Judge. The Court is compelled to conclude that the record does not establish that Officer Vanyo “undisputedly” was given information by Noary, prior to the arrest, about Plaintiff's alleged threats toward Noary. However, the record does indicate that Officer Vanyo was provided information, prior to the incident, that Plaintiff had been violent. Thus, while additional discussion of the record evidence is required, the Court ultimately agrees with the R&R's qualified immunity analysis regarding the false arrest claims, as discussed further infra.

         The Court first turns to an examination of the record to assess the facts available to Officer Vanyo at the time of the arrest and immediately before it, see Caldarola, 298 F.3d at 162. In support of their Motion for Summary Judgment, Defendants produced the Buffalo Police Complaint Summary Report (Dkt #25-2) regarding the “family dispute” at 179 Military Road to which Officer Vanyo and Officer Jay A. Reuther were dispatched on July 14, 2012. The dispatcher's notes regarding the originating call from the complainant read as follows:

C/C IN BANK OF AMERICA LOT @ AUSTIN/MILITARY IN RED SUV . . . REQ[UESTED] ESCORT TO GET CHILDREN/PROPERTY FROM HOUSE, HUSBAND HAS BEEN VIOLENT.

(Dkt #25-2, p. 1 of 1) (capitals and ellipsis in original). Officer Vanyo was dispatched as the “Primary” officer at 8:20 p.m., and Officer Reuther was dispatched a few seconds later. (Id.; see also Buffalo Police Dispatch Monitor-Unit History Report (Dkt #25-3, p. 1 of 6)). The record evidence thus supports the R&R's ...


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