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Soberanis v. City of New York

United States District Court, S.D. New York

March 23, 2017

CITY OF NEW YORK, Defendant.


          GABRIEL W. GORESTEIN United States Magistrate Judge.

         Ernesto Soberanis, currently an inmate in the Watertown Correctional Facility in Watertown, New York, brought this suit pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the City of New York (“the City”) and the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (“DOCCS”). Complaint, dated Feb. 16, 2015 (Docket # 2) (“Compl.”). Soberanis alleges that he was illegally confined at the Queensboro Correctional Facility (“Queensboro”) in New York City for approximately two weeks. See id. at *2, *8.[1] DOCCS was previously dismissed as a defendant. See Order, dated Mar. 31, 2015 (Docket # 6). The sole remaining defendant in this case, the City, has moved for summary judgment.[2]

         For the following reasons, the City's motion for summary judgment is granted.

         I. FACTS

         On a motion for summary judgment, we “view the facts and draw reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the party opposing the summary judgment motion, ” Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007) (citation, brackets, and internal quotation marks omitted) - in this case, Soberanis.[3]

         On September 3, 2014, while he was on parole for a 2006 burglary conviction, Soberanis was arrested for another burglary. See “Transcript of Deposition of Ernesto Soberanis, ” dated Aug. 23, 2016 (attached as Ex. B to Okoh Decl.) (“Pl. Dep.”), 28:24-29:2, 31:5-20. That arrest resulted in Soberanis being sentenced to serve 90 days in jail at Queensboro for a violation of his parole. See 56.1 Statement ¶¶ 2-4; Pl. Dep. 34:4-35:13.

         On December 22, 2014, while Soberanis was serving his sentence for the parole violation, see 56.1 Statement ¶¶ 1-2; Pl. Dep. 34:4-35:13, a Bronx County Supreme Court Justice, Justice Richard Lee Price, issued an Order to Produce, which recited that Soberanis had been indicted, see Order to Produce, dated Dec. 22, 2014 (attached as Ex. C to Okoh Decl.) (“Order to Produce”) - apparently for an April 2014 burglary, not the September 2014 burglary, see Pl. Dep. 31:14-32:16, 34:4-36:6, 37:20-42:4; 56.1 Statement ¶¶ 3-5. The Order to Produce required that the Warden of Queensboro produce Soberanis in Bronx County Supreme Court on December 24, 2014, so that the Bronx District Attorney could proceed on the indictment against him. The record contains a copy of the arrest warrant related to the indictment for the April burglary. Warrant of Arrest, dated Dec. 23, 2014 (attached as Ex. D to Okoh Decl.) (“Warrant”); see also 56.1 Statement ¶¶ 5-7; Pl. Opp'n at *1. The Order to Produce directed that Soberanis be “returned” to Queensboro following his court appearance.

         Queensboro is a New York State correctional facility. 56.1 Statement ¶ 1; Pl. Dep. 30:18-21. In compliance with the Order to Produce, two New York State correctional officers took Soberanis to the Bronx County courthouse on December 24, 2014. Pl. Dep. 38:4-39:20. The court was closed, however, and Soberanis was not arraigned. See 56.1 Statement ¶¶ 9-10; Pl. Dep. 39:21-40:12.[4] The officers then took Soberanis to the New York Police Department's (“NYPD”) 42nd Precinct, where detectives processed Soberanis's arrest on the warrant. 56.1 Statement ¶¶ 7-10; accord Compl. at *8; Pl. Dep. 40:11-42:12. After the arrest, Soberanis was returned to the Queensboro facility. 56.1 Statement ¶ 10; accord Compl. at *8; Pl. Dep. 40:3-20.

         Soberanis alleges that he was due to be released from Queensboro on December 24, 2014, and asserts that the Superintendent of Queensboro “kept [Soberanis] there for 2 weeks until 1/7/15, ” despite having “no right to hold [Soberanis] there.” Compl. at *8. Soberanis was kept in the “SHU” at Queensboro during this period. Pl. Dep. 44:6-46:13.[5]

         On January 7, 2015, Soberanis was brought to court again and was arraigned on the indictment referenced in the Order to Produce. See 56.1 Statement ¶ 12; Pl. Dep. 46:4-16, 57:7-16. Soberanis ultimately pled guilty to the burglary charged in the indictment (as well as to another burglary) and was sentenced to 2-1/2 to 5 years imprisonment. Pl. Dep. 57:25-58:9.


         Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states that summary judgment is appropriate when “the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); accord Tolan v. Cotton, 134 S.Ct. 1861, 1866 (2014) (per curiam). A genuine issue of material fact exists “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

         In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, “[t]he evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, ” and the court must draw “all justifiable inferences” in favor of the non-moving party. Id. at 255 (citing Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 158-59 (1970)); accord Tolan, 134 S.Ct. at 1863. Nevertheless, once the moving party has shown that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that it is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law, “the nonmoving party must come forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial, ” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (citations, emphasis, and internal quotation marks omitted), and “may not rely on conclusory allegations or unsubstantiated speculation, ” Bermudez v. City of New York, 790 F.3d 368, 373-74 (2d Cir. 2015) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Jeffreys v. City of New York, 426 F.3d 549, 554 (2d Cir. 2005)). In other words, the nonmovant must offer “concrete evidence from which a reasonable juror could return a verdict in his favor.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256. Where “the nonmoving party bears the burden of proof at trial, summary judgment is warranted if the nonmovant fails to ‘make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to [its] case.'” Nebraska v. Wyoming, 507 U.S. 584, 590 (1993) (alteration in original) (quoting Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986)). Thus, “[a] defendant moving for summary judgment must prevail if the plaintiff fails to come forward with enough evidence to create a genuine factual issue to be tried with respect to an element essential to its case.” Allen v. Cuomo, 100 F.3d 253, 258 (2d Cir. 1996) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48).

         Because Soberanis is proceeding pro se, we construe his papers “liberally and interpret them to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest.” E.g., McPherson v. Coombe, 174 F.3d 276, 280 (2d Cir. 1999) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Nonetheless, “our application of this different standard does not relieve plaintiff of his duty to meet the requirements necessary to defeat a motion for summary judgment.” Jorgensen v. Epic/Sony Records, 351 F.3d 46, 50 (2d Cir. 2003) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). These requirements include “compliance with relevant rules of procedural and substantive law.” ...

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