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Fahlund v. Nassau County

United States District Court, E.D. New York

July 14, 2017

ADAM FAHLUND, Plaintiff,
v.
NASSAU COUNTY, THE NASSAU COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, THE NASSAU COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT, THE ROCKVILLE CENTRE POLICE DEPARTMENT, THE ELMONT POLICE DEPARTMENT, POLICE OFFICER JASON C. VINBERG, SERGEANT KATHLEEN A. VEDDER, SERGEANT ROBERT CONKLIN, POLICE OFFICER SCIBIO, DETECTIVE MENZIES, POLICE OFFICER JOHN DOE NUMBERS 1-10, unknown and intended to be named later Nassau County Police Officers involved in the occurrences herein, individually and in their respective capacities as members of the Nassau County Police Department, Defendants.

          Raiser & Kenniff, P.C. Attorneys for the Plaintiff By: E. Gordon Haesloop, Esq., James M. Ingoglia, Esq., Of Counsel

          Nassau County Attorney's Office Attorneys for the Defendants Nassau County, the Nassau County District Attorney's Office, the Nassau County Police Department, Police Officer Jason C. Vinberg, Sergeant Kathleen A. Vedder, Sergeant Robert Conklin By: John Joseph Hanley, Deputy County Attorney

          Hammill, O'Brien, Croutier, Dempsey, Pender & Koehler Attorneys for the Defendants the Rockville Centre Police Department By: Rebecca Jean Moulton, Esq., Kathleen S. Commander, Esq., Of Counsel

          The Elmont Police Department, Police Officer Scibio, Detective Menzies The Defendants

          MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER

          ARTHUR D. SPATT United States District Judge

         This action was brought by the Plaintiff Adam Fahlund (the “Plaintiff”) against the Defendants Nassau County (the “County”), the Nassau County District Attorney's Office (the “NCDA”), the Nassau County Police Department (the “NCPD”), the Rockville Centre Police Department (the “RCPD”), the Elmont Police Department (the “EPD”), Police Officer Jason C. Vinberg (“Officer Vinberg”), Sergeant Kathleen A. Vedder (“Sergeant Vedder”), Sergeant Robert Conklin (“Sergeant Conklin”), Police Officer Joseph Scibio (“Officer Scibio”), Detective Richard D. Menzies (“Detective Menzies”), and Police Officer John Doe Numbers 1-10, alleging that they, inter alia, falsely arrested and imprisoned him in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (“Section 1983”).

         Presently before the Court is a motion by the Plaintiff to amend his complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“Fed. R. Civ. P.” or “Rule”) 15 to substitute five individual named police officers-Police Officer Matthew J. Landman (“Officer Landman”), Police Officer John Siraco, Jr. (“Officer Siraco”), Police Officer Dominic Scicutella (“Officer Scicutella”), Police Officer Coppola (“Officer Coppola”), and Police Officer Vega (“Officer Vega”) (collectively, the “proposed substitute defendants”)-for the John Doe placeholders. For the following reasons, the Plaintiff's motion is granted in part and denied in part.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. The Alleged Facts

         The following facts are drawn from the Plaintiff's proposed first amended complaint (the “FAC”). The Plaintiff did not add any additional facts to his FAC; he only substituted the names of several officers for John Doe Officers.

         On March 9, 2014, the Plaintiff was handcuffed and searched. Although the FAC states that the Plaintiff was at McDonald's at 31-35 Atlantic Avenue in Oceanside, New York, the Plaintiff alleges that his vehicle and the passengers in his vehicle were also searched. The Plaintiff claims that Officer Vinberg did not have probable cause when he searched him. Neither the complaint nor the FAC state which other officers, if any, were present with Officer Vinberg. Nevertheless, it is further alleged that the “officers” who searched the Plaintiff recovered several credit cards not in his name.

         On March 17, 2014, Officer Vinberg and Detective Menzies obtained a supporting deposition from the owner of one of the allegedly stolen credit cards, ostensibly swearing that the Plaintiff did not have permission or authority to possess the credit card. The Plaintiff was arrested at his place of work based on the March 9, 2014 crime by Officer Vinberg, Officer Landman, Sergeant Vedder, Sergeant Conklin, Detective Menzies, and Officer Vega. Thereafter, the Plaintiff was charged with violating N.Y. Penal Law § 165.45(2), namely, criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth degree. The Plaintiff plead guilty and was released on bail. The complaint does not state how long the Plaintiff was incarcerated.

         On February 5, 2015, all charges against the Plaintiff were dismissed.

         On October 30, 2015, while driving in Rockville Centre, the Plaintiff's car was stopped by Officer Scibio. Officer Scibio issued a ticket to one of the passengers in the Plaintiff's car for not wearing a seatbelt; and searched the Plaintiff's vehicle, including the trunk, allegedly without probable cause.

         On November 24, 2015, the Plaintiff's car was searched again, this time by Officers Siraco and Coppola. The officers stated that they smelled marijuana emanating from the car. The Plaintiff claims that he was legally parked in Rockville Centre; that the officers did not have probable cause to search the car; and that he was threatened with arrest when he videotaped the encounter. The Plaintiff was neither arrested nor charged with a crime.

         On December 18, 2015, the Plaintiff, who was seated in his parked vehicle, was stopped and questioned by Officer Scicutella, who said that the Plaintiff had “a dealer license plate frame.” (FAC ¶ 39). Again, the Plaintiff was neither arrested nor charged with any offense.

         B. The Relevant Procedural History

         On January 25, 2016, the Plaintiff initiated this action by filing a complaint. His complaint enumerated twelve causes of action, including various Section 1983 claims; alleged violations of the New York State constitution; as well as New York State common law claims for false arrest, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligence, and malicious prosecution. The Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages, and attorneys' fees.

         On August 4, 2016, the Defendants filed their initial disclosure pursuant to Rule 26(1)(1) which notified the Plaintiff of interested parties. The Defendants notice specifically named Officers Siraco and Scicutella; the paperwork included Officer Coppola's name and shield number.

         On December 5, 2016, the Plaintiff filed a letter motion for a pre-motion conference to obtain leave to file a motion to amend his complaint. The Plaintiff attached his proposed first amended complaint as an exhibit to his letter motion. The Court denied the letter motion without prejudice, and directed the Plaintiff to file his motion to amend as a formal motion.

         On January 24, 2017, the Plaintiff filed a motion to amend his complaint pursuant to Rule 15. As stated above, the Plaintiff seeks to substitute the names of five individual police officers for John Doe placeholders.

         On February 7, 2017, the RCPD filed a memorandum in opposition to the Plaintiff's motion, arguing that several of the state law claims against proposed substitute defendants Officers Siraco, Coppola, Scicutella, and Vega (together with the RCPD, the “Rockville Centre Defendants”) are futile. By its silence, the RCPD does not oppose the federal claims against those officers.

         The other Defendants did not oppose the Plaintiff's motion.

         II. ...


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