United States District Court, E.D. New York
Offices of Christopher J. Cassar, P.C. Attorneys for the
Plaintiff By: Christopher J. Cassar, Esq., Joseph John
Karlya, III, Esq., Of Counsel
Suffolk County Attorney's Office Attorneys for the
Defendants By: Drew W. Schirmer, Deputy County Attorney
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION & ORDER
D. SPATT United States District Judge
civil rights action was brought by the Plaintiff Christopher
McAdam (the “Plaintiff”) against the Defendants
County of Suffolk (the “County”), the Suffolk
County Police Department (the “SCPD”), and the
SCPD Police Commissioner Timothy D. Sini (“Sini”)
(collectively, the “Defendants”), alleging that
they violated his constitutional due process rights in
violation of 42 U.S.C. §1983 (“Section
1983”) and defamed him.
before the Court is a motion by the Defendants for a judgment
on the pleadings pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
(“Fed. R. Civ. P.” or “Rule”) 12(c)
dismissing the complaint. For the following reasons, the
Defendants' motion is granted in its entirety.
The Relevant Facts
2011, the Plaintiff sat for an open written competitive
examination for entry into the SCPD. He received a passing
grade; became an eligible candidate for the SCPD; and entered
the SPCD Academy (the “Academy”) in July 2015.
18, 2015, the Plaintiff appeared for a physical fitness
screening test at the Academy. The exam had three portions:
sit-ups, push-ups, and a run. Each portion was timed, and the
Plaintiff had to run a mile and a half, and complete a
certain number of push-ups and sit-ups. The Plaintiff failed
the sit-up portion of the exam, but was told that he could
retake the exam at a later time.
second physical exam was scheduled for August 1, 2015, but
the Plaintiff was permitted to delay it until August 26, 2015
with a note from his doctor.
August 26, 2015, the Plaintiff retook the physical exam under
the supervision of Lieutenant Sweeney and Police Officer
Santarpia. The Plaintiff claims that the supervising officers
told him to complete the exam “out of order.”
That is, there is a standard order of sit-ups, push-ups, then
the run. However, the Plaintiff states that he was told to
complete the test in some other order.
August 27, 2015, the Plaintiff was informed that the results
from his exam the previous day were void because he completed
the steps out of order. He was purportedly told that he could
take the exam again.
next day, August 28, 2015, the Plaintiff took the physical
exam a third time, and passed.
he joined the Academy as a recruit with an expected
graduation date of April 1, 2016.
November 20, 2015, the Plaintiff avers that he was
“temporarily discharged from the Academy without a
notice or hearing, ” because of “alleged
impropriety [in] allowing him to complete the August 28, 2015
physical examination.” (Compl. ¶ 20).
November 24, 2015, the Plaintiff filed suit (the “State
Action”) in the Supreme Court of the State of New York
against the County, the SCPD, the Suffolk County Department
of Civil Service, and the Police Commissioner (the
“State Action Defendants”). He sought a
preliminary injunction pursuant to N.Y. C.P.L.R. § 6301,
asking that the Court enjoin the State Action Defendants from
temporarily discharging him, and therefore permit him to
complete his training. The action was also brought pursuant
to Article 78 of the N.Y. C.P.L.R. (“Article
78”). The Plaintiff alleged that the decision to
terminate him was arbitrary, capricious, unfair, and an abuse
of discretion. He sought to be reinstated to his position,
along with back pay and benefits.
November 25, 2015, Justice John Bivona of the New York State
Supreme Court, Nassau County, signed the Plaintiff's
Order to Show Cause, and directed the State Action Defendants
to show cause why the Plaintiff's requested relief should
not be granted.
the Plaintiff was reinstated and completed his training at
the Academy. His expected graduation date was April 1, 2016.
March 29, 2016, applying New York State common law, Justice
Arthur Pitts (“Justice Pitts”) of the New York
State Supreme Court issued a decision and order denying the
Plaintiff's requested relief. Determining how to analyze
the Plaintiff's claims, Justice Pitts stated:
The proper test to be applied is whether there is a rational
basis for the administrative order. [Colton v.
Berman, 21 N.Y.2d 322, 329, 234 N.E.2d 679, 681 (N.Y.
1967)][.] “It is well settled that a court may not
substitute its judgment for that of the board or body it
reviews unless the decision under review is arbitrary and
unreasonable and constitutes an abuse of discretion[.]”
[Diocese of Rochester v. Plan. Bd. of Town of
Brighton, 1 N.Y.2d 508, 520, 136 N.E.2d 827 (N.Y.
1956)][.] A county's civil service commission is afforded
wide discretion in determining the fitness of candidates for
appointment. Such discretion is particularly necessary in
hiring police officers, to whom higher standards of fitness
and character may be applied[.]  [S]ee
Havern v. Senko, 210 A.D.2d 480, 481, 620 N.Y.S.2d
470 ([N.Y.App.Div.] 1994). A court should not interfere
with the discretion of the civil service commission in
determining the qualifications of candidates for police
officer unless the decision is irrational and arbitrary so as
to warrant judicial intervention[.]
[S]ee [id.]; Matter of
Shedlock v. Connelie, 66 A.D.2d 433, 414 N.Y.S.2d 55
([N.Y.App.Div.] 1979), aff'd, 48 N.Y.2d 943, 42
N.Y.S.2d 95, 401 N.E.2d 217; Matter of Metzger v.
Nassau [Cty.] Civ. Serv. Comm., 54
A.D.2d 565, 386 N.Y.S.2d 890 ([N.Y.App.Div.] 1976))[;] 
Ressa v. [Cty.] of Nassau, 224
A.D.2d 534, 638 N .Y.S .2d 158 ([N.Y.App.Div.] 1996)[.]
(Defs.' Ex. 4 at 5). Justice Pitts found that the
decision to terminate the Plaintiff was not arbitrary and
capricious, or an abuse of discretion. He so ruled because a
county's civil service commission is granted wide
latitude in determining the qualifications of candidates for
police officer; the Director of Personnel of the Suffolk
County Department of Civil Service (the
“Director”) stated in an affidavit that the
department has a policy of granting only one re-test, and the
Plaintiff was impermissibly given two re-tests; and the
Director further stated that the Plaintiff was given
“an unexplained additional twenty-five days . . . after
other candidates were given their re-test opportunity on
August 1, 2015.” (Id. at 6). Therefore,
because the State Action Defendants gave reasons for the
Plaintiff's dismissal, Justice Pitts found that his
dismissal was not arbitrary or capricious.
March 30, 2016, two days before his scheduled graduation
date, the Plaintiff was permanently dismissed from the SCPD.
The Plaintiff claims that he was not afforded notice or a
hearing prior to his discharge.
10, 2016, Justice Pitts dismissed the Plaintiff's Article
78 proceeding against the County and the SCPD. (Defs.'
The Relevant Procedural Background
Plaintiff filed the instant complaint on November 11, 2016.
The complaint specifies three causes of action: deprivation
of federal constitutional due process in violation of Section
1983; deprivation of state constitutional due process; and
common law defamation. As the Plaintiff did not specify in
his complaint whether his due process claims were procedural
or substantive, the Court will assume that he has brought
claims for both causes. The Defendants filed an answer on
December 30, 2016.
January 20, 2017, the Defendants filed the instant motion for
a judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c). The
Defendants attached six exhibits to their motion: a
declaration in support of the Defendants' motion from the
Defendants' counsel; the instant complaint; the
Defendants' answer in the instant case; the signed Order
to Show Cause and the Plaintiff's petition and supporting
documents from the State Action; Justice Pitts' March 29,
2016 decision denying the ...