United States District Court, S.D. New York
BARBARA B. KASTLE and MATTHEW L. KASTLE, Individually and as Joint Administrators of the Estate of MICHAEL W. KASTLE, Deceased, Plaintiffs,
Town of Kent Police Officer CHRIS TOMPKINS, Town of Kent Police Officer DARREN M. CEA, Town of Kent Police Chief ALEX DIVERNIERI, Town of Kent Police Sergeant JERRY RANERI, Putnam County Deputy Sheriff J.P. KERWICK, Putnam County Deputy Sheriff DANIEL HUNSBERGER, Town of East Fishkill Police Detective KYLE P. DOUGHTY, Town of East Fishkill Police Officer DANIEL P. DIDATO, Town of East Fishkill Police Detective RYAN J. ANGIOLETTI, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
VINCENT L. BRICCETTI UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is Magistrate Judge Paul E. Davison's Report
and Recommendation (“R&R”), dated March 13,
2017 (Doc. #158), on defendants' motions for summary
judgment. (Docs. ##122, 126, 130). Judge Davison recommended
that the motions be granted in part and denied in part.
following reasons, the Court adopts the R&R,
except that the Court rejects the recommendation
that the Kent defendants Tompkins, Cea, DiVernieri, and
Raneri, and the East Fishkill defendants Doughty, DiDato, and
Angioletti, are entitled to summary judgment on
plaintiffs' wrongful death claim.
with the procedural background of this case is presumed.
Standard of Review
district court reviewing a magistrate judge's report and
recommendation on a dispositive motion, such as a motion for
summary judgment, “may accept, reject, or modify, in
whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the
magistrate judge.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
Objections to the recommended ruling are reviewed de
novo. Id.; accord, Fed.R.Civ.P.
72(b)(3). Unobjected to portions of the recommended ruling
are reviewed for clear error. See Wilds v United Parcel
Service, Inc., 262 F.Supp.2d 163, 169 (S.D.N.Y. 2003).
Rule 56.1 Statements
the Court notes its full agreement with Judge Davison's
observations regarding plaintiffs' non-compliant (i)
responses to defendants' Rule 56.1 Statements and (ii)
Rule 56.1 counter-statement of material facts. (R&R at
2-6). This Court shares Judge Davison's justifiable
frustration with plaintiffs' counsel's inability
and/or failure to comply with the requirements of Local Rule
56.1, thus impeding the Court's ability to determine
which, if any, material facts are in dispute. The Court will
assume plaintiffs' counsel's failure to comply was
merely sloppy and careless; regardless, the Court fully
agrees with and adopts Judge Davison's decision to
“take into account the admissible record evidence to
which plaintiffs specifically cite and consider whether it
raises issues of material fact but [to] otherwise deem
admitted those facts in defendants' Local Rule 56.1
Statements which plaintiffs have failed to sufficiently
controvert - provided defendants' factual assertions are
duly supported by the record evidence.” (R&R at
The Parties' Objections
object to all of Judge Davison's findings and
recommendations, except that plaintiffs do not
object to the recommendation that the motion of East Fishkill
defendants DiDato and Angioletti for summary judgment be
denied as to (i) the fair trial claim based on the
suppression of narrative reports containing information of
Officer Bade's consumption of alcohol, and (ii) the
conspiracy claim against these two defendants.
East Fishkill defendants object to Judge Davison's
recommendation to deny the motion as to the fair trial claim
and the conspiracy claim against DiDato and Angioletti.
conducting a de novo review of the R&R, the
Court has independently and thoroughly reviewed the record
and the relevant case law. Having done so, the Court finds no
merit in plaintiffs' or defendants' objections, with
one important exception: the Court respectfully disagrees
with Judge Davison's finding and recommendation that
there are no material issues of fact with respect to the
wrongful death claim against the Kent defendants (Tompkins,
Cea, DiVernieri, and Raneri) and against the East Fishkill
defendants (Doughty, DiDato, and Angioletti). The Court finds
that the R&R is correct in all other respects.
the wrongful death claim, the Court agrees with plaintiffs
that - construing the facts, resolving all ambiguities, and
drawing all permissible factual inferences in plaintiffs'
favor - there is sufficient admissible evidence from which a
reasonable jury could find a persistent course of harassment
and intimidation by the Kent and East Fishkill defendants
over a period of months prior to Michael Kastle's death
that, when considered as a whole, constituted a
“wrongful act, neglect or default which caused the
decedent's death, ” committed by persons “who
would have been liable to the decedent by reason of such
wrongful conduct if death had not ensued.” N.Y. Est.
Powers & Trusts L. § 5-4.1; accord,
Chong v. N.Y.C. Transit Auth., 83 A.D.2d 546, 547
(2d Dep't 1981).
the evidence is undisputed that Michael had numerous police
encounters with Kent and East Fishkill police officers
starting with the Bade car accident on April 27, 2011, and
continuing through his encounter with Officer Cea on March
30, 2012. There is also evidence East Fishkill defendants
Doughty, DiDato, and Angioletti, and Kent defendants
DiVernieri and Raneri, knew of and suppressed evidence that
Bade had consumed alcohol prior to the accident - from which
a permissible inference could be drawn that they were
attempting to protect their colleague Bade, who had been
seriously injured in the accident, from the consequences of
being found to have driven while his ability to do so was
impaired by alcohol. That inference is supported by the
testimony of Michael's lawyer, Scot F. Hersh, and
Michael's mother, Barbara Kastle. Hersh testified that
Kent defendant Tompkins and other Kent police officers told
Hersh the Kent police had “continued to look for”
Michael after the accident and asked rhetorically, “Is
the kid getting the message?” Hersh also testified a
“systematic organized pattern . . . developed
after” the car accident, in which Kent ...