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Edrei v. City of New York

United States District Court, S.D. New York

August 31, 2017

ANIKA EDREI, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
CITY OF NEW YORK, et al., Defendants.

          Attorneys for Plaintiffs By: Gideon Orion Oliver, Esq., Elena L. Cohen, Esq., Michael Decker, Esq.

          Attorney for Defendants ZACHARY CARTER, Corporation Counsel of the City of New York, By: Ashley Garman, Esq.

          OPINION

          ROBERT W. SWEET U.S.D.J.

         Defendants John Maguire ("Maguire"), Mike Poletto ("Poletto" and, together with Maguire, the "Officers"), and the City of New York ("NYC" and, collectively with the Officers, the "Defendants") have moved to stay proceedings before the Court as to the remaining claims brought by Plaintiffs Anika Edrei ("Edrei"), Shay Horse ("Horse"}, James Craven ("Craven"), Keegan Stephan ("Stephan"), Michael Nusbaum ("Nusbaum"}, and Alexander Appel ("Appel") (collectively, the "Plaintiffs") pending the outcome of Defendants' interlocutory appeal on the issue of the Officers' qualified immunity defense. As set forth below, the motion is granted.

         Prior Proceedings

         The factual background and prior proceedings of this matter have been set forth in the Court's previous decision granting in part and denying in part Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint ("FAC"). See Edrei v. City of N.Y., No. 16 Civ. 1652 (RWS), 2017 WL 2367992, at *l-*3 (S.D.N.Y. May 31, 2017). Familiarity is assumed. The following summary retells portions of prior proceedings as are relevant to the instant motion.

         On March 3, 2016, Plaintiffs commenced this action. (Dkt. No. 1.) On August 1, 2016, Plaintiffs filed their FAC. (Dkt. No. 21.) On October 24, 2016, Defendants moved to dismiss Plaintiffs' FAC, (Dkt. No. 35), which on May 31, 2017, the Court granted in part and denied in part, (Dkt. No. 53}. Specifically, the Court denied Defendants' motion as to Plaintiffs' claims of excessive force as to the Officers, municipal liability as to NYC for failure to properly train, and state law claims for assault and battery as to the Officers. (See id., at 40.)

         On June 30, 2017, Defendants' filed notice of an interlocutory appeal on the issue of the Officers' qualified immunity defense. (Dkt. No. 57.)

         On July 5, 2017, Defendants moved to stay all proceedings before this Court pending resolution of its interlocutory appeal. (Dkt. No. 58.) On August 2, 2017, Defendants' instant motion was heard and marked fully submitted.

         Defendants' Motion to Stay is Granted

         In light of their interlocutory appeal, Defendants' have moved to stay all proceedings before this Court as to Plaintiffs' claims because of the claims' factual and legal interconnectedness. Defendants argue a stay is warranted either because the issue of the Officers' qualified immunity automatically divested the Court of jurisdiction pending that appeal's resolution or, in the alternative, that Defendants' interlocutory appeal merits a discretionary stay. Plaintiffs appear not to argue that while the law supports Defendants' claim to a point-namely, that this Court has been divested of jurisdiction as to the Officers' excessive force claim due to their appeal regarding federal qualified immunity-such authority cannot be stretched to the length that Defendants seek.

         The collateral order doctrine is an exception to the general rule that interlocutory orders are not appealable as a matter of right; as a general rule, the doctrine is limited to "trial court orders affecting rights that will be irretrievably lost in the absence of an immediate appeal." Richardson-Merrell Inc. v. Roller, 472 U.S. 424, 430-31 (1985). "[O]rder[s] rejecting the defense of qualified immunity at either the dismissal stage or the summary judgment stage" are examples of the limited sort "subject to [interlocutory] appeal." Betances v. Fischer, 140 F.Supp.3d 294, 301 (S.D.N.Y. 2015} (quoting Behrens v. Pelletier, 516 U.S. 299, 307 (1996)), aff'd, 837 F.3d 162 (2d Cir. 2016). The "filing of a notice of appeal only Mivests the district court of its control over those aspects of the case involved in the appeal.'" Jin Zhao v. State Univ. of N.Y., 613 F.App'x 61, 62 (2d Cir. 2015) (quoting Griggs v. Provident Consumer Disc. Co., 459 U.S. 56, 58 (1982)). As appeals under the collateral order doctrine are to be, by definition, "completely separate from the merits of the action, " such appeals do "not generally divest the district court of jurisdiction over issues not under consideration in the appeal." City of N.Y. v. Beretta U.S.A. Corp., 234 F.R.D. 46, 50 (E.D.N.Y. 2006); see also N.Y.S. Nat. Org, for Women v. Terry, 886 F.2d 1339, 1350 (2d Cir. 1989) (noting that "the filing of a notice of appeal only divests the district court of jurisdiction respecting the questions raised and decided in the order that is on appeal").

         As a starting point, this authority establishes that a stay as to Plaintiff's excessive force claims against the Officers pending Defendants' federal qualified immunity claim is merited. See In re S. Afr. Apartheid Litig., No. 02 Civ. 4712 (SAS), 2009 WL 5183832, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. July 7, 2009} (citing Beretta, 234 F.R.D. at 50) (noting that qualified immunity interlocutory appeals automatically divest district court jurisdiction over that issue). On this point, Plaintiffs do not argue otherwise.

         The surviving state law claims against the Officers should similarly be stayed. Although Plaintiffs have noted that the legal requirements as to federal and state qualified immunity defenses are not identical, at their root, both can turn on the "reasonableness" of the actions and, as here, Plaintiffs' state claims could be heavily connected with "the same facts that form the heart of the federal claims." Jones v. Parmley, 465 F.3d 46, 64 (2d Cir. 2006) (citing Simpkin v. City of Troy, 224 A.D.2d 897, 898, 638 N.Y.S.2d 231, 232 (3d Dep't 1996)) (noting the relationship between federal and state qualified immunity and that reasonableness was "at the center of the district court's Fourth Amendment excessive force analysis"). As there will likely ...


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