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Bloch v. County of Nassau

United States District Court, E.D. New York

December 18, 2017



          Denis R. Hurley United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Marilyn Bloch (“Bloch”), a resident of Florida, commenced this pro se action on October 27, 2016, against Nassau County and Nassau County Correctional Facility alleging false arrest, poor jail conditions and an unlawful strip search related to an arrest on January 19, 1999. By Order dated June 20, 2017, Judge Mauskopf dismissed the case for failure to state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) as the complaint did not allege sufficient facts to support a Monell claim against Nassau County, the Nassau County Correctional Facility does not have a legal identity separate and apart from the county, and because the challenged actions occurred in 1999, well beyond the three-year statute of limitations applicable to actions pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (See DE 21.)

         Thereafter, Bloch filed a timely motion for reconsideration and for leave to file an amended complaint. In her motion, she made clear for the first time that she was seeking “special damages for an illegal strip search on January 18, 1999" as a member of the class certified by this Court in In re Nassau County Strip Search Cases, 99-CV-2844. The case was therefore reassigned, with the consent of Judge Mauskopf, to the undersigned as presider over that class action to determine the motion for reconsideration and to amend.

         I. In re Nassau County Strip Search Cases

         By way of background, In re Nassau County Strip Search Cases are consolidated actions commenced in 1999 seeking damages due to the blanket policy of the Nassau County Correctional Center of strip searching newly admitted individuals arrested for misdemeanors or non-criminal offenses in Nassau County. Eventually, a class was certified for liability purposes consisting of all persons arrested for misdemeanors or non-criminal offenses in Nassau County who thereafter were strip searched at the Nassau County Correctional Center pursuant to defendants' blanket policy, practice and custom which required that all arrestees be strip-searched upon admission to the facility from May 20, 1996 until and including June 1, 1999, and, pursuant to a concession of liability by the Defendants, a judgment of liability was entered in favor of the class. With respect to damages, in a Memorandum and Order dated March 27, 2008, the Court addressed the question of whether a damages class could be certified pursuant to Rule 23(b)(3). The Court found that it could given that an injury to human dignity was necessarily entailed in being strip searched and thus was common to each member of the class as to its cause and the resulting general, or presumed - as distinct from the special - damages sustained. By decision dated September 22, 2010, general damages in the amount of $500 per strip search were awarded. Thereafter, the class was decertified as to the issue of special damages.

         As a result of the Supreme Court's decision in Florence v. Bd. of Chosen Freeholders of the Cnty. of Burlington, 566 U.S. 318 (2012), this Court granted Defendants' motion to vacate the portion of the January 16, 2007 Order granting summary judgment to plaintiff class as to liability on the federally-based constitutional claim; this Court held, however, that the claim brought pursuant to New York State Constitution was unaffected by Florence. A final judgment was then issued on April 10, 2014, against the defendants and in favor of the plaintiff class on the state constitutional claims awarding each member of the class $500.00 per strip search in general damages for a total aggregate award of $11, 508, 000.00. (Apr. 10, 2014 Final Judgment at 2.) In the April 2014 judgment the Court imposed an equitable toll of the statute of limitations of 180-days from the date of the judgment or, in the event of an appeal, from the issuance of a mandate, for class members to file a lawsuit for damages beyond that awarded in the judgment. On June 16, 2016, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals issued its mandate affirming the judgment. As a result of the equitable toll, individuals who were strip searched anytime from May 20, 1996 to November 16, 1996 would have to file a lawsuit for damages beyond the $500 awarded by the Court no later that December 16, 2016. Thus, there are class members, such as Bloch (at the time the instant complaint was filed), for whom the statute of limitations to commence an action for additional damages has not expired.

         II. The Allegations of the Amended Complaint

         Plaintiff's proposed amended complaint seeks “special damages” for herself and her father, Martin Bloch, [1] for illegal strip searches. The amended complaint asserts the following:

1. Plaintiffs seek special damages for illegal strip search, for holding on Jan. 18, 1999 and for three days after illegally done, for pain, suffering, emotional distress, grevious [sic] damages, punitive and physical pain causing Martin Bloch to be held without picture ID causing his death in violation of 1st, 6[th], [and] 14th Amendments and lack of due process.
2. Plaintiff was in Nassau University Hospital suffered with bad drugs of flouroquinilines [sic] asks to add Nassau County University Hospital and Nassau Health as defendants on Aug. 13, 2016, took place, mishandled by sheriff, and held in handcuffs due to neuropathy and arthritis.

         III. Legal Standards

         A. Motion for Reconsideration

         The decision to grant or deny a motion for reconsideration lies squarely within the discretion of the district court. See Devlin v. Transp. Comm'ns Int'l Union, 175 F.3d 121, 132 (2d Cir. 1999). The standard for a motion for reconsideration "is strict, and reconsideration will generally be denied unless the moving party can point to controlling decisions or [factual] data that the court overlooked-matters, in other words, that might reasonably be expected to alter the conclusion reached by the court." Shrader v. CSX Transp., Inc., 70 F.3d 255, 257 (2d Cir. 1995); accord Arum v. Miller, 304 F.Supp.2d 344, 347 (E.D.N.Y. 2003); see also U.S. Titan, Inc. v. Guangzhou Zhen Hua Shipping Co., 182 F.R.D. 97, 100 (S.D.N.Y. 1998) (concluding that a motion for reconsideration under Local Civil Rule 6.3 "provides the Court with an opportunity to correct manifest errors of law or fact, hear newly discovered evidence, consider a change in the applicable law or prevent manifest injustice"). The moving party, however, may not repeat "arguments already briefed, considered and decided." Schonberger v. Serchuk, 742 F.Supp. 108, 119 (S.D.N.Y.1990); accord Polsby v. St. Martin's Press, Inc., 2000 WL 98057, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 18, 2000); see also Medoy v. Warnaco Employees' Long Term Disability Ins. Plan, 2006 WL 355137 (E.D.N.Y. Feb. 15, 2006) ("The standard for . . . reconsideration is strict in order to dissuade repetitive arguments on issues that have already been considered fully by the Court.").

         B. ...

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