United States District Court, E.D. New York
Peter E. Brill, Esq., Joseph P. Griffin, Esq., Of Counsel
Brill Legal Group, P.C. Attorneys for the Plaintiff
Kyle O Wood, Assistant Corporation Counsel Susan A. Flynn,
Assistant Corporation Counsel Suffolk County Department of
Law Corporation Counsel for the Defendants Suffolk County,
New York and Suffolk County Police Department
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION & ORDER
D. SPATT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Plaintiff Robert Boston (the “Plaintiff”) brought
this civil rights action against the Defendants Suffolk
County, New York (the “County” or
“Suffolk”), Suffolk County Police Department (the
“SCPD”) (with the County, the “Suffolk
Defendants”), Town Of Smithtown, New York (the
“Town” or “Smithtown”), Town Of
Smithtown Park Police (“TSPP”) (with Smithtown,
the “Smithtown Defendants”), Suffolk County
Police Officers John Doe #1 To John Doe #5, Town Of Smithtown
Department Of Public Safety Personnel and/or Park Rangers
John Doe #1 To John Doe #5 (together with the SCPD John Does
1 through 5, the “John Doe defendants”)
(collectively, the “Defendants”) alleging that
they deprived him of his constitutional rights by failing to
provide him with medical care while in their custody.
before the Court are motions by the Suffolk Defendants and
the Smithtown Defendants for summary judgment pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“Fed. R. Civ.
P.” or “Rule”) 56, as well as a motion by
the Plaintiff to amend his complaint pursuant to Rule 15 to
substitute certain police officers and rangers for the John
following reasons, the Plaintiff's motion to amend
pursuant to Rule 15 is denied, and the Defendants'
motions for summary judgment are granted in part, and denied
The Relevant Facts
afternoon of July 4, 2013, the Plaintiff left his home after
having a dispute with his wife. He brought nine tablets of
Valium and 35 tablets of Wellbutrin with him. The Plaintiff
testified that he does not remember where he went, but that
he drove past his wife at some point, and ended up in Bill
Richards Memorial Park in Smithtown, New York. (Dep. of
Robert Boston at 47-48). While at the park, he smoked some
marijuana, and swallowed nine Valium pills and an unknown
quantity of Wellbutrin. He wanted to kill himself. The next
thing that the Plaintiff remembers is being asked to sign a
desk appearance ticket at a police station on July 5, 2013.
about 10:19 in the morning on July 5, 2013, Town of Smithtown
Park Rangers Russell Sokol (“Ranger Sokol” or
“Sokol”) and Joseph Paterson (“Ranger
Paterson” or “Paterson”) received a radio
report of an individual who was on the premises without
authorization. Paterson testified that there was a radio call
for a suspicion person around a vehicle, who was possibly
intoxicated. (Dep. of Sokol at 35).
and Sokol encountered the Plaintiff at about 10:50 a.m.. The
Plaintiff “appeared to be . . . sleeping.”
(Id. at 37). The rangers awakened the Plaintiff and
asked him for identification. The Plaintiff refused. He told
the officers that he did not want to come out of the car
because he believed they were going to arrest him.
(Id. at 39). Ranger Paterson testified that the
Plaintiff said that he wanted to be left alone so that he
could sleep. (Dep. of Paterson at 36).
rangers eventually convinced the Plaintiff to exit his car,
and he did so without any aid from the rangers. (Dep. of
Sokol at 40-41). He said that he did not know why the rangers
were bothering him; he was just sleeping and did not see any
problem. (Dep. of Paterson at 37). The Plaintiff cursed at
the rangers and used other abusive and offensive language.
(Dep. of Sokol at 45-46). The Plaintiff identified himself
and the rangers took down his information. (Id. at
Plaintiff was a little unsteady on his feet, but was coherent
and able to answer the officers' questions. He told the
rangers that he had taken two tabs of acid and nine Diazepam
pills, and that he had smoked a little weed. Rangers Sokol
and Paterson had the Plaintiff sit down and asked him if he
needed any medical attention or if he wanted to go to the
hospital. The Plaintiff said no. (Id. at 43). Ranger
Paterson asked him a series of question to assess his
well-being: he asked him the name of the current president;
what the weather was that day; what was the day of the week;
and the current date. (Dep. of Paterson at 38). Paterson
testified that he “got responses that were exactly what
[he] had asked. There was no waivering [sic]. There was
nothing that arose suspicion. It just seemed like he was just
very tired.” (Dep. of Paterson at 39).
rangers observed several pills lying on the passenger floor,
and the Plaintiff told them that he also had weed. Rangers
Sokol and Paterson recovered a quantity of marijuana from the
Plaintiff's person. Paterson observed some dried vomit on
the passenger seat of the Plaintiff's car. (Id.
at 49). The Plaintiff later supported this point by
testifying that he had to clean vomit out of his car.
Plaintiff was placed under arrest. The Plaintiff was arrested
for possession of marijuana; possession of a controlled
substance; remaining upon Town Park Property while under the
influence of non-prescription controlled substances; use of
loud, abusive and indecent language on park property; and
failure to show identification upon request.
Sokol and Paterson transported the Plaintiff to the Suffolk
County Police Fourth Precinct (the “Fourth
Precinct”) for processing. While he was transporting
the Plaintiff, Ranger Paterson explained the process at the
precinct, and the Plaintiff seemed coherent. (Dep. of
Paterson at 50).
10:55 a.m., the Plaintiff arrived at the Fourth Precinct. The
Plaintiff walked into the precinct without any assistance.
The desk sergeant asked the Plaintiff a series of questions:
whether he needed medical attention; whether he was okay;
whether he was taking any medication; and what was his
pedigree information. The Plaintiff answered all of these
questions, and stated that he did not need medical attention.
Thomas Healy (“Sergeant Healy” or
“Healy”) of the SCPD was the desk officer at that
time. He testified that he had no independent recollection of
interacting with the Plaintiff. However, on the Prisoner
Activity Log, Healy wrote “No” in the section
that asks whether the “prisoner claims pain, injury or
illness.” (Prisoner Activity Log, Suffolk Defs. Ex. J).
Healy also noted that the Plaintiff was unsteady on his feet,
lethargic, and spoke with slurred speech.
did not recall a prisoner ever failing to give a response to
his questioning concerning injury or illness. He does not
remember the Plaintiff ever making any statements about
attempting to take his life; and testified that he would have
noted such statements if they had been made, and would have
sent the prisoner to the hospital. Healy testified that if a
prisoner asks for medical attention, the officer to whom the
request was made would bring that request to the desk
sergeant's attention. While he has no independent
recollection, Healy testified that the records reflect that
the Plaintiff did not request medical attention while housed
at the Fourth Precinct. Although Healy does not remember it,
Ranger Paterson testified that he told him that the Plaintiff
claimed to have ingested nine diazepam and two tabs of acid.
(Paterson Dep. at 60).
prisoner activity log shows that the Plaintiff was in custody
at the Fourth Precinct from 10:55 a.m. until 3:20 p.m.. The
officers noted in the activity log that the Plaintiff was
calm the entire time. At three different times, he took
drinks of water. At 12:03 p.m., Ranger Paterson remarked on
the log that the Plaintiff was “cooperative.” At
3:20 p.m., the Plaintiff signed a desk appearance ticket. The
Plaintiff testified that he remembered signing the desk
appearance ticket. (Dep. of Robert Boston at 63-66).
issuing the Plaintiff a desk appearance ticket, Ranger
Paterson sought to bring the Plaintiff home. He did not want
the Plaintiff to drive because he was very tired, but he did
not want him housed overnight at another precinct because the
Plaintiff had been cooperative. (Dep. of Paterson at 71). The
Plaintiff had provided the officers with his home phone
number, but he had told them that no one was home. Paterson
asked the Plaintiff if he would rather go to a jail cell or
go home and get some sleep. The Plaintiff told Paterson that
he wanted to go home; specifically, he said he was tired and
wanted to go to bed. (Dep. of Paterson at 75).
he was at the Fourth Precinct, the Plaintiff never requested
medical attention; never complained of any injury or illness;
and never disclosed that he had attempted suicide.
Paterson drove the Plaintiff home, and Ranger Sokol followed
in a separate car. Paterson parked in the driveway. He asked
the Plaintiff whose cars were in the driveway, and the
Plaintiff told him that the two cars belonged to him and his
wife. The Plaintiff further stated that he had thought his
wife was still at work, and asked Ranger Paterson to go speak
with her if she was home. The Plaintiff remained in the car.
The car was running, the air conditioning was on, and the
windows were cracked. (Dep. of Sokol at 92).
Paterson spoke to the Plaintiff's wife, Joann Boston. He
explained to her what happened, and she said that she would
not let him into the house. The Plaintiff's daughter,
Kayla Boston, ran out of the house to where her father was,
and yelled at him, saying that she hated him. The car door
was open, and she pulled it open more to yell at him. Ranger
Sokol came around to prevent Kayla Boston from opening the
door all the way. Kayla Boston testified by deposition that
her father did not respond. She said that “he
wasn't [her] dad at that moment. He was looking at [her],
but like he was looking through [her]  like [she] was a
stranger . . . .” (Dep. of Kayla Boston at 92). She ran
back inside. She testified that she did not know if he was in
need of medical attention or in distress at that point.
(Id. at 160).
that time Joann Boston walked outside, and saw the Plaintiff
in the car. She went to tell him that his mother was coming
to get him. Joann Boston testified that the Plaintiff:
was sitting in the back [of the car] and he was tipped over[,
] and his eyes were like blank. They looked like dead eyes.
They weren't his eyes. And he seemed pale and sweaty. And
he was tipped over. And I tried to talk to him. I said, are
you okay? And I couldn't get him - he wouldn't even
respond to me. So I said to the officer - I said, he
doesn't need to sleep it off under the tree, he needs an
ambulance, he needs to go to the hospital. And he said, well
you can call 911 if you want.
(Dep. of Joann Boston at 92). She went inside and called 911.
The Plaintiff suffered a seizure at that point. An ambulance
arrived and took the Plaintiff to St. Catherine's
Hospital. The Plaintiff was in a coma for six days. He has
been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder; has lost
most of his sense of smell; has lost many fine motor senses;
and does not see as well as he used to.
to these events, the Plaintiff had never suffered a drug
induced seizure despite having taken many drugs over the
course of many years.
here, the officers also testified as to their respective
training. Ranger Sokol testified that he had never received
any training in the signs and symptoms of narcotic use,
(Sokol Dep. at 23), and that there are no specific
regulations as to how to deal with someone in medical
distress, (id. at 28). Ranger Paterson testified
that he did not receive any training with regard to the use
of drugs, (Paterson Dep. at 16-17), the identification of
drugs, (id.), or how to interact with arrestees,
(id. at 20-21). He testified, however, that he was
trained in the administration of Narcan, (id. at
17), which is a medication that blocks the effects of
opioids, especially in overdose. Sergeant Healy testified
that he did not receive any training on how drugs might
affect people. (Dep. of Healy at 18).
The Relevant Procedural Background
October 1, 2013, the Plaintiff served an unverified Notice of
Claim on the Town of Smithtown and Suffolk County. On
November 8, 2013, the Plaintiff served an amended verified
Notice of Claim on the Town of Smithtown and Suffolk County.
October 3, 2014, the Plaintiff filed his complaint. The
Plaintiff alleges that the Defendants deprived him of his
Fourteenth Amendment rights in violation of 42 U.S.C. §
1983. The 1983 claims are brought against the SCPD, the TSPP,
and the John Doe defendants, and the Plaintiff brings
Monell claims against the County and the
Town. The Plaintiff also brings causes of
action for negligence against all of the Defendants, and
vicarious liability against the County and the Town. The
complaint seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
23, 2017, the Suffolk Defendants and the Smithtown Defendants
filed their respective motions for summary judgment pursuant
to Rule 56.
August 4, 2017, the Plaintiff filed his motion to amend the
complaint pursuant to Rule 15.
As to the Plaintiff's Motion to Amend
Plaintiff seeks to amend his complaint pursuant to Rule
15(c)(1)(C) to substitute certain officers for John Doe
defendants. The Defendants argue that the statute of
limitations has passed, and Rule 15(c)(1)(C) does not permit
relation back in this situation where there was no mistake of
identity. The Court finds that the Plaintiff cannot avail
himself of the provisions of Rule 15(c)(1)(C).
15(c)(1)(C) provides the federal standard for relation
back.” Hogan v. Fischer, 738 F.3d 509, 517 (2d
Cir. 2013). An amended complaint that adds a new party must
meet the ...