Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Profitt v. Village of Deposit

United States District Court, N.D. New York

March 2, 2018

TROY PROFFITT et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
VILLAGE OF DEPOSIT et al., Defendants.

          FOR THE PLAINTIFFS: Office of Ronald R. Benjamin

          FOR THE DEFENDANTS: Office of Frank W. Miller

          RONALD R. BENJAMIN, ESQ., FRANK W. MILLER, ESQ.

          MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

          Gary L. Sharpe, Senior District Judge

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiffs Troy Proffitt, Dawn Proffitt, and Corey Proffitt bring this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that “defendants' conduct contravened plaintiffs' rights a[s] guaranteed by the Constitution of [the] United States, including but not limited to the First, Fourth, Fifth[, ] and Fourteenth Amendments.” (Compl., Dkt. No. 2 ¶ 29.) Plaintiffs demand compensatory damages, exemplary damages, costs, and “a permanent injunction enjoining the defendants from coming within 500 feet of [them].” (Id. at 8.)

         Pending before the court is defendants' motion for summary judgment, (Dkt. No. 30), which is granted in part and denied in part for the following reasons.

         II. Background

         A. Facts[1]

         Troy and Dawn Proffitt, husband and wife, along with their son, Corey, bring this action against the Village of Deposit, the Deposit police chief, Donald Cantwell, and Deposit police officers, Joshua Williamson, Aaron Smith, Roger Singleton, and Jonathan O'Connor. (Compl. ¶¶ 1-8.) They contend that “defendants have repeatedly stopped [them] while driving on public roads, for no reason at all other than to intimidate and harass them.” (Id. ¶ 10.) Specifically, this action revolves around thirty- three[2] traffic stops that occurred between July 23, 2011 and October 22, 2015. (Defs.' Statement of Material Facts (SMF) ¶ 16, Dkt. No. 30, Attach. 1.)

         Occasion[3] 1 involved the New York State Police and occurred on July 23, 2011, more than three years before the filing of plaintiffs' complaint on May 18, 2015. (Id. ¶¶ 18, 19.) Although the specifics of this occasion are not discussed, the parties dispute whether it falls outside the statute of limitations. (Id. ¶ 18; Pls.' Statement of Material Facts (SMF) ¶ 18, Dkt. No. 34.) Likewise, the specifics of other occasions are not discussed because they involved non-party police agencies of which defendants have no authority over. (Defs.' SMF ¶¶ 19-22, 29-31.) For instance, occasions 2-4, 8, 14, 17, and 26 primarily involved the State Police, (id. ¶ 19), occasion 11 primarily involved the Delaware County Sheriff's Department, (id. ¶¶ 82-85, 90-91), and occasions 7, 15-16, 20-21, 27-28, and 33 all primarily involved the Village of Hancock Police Department, (id. ¶ 28). However, during these occasions, O'Connor also worked part-time for the Village of Hancock Police Department under the exclusive authority of Hancock's police chief. (Id. ¶¶ 33-34, 37.) Plaintiffs contend that O'Connor was primarily involved in the Hancock stops on occasions 7, 15, 21, and 28. (Pls.' SMF ¶¶ 286, 298-99, 309, 320.)

         Several of the remaining occasions were not traffic stops. For instance, occasion 5 consisted of Corey receiving a parking ticket for parking illegally in the Village of Deposit employee parking lot; he was not present when the ticket was issued, and he later paid the applicable fine. (Defs.' SMF ¶¶ 40-41, 43.) Occasion 6 occurred in the early afternoon when Cantwell pulled his police car parallel to Corey's car in a store parking lot and advised him not to speed, after learning from a crossing guard that Corey had been speeding by the high school earlier. (Id. ¶¶ 44-54.) Occasion 31 involved Troy and a non-party Deposit officer engaging in a casual conversation in a public parking lot wherein no directives were given and Troy's ability to leave was not impeded. (Id. ¶¶ 240-61.)

         The remaining occasions involved traffic stops based on defendants' direct observations or other sources of reasonable suspicion for various vehicle and traffic violations. For instance, occasion 9 consisted of a non- party Deposit officer, who was with Williamson, stopping Corey's car after they observed him driving with an expired inspection sticker and later learned that he did not have a valid license. (Id. ¶¶ 55-70.) Similarly, occasion 10 consisted of Singleton and Williamson pulling over Corey shortly thereafter upon their suspicion that he still did not have a valid license, at which point he produced a valid license and was sent on his way without a citation. (Id. ¶¶ 71-81.)

         About a week later, occasion 12 occurred, which consisted of O'Connor observing Corey traveling at a high rate of speed, as confirmed by the use of a radar gun, and pulling him over to issue a traffic infraction ticket. (Id. ¶¶ 96-106.) Over two weeks later, occasion 13 occurred, which consisted of Singleton and O'Connor initiating a traffic stop of Troy's car after observing Corey and Troy following their patrol cars around for hours while making obscene gestures and exhibiting other threatening behavior late at night. (Id. ¶¶ 111-38.) After a brief conversation, defendants did not issue Troy a citation. (Id. ¶¶ 139-43.)

         A few months later, occasion 18 occurred, which consisted of a non-party Deposit officer issuing Corey a ticket for driving with an illegal window tint after observing a vehicle with “opaque” windows. (Id. ¶¶ 144-59.) A month or so later, occasion 19 occurred, which involved Williamson pulling over Dawn after noticing that she was operating a vehicle without a clearly visible license plate. (Id. ¶¶ 169-73.) Upon pulling her over and examining the vehicle more closely, Williamson realized the rear license plate lamp only appeared inoperable because it was covered in dirt, so he allowed her to proceed without issuing a traffic citation. (Id. ¶¶ 173-77.)

         Occasion 22 occurred months later when Williamson and Singleton received a report that a car was being driven with an invalid license plate. (Id. ¶¶ 178-83.) After pulling the car over, which Corey was driving, the officers verified that the car's license plate did not match its registration, but decided not to issue a ticket because the violation was an honest mistake. (Id. ¶¶ 184-90.) Less than a month later, occasion 23 occurred, which involved Williamson pulling over Corey after observing a passenger riding in the bed of his pickup truck. (Id. ¶¶ 191-94.) Williamson issued Corey a verbal warning about the hazards of such conduct and allowed him to proceed on his way. (Id. ¶¶ 195-96.) About two months after this occasion, Williamson and Singleton stopped Corey for driving with an impermissibly loud exhaust system and issued him a verbal warning, which constituted occasion 24. (Id. ¶¶ 197-203.)

         Days later, occasion 25 occurred, which consisted of Smith and Williamson observing Troy traveling at a high rate of speed, as confirmed by the use of a radar gun, and pulling him over to issue a ticket. (Id. ¶¶ 204-10.) About four months later, occasion 29 occurred, which similarly consisted of Smith observing Corey traveling at a high rate of speed, as confirmed by the use of a radar gun, and pulling him over to issue a ticket. (Id. ¶¶ 212-17.) After stopping Corey's car, Smith discovered that his vehicle inspection was expired, so he issued Corey a ticket for that as well. (Id. ¶¶ 218-19.) Minutes after Corey was issued these two tickets, occasion 30 occurred when he pulled alongside Smith, rolled down his window, uttered a vulgarity, disobeyed Smith's directions, and spun his tires as he left the scene. (Id. ¶¶ 221-28.) Upon pursuing and eventually pulling over Corey again, Smith decided not to issue any new tickets. (Id. ¶¶ 229-39.)

         Nearly one month later, occasion 32 occurred, which involved Smith and Williamson pulling over Dawn and issuing her a ticket after they allegedly observed her driving while using her cell phone. (Id. ¶¶ 265-71.) Although plaintiffs contend that “Dawn was not holding her phone, ” (Pls.' SMF ¶¶ 269-70), they admit that the Village of ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.