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White v. City of New York

United States District Court, E.D. New York

March 29, 2018

DARREN WHITE, Plaintiff,


          Pamela K. Chen United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Darren White filed this action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (“Section 1983”) and New York common law, seeking damages based on his arrests on April 18 and 20, 2013, and subsequent detention and prosecution. (Dkt. 1.) Before the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. 32.) For the reasons set forth herein, the Court grants Defendants' motion in its entirety.


         I. Relevant Facts[1]

         On April 17, 2013, Plaintiff's half-brother, Dorel Lias, was arrested for possession of a stolen phone. (Defs.' 56.1, Dkt. 33, ¶ 1.) Lias was taken to the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”) Brooklyn Robbery Squad office, where he was questioned by Defendant Detective William Schierle (“Det. Schierle”). (Id. at ¶ 2.) Early the following morning, Lias provided Det. Schierle with a written statement (Declaration of Jeff Henle (“Henle Decl.”), Dkt. 37, ¶ 4) stating, inter alia, that on February 13, 2013, Plaintiff gave Lias the phone for which Lias was arrested. Lias told the officers that Plaintiff had gotten the phone from a robbery of a Radio Shack in which Plaintiff had participated earlier that day.[2] (Defs.' 56.1 ¶ 4; Dkt. 34-9, at ECF[3] 2.) Lias also identified Plaintiff in a wanted poster that had been created from surveillance video of a robbery of a Radio Shack in Queens on November 13, 2012. (Deposition of William Schierle (“Schierle Dep.”), Dkt. 34-2, at 15:02-08[4]; Dkt. 34-10.) Lias signed an ATF consent form authorizing the officers to search Plaintiff's apartment at 360 Dumont Avenue in Brooklyn. (Defs.' 56.1 ¶ 6; Dkt. 34-11.)[5]

         The same day, April 18, 2013, Det. Schierle and several non-party officers went to Plaintiff's apartment. While the officers did not have a search or arrest warrant, Schierle knew that there was an outstanding warrant for Plaintiff's arrest in connection with a series of robberies. (Schierle Dep., 16:7-17:6; 17:13-19; 37:8-15.) According to Schierle, Plaintiff's sister let them into the apartment (id. at 28:9-29:2), and Plaintiff signed a consent form authorizing the officers to search the apartment for contraband (Dkt. 34-12). Plaintiff, however, claims that when the officers arrived at his apartment, they “started kicking” Plaintiff's door in and “there was a gun placed into [his] face” (Deposition of Darren White (“White Dep.”), Dkt. 37-1, at 63:6-16), and that he signed the consent form-which he claims he did not read-because he was “afraid” (White Dep., Dkt. 34-4, 68:14-25).

         During the search of Plaintiff's apartment, Plaintiff told Det. Schierle that he had an air rifle that was stored in a shoebox in the living room, and “gave it” to the officers. (Id. at 74:23-75:9.) Because Plaintiff did not have a license for the air rifle, the officers took him into custody and brought him to the NYPD Robbery Squad office in Brooklyn. (Id. at 75:10-13; 81:21-82:23.) After arriving there, Plaintiff was advised of his Miranda rights, which he waived by signing a rights waiver form. (Defs.' 56.1 ¶ 12; Henle Decl. ¶¶ 11-12.) However, Plaintiff asserts that he did not knowingly or voluntarily sign the waiver, but did so under duress. (Henle Decl. ¶¶ 11-12.)[6]

         On April 19, 2013, Defendant Detective Sheldon Franklyn (“Det. Franklyn”) learned that Plaintiff was in custody, and went to the Brooklyn Robbery Squad office to question Plaintiff about a pattern of burglaries Det. Franklyn had been investigating. (Defs.' 56.1 ¶ 13.) During the interview, Plaintiff signed a confession admitting his involvement in the November 13, 2012 Radio Shack robbery in Queens. (Dkt. 34-7, at ECF 2-3; Defs.' 56.1 ¶¶ 14-15.) According to Defendants, Plaintiff also identified himself in, and then signed, a photograph that appears to be from surveillance footage of the November 2012 robbery. (Defs.' 56.1 ¶¶ 16-17; Henle Decl. ¶ 15; compare Dkt. 34-10 (Wanted Poster) with Dkt. 34-14 (photograph signed by Plaintiff).) Plaintiff does not dispute that he signed the photograph, but asserts that he “would have signed anything, including a photograph, so that his interrogation would be concluded.” (Pl.'s 56.1, Dkt. 25, at ¶ 16.)[7]

         Plaintiff was then taken to Brooklyn Central Booking, and arraigned in Kings Criminal Court the following day, April 20, 2013, on a single misdemeanor charge for possession of an illegal air rifle in violation of New York City Administrative Code § 10-131(b). (Dkts. 34-15, 34-16.) At arraignment, Plaintiff was released on his own recognizance. However, because there was an outstanding investigation card indicating that Plaintiff was wanted by the Queens Robbery Squad in connection with the November 2012 Queens Radio Shack robbery, Det. Franklyn arrested Plaintiff. (Deposition of Sheldon Franklyn (“Franklyn Dep.”), Dkt. 34-3, 14:6-15:7.)[8]

         On April 21, 2013, Plaintiff was interviewed by members of the Queens County District Attorney's Office (“QCDA”), where he made additional inculpatory statements regarding the November 2012 robbery. (Defs.' Br. at 25; QCDA April 21, 2013 Video, Dkt. 34-8.) Following the interview, Det. Franklyn signed a felony complaint charging Plaintiff with Robbery in the First and Second Degree. (Dkt. 34-17.)

         The air rifle charge was eventually dismissed on July 8, 2014 on speedy trial grounds, pursuant to § 30.30 of the New York Criminal Procedure Law. (See Dkt. 34-18, at ECF 2.) A few weeks later, the Queens robbery charges were also dismissed, although the specific basis for dismissal is not evident from the record. (Dkt. 34-19, at ECF 2-3.)

         On September 10, 2014, Plaintiff was indicted in this Court in connection with Hobbs Act robbery charges. (Defs.' 56.1 ¶ 30.) On April 3, 2015, Plaintiff pled guilty to Hobbs Act robbery conspiracy. (See id.; Dkt. 34-20, at ¶ 1.)

         II. Relevant Procedural History

         Plaintiff commenced this action on June 8, 2015. (Dkt. 1.) On December 6, 2015, Plaintiff withdrew his claims for malicious abuse of process, unreasonable detention, abuse of authority, harassment, Monell, conspiracy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, leaving only his federal claims under Section 1983. (Dkt. 27.) The only claims remaining in this action as to the Individual Defendants are: (1) false arrest; (2) malicious prosecution; and (3) violation of due process under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments, for each of the two arrests.[9] Plaintiff also alleges violations of New York state law as to the City on a theory of respondeat superior. (Dkt. 1 at ¶¶ 40-41.) On June 23, 2017, Defendants moved for summary judgment on all of Plaintiff's remaining claims. (Dkt. 32.)


         Summary judgment may be granted only where there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, a court must resolve all ambiguities and draw all factual inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. McClellan v. Smith, 439 F.3d 137, 144 (2d Cir. 2006). “To grant the motion, the court must determine that there is no genuine issue of material fact to be tried.” Id. (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986)). A genuine factual issue exists where the “evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

         The initial burden of “establishing the absence of any genuine issue of material fact” rests with the moving party. Zalaski v. City of Bridgeport Police Dep't, 613 F.3d 336, 340 (2d Cir. 2010). Once this burden is met, however, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to put forward some evidence establishing the existence of a question of fact that must be resolved at trial. Spinelli v. City of N.Y., 579 F.3d 160, 166-67 (2d Cir. 2009); see also Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322-23. A mere “scintilla of evidence” in support of the nonmoving party is insufficient; “there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the [non-movant].” Hayut v. State Univ. of N.Y., 352 F.3d 733, 743 (2d Cir. 2003) (quotation omitted; alterations in original). In other words, “[t]he nonmoving party must come forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Caldarola v. Calabrese, 298 F.3d 156, 160 (2d Cir. 2002) (quotation omitted). In determining whether a genuine issue of fact exists, the court must resolve all ambiguities and draw all reasonable inferences against the moving party. Major League Baseball Props., Inc. v. Salvino, Inc., 542 F.3d 290, 309 (2d Cir. 2008). However, “the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48. “[What] is required [from a nonmoving party] is that sufficient evidence supporting the claimed factual dispute be shown to require a jury ...

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