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Chroscielewski v. Calix

United States District Court, E.D. New York

January 14, 2020

DETECTIVE MILTON CALIX, el al. Defendants.



         In November 2016, plaintiff Mark Chroscielewski ("Plaintiff) commenced this civil rights action against the City of New York ("the City"); his estranged wife, Diana Chroscielewski ("Chroscielewski"); Detective Milton Calix, who arrested him on November 30, 2015; and three New York Police Department ("NYPD") employees - Sergeant "Richard Roe" and Police Officers "John Doe" and "Jane Doe" - who were involved in arresting Plaintiff on December 14, 2015. Magistrate Judge Cheryl L. Pollak granted Plaintiffs motion to amend his complaint 1) to substitute Sergeant Luis Failla and Police Officer Meaghan Fox for "Richard Roe" and "Jane Doe"; 2) to implead Calix's partner, Detective James Phillips; and 3) to modify other allegations in the original complaint. (Doc. No. 42 ("Prior Order")). The City and Calix (collectively, the "City Defendants") have filed objections to the Prior Order pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(a), arguing that some portions of the Prior Order were clearly erroneous and contrary to law. For the reasons set forth below, the Court rejects those objections and directs Plaintiff to file his Proposed Amended Complaint (Doc. No. 35-2) as the Amended Complaint within 14 days of the date of this Memorandum and Order.


         According to Plaintiffs complaint (Doc. No. 1), the allegations of which are assumed to be true for purposes of this Memorandum and Order, Plaintiff was arrested three times in 2015. The first arrest, which occurred on April 2, 2015, was pursuant to a complaint from Chroscielewski. (Compl. at ¶ 40.) Plaintiffs pleading makes no claims pertaining to this arrest and does not discuss the substance of Chroscielewski's complaint. However, it notes that, as a result of this arrest, an order of protection was issued in favor of Chroscielewski, which was "scheduled to expire on November 30, 2015." (Id. at ¶ 32.)

         On November 13, 2015, Plaintiff took his daughter to a movie at a multiplex in Queens. (Id. at ¶ 22.) Around 9:33 p.m. - 20 minutes after they arrived - the daughter received a text message from her mother, Chroscielewski, asking which auditorium she and Plaintiff were in. (Id. at ¶ 24.) About 45 minutes later, Plaintiff received an alert informing him that one of his telephones had called 911. (Id. at ¶ 26.) Fifteen minutes after that, a theater employee escorted them out of the auditorium to meet with police officers who had responded to the 911 call. (Id. at ¶ 27.) The officers explained that Chroscielewski had called to allege that Plaintiff had followed her and the daughter to the theater in violation of the order of protection. (Id. at ¶ 28.) They further stated that Chroscielewski alleged that Plaintiff had assaulted her in the theater. (Id. at ¶ 29.) After Plaintiff denied the allegations, the officers spoke to theater employees and the daughter, who showed them Chroscielewski's text messages. (Id. at ¶¶ 30, 33-34.) Upon concluding their investigation, the officers apologized to Plaintiff and his daughter and left the theater. (Id. at ¶ 35.)

         Plaintiffs second arrest occurred on November 30, 2015, just after the charges stemming from Plaintiffs April 2, 2015, arrest were dismissed on statutory speedy trial grounds in the Criminal Court of the City of New York, Queens County. (Id. at ¶ 40.) According to the original complaint. Chroscielewski contacted Detective Calix earlier that day and again complained about Plaintiffs actions at the multiplex on November 13, 2015. This time, she alleged that he had "approached her and pushed past her in such a manner as to cause her annoyance and alarm." (Id. at ¶ 36.) Calix did not speak to Plaintiffs daughter or to the officers who had responded to the theater. (Id. at ¶ 38.) Rather, based on Chroscielewski's allegations, Calix arrested Plaintiff as he was leaving Criminal Court and charged him with criminal contempt in the second degree and harassment in the second degree. (Id. at ¶¶ 37, 41.) Plaintiff was held for 24 hours before he was arraigned and released on recognizance. (Id. at ¶ 42.)

         On December 14, 2015, those charges were dismissed upon the motion of the Queens County District Attorney. (Id. at ¶¶ 43-44.) At the same time, a temporary order of protection which had been issued at the time of Plaintiffs arraignment on those charges was vacated. (Id. at ¶ 46.) Before leaving Criminal Court, Plaintiff received a certificate of disposition with a raised seal on it, proving that those charges had been dismissed. (Id. at ¶ 45.)

         Plaintiffs third arrest occurred on the evening of December 14, after Plaintiff returned home to the house he shared with Chroscielewski. (Id. at ¶ 47.) Unaware that the temporary order of protection had been vacated earlier that day, Chroscielewski refused him entry and called 911. (Id. at ¶f¶ 48-49.) Two officers from the 105lh Precinct - John and Jane Doe -responded to the call and spoke to Plaintiff, who was standing outside the house. (Id. at ¶ 50.) After he showed them "both the certificate of disposition and the temporary order of protection that had been vacated earlier in the day," the officers entered the house to talk to Chroscielewski. (Id. at ¶¶ 51-52.) After several minutes, they exited the house and told Plaintiff that there was an order of protection in effect. (Id. at ¶¶ 53-54.) Plaintiff disputed this, pointing out that the temporary order of protection stated that it would expire "upon the case's disposition," and that the "certificate of disposition conclusively demonstrated that the criminal prosecution had been dismissed." (Id. at ¶¶ 55-56.) The officers then went back inside the house, where they remained for more than an hour. (Id. at ¶¶ 57-58.)

         When they emerged from the house for a second time, they informed Plaintiff that Chroscielewski was unaware that the order of protection had been vacated and was swearing out a new complaint, accusing Plaintiff of harassment and violating the order. (Id. at ¶ 58.) For the third time, Plaintiff showed the officers the documents establishing that the temporary order of protection had been vacated. (Id. at ¶ 60.) However, John Doe told Plaintiff that the NYPD's computer did not show that the order had been vacated, that he was not an attorney, and that defendant Sergeant Richard Roe had instructed him, based on information communicated to him by John Doe, to arrest Plaintiff. (Id. at ¶¶ 61-63.)

         John and Jane Doe handcuffed Plaintiff and took him to the 105th Precinct. (Id. at ¶¶ 62, 64.) However, the Queens County District Attorney dismissed the case against Plaintiff prior to arraignment. (Id. at ¶ 67.) At around 10:00 a.m. on December 15, 2015, Plaintiff was released from Queens Central Booking without ever appearing before a judge. (Id. at ¶ 66.)

         On November 30, 2016, after filing notices of claim with the Comptroller of the City of New York and receiving no response, (id. at ¶¶ 16-17), Plaintiff commenced this action. The original complaint alleges six causes of action. The first cause of action advances a § 1983 claim against Calix, Roe and the two Does, alleging that they arrested him without probable cause and that Calix maliciously prosecuted him. The second and third causes of action allege false arrest and malicious prosecution claims against Calix and the City, respectively. The fourth and fifth causes of action allege false arrest and malicious prosecution claims, respectively, against Chroscielewski, Finally, the sixth cause of action alleges false arrest claims against the City, Roe and the two Does.

         The Motion to Amend

         In September 2017, Plaintiff moved to amend his complaint in three respects. First, he sought to substitute Sergeant Luis Failla and Police Officer Meaghan Fox for "Richard Roe" and "Jane Doe." Second, he sought to implead Detective James Phillips, who, together with Calix, was assigned to investigate Chroscielewskrs complaint about the November 13, 2015. incident at the multiplex. Third, Plaintiff sought to modify allegations in the original complaint, principally to add allegations concerning Phillips' actions. Specifically, Plaintiffs Proposed Amended Complaint ("PAC, r) alleged that Chroscielewski filed a police report relating to the November 13 incident on November 18, not November 30, 2015; that Calix and Phillips were assigned to investigate the report; that Phillips issued an 'T-Card" for Plaintiff on November 19, 2015; that Phillips interviewed Chroscielewski on November 20, 2015; that Chroscielewski told Phillips that she had not reported the alleged harassment on November 13. 2015, because she was "shaken up about the incident"; that Phillips did not examine the records of the police officers who responded to the multiplex; and that Phillips and Calix went to Plaintiffs home on November 20, 2015, with the intent of arresting him. (PAC (Doc. No. 35-2) at f¶ 37-44.) The PAC contained the same six causes of action as the original complaint, but the first cause of action was amended to add Phillips to the list of police defendants who allegedly violated Plaintiffs Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. (Id. at ¶¶ 80-81.)

         The City Defendants opposed the motion to amend, arguing that the proposed amendments would be futile. In their Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Plaintiffs Motion to Amend ("Opposition Memo"), the City Defendants principally argued thai there was probable cause to arrest Plaintiff on November 30, 2015, and December 14, 2015, and that the existence of probable cause negates an element of both false arrest and malicious prosecution. In the ...

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