Sorichetti v. City of New York

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (New York)
Writing for the CourtALEXANDER CHANANAU; In his concurring opinion in Riss
Citation408 N.Y.S.2d 219,95 Misc.2d 451
Decision Date14 July 1978
PartiesDina A. SORICHETTI, an infant under the age of fourteen years, by her mother and natural guardian, Josephine Sorichetti, and Josephine Sorichetti, Individually, Plaintiffs, v. The CITY OF NEW YORK, Defendant.

Page 219

408 N.Y.S.2d 219
95 Misc.2d 451
Dina A. SORICHETTI, an infant under the age of fourteen
years, by her mother and natural guardian,
Josephine Sorichetti, and Josephine
Sorichetti, Individually, Plaintiffs,
v.
The CITY OF NEW YORK, Defendant.
Supreme Court, Bronx County, Special Term, Part I.
July 14, 1978.

Page 220

Allen G. Schwartz, Corp. Counsel of City of New York, by David Malach, Asst. Corp. Counsel, New York City, for City of New York.

Queller, Fisher & Block by Fred Queller, New York City, for plaintiffs.

ALEXANDER CHANANAU, Justice.

This negligence action is brought on behalf of the infant plaintiff, Dina A. Sorichetti, against The City of New York to recover damages resulting from the multiple, mutilating and disfiguring injuries inflicted on her by her father, Frank D. Sorichetti, on November 9, 1975, when she was 6 years old. Derivative actions for resultant loss of services and damages are also brought by the infant's mother, Josephine Sorichetti. The basis for the claims is the alleged negligence of the defendant, The City of New York, in failing to protect the infant and in failing to arrest Frank Sorichetti and take him into custody for violating a final order of protection issued to Josephine Sorichetti on November 6, 1975 by The Family Court of the State of New York, City of New York, County of the Bronx. The defendant, contending that the aforesaid Family Court order was issued to and limited solely for the protection of the mother, moves to dismiss the action pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(7) for failure to state a cause of action.

The facts herein either are conceded or are not seriously disputed and, in any event, the defendant contends that, "Assuming Arguendo that all that will be alleged is true, * * * dismissal is still mandated. No duty was owed to Dina Sorichetti by the defendant municipality."

Prior to November 8, 1975 Frank Sorichetti was known to the defendant's police officers at the 43rd Precinct, having previously

Page 221

been arrested by them approximately six times for drunkenness, abusive and physical assault upon his family. Frank Sorichetti's police records, including his arrest and complaint records, maintained in the 43rd Precinct corroborated his vicious propensities and his prior assaults.

In July, 1975 Frank Sorichetti assaulted his wife with a knife, inflicting lacerations which required suturing at Jacobi Hospital; she thereafter brought a divorce action, which resulted in further violence by Frank Sorichetti and threats by him that he would kill her and the children if she proceeded with the divorce action. Josephine Sorichetti thereupon went into the Family Court where, on September 18, 1975, she obtained a preliminary order of protection against her husband; thereafter, on November 6, 1975 the order was finalized for one year and, over her strenuous objections, was amended to grant to Frank Sorichetti visitation with Dina from 10:00 A.M. on Saturdays to 6:00 P.M. on Sundays. After the parties left the courtroom on November 6th, Frank Sorichetti attempted to assault his wife and he had to be restrained by a court officer. The Family Court judge was informed of the incident and thereupon directed the court officer to get Frank Sorichetti out of the building; however, the judge did not rescind Frank Sorichetti's week-end visitation with the infant.

In accordance with the provisions of the Family Court Act, a "Certificate of Order of Protection" was duly issued to Josephine Sorichetti by the clerk of that court on November 6, 1975 certifying that an Order of Protection had been issued to her, pursuant to which Frank Sorichetti was

" * * * forbidden to assault, menace, harass, endanger, threaten or act in a disorderly manner toward petitioner and * * * (he) is to remain away from the home of said petitioner."

The Certificate issued to Josephine Sorichetti further recited, pursuant to statute:

"AND IT IS PROVIDED BY LAW that the presentation of this Certificate to any Peace Officer shall constitute authority for said Peace Officer to take into custody the person charged with violating the terms of such Order of Protection and bring said person before this Court and otherwise, so far as lies within his power, to aid the Petitioner in securing the protection such Order was intended to afford."

As provided in said Order of Protection, Frank Sorichetti was directed to remain away from Josephine Sorichetti's home and the parties were told by the Family Court that the infant was to be delivered and picked up at the 43rd Precinct.

Two days later, on Saturday, November 8th, Josephine Sorichetti took the infant to the 43rd Precinct to accord Frank Sorichetti his week-end visitation. Frank Sorichetti took the infant and, as he was walking away, he made a death threat against his wife, Josephine Sorichetti and the infant, Dina Sorichetti and he indicated to Josephine that before the week-end was up she would be making "the sign of the cross" which to them meant that there would be a death. Josephine Sorichetti immediately went into the precinct and told the desk officer of the death threats to herself and the infant; she showed the desk officer the Certificate of Order of Protection; she advised him of her fears and told him that she was frightened for the safety of her child and herself and that the Order of Protection protected her from such threats and she requested the police to take Frank Sorichetti into custody for violating said order. However, the police refused to do anything whatsoever.

The next day, Sunday, November 9th, at 5:30 P.M., Josephine Sorichetti returned to the 43rd Precinct where she spoke successively to Police Officer LoBello and then to Lieutenant Granelo, and she repeated to each of them the events of the day before, including the death threats by Frank Sorichetti against her daughter and herself; she told them of her fears and she showed each of them the Certificate of Order of Protection issued to her by the Family Court. She repeated her demand that they arrest Frank Sorichetti for violation of the Order of Protection and that they dispatch

Page 222

a police car to his apartment to pick up the infant. The police again refused to do anything, telling her to wait outside for Frank Sorichetti to bring the infant back.

Frank Sorichetti failed to return the infant at 6:00 P.M., as required by the Order of Protection. Josephine Sorichetti again went into the station house and she again spoke to LoBello and Granelo and she again demanded that the police arrest her husband for violating the order and protect the infant; once again the police refused to do anything whatsoever and Granelo told her to wait a couple of hours and that "perhaps" Frank Sorichetti had taken the infant to a movie. Josephine Sorichetti continued her vigil and continued to wait in front of the precinct. Thereafter, on three separate occasions she returned inside the precinct to plead with the police for help; on each occasion she repeated the threats against their lives which had been made by Frank Sorichetti, as well as repeating the various incidents and assaults previously perpetrated by him and each time she showed the police the Certificate of Order of Protection, stating each time that the Order of Protection had been violated by Frank Sorichetti and each time demanding that the police act to protect the infant. The police continued their refusal to do anything. In fact, Lieutenant Granelo's response, after seeing the Certificate, was "so what, what have you got there they mean nothing." Granelo, however, offered Josephine Sorichetti the gratuitous advice that in all probability the infant had been returned to her apartment. At about 6:30 P.M., one half hour after Frank Sorichetti was required to but failed to return the infant, Granelo graciously permitted Josephine Sorichetti to use the precinct telephone to call home, where her girl friend was waiting; the infant had not been returned and Josephine Sorichetti so informed Granelo and she again requested that the police send a car to Frank Sorichetti's apartment to pick up the infant and arrest Frank Sorichetti, but all to no avail. Josephine Sorichetti continued to wait at the precinct until about 7:00 P.M. and when the infant was not returned by then, Granelo advised her to go home and stay there and that in all probability the infant would be returned there. Josephine Sorichetti was finally convinced that the police would not comply with the command in the Certificate of Order of Protection and would not do anything at all to assist her or to protect the infant and she returned home after leaving her telephone number with Granelo in the event the infant was brought back to the precinct.

Thereafter, and sometime after 7:00 P.M., on November 9th, Frank Sorichetti's sister entered his apartment at 2156 Cruger Avenue, which is located in the 43rd Precinct. She found him lying on the floor with an empty whiskey bottle and an empty pill bottle lying beside him. She also found the infant, who had been viciously attacked, mutilated and severely injured by her father and she telephoned the police. Sorichetti had attacked the infant at about 7:00 P.M. with a fork, a knife and screwdriver; he had attempted to saw her leg off with a saw; she had been slashed from head to toe and she had sustained severe multiple internal injuries. Minutes later police officers from the same 43rd Precinct arrived and they rushed the infant to Jacobi Hospital in their police car, without waiting for an ambulance; the infant was immediately taken into surgery and she was operated on until approximately 2:00 A.M. the following day. The infant was in a coma for several days and she remained in a critical condition for approximately three weeks and was hospitalized until December 19, 1975 (40 days). Dina Sorichetti remains severely and permanently disabled.

Frank Sorichetti was arrested after the attack on the infant and he...

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5 practice notes
  • Peck v. United States, No. 76 Civ. 983 (CES).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • April 25, 1979
    ...Louisville, 518 F.2d 899 (6th Cir.), cert. denied, 423 U.S. 930, 96 S.Ct. 280, 46 L.Ed.2d 258 (1975); and Sorichetti v. City of New York, 95 Misc.2d 451, 408 N.Y.S.2d 219 (S.Ct. Bronx County 1978). The first three cases deal with a duty to protect imposed upon local law enforcement officers......
  • Harris by Harris v. City of New York
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court — Appellate Division
    • June 13, 1989
    ...by this court's affirmance, on the opinion of the court below, in Sorichetti v. City of New York (70 A.D.2d 573, 417 N.Y.S.2d 202, affg. 95 Misc.2d 451, 408 N.Y.S.2d 219, judgment against the City affirmed 65 N.Y.2d 461, 492 N.Y.S.2d 591, 482 N.E.2d 70) in which the assailant's propensity f......
  • Seibel v. City and County of Honolulu, No. 6278
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Hawai'i
    • November 6, 1979
    ...to aid its holder, can impose a duty on police to provide protection to a holder of such an order. Sorichetti v. City of New York, 95 Misc.2d 451, 408 N.Y.S.2d 219 (1978); Baker v. City of New York,25 A.D.2d 770, 269 N.Y.S.2d 515 (1966). However, as in Semler, the court orders in those case......
  • Sorichetti by Sorichetti v. City of New York
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals
    • July 9, 1985
    ...do harm to the infant. Special Term denied a pretrial motion by the City to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a cause of action (95 Misc.2d 451, 408 N.Y.S.2d 219), and the Appellate Division affirmed (70 A.D.2d 573, 417 N.Y.S.2d Page 593 A jury thereafter returned a verdict in plai......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 cases
  • Peck v. United States, No. 76 Civ. 983 (CES).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • April 25, 1979
    ...Louisville, 518 F.2d 899 (6th Cir.), cert. denied, 423 U.S. 930, 96 S.Ct. 280, 46 L.Ed.2d 258 (1975); and Sorichetti v. City of New York, 95 Misc.2d 451, 408 N.Y.S.2d 219 (S.Ct. Bronx County 1978). The first three cases deal with a duty to protect imposed upon local law enforcement officers......
  • Harris by Harris v. City of New York
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court — Appellate Division
    • June 13, 1989
    ...by this court's affirmance, on the opinion of the court below, in Sorichetti v. City of New York (70 A.D.2d 573, 417 N.Y.S.2d 202, affg. 95 Misc.2d 451, 408 N.Y.S.2d 219, judgment against the City affirmed 65 N.Y.2d 461, 492 N.Y.S.2d 591, 482 N.E.2d 70) in which the assailant's propensity f......
  • Seibel v. City and County of Honolulu, No. 6278
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Hawai'i
    • November 6, 1979
    ...to aid its holder, can impose a duty on police to provide protection to a holder of such an order. Sorichetti v. City of New York, 95 Misc.2d 451, 408 N.Y.S.2d 219 (1978); Baker v. City of New York,25 A.D.2d 770, 269 N.Y.S.2d 515 (1966). However, as in Semler, the court orders in those case......
  • Sorichetti by Sorichetti v. City of New York
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals
    • July 9, 1985
    ...do harm to the infant. Special Term denied a pretrial motion by the City to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a cause of action (95 Misc.2d 451, 408 N.Y.S.2d 219), and the Appellate Division affirmed (70 A.D.2d 573, 417 N.Y.S.2d Page 593 A jury thereafter returned a verdict in plai......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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