Torcivia v. Suffolk Cnty., 15-cv-1791 (LDH) (GRB)

CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
Writing for the CourtLaSHANN DeARCY HALL, United States District Judge
Citation409 F.Supp.3d 19
Decision Date31 March 2019
Docket Number15-cv-1791 (LDH) (GRB)
Parties Wayne TORCIVIA, Plaintiff, v. SUFFOLK COUNTY, NEW YORK; Police Officer James Adler; individually and professionally; Investigator Thomas Carpenter, individually and professionally; Captain William Scrima, individually and professionally; Police Officer Philip Halpin, individually and professionally; Police Officer Robert Verdu, individually and professionally; Police Officers "John Doe 3 & 4," individually and professionally, who confiscated Plaintiff's weapons from his home on April 6, 2014; Police Officers "John Doe 5-15," individually and professionally; Mary Catherine Smith, individually; Kristen Steele, individually; Bridget Walsh, individually; Michelle Sanchez, individually; Timothy Aiello, individually; Dianna D'Anna, individually; Adeeb Yacoub, M.D., individually; "John and Jane Does 1-10," individually, Defendants.

409 F.Supp.3d 19

Wayne TORCIVIA, Plaintiff,
v.
SUFFOLK COUNTY, NEW YORK; Police Officer James Adler; individually and professionally; Investigator Thomas Carpenter, individually and professionally; Captain William Scrima, individually and professionally; Police Officer Philip Halpin, individually and professionally; Police Officer Robert Verdu, individually and professionally; Police Officers "John Doe 3 & 4," individually and professionally, who confiscated Plaintiff's weapons from his home on April 6, 2014; Police Officers "John Doe 5-15," individually and professionally; Mary Catherine Smith, individually; Kristen Steele, individually; Bridget Walsh, individually; Michelle Sanchez, individually; Timothy Aiello, individually; Dianna D'Anna, individually; Adeeb Yacoub, M.D., individually; "John and Jane Does 1-10," individually, Defendants.

15-cv-1791 (LDH) (GRB)

United States District Court, E.D. New York.

Filed March 29, 2019
Signed March 31, 2019


409 F.Supp.3d 24

Amy L. Bellantoni, The Bellantoni Law Firm, LLP, Scarsdale, NY, for Plaintiff.

Anthony M Maffia, Fumuso, Kelly, Swart, Farrell, Polin and Christesen LLP., Catherine Ann Brennan, Scott G. Christesen, Fumuso, Kelly, DeVerna, Snyder, Swart & Farrell, LLP, Arlene S. Zwilling, Hauppauge, NY, Ralph Pernick, New York State Attorney General, Mineola, NY, Elyce Noel Matthews, New York, NY, for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER

LaSHANN DeARCY HALL, United States District Judge

Plaintiff Wayne Torcivia brings the instant action against Defendants Suffolk County, New York (the "County"); Police Officer James Adler; Investigator Thomas Carpenter; Captain William Scrima, (together, with the County, the "County Defendants"); Kristen Steele; Dianna D'Anna; Dr. Adeeb Yacoub (together, the "CPEP" Defendants); Police Officer Philip Halpin; Police Officer Robert Verdu; Police Officers John Doe 3-15; and Mary Catherine Smith ("CPEP Intern Smith") (collectively "Defendants").1 Plaintiff asserts, pursuant

409 F.Supp.3d 25

to 28 U.S.C. § 1983, that Defendants violated his rights under the First, Second, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments. Plaintiff also asserts that Defendants unlawfully imprisoned and defamed him in violation of New York state law.2

The parties cross-move for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. The County Defendants move for partial summary judgment with respect to Plaintiff's Monell claims related to the seizure of Plaintiff's weapons, § 1983 stigma-plus claims, and unlawful-imprisonment claims under New York state law. Plaintiff moves for partial summary judgment against the County Defendants with respect to his Monell claims arising from the seizure of his weapons and the County's pistol licensing and revocation policies, and his claims against Defendants Carpenter and Scrima arising from the revocation of his pistol license. The CPEP Defendants and CPEP Intern Smith move for summary judgment to dismiss all claims against them, specifically Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment claims pursuant to § 1983 and unlawful-imprisonment claims under New York law.3

BACKGROUND4

I. Plaintiff's Arrest

County police officers James Adler, Robert Verdu, and Patrick Halpin were summoned to Plaintiff's home in the early morning hours of April 6, 2014. (Pl.'s 56.1 Counterstatement Opp'n State Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. ("State Defs.' 56.1") ¶ 3, ECF No. 110-1.) The officers were responding to a phone call placed by Plaintiff's then-minor daughter to a social services hotline, which in turn contacted the County police department. (State Defs.' 56.1 ¶ 4.) The officers were informed that there was a violent domestic dispute ongoing between "a 17-year-old female and an intoxicated father" shortly before 1:00 a.m. (Pl.'s 56.1

409 F.Supp.3d 26

Counterstatement in Opp'n to Def. Smith's Mot. Summ. J. ("Smith's 56.1") ¶¶ 9, 10, ECF No. 108-1.) Plaintiff had consumed alcohol that evening. (Smith's 56.1 ¶ 7.) When Plaintiff's blood was drawn approximately two hours after this incident, he had a blood-alcohol content of twice the legal driving limit. (State Defs.' 56.1 ¶¶ 18-20.)

The parties dispute what occurred after the officers arrived at Plaintiff's home. The officers recall that Plaintiff was acting agitated, "yelling, walking back and forth, pacing and ranting." (Cty. Defs.' Reply Pl.'s. Additional Statement Material Facts Pursuant Local Rule 56.1 ("Cty. Defs.' Reply 56.1") ¶ 19, ECF No. 115.) The officers recall then instructing Plaintiff to sit down at the top of his stairs. (Id. ) According to the officers, Plaintiff proceeded to demand that they "taser him so he could die." (Id. ¶¶ 24, 25.) The officers' recollections are reflected in the incident reports prepared contemporaneously with Plaintiff's arrest. (State Defs.' 56.1 ¶ 5.)

Plaintiff paints a different picture of what occurred in his home. Plaintiff recalls that when the officers arrived, Officer Adler knocked down drapes in the foyer. (Cty. Defs.' Reply 56.1 ¶ 21.) When Plaintiff attempted to assist Officer Adler in extricating himself from the drapes, Officer Adler swore at Plaintiff. (Id. ¶ 23.) When Plaintiff asked Officer Adler why he was swearing, Officer Adler threatened to "TASE" him. (Id. ¶ 24.) Plaintiff then informed Officer Adler that he should not "TASE" him because he has a heart condition. (Id. ¶ 25.)

Following an interview with Plaintiff's daughter, the police officers determined to transport Plaintiff to Stony Brook University Hospital's Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program ("CPEP") "because he appeared irrational and stated that he wanted to die." (Id. ¶ 30.) Plaintiff alleges that he was taken to CPEP in retaliation for informing the officers that "profanity is not allowed in [his] home." (Id. )

II. Plaintiff's Evaluation at CPEP and the Removal of Plaintiff's Weapons

Plaintiff was brought to CPEP at 2:12 a.m. on April 6, 2014. (State Defs.' 56.1 ¶ 12.) County police officers reported to CPEP staff that Plaintiff had "asked police to tase him so he would die," was intoxicated, and had acted threateningly and belligerently to his 17-year old daughter. (Id. ¶ 14.) This information was documented in Plaintiff's medical records. (Id. )

At CPEP, Plaintiff was evaluated by a team consisting of a nurse (Timothy Aiello), a nurse practitioner (Dianna D'Anna), one or more social workers (Kristen Steele and/or CPEP Intern Smith), and an attending doctor (Dr. Yacoub). (Id. ¶ 13.) D'Anna conducted an evaluation of Plaintiff at 2:20 p.m. (Id. ¶ 17.) D'Anna determined that there was "no indication for acute psychiatric admission," that Plaintiff was "not imminently dangerous" to himself or others, and signed an assessment to this effect at 3:21 p.m. (Id. ¶ 18.) At an unspecified time, D'Anna recommended to Dr. Yacoub, the attending psychiatrist, that Plaintiff be discharged. (Id. ¶¶ 18, 21.) After receiving D'Anna's recommendation, Dr. Yacoub conducted his own evaluation of Plaintiff and determined that Plaintiff could be discharged. (Id. ¶¶ 22-23.) It is not clear when Yacoub's evaluation occurred, except that it occurred after D'Anna conducted her evaluation of Plaintiff at 2:20 p.m. Notably, by the time Dr. Yacoub determined that Plaintiff could be medically discharged, Plaintiff's firearms had already been removed from his home. (Id. ¶¶ 22-24.) At or around 3:12 p.m., CPEP Intern Smith conducted an interview of Plaintiff, during which Plaintiff referenced the fact that he owned guns.

409 F.Supp.3d 27

(Id. ¶¶ 27-28; Matthews Decl., Ex. 5 at *54-55, ECF No. 98-7.)

While Plaintiff was being evaluated at CPEP, Plaintiff's daughter contacted Child Protective Services ("CPS") and reported that she was unhappy with and frightened by the fact that Plaintiff was going to be released from CPEP. (Smith's 56.1 ¶¶ 85, 87, 89, 90. 91.) During her discussion with CPS, Plaintiff's daughter indicated that Plaintiff kept guns in the home. (Smith's 56.1 ¶ 78.) CPS subsequently contacted CPEP and spoke to CPEP Intern Smith. (Smith's 56.1 ¶¶ 84, 85.) CPS informed Smith that Plaintiff's daughter was concerned that Plaintiff was going to be released and had called CPS four times. (Smith's 56.1 ¶¶ 90, 91.) CPS further informed Smith that it had advised Plaintiff's daughter to leave the home and stay with a friend overnight. (Smith's 56.1 ¶ 92.)

Following Plaintiff's transport to CPEP, Officer Adler learned that Plaintiff had a New York State pistol license. (Cty. Defs.' 56.1 ¶ 34.) According to Officer Adler, "[w]hen there is a domestic incident and somebody is transported to CPEP for evaluation that's standard procedure to safeguard weapons until whatever investigation is done." (Decl. Elyce N. Matthews Supp. State Mot. Summ. J. ("Matthews Decl."), Ex. 3 at 134:20-24, ECF No. 98-5.) Additionally, all paperwork involving a pistol licensee's transport to CPEP is forwarded to the Suffolk County Pistol Licensing Bureau for further investigation. (Cty. Defs.' 56.1 ¶ 38.)

Officer Adler informed his supervisor, Sergeant Lawler, of Plaintiff's pistol license. (Id. ¶ 35.) In response, Sergeant Lawler directed Officer Adler to safeguard Plaintiff's weapons. (Id....

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12 practice notes
  • Abekassis v. New York City, 19 Civ. 8004 (PAE)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • August 7, 2020
    ...exists for the denial" after considering the 14 factors (emphasis 477 F.Supp.3d 154 added)); see also Torcivia v. Suffolk County , 409 F. Supp. 3d 19, 38 (E.D.N.Y. 2019) ("The fact that the pistol licensing provisions are discretionary, and not mandatory, only strengthens the Court's conclu......
  • Sibley v. Watches, Case # 19-CV-6517-FPG
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Western District of New York
    • May 18, 2020
    ...Practice Law and Rules is an adequate remedy to challenge decisions with respect to firearms licenses."); Torcivia v. Suffolk Cty. , 409 F. Supp. 3d 19, 41 (E.D.N.Y. 2019) (holding that Article 78 proceeding afforded sufficient due process for pistol license revocation claims).Accordingly, ......
  • Fusco v. Cnty. of Nassau, 19-CV-04771 (DRH)(AKT)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • September 30, 2020
    ...in limiting the ability of those who ... are involved in domestic incidents to access firearms." Torcivia v. Suffolk Cnty., New York , 409 F. Supp. 3d 19, 37-38 (E.D.N.Y. 2019) ; see also Panzella , 2015 WL 5607750 at * 10 (discussing "deadly combination" of firearms and domestic violence).......
  • Yale New Haven Hosp. v. Azar, CIVIL CASE NO. 3:18-CV-1230(JCH)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
    • July 25, 2019
    ...VI. CONCLUSIONFor the foregoing reasons, YNH’s Motion for Leave to file a Sur-Reply (Doc. No. 26) is DENIED . The Secretary’s Motion 409 F.Supp.3d 19 to Dismiss (Doc. No. 16) is GRANTED as to Counts One, Three, Four, Five, and Six. The Motion to Dismiss is DENIED as to Count Two, insofar as......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
12 cases
  • Abekassis v. New York City, 19 Civ. 8004 (PAE)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • August 7, 2020
    ...exists for the denial" after considering the 14 factors (emphasis 477 F.Supp.3d 154 added)); see also Torcivia v. Suffolk County , 409 F. Supp. 3d 19, 38 (E.D.N.Y. 2019) ("The fact that the pistol licensing provisions are discretionary, and not mandatory, only strengthens the Court's conclu......
  • Sibley v. Watches, Case # 19-CV-6517-FPG
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Western District of New York
    • May 18, 2020
    ...Practice Law and Rules is an adequate remedy to challenge decisions with respect to firearms licenses."); Torcivia v. Suffolk Cty. , 409 F. Supp. 3d 19, 41 (E.D.N.Y. 2019) (holding that Article 78 proceeding afforded sufficient due process for pistol license revocation claims).Accordingly, ......
  • Fusco v. Cnty. of Nassau, 19-CV-04771 (DRH)(AKT)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • September 30, 2020
    ...in limiting the ability of those who ... are involved in domestic incidents to access firearms." Torcivia v. Suffolk Cnty., New York , 409 F. Supp. 3d 19, 37-38 (E.D.N.Y. 2019) ; see also Panzella , 2015 WL 5607750 at * 10 (discussing "deadly combination" of firearms and domestic violence).......
  • Yale New Haven Hosp. v. Azar, CIVIL CASE NO. 3:18-CV-1230(JCH)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
    • July 25, 2019
    ...VI. CONCLUSIONFor the foregoing reasons, YNH’s Motion for Leave to file a Sur-Reply (Doc. No. 26) is DENIED . The Secretary’s Motion 409 F.Supp.3d 19 to Dismiss (Doc. No. 16) is GRANTED as to Counts One, Three, Four, Five, and Six. The Motion to Dismiss is DENIED as to Count Two, insofar as......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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