Bryant v. Motor Vehicles et al
ORDER granting 41 Motion for Summary Judgment. Signed by Judge Alvin W. Thompson on 7/18/2011. (Rasch, E)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
ROBERT M. WARD, COMMISSIONER :
OF THE DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR
VEHICLES, STATE OF CONNECTICUT:
CITY OF BRISTOL, CONNECTICUT, :
BRISTOL CHIEF OF POLICE JOHN :
DIVENERE, OFFICER BRENDAN J. :
MULVEY, OFFICER MICHAEL HEALY,:
and LIEUTENANT RICHARD BROWN :
OF THE BRISTOL POLICE
CIV. NO. 3:09CV981(AWT)
RULING ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
The plaintiff, Lawrence Bryant, brings this action against
the defendants alleging various federal, state, and common law
claims arising out of a traffic stop conducted by defendant
Brendan J. Mulvey, an officer in the Bristol Police Department.
The remaining defendants in the case are defendants Officer
Mulvey, Officer Michael Healy, Lieutenant Richard Brown, Chief of
Police John Divenere, and the City of Bristol.1
have moved for summary judgment on all remaining claims.
See Order Re State Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No.
35) and Order Re Status Conference (Doc. No. 39).
following reasons, the motion is being granted as to the federal
claims and the court declines to exercise jurisdiction over the
state law claims.
On February 11, 2009, defendant Mulvey initiated a traffic
stop after he observed the car being driven by plaintiff Lawrence
Bryant turn without signaling and drive the wrong way out of a
one-way drive. Mulvey obtained the plaintiff’s license and
conducted a computer check, which reflected that Bryant’s driving
privilege has been suspended on December 3, 2008.2
informed Bryant that he would be placed under arrest.
Bryant was taken into custody, Mulvey called a truck to tow his
The road on which Bryant had been pulled over was narrow
and heavily traveled, and Mulvey believed that if Bryant’s car
was left in place it would be a traffic hazard.
his car for the tow truck to arrive.
Bryant waited in
After the car was towed,
Bryant was placed under arrest. His license was retained by
Mulvey as evidence, and the contents of his pockets were
Bryant was then placed in the back of the police car
and taken to the police station.
At the station, Bryant was confined in a holding cell for
approximately one hour, awaiting processing.
While he was being
While the affidavit as to this fact reads “12/3/2009,” the
court concludes that the year is a typographical error.
processed, Bryant asked Mulvey why his license had been
suspended, and Mulvey informed him that it had been suspended for
nonpayment of a fine.
Bryant informed Mulvey that he had paid
the fine and had a receipt at home.
Mulvey did not take Bryant
to his home to retrieve the receipt.
Bryant was charged with
operating his vehicle under suspension in violation of Conn. Gen.
Stat. § 14-215, failure to return a suspended license in
violation of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 14-112(f), and failure to signal
a turn in violation of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 14-242.
He was then
Bryant ultimately determined that a failure by the
Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”) to process the payment he
had made for reinstatement of his license is what caused the DMV
to erroneously report his license as suspended.
being released, Bryant alerted the DMV of its error, and it
issued a notice rescinding the suspension.
Bryant was never
prosecuted for the crimes charged.
A motion for summary judgment may not be granted unless the
court determines that there is no genuine issue of material fact
to be tried and that the facts as to which there is no such issue
warrant judgment for the moving party as a matter of law.
R. Civ. P. 56(c).
See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317,
322-23 (1986); Gallo v. Prudential Residential Servs., 22 F.3d
1219, 1223 (2d Cir. 1994).
Rule 56(c) “mandates the entry of
summary judgment . . . against a party who fails to make a
showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element
essential to that party’s case, and on which that party will bear
the burden of proof at trial.”
Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322.
When ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must
respect the province of the jury.
try issues of fact.
The court, therefore, may not
See, e.g., Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); Donahue v. Windsor Locks Bd. of Fire
Comm’rs, 834 F.2d 54, 58 (2d Cir. 1987); Heyman v. Commerce &
Indus. Ins. Co., 524 F.2d 1317, 1319-20 (2d Cir. 1975).
well-established that “[c]redibility determinations, the weighing
of the evidence, and the drawing of legitimate inferences from
the facts are jury functions, not those of the judge.”
477 U.S. at 255.
Thus, the trial court’s task is “carefully
limited to discerning whether there are any genuine issues of
material fact to be tried, not to deciding them.
Its duty, in
short, is confined . . . to issue-finding; it does not extend to
Gallo, 22 F.3d at 1224.
Summary judgment is inappropriate only if the issue to be
resolved is both genuine and related to a material fact.
Therefore, the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute
between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly
supported motion for summary judgment.
An issue is “genuine
. . . if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return
a verdict for the nonmoving party.”
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248
(internal quotation marks omitted).
A material fact is one that
would “affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.”
As the Court observed in Anderson: “[T]he materiality
determination rests on the substantive law, [and] it is the
substantive law’s identification of which facts are critical and
which facts are irrelevant that governs.”
Thus, only those
facts that must be decided in order to resolve a claim or defense
will prevent summary judgment from being granted.
confronted with an asserted factual dispute, the court must
examine the elements of the claims and defenses at issue on the
motion to determine whether a resolution of that dispute could
affect the disposition of any of those claims or defenses.
Immaterial or minor facts will not prevent summary judgment.
Howard v. Gleason Corp., 901 F.2d 1154, 1159 (2d Cir. 1990).
When reviewing the evidence on a motion for summary
judgment, the court must “assess the record in the light most
favorable to the non-movant and . . . draw all reasonable
inferences in its favor.”
Weinstock v. Columbia Univ., 224 F.3d
33, 41 (2d Cir. 2000) (quoting Delaware & Hudson Ry. Co. v.
Consol. Rail Corp., 902 F.2d 174, 177 (2d Cir. 1990)).
credibility is not an issue on summary judgment, the nonmovant’s
evidence must be accepted as true for purposes of the motion.
Nonetheless, the inferences drawn in favor of the nonmovant must
be supported by the evidence.
“[M]ere speculation and conjecture
is insufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment.”
v. Trustees of Columbia Univ., 131 F.3d 305, 315 (2d Cir. 1997)
(internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Western World Ins.
Co. v. Stack Oil, Inc., 922 F.2d 118, 121 (2d. Cir. 1990)).
Moreover, the “mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in
support of the [nonmovant’s] position will be insufficient; there
must be evidence on which [a] jury could reasonably find for the
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.
Finally, the nonmoving party cannot simply rest on the
allegations in its pleadings since the essence of summary
judgment is to go beyond the pleadings to determine if a genuine
issue of material fact exists.
See Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at
“Although the moving party bears the initial burden of
establishing that there are no genuine issues of material fact,”
Weinstock, 224 F.3d at 41, if the movant demonstrates an absence
of such issues, a limited burden of production shifts to the
nonmovant, who must “demonstrate more than some metaphysical
doubt as to the material facts, . . . [and] must come forward
with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for
Aslanidis v. United States Lines, Inc., 7 F.3d 1067,
1072 (2d Cir. 1993)(quotation marks, citations and emphasis
omitted). Furthermore, “unsupported allegations do not create a
material issue of fact.”
Weinstock, 224 F.3d at 41.
nonmovant fails to meet this burden, summary judgment should be
Section 1983 Claims
The plaintiff brings § 1983 claims for false imprisonment,
malicious prosecution, false arrest, illegal search and seizure,
excessive force, deprivation of property without due process of
law, violation of his rights by the City of Bristol pursuant to
Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1978),
conspiracy, and the violation of his Sixth Amendment rights.
state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation
of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United
States, and must show that the alleged deprivation was committed
by a person acting under color of state law.”
487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).
West v. Atkins,
The defendants contend that the
plaintiff has failed to produce evidence that could establish a
violation of any federally protected rights.
The court agrees.
False Arrest, False Imprisonment, and Malicious
The defendants argue that they are entitled to summary
judgment on these claims because the arresting officer had
“A Section 1983 claim for false arrest rests on
the Fourth Amendment right of an individual to be free from
unreasonable seizures, including arrest without probable cause.”
Sulkowska v. City of New York, 129 F. Supp. 2d 274, 287 (S.D.N.Y.
2001) (quoting Weyant v. Okst, 101 F.3d 845, 852 (2d Cir. 1996)).
“To establish a claim of false arrest, false imprisonment,
malicious prosecution, or a violation of civil rights arising
therefrom, a plaintiff must prove that the underlying arrest
lacked probable cause.” Brown v. Ontario County, No. 09-cv-6228L,
---F. Supp. 2d---, 2011 WL 2084214 at *2 (W.D.N.Y. May 27, 2011);
see also Bernard v. U.S., 25 F.3d 98, 103-104 (2d Cir. 1994)
(finding that the presence of probable cause defeats both a claim
for false arrest and a claim for malicious prosecution); Weyant,
101 F.3d at 852 (“The existence of probable cause to arrest
constitutes justification and is a complete defense to an action
for false arrest.”) (internal quotation marks omitted).
“Probable cause to arrest exists when the officers have
knowledge or reasonably trustworthy information of facts and
circumstances that are sufficient in themselves to warrant a
person of reasonable caution in the belief that (1) an offense
has been or is being committed (2) by the person to be arrested.”
Bontatibus v. Ayr, 386 F. Supp. 2d 28, 32 (D. Conn. 2005)
(internal quotation marks and brackets omitted).
of whether or not probable cause existed may be determinable as a
matter of law if there is no dispute as to the pertinent events
and the knowledge of the officers.”
Weyant, 101 F.3d at 852.
The plaintiff claims a genuine issue of material fact exists
as to whether the arresting officer had probable cause because
(1) the plaintiff does not remember whether or not he signaled
before turning out of the parking lot, and (2) he did not see
signs posted that indicated that the street was a one-way street,
and moreover, if signs were posted, they were not posted
“pursuant to the State Traffic Commission” and are therefore
(Pl.s’ 56(a)(2) Stmt., ¶ 2.)
That Bryant does not recall whether he signaled before
turning does not create a genuine issue of material fact.
witness’s non-denial does not create a genuine issue of material
fact when the witness has testified to a lack of memory and no
affirmative evidence has been introduced.”
Craig v. Colonial
Penn Ins. Co., 335 F. Supp. 2d 296, 305 (D. Conn. 2004); see also
F.D.I.C. v. Nat’l Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, PA, 205 F.3d
66, 75 (2d Cir. 2000) (noting that the defendant’s citations to
“vague denials and memory lapses . . . do not create genuine
issues of material fact.”); Newby v. Town of Cromwell, 25 F.
Supp. 2d 56, 58 (D. Conn. 1998) (holding that plaintiff’s
inability to recall whether he successfully completed certain
items of a field sobriety test does not create a genuine issue of
Thus, because Bryant does not dispute Mulvey’s
assertion that he failed to signal, there is no genuine issue as
to whether Mulvey had probable cause to initiate the traffic
Because Mulvey had probable cause to stop Bryant for failing
to signal, the court need not determine whether there is a
genuine issue as to whether Mulvey also had probable cause to
stop Bryant for turning the wrong way onto a one-way street.
In addition to having probable cause to initiate a traffic
stop, Mulvey had probable cause to subsequently arrest Bryant.
After pulling Bryant over, Mulvey discovered that Bryant’s
driver’s license was reported as suspended, and he relied on that
information to arrest Bryant for driving with a suspended
Bryant does not claim that the database Mulvey
consulted in obtaining this information was unreliable, and there
is no evidence that Mulvey had reason to believe that the
information was inaccurate.
Mulvey relied on “reasonably
trustworthy information” sufficient to “warrant a person of
reasonable caution” to believe Bryant’s license had been
Bontatibus, 386 F. Supp. 2d at 32.
probable cause for arresting Bryant.
Thus, he had
See United States v. Santa,
180 F.3d 20, 27 (2d Cir. 1999) (holding officers’ reliance on
statewide computer database record erroneously showing existence
of arrest warrant was objectively reasonable; record was
incorrect due to court clerk error and officers did not have
reason to know the record was incorrect); Martin v. Rodriguez,
154 F. Supp. 2d 306, 313 (D. Conn. 2001) (finding that officers
relying on a criminal history database containing erroneous
information due to a clerical error nonetheless had probable
Because Mulvey had probable cause for both stopping Bryant
and taking him into custody, Bryant’s claims for false arrest,
false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution fail as a matter of
Search and Seizure
The plaintiff claims he was the victim of an unreasonable
search of his car and his person, and an unreasonable seizure of
his car, his driver’s license and his person in violation of the
In United States v. Robinson, the Supreme
Court examined the legality of the search of an individual
arrested on suspicion of, inter alia, driving with a suspended
414 U.S. 218 (1973).
The Court held:
A custodial arrest of a suspect based on
probable cause is a reasonable intrusion under
the Fourth Amendment; that intrusion being
lawful, a search incident to the arrest
requires no additional justification. It is
establishes the authority to search, and we
hold that in the case of a lawful custodial
arrest a full search of the person is not only
an exception to the warrant requirement of the
Fourth Amendment, but is also a “reasonable”
search under that Amendment.
Id. at 235.
As discussed above, Bryant’s arrest was supported by
Examining the contents of Bryant’s pockets
incident to his arrest was therefore a reasonable search.
As to the plaintiff’s claim that there was an unlawful
search of his vehicle, there is no evidence that a search of
Bryant’s vehicle occurred.
The defendants have all affirmed that
they did not search Bryant’s vehicle, and Bryant did not
personally observe his vehicle being searched.
The plaintiff also claims that the seizure of his license
violated his Fourth Amendment rights.
“[T]he general rule under
the Fourth Amendment is that any and all contraband,
instrumentalities, and evidence of crimes may be seized on
probable cause (and even without a warrant in various
circumstances) . . . .”
U.S. 46, 63 (1989).
Ft. Wayne Books, Inc. v. Indiana, 489
Bryant was arrested and charged with
operating his vehicle under suspension in violation of Conn. Gen.
Stat. § 14-215 and failure to return a suspended license in
violation of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 14-112(f).
The search of his
person was lawful, and Mulvey had probable cause to seize his
driver’s license as an instrumentality or evidence of the crimes
charged: driving with a suspended license and failure to return a
Impounding the plaintiff’s automobile was also lawful.
the interests of public safety and as part of what the [Supreme]
Court has called ‘community caretaking functions,’ automobiles
are frequently taken in police custody.”
South Dakota v.
Opperman, 428 U.S. 364, 368 (1976) (internal citation omitted).
As a part of exercising this function, it is “beyond challenge”
that police officers may “seize and remove from the streets
vehicles impeding traffic or threatening public safety and
convenience . . . .”
Id. at 369
“This rule is particularly
important where a car would be unattended, even if legally
parked, and the police have reason to believe that a suspect will
be separated from his vehicle for a long period of time.”
States v. Mundy, 806 F. Supp. 373, 376 (E.D.N.Y. 1992).
Here, Mulvey affirms that Bryant’s car was parked on a
“heavily traveled roadway” and that had the car been left where
it was stopped, “it would slow, obstruct and menace traffic” in
(Defs.’ Mot. Summ. J. Ex. A, ¶¶ 16-17 (Doc. No. 41).)
Moreover, the plaintiff admitted at his deposition that the
shoulder where he stopped his car was not wide enough to
accommodate even a bicycle.
Given these circumstances, it was
reasonable for Mulvey as a part of his caretaking function, to
arrange to have Bryant’s car impounded prior to taking Bryant
Finally, Bryant challenges the seizure of his person.
Supreme Court addressed similar circumstances in Atwater v. City
of Lago Vista, 532 U.S. 318 (2001).
There, Atwater was pulled
over, taken into custody, and processed at a police station after
a police officer observed her violating a seatbelt law, which was
Atwater pled guilty to some of the misdemeanor
charges against her and paid a $50 fine.
She filed suit alleging
her Fourth Amendment “right to be free from unreasonable seizure”
had been violated.
Id. at 325.
She petitioned the Supreme Court
for a constitutional rule forbidding a custodial arrest when a
conviction could not ultimately result in jail time, reasoning
that courts must strike a balance between the individual and
societal interests protected by the Fourth Amendment.
declined to do so, noting that “we have traditionally recognized
that a responsible Fourth Amendment balance is not well served by
standards requiring sensitive, case-by-case determinations of
government need, lest every discretionary judgment in the field
be converted into an occasion for constitutional review.”
The Court opted instead for a bright-line rule: “[i]f an
officer has probable cause to believe that an individual has
committed even a very minor criminal offense in his presence, he
may, without violating the Fourth Amendment, arrest the
Id. at 354.
Mulvey had probable cause to believe Bryant had committed a
criminal offense in his presence.
Taking Bryant into custody,
then, was not a violation of his Fourth Amendment rights.
“Our Fourth Amendment jurisprudence has long recognized that
the right to make an arrest or investigatory stop necessarily
carries with it the right to use some degree of physical coercion
or threat thereof to effect it.”
Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386,
396 (1989) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Conn.
Gen. Stat. § 53a-22(b) (“a peace officer . . . is justified in
using physical force upon another person when and to the extent
that he or she reasonably believes such to be necessary to (1)
Effect an arrest . . . of a person whom he or she reasonably
believes to have committed an offense . . . .”).
Fourth Amendment prohibits the use of unreasonable and therefore
excessive force by a police officer in the course of effecting an
Tracy v. Freshwater, 623 F.3d 90, 96 (2d Cir. 2010).
To determine whether the force used was reasonable or not, the
Fourth Amendment calls for a “careful balancing of the nature and
quality of the intrusion on the individual’s Fourth Amendment
interests against the countervailing government interests at
stake.” Graham, 490 U.S. at 396 (internal quotation marks
The sole support Bryant offers for his claim of excessive
force is the following argument: “[t]he Plaintiff was arrested.
There was inherently a touching of his person . . . [and] said
physical contact was against the Plaintiff’s will and unwanted by
(Pl.s’ Obj. Defs.’ Mot. Summ. J., 12 (Doc. No. 47) (“Pl’s
Obj.”) (ECF page numbers).)
There is no allegation that this
force was more than was necessary to take the plaintiff into
Moreover, the individual defendants have all affirmed
that they did not use profanity, raise their voices, punch, kick,
hit, strike, threaten, or physically harm Bryant, and there is no
allegation that they did so.
Thus, there is no genuine issue of
material fact as to whether the force used to place Bryant into
custody was reasonable.
Substantive Due Process
The plaintiff claims that the seizure of his car and his
driver’s license was arbitrary and in violation of his Fourteenth
Amendment right to substantive due process.
The Supreme Court
has recognized that, “[a]s a general matter, the Court has always
been reluctant to expand the concept of substantive due process
because the guideposts for responsible decisionmaking in this
unchartered area are scarce and open-ended.”
Albright v. Oliver,
510 U.S. 266, 271-72 (1994) (quoting Collins v. Harker Heights,
503 U.S. 115, 125 (1992) (internal quotation marks omitted).
Albright, the petitioner contended that his alleged unlawful
detention was in violation of his right to substantive due
The Court, however, held that “[w]here a particular
Amendment provides an explicit textual source of constitutional
protection against a particular sort of government behavior, that
Amendment, not the more generalized notion of substantive due
process, must be the guide for analyzing these claims.”
273 (internal quotation marks omitted).
In holding that analysis
under the Fourth Amendment was proper under the circumstances,
the Court noted, “[t]he framers considered the matter of pretrial
deprivations of liberty and drafted the Fourth Amendment to
address it. . . . We have in the past noted the Fourth
Amendment’s relevance to the deprivations of liberty that go hand
in hand with criminal prosecutions.”
Id. at 274; see also Russo
v. Bridgeport, 479 F.3d 196, 208 (2d Cir. 2007) (holding that a
claim of sustained detention stemming from law enforcement
officials’ failure to investigate was rightly analyzed under the
Fourth Amendment and not substantive due process, observing,
“when the accused is physically detained following arraignment,
there can be no question that he has been seized within the
meaning of the Fourth Amendment” (quoting Murphy v Lynn, 118 F.3d
938, 944 (2d Cir. 1997))).
Accordingly, the seizure of the plaintiff’s license and
automobile cannot form the basis for a substantive due process
Procedural Due Process
The plaintiff claims that the seizure of the license and
automobile were also in violation of his Fourteenth Amendment
right to procedural due process as they occurred without notice
and an opportunity for a pre-deprivation hearing.
due process claims concern the adequacy of the procedures
provided by the governmental body for the protection of liberty
or property rights of an individual.”
Supp. 2d 304, 308 (D. Conn. 2000).
Gordon v. Nicoletti, 84 F.
For the plaintiff “to
establish a procedural due process violation, [he] must: (1)
identify a property right, (2) establish that governmental action
with respect to that property right amounted to a deprivation,
and (3) demonstrate that the deprivation occurred without due
Rosa R. v. Connelly, 889 F. 2d 435, 438 (2d Cir.
“In this context, it is well-settled that the court
should examine procedural due process questions in two steps: the
first asks whether there exists a liberty or property interest
which has been interfered with by the State; the second examines
whether the procedures attendant upon the deprivation were
Parsons v. Pond, 126 F. Supp. 2d
205, 214-15 (D. Conn. 2000) (quoting Vlamonte v. Bane, 18 F.3d
992, 998 (2d Cir. 1994)) (internal quotation marks omitted).
With respect to the plaintiff’s driver’s license, the
Supreme Court has recognized that “[o]nce licenses are issued, .
. . their continued possession may become essential in the
pursuit of a livelihood.”
Bell v. Burson, 402 U.S. 535, 539
“It is well established that many state-created
privileges, such as a license to drive, ‘are not to be taken away
without that procedural due process required by the Fourteenth
Amendment,’” Gudema v. Nassau Cnty., 163 F.3d 717, 724 (2d Cir.
1998) (quoting Bell, 402 U.S. at 539).
There is no dispute that
Bryant holds a property interest in his driving privilege.
The defendants distinguish between Bryant’s driving
privilege and the physical item, i.e., the driver’s license, he
carries with him to reflect the fact that the state has granted
him the driving privilege.
They argue that taking Bryant’s
driver’s license did not implicate his property interest.
However, under Connecticut law, “[e]ach operator of a motor
vehicle shall carry his operator’s license while operating such
Failure to carry such operator’s license as required by
the provisions of this section shall be an infraction.”
Gen. Stat. § 14-213.
Because the failure to carry a driver’s
license is punishable as an infraction, Bryant cannot freely
exercise his driving privilege unless he physically possesses the
Therefore, the court concludes that taking
Bryant’s driver’s license implicated his property interest in his
Even though Bryant was deprived of his driving privilege by
the defendants, there was no violation of his right to procedural
As the Supreme Court noted in Parratt v. Taylor:
Our past cases mandate that some kind of
hearing is required at some time before a
State finally deprives a person of his
requirement of due process is the opportunity
to be heard and it is an ‘opportunity which
must be granted at a meaningful time and in a
meaningful manner.’ However, . . . we have
rejected the proposition that ‘at a meaningful
time and in a meaningful manner’ always
requires the state to provide a hearing prior
to the initial deprivation of property. This
impracticability in some cases of providing
stateauthorized procedure, and the assumption that
at some time a meaningful hearing will be
451 U.S. 527, 540-41 (1981) (quoting Armstrong v. Manzo, 380 U.S.
545, 552 (1965)).
The Court went on to clarify that such a
situation arises when a plaintiff is subjected to a deprivation
of property “as a result of a random and unauthorized act by a
Id. at 541.
“In such a case, the loss is not a
result of some established state procedure and the State cannot
predict precisely when the loss will occur,” thus rendering it
“not only impracticable, but impossible, to provide a meaningful
hearing before the deprivation.”
Id.; see also Gudema, 163 F.3d
at 724 (“A deprivation of liberty or property through the conduct
of a state employee whose acts are random and unauthorized,
however, does not constitute a procedural due process violation
so long as the state provides a meaningful remedy thereafter.”).
Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff, Bryant took affirmative steps to prevent his license
from being suspended, i.e., paying his court fines and mailing
his receipt to the DMV.
Although he was in compliance with the
requirements for maintaining his license to drive, it was
suspended because an unidentified clerk at the DMV failed to
process his proof of payment and wrongfully suspended his
license, not as the result of DMV employees properly following
established DMV procedures.
This behavior amounts to a random
and unauthorized act, so the pertinent question is whether Bryant
had a meaningful postdeprivation remedy.
The applicable statute provides that the commissioner of
motor vehicles may suspend or revoke “the right of any person to
operate a motor vehicle in this state . . . with or without a
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 14-110(a); see also id. § 14-111(d)
(notice may be sent after suspension of license).
A person whose
license has been suspended “may make application to the
commissioner for the reversal or reduction of the term of such
suspension,” id. § 14-111(k), and “[a] person who has exhausted
all administrative remedies available within the agency and who
is aggrieved by a final decision may appeal to the Superior
Id. § 4-183 (applicable to Title 14 through the
operation of § 14-134).
These statutory provisions affording the
right to both administrative review and appeal to the superior
court amount to meaningful postdeprivation remedies.
v. Baltromitis, 242 A.2d 99, 101 (Conn. Cir. Ct. 1967) (holding
that § 14-111, coupled with § 14-134, provides “ample protection
against arbitrary or uninformed action of the commissioner”).
Thus, under the circumstances, taking Bryant’s driver’s license
and depriving him of his privilege to drive was not a violation
of his right to procedural due process.
As to his car, it is undisputed that Bryant has a property
interest in his car.
However, Bryant claims that his car was
taken “by a member of the Bristol Police Department in an
arbitrary and random fashion.” (Pl.’s Obj., 22.)
plaintiff contends that Mulvey’s decision to tow the vehicle was
random and unauthorized rather than one taken pursuant to an
As with Bryant’s driver’s license, the
pertinent question is whether Bryant had a meaningful
“[A]ny officer attached to an organized police department .
. . upon the discovery of any motor vehicle, . . . which is a
menace to traffic or public health or safety, shall take such
motor vehicle into such . . . officer’s custody and cause the
same to be taken to and stored in a suitable place.”
Stat. § 14-150(b).
Section 14-150(b) further provides that after
the vehicle is towed, its owner is to receive notice by certified
mail that, inter alia, “the owner has a right to contest the
validity of such taking by application . . . .”
Id. § 14-150(e).
“The chief executive officer of each town shall appoint a
suitable person, . . . to be a hearing officer to hear
applications to determine whether or not the towing within such
municipality of such motor vehicle was authorized under the
provisions of this section.”
Id. § 14-150(f)(1).
“[a]ny person aggrieved by the decision of such hearing officer
may . . . appeal to the superior court for the judicial district
wherein such hearing was held.”
Thus, Bryant had a meaningful postdeprivation remedy for the
allegedly “arbitrary and random” action by Mulvey: both
administrative review by an independent body and appeal to the
superior court. Therefore, the towing and impounding of Bryant’s
car without a prior hearing was not a violation of his right to
procedural due process.
The plaintiff alleges that the City of Bristol is liable in
accordance with Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S.
658 (1978), for the constitutional violations of its employees
caused by its unconstitutional customs, policies, and practices
as well as its failure to adequately train its employees.
In order to hold a municipality liable in an action under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 for the unconstitutional actions of its employees,
“a plaintiff is required to plead and prove three elements: (1)
an official policy or custom that (2) causes the plaintiff to be
subjected to (3) a denial of a constitutional right.”
Town of Southold, 48 F.3d 674, 685 (2d Cir. 1995) (quoting
Batista v. Rodriguez, 702 F.2d 393, 397 (2d Cir. 1983)).
municipality may also be held liable “where the city is aware
that its [constitutional] policy may be unconstitutionally
applied by inadequately trained employees but the city
consciously chooses not to train them.”
Amnesty America v. Town
of West Hartford, 361 F.3d 113, 125 (2d Cir. 2004) (citing City
of Canton, Ohio v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 387 (1989)).
“Monell does not provide a separate cause of action for the
failure by the government to train its employees; it extends
liability to a municipal organization where that organization’s
failure to train, or the policies or customs that it has
sanctioned, led to an independent constitutional violation.”
Segal v. City of New York, 459 F.3d 207, 219 (2d Cir. 2006).
another way, in order for a municipality to be held liable under
Monell, there must first be an underlying constitutional
The plaintiff’s only argument in support of this claim is
that Mulvey failed to handcuff Bryant, and the failure to do so
was a violation of departmental policy.
A failure to handcuff
Bryant cannot serve as the underlying constitutional violation,
so there is no basis for a Monell claim against the City of
The defendants argue, correctly, that the plaintiff has
failed to allege any of the underlying elements required to prove
“To prove a § 1983 conspiracy, a plaintiff must
show: (1) an agreement between two or more state actors or
between a state actor and a private entity; (2) to act in concert
to inflict an unconstitutional injury; and (3) an overt act done
in furtherance of that goal causing damages.”
Culbertson, 200 F.3d 65, 72 (2d Cir. 1999).
It his opposition,
Bryant dedicates only a half sentence to his claim of conspiracy,
asserting that the defendants “conspired with one another to
violate his constitutional rights.”
(Pl.’s Obj., 25.)
conclusory statement does not create a genuine issue of material
Moreover, even if the plaintiff were to allege the elements
of conspiracy, his claim would be barred by the intracorporate
A civil rights conspiracy requires an
agreement between two or more actors to inflict an
“This ‘two or more actors’ requirement
cannot be satisfied where all of the alleged conspirators are
employees of a single entity and acting within the scope of their
employment as agents of that entity.”
Anemone v. Metro. Transp.
Auth., 419 F. Supp. 2d 602, 604 (S.D.N.Y. 2006).
alleges a conspiracy among defendants Mulvey, Healy, Brown, and
Divenere, all of whom are police officers with the Bristol Police
Thus summary judgment is being granted as to this
Sixth Amendment Violation
The plaintiff claims that his rights were violated because
he was not afforded the opportunity to present a defense to the
charges on which he was arrested by the Bristol Police
Department. While “the right of an accused to confront the
witnesses against him is likewise a fundamental right and is made
obligatory on the States by the Fourteenth Amendment,” Pointer v.
Texas, 380 U.S. 400, 403 (1965), “Sixth Amendment rights do not
attach until the time that adversary judicial proceedings have
In re Grand Jury Subpoena Served Upon Doe, 781
F.2d 238, 244 (2d Cir. 1985) (internal quotation marks omitted).
No criminal prosecution was initiated against the plaintiff, and
therefore his Sixth Amendment rights never attached.
State Law Claims
Having granted summary judgment on the plaintiff’s federal
claims, the court declines, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c), to
exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the plaintiff’s remaining
state law claims of assault and battery, invasion of privacy,
violation of the Connecticut Constitution art. I, §§ 7 and 9, and
deprivation or property, false imprisonment, illegal search and
seizure, malicious prosecution, and false arrest.
ex rel. Franco v. Lee, 316 F. 3d 299, 305 (2d Cir. 2003) (“[I]n
the usual case in which all federal-law claims are eliminated
before trial, the balance of factors to be considered under the
pendent jurisdiction doctrine-judicial economy, convenience,
fairness, and comity-will point toward declining to exercise
jurisdiction over the remaining state-law claims.”) (quoting
Carnegie-Mellon Univ. v. Cohill, 484 U.S. 343, 350 n.7 (1988)).
Based upon the foregoing, the Defendant’s Motion for Summary
Judgment (Doc. No. 41) is hereby GRANTED as to the remaining
federal claims, and the remaining state law claims are hereby
DISMISSED as the court declines to exercise jurisdiction over
The Clerk shall close this case.
It is so ordered.
Dated this 18th day of July, 2011, at Hartford, Connecticut.
Alvin W. Thompson
United States District Judge
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