Cosentino v. Hamden et al
RULING AND ORDER re 44 Order on Motion for Summary Judgment, Signed by Judge Robert N. Chatigny on 3/31/14.(Glynn, T.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
TOWN OF HAMDEN, et al.,
CASE No. 3:11-cv-1669(RNC)
RULING AND ORDER
Plaintiff brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against
the Town of Hamden, Hamden Police Chief Wydra, and Hamden Police
officers Cameron, Putnam, Liguori and Sullivan alleging that
while in custody at the Hamden Police Department (HPD) he was
violently assaulted and denied medical care for his injuries.1
Defendants have moved for summary judgment on the claims against
the Town and Wydra contending that the evidence does not support
municipal or supervisory liability.
They seek summary judgment
on the claims against Putnam, Liguori and Sullivan on the ground
that they have not been served with process.
For reasons that
follow, the motion for summary judgment is granted as to the
claims against the Town and Wydra but denied as to the claims
against Putnam, Liguori and Sullivan.
This action arises out of events that occurred in the
detention area at Hamden Police Headquarters on September 1,
State law claims alleging negligence and recklessness have
2009, following the plaintiff’s arrest.
After being processed,
plaintiff was handcuffed to a bench to await interrogation.
Plaintiff alleges that although he was passive and compliant,
Officer Cameron made lewd and derogatory comments to him, accused
him of leading the police on a chase earlier that week, told him
he "better confess or else" and threatened to "kick his ass."
Plaintiff alleges that in reflexive response to Cameron’s
statements, he stood up, his hand came out of the handcuffs, he
stumbled forward, "found himself upon [Cameron],” and “wrapped
his arms around [Cameron’s] waist to avoid falling to the floor."
According to plaintiff, Cameron immediately subdued him and
secured him in restraints.
Seconds later, plaintiff alleges,
Officers Putnam, Liguori and Sullivan rushed into the room and
the officers as a group proceeded to punch and kick him causing
Plaintiff alleges that he was denied medical
care because he refused to sign a statement admitting that he had
After a delay of six hours, plaintiff
alleges, he was finally taken to a hospital where he was
diagnosed with rib fractures.
II. Summary Judgment
Summary judgment may be granted when there is no "genuine
issue as to any material fact" and, based on the undisputed
facts, the movant is "entitled to judgment as a matter of law."
Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c).
See D'Amico v. City of New York, 132 F.3d
145, 149 (2d Cir. 1998).
A genuine issue of fact exists "if the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict
for the nonmoving party."
U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
In determining whether summary judgment is
proper, the record must be viewed in the light most favorable to
See Sheppard v. Beerman, 317 F.3d 351, 354 (2d
This requires the court to resolve all ambiguities
and draw all permissible inferences in favor of the plaintiff.
See Stern v. Trustees of Columbia University, 131 F.3d 305, 312
A. Monell Claim Against the Town of Hamden
Plaintiff seeks to hold the Town liable for the officers’
alleged use of excessive force on the ground that “the brutality
inflicted . . .
was the result of a policy of the town and its
Chief of Police created by the longstanding condoning of such
practices by Hamden officers."
37) at *4.
Pl.'s Opp'n to Summ. J. (ECF No.
Under Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Serv. of City of New
York, 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978), plaintiff cannot prevail on his
claim unless he demonstrates that, “through its deliberate
conduct, the municipality was the 'moving force' behind the
Board of Comm'rs v. Brown, 520 U.S. 397, 404
The evidence does not support such a finding.
To the extent plaintiff’s claim is premised on a failure to
supervise or discipline, he must prove "deliberate indifference"
on the part of the Town.
(2d Cir. 1999).
See Thomas v. Roach, 165 F.3d 137, 145
“To prove such deliberate indifference, the
plaintiff must show that the need for more or better supervision
to protect against constitutional violations was obvious.”
v. City of New York, 72 F.3d 1040, 1049 (2d Cir. 1995).
“obvious need” for more or better supervision “may be
demonstrated through proof of repeated complaints of civil rights
violations; deliberate indifference may be inferred if the
complaints are followed by no meaningful attempt on the part of
the municipality to investigate or forestall further incidents.”
See also DeCarlo v. Fry, 141 F.3d 57, 61-62 (2d Cir. 1998);
Ricciuti v. N.Y.C. Transit Auth., 941 F.2d 119, 123 (2d Cir.
Plaintiff alleges that the Town had actual knowledge of
prior incidents of unreasonable force and consistently failed to
take any action.
1), ¶ 3.
See Pl.’s Rule 56(a)(2) Statement (ECF No. 37-
Plaintiff’s opposition memorandum contains a conclusory
statement that “there is not one single case in which any Hamden
police officer ever has been disciplined in any manner for the
use of unreasonable force.”
Pl.'s Opp'n to Summ. J. (ECF No. 37)
But plaintiff fails to present evidence from which a jury
could reasonably infer that the Town ignored complaints of
excessive force or failed to take meaningful action.2
Plaintiff submits documents relating to four complaints
against HPD by other complainants as well as Wydra’s response to
plaintiff’s own complaint.
Of the other four complaints, one
alleges excessive use of Tasers by other officers in 2011, two
years after the events at issue here.
statement regarding that incident suggests that a meaningful
investigation was conducted and plaintiff submits no evidence to
Two of the other complaints submitted by the
plaintiff allege use of excessive force by defendants Putman and
Cameron, respectively, in 2006 and 2009.
Plaintiff presents no
evidence that either of these complaints was not sufficiently
The fourth complaint, filed in 2000, appears to
allege harassment by other officers relating to a search.
record indicates that this complaint also was investigated.
Turning to Wydra’s response to plaintiff’s own complaint of
excessive force, Wydra informed the plaintiff that he “would not
be conducting an official internal administrative investigation”
into plaintiff’s complaint because the complaint was not
Plaintiff does not contend that the alleged beating itself was
so egregious as to warrant an inference that it was attributable
to inadequate training or supervision amounting to deliberate
Under Fiacco v. City of Rensselaer, N.Y., 783 F.2d 319 (2d
Cir. 1986), failure to take written statements from complainants
may reflect indifference to the use of excessive force. Id. at
submitted within sixty days of the incident, the time limit in
the collective bargaining agreement between the Town and the
police officers’ union for initiating official investigations.
Pl’s Ex. 5 (ECF No. 37-6).
The response also stated:
conducted a careful and detailed review of the case incident
reports submitted by the police personnel . . . .
Based on that
review, it appears that the level of force used by Hamden Police
personnel in the detention area was reasonable and justified in
light of the totality of circumstances present."
Viewed collectively, the evidence concerning the other four
complaints and Wydra’s response to the plaintiff’s own complaint
is insufficient to support a reasonable finding of deliberate
indifference on the part of the Town (or Chief Wydra) as required
for Monell liability.
The cases plaintiff cites support this
In Fiacco v. City of Rensselaer, N.Y., the evidence
permitted a jury to find that “the City had in place general
procedures relating to the appropriate supervision of police
officers but had declined to implement them.”
(2d Cir. 1986).
783 F.2d 319, 329
The Fiacco plaintiff introduced seven written
complaints, testimony of four of the complainants, and testimony
of the police chief as to his handling of the complaints.
evidence showed that in each instance essentially no action was
Id. at 330-31.
The Court found that this evidence was
sufficient to establish a policy of nonsupervision of police
officers amounting to deliberate indifference to the use of
See also Galindez v. Miller, 285 F. Supp. 2d
190, 198-200 (D. Conn. 2003). (city’s failure to reasonably
investigate complaints and absence of punitive consequences for
any accused officer after more than seventy excessive force
complaints over three years sufficient to support Monell claim).
Here, in contrast, the record shows that a complaint process
existed and that the filing of a complaint usually triggered an
investigation in which statements from complainants were taken.
In the absence of evidence that the investigations or results
were improper, Monell liability cannot be established in this
case based on a theory of failure to supervise or discipline.
See Jones v. Town of E. Haven, 691 F.3d 72, 85 (2d Cir. 2012);
Thomas v. Roach, 165 F.3d 137, 145 (2d Cir. 1999); Sarus v.
Rotundo, 831 F.2d 397, 401-02 (2d Cir. 1987).
Plaintiff also fails to present evidence of inadequate
training procedures to support a Monell claim.
Failure to train
can support municipal liability if the failure reflects
deliberate indifference to violations of constitutional rights.
City of Canton v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 385 (1989).
on this theory, plaintiff must present evidence "as to whether
the Town trained its officers . . . how the training was
conducted, how better or different training could have prevented
the challenged conduct, or how a hypothetically well-trained
officer would have acted under the circumstances."
America v. Town of West Hartford, 361 F.3d 113, 132 (2d Cir.
No such evidence is presented.
B. Supervisory Claim Against Chief Wydra
Plaintiff’s claim against Chief Wydra is similarly
Under § 1983, a supervisor may be liable for a
subordinate’s violation if the supervisor participated in the
wrongful conduct, failed to remedy known violations of
constitutional rights, created a policy or custom under which
unconstitutional practices occurred, allowed such a policy or
custom to continue, or was grossly negligent in managing
See Doe v. Whidden, No. 13-0787-cv, 2014 WL
642671, at *1 (2d Cir. Feb. 20, 2014).
There is no allegation
that Wydra directly participated in the alleged assault.
evidence does not permit a finding that Wydra failed to remedy a
known violation, created or permitted a policy or custom under
which unconstitutional practices occurred, or was grossly
negligent in managing subordinates.
C. Claims Against Defendants Putnam, Liguori and Sullivan
Defendants Putnam, Liguori and Sullivan argue that all
charges against them should be dismissed for lack of personal
jurisdiction because plaintiff has failed to effect service of
process on any of them.
Defendants waived this defense by
failing to raise it as required by applicable rules.
v. C & S Adjusters, Inc., 980 F.2d 865, 868 n.1 (2d Cir. 1992).
Accordingly, the motion for summary judgment [ECF No. 36] is
hereby granted as to the claims against the Town of Hamden and
Chief Wydra and denied as to the claims against defendants
Putnam, Liguori and Sullivan.
In accordance with the scheduling
order, the joint trial memorandum is due May 1, 2014.
So ordered this 31st day of March 2014.
Robert N. Chatigny
United Stated District Judge
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