Boston v. Suffolk County, New York et al
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION & ORDER granting in part and denying in part 51 Motion to Dismiss; granting in part and denying in part 52 Motion for Summary Judgment; granting in part and denying in part 54 Motion for Summary Judgment; denying 57 Motion to Amend/Correct/Supplement. For the reasons stated above, the Plaintiffs motion to amend his complaint pursuant to Rule 15 is denied; and the Defendants motions for summary judgment are granted in part and denied in part. The motions for su mmary judgment are granted to the extent that the SCPD and TSPP are administrative arms that cannot be sued separate and apart from their respective municipalities and the claims against them are therefore dismissed. The motions for summary judgment are denied to the extent that the Plaintiffs Monell claims and state law claims against Suffolk and Smithtown shall be presented to the jury. SEE ATTACHED DECISION for details. Ordered by Judge Arthur D. Spatt on 1/9/2018. (Coleman, Laurie)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
2:56 pm, Jan 09, 2018
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
LONG ISLAND OFFICE
DECISION & ORDER
14-cv-5791 (ADS) (AKT)
-againstSUFFOLK COUNTY, NEW YORK, SUFFOLK
COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT, TOWN
OF SMITHTOWN, NEW YORK, TOWN OF
SMITHTOWN PARK POLICE, SUFFOLK
COUNTY POLICE OFFICERS JOHN DOE #1
TO JOHN DOE #5, TOWN OF SMITHTOWN
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY
PERSONNEL AND/OR PARK RANGERS
JOHN DOE #1 TO JOHN DOE #5
Brill Legal Group, P.C.
Attorneys for the Plaintiff
New York, NY 10279
Peter E. Brill, Esq.,
Joseph P. Griffin, Esq., Of Counsel
Suffolk County Department of Law
Corporation Counsel for the Defendants Suffolk County, New York and Suffolk County Police
H. Lee Dennison Building
100 Veterans Memorial Highway
PO Box 6100
Hauppauge, NY 11788
Kyle O Wood, Assistant Corporation Counsel
Susan A. Flynn, Assistant Corporation Counsel
Law Office of Stanley E. Orzechowski P.C.
Attorney for the Defendants Town of Smithton, New York and Town of Smithtown Park Police
38 Southern Boulevard
Nesconset, NY 11767
Stanley E. Orzechowski, Esq., Of Counsel
SPATT, District Judge:
The Plaintiff Robert Boston (the “Plaintiff”) brought this civil rights action against the
Defendants Suffolk County, New York (the “County” or “Suffolk”), Suffolk County Police
Department (the “SCPD”) (with the County, the “Suffolk Defendants”), Town Of Smithtown, New
York (the “Town” or “Smithtown”), Town Of Smithtown Park Police (“TSPP”) (with Smithtown,
the “Smithtown Defendants”), Suffolk County Police Officers John Doe #1 To John Doe #5, Town
Of Smithtown Department Of Public Safety Personnel and/or Park Rangers John Doe #1 To John
Doe #5 (together with the SCPD John Does 1 through 5, the “John Doe defendants”) (collectively,
the “Defendants”) alleging that they deprived him of his constitutional rights by failing to provide
him with medical care while in their custody.
Presently before the Court are motions by the Suffolk Defendants and the Smithtown
Defendants for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“FED. R. CIV. P.”
or “Rule”) 56, as well as a motion by the Plaintiff to amend his complaint pursuant to Rule 15 to
substitute certain police officers and rangers for the John Doe defendants.
For the following reasons, the Plaintiff’s motion to amend pursuant to Rule 15 is denied,
and the Defendants’ motions for summary judgment are granted in part, and denied in part.
A. The Relevant Facts
On the afternoon of July 4, 2013, the Plaintiff left his home after having a dispute with his
wife. He brought nine tablets of Valium and 35 tablets of Wellbutrin with him. The Plaintiff
testified that he does not remember where he went, but that he drove past his wife at some point,
and ended up in Bill Richards Memorial Park in Smithtown, New York. (Dep. of Robert Boston
at 47–48). While at the park, he smoked some marijuana, and swallowed nine Valium pills and
an unknown quantity of Wellbutrin. He wanted to kill himself. The next thing that the Plaintiff
remembers is being asked to sign a desk appearance ticket at a police station on July 5, 2013.
At about 10:19 in the morning on July 5, 2013, Town of Smithtown Park Rangers Russell
Sokol (“Ranger Sokol” or “Sokol”) and Joseph Paterson (“Ranger Paterson” or “Paterson”)
received a radio report of an individual who was on the premises without authorization. Paterson
testified that there was a radio call for a suspicion person around a vehicle, who was possibly
intoxicated. (Dep. of Sokol at 35).
Paterson and Sokol encountered the Plaintiff at about 10:50 a.m.. The Plaintiff “appeared
to be . . . sleeping.”
(Id. at 37).
The rangers awakened the Plaintiff and asked him for
identification. The Plaintiff refused. He told the officers that he did not want to come out of the
car because he believed they were going to arrest him. (Id. at 39). Ranger Paterson testified that
the Plaintiff said that he wanted to be left alone so that he could sleep. (Dep. of Paterson at 36).
The rangers eventually convinced the Plaintiff to exit his car, and he did so without any aid
from the rangers. (Dep. of Sokol at 40–41). He said that he did not know why the rangers were
bothering him; he was just sleeping and did not see any problem. (Dep. of Paterson at 37). The
Plaintiff cursed at the rangers and used other abusive and offensive language. (Dep. of Sokol at
45–46). The Plaintiff identified himself and the rangers took down his information. (Id. at 47).
The Plaintiff was a little unsteady on his feet, but was coherent and able to answer the
officers’ questions. He told the rangers that he had taken two tabs of acid and nine Diazepam pills,
and that he had smoked a little weed. Rangers Sokol and Paterson had the Plaintiff sit down and
asked him if he needed any medical attention or if he wanted to go to the hospital. The Plaintiff
said no. (Id. at 43). Ranger Paterson asked him a series of question to assess his well-being: he
asked him the name of the current president; what the weather was that day; what was the day of
the week; and the current date. (Dep. of Paterson at 38). Paterson testified that he “got responses
that were exactly what [he] had asked. There was no waivering [sic]. There was nothing that
arose suspicion. It just seemed like he was just very tired.” (Dep. of Paterson at 39).
The rangers observed several pills lying on the passenger floor, and the Plaintiff told them
that he also had weed. Rangers Sokol and Paterson recovered a quantity of marijuana from the
Plaintiff’s person. Paterson observed some dried vomit on the passenger seat of the Plaintiff’s car.
(Id. at 49). The Plaintiff later supported this point by testifying that he had to clean vomit out of
The Plaintiff was placed under arrest. The Plaintiff was arrested for possession of
marijuana; possession of a controlled substance; remaining upon Town Park Property while under
the influence of non-prescription controlled substances; use of loud, abusive and indecent language
on park property; and failure to show identification upon request.
Rangers Sokol and Paterson transported the Plaintiff to the Suffolk County Police Fourth
Precinct (the “Fourth Precinct”) for processing. While he was transporting the Plaintiff, Ranger
Paterson explained the process at the precinct, and the Plaintiff seemed coherent. (Dep. of Paterson
At 10:55 a.m., the Plaintiff arrived at the Fourth Precinct. The Plaintiff walked into the
precinct without any assistance. The desk sergeant asked the Plaintiff a series of questions:
whether he needed medical attention; whether he was okay; whether he was taking any medication;
and what was his pedigree information. The Plaintiff answered all of these questions, and stated
that he did not need medical attention.
Sergeant Thomas Healy (“Sergeant Healy” or “Healy”) of the SCPD was the desk officer
at that time. He testified that he had no independent recollection of interacting with the Plaintiff.
However, on the Prisoner Activity Log, Healy wrote “No” in the section that asks whether the
“prisoner claims pain, injury or illness.” (Prisoner Activity Log, Suffolk Defs. Ex. J). Healy also
noted that the Plaintiff was unsteady on his feet, lethargic, and spoke with slurred speech.
Healy did not recall a prisoner ever failing to give a response to his questioning concerning
injury or illness. He does not remember the Plaintiff ever making any statements about attempting
to take his life; and testified that he would have noted such statements if they had been made, and
would have sent the prisoner to the hospital. Healy testified that if a prisoner asks for medical
attention, the officer to whom the request was made would bring that request to the desk sergeant’s
attention. While he has no independent recollection, Healy testified that the records reflect that
the Plaintiff did not request medical attention while housed at the Fourth Precinct. Although Healy
does not remember it, Ranger Paterson testified that he told him that the Plaintiff claimed to have
ingested nine diazepam and two tabs of acid. (Paterson Dep. at 60).
The prisoner activity log shows that the Plaintiff was in custody at the Fourth Precinct from
10:55 a.m. until 3:20 p.m.. The officers noted in the activity log that the Plaintiff was calm the
entire time. At three different times, he took drinks of water. At 12:03 p.m., Ranger Paterson
remarked on the log that the Plaintiff was “cooperative.” At 3:20 p.m., the Plaintiff signed a desk
appearance ticket. The Plaintiff testified that he remembered signing the desk appearance ticket.
(Dep. of Robert Boston at 63–66).
After issuing the Plaintiff a desk appearance ticket, Ranger Paterson sought to bring the
Plaintiff home. He did not want the Plaintiff to drive because he was very tired, but he did not
want him housed overnight at another precinct because the Plaintiff had been cooperative. (Dep.
of Paterson at 71). The Plaintiff had provided the officers with his home phone number, but he
had told them that no one was home. Paterson asked the Plaintiff if he would rather go to a jail
cell or go home and get some sleep. The Plaintiff told Paterson that he wanted to go home;
specifically, he said he was tired and wanted to go to bed. (Dep. of Paterson at 75).
While he was at the Fourth Precinct, the Plaintiff never requested medical attention; never
complained of any injury or illness; and never disclosed that he had attempted suicide.
Ranger Paterson drove the Plaintiff home, and Ranger Sokol followed in a separate car.
Paterson parked in the driveway. He asked the Plaintiff whose cars were in the driveway, and the
Plaintiff told him that the two cars belonged to him and his wife. The Plaintiff further stated that
he had thought his wife was still at work, and asked Ranger Paterson to go speak with her if she
was home. The Plaintiff remained in the car. The car was running, the air conditioning was on,
and the windows were cracked. (Dep. of Sokol at 92).
Ranger Paterson spoke to the Plaintiff’s wife, Joann Boston. He explained to her what
happened, and she said that she would not let him into the house. The Plaintiff’s daughter, Kayla
Boston, ran out of the house to where her father was, and yelled at him, saying that she hated him.
The car door was open, and she pulled it open more to yell at him. Ranger Sokol came around to
prevent Kayla Boston from opening the door all the way. Kayla Boston testified by deposition
that her father did not respond. She said that “he wasn’t [her] dad at that moment. He was looking
at [her], but like he was looking through [her]  like [she] was a stranger . . . .” (Dep. of Kayla
Boston at 92). She ran back inside. She testified that she did not know if he was in need of medical
attention or in distress at that point. (Id. at 160).
About that time Joann Boston walked outside, and saw the Plaintiff in the car. She went
to tell him that his mother was coming to get him. Joann Boston testified that the Plaintiff:
was sitting in the back [of the car] and he was tipped over[,] and his eyes were like
blank. They looked like dead eyes. They weren’t his eyes. And he seemed pale
and sweaty. And he was tipped over. And I tried to talk to him. I said, are you
okay? And I couldn’t get him – he wouldn’t even respond to me. So I said to the
officer – I said, he doesn’t need to sleep it off under the tree, he needs an ambulance,
he needs to go to the hospital. And he said, well you can call 911 if you want.
(Dep. of Joann Boston at 92). She went inside and called 911. The Plaintiff suffered a seizure at
that point. An ambulance arrived and took the Plaintiff to St. Catherine’s Hospital. The Plaintiff
was in a coma for six days. He has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder; has lost
most of his sense of smell; has lost many fine motor senses; and does not see as well as he used to.
Prior to these events, the Plaintiff had never suffered a drug induced seizure despite having
taken many drugs over the course of many years.
Relevant here, the officers also testified as to their respective training. Ranger Sokol
testified that he had never received any training in the signs and symptoms of narcotic use, (Sokol
Dep. at 23), and that there are no specific regulations as to how to deal with someone in medical
distress, (id. at 28). Ranger Paterson testified that he did not receive any training with regard to
the use of drugs, (Paterson Dep. at 16–17), the identification of drugs, (id.), or how to interact with
arrestees, (id. at 20–21). He testified, however, that he was trained in the administration of Narcan,
(id. at 17), which is a medication that blocks the effects of opioids, especially in overdose.
Sergeant Healy testified that he did not receive any training on how drugs might affect people.
(Dep. of Healy at 18).
B. The Relevant Procedural Background
On October 1, 2013, the Plaintiff served an unverified Notice of Claim on the Town of
Smithtown and Suffolk County. On November 8, 2013, the Plaintiff served an amended verified
Notice of Claim on the Town of Smithtown and Suffolk County.
On October 3, 2014, the Plaintiff filed his complaint. The Plaintiff alleges that the
Defendants deprived him of his Fourteenth Amendment rights in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
The 1983 claims are brought against the SCPD, the TSPP, and the John Doe defendants, and the
Plaintiff brings Monell claims against the County and the Town. The Plaintiff also brings causes
of action for negligence against all of the Defendants, and vicarious liability against the County
and the Town. The complaint seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
On June 23, 2017, the Suffolk Defendants and the Smithtown Defendants filed their
respective motions for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56.
On August 4, 2017, the Plaintiff filed his motion to amend the complaint pursuant to Rule
A. As to the Plaintiff’s Motion to Amend
1. Rule 15(c)(1)(C)
The Plaintiff seeks to amend his complaint pursuant to Rule 15(c)(1)(C) to substitute
certain officers for John Doe defendants. The Defendants argue that the statute of limitations has
passed, and Rule 15(c)(1)(C) does not permit relation back in this situation where there was no
mistake of identity. The Court finds that the Plaintiff cannot avail himself of the provisions of
“Rule 15(c)(1)(C) provides the federal standard for relation back.” Hogan v. Fischer, 738
F.3d 509, 517 (2d Cir. 2013). An amended complaint that adds a new party must meet the
following criteria to relate back under Rule 15(c)(1)(C):
(1) the claim must have arisen out of conduct set out in the original pleading; (2)
the party to be brought in must have received such notice that it will not be
prejudiced in maintaining its defense; (3) that party should have known that, but for
a mistake of identity, the original action would have been brought against it; and
(4) the second and third criteria are fulfilled within 120 days of the filing of the
original complaint, and the original complaint was filed within the limitations
Id. (quoting Barrow v. Wethersfield Police Dep’t, 66 F.3d 466, 468–69 (2d Cir. 1995) (internal
alterations omitted, emphasis in original)). However, the Second Circuit has said that “that the
lack of knowledge of a John Doe defendant’s name does not constitute a mistake of identity.” Id.
at 518 (internal citations and quotation marks omitted).
“‘John Doe’ pleadings cannot be used to circumvent statutes of limitations because
replacing a ‘John Doe’ with a named party in effect constitutes a change in the party sued.”
Barrow, 66 F.3d at 468.
Therefore, because the Second Circuit has explicitly held that “lack of knowledge of a John
Doe defendant's name does not constitute a ‘mistake of identity,’” Hogan, 738 F.3d at 517, the
Plaintiff cannot avail himself of Rule 15(c)(1)(C). See Parker v. New York State Div. of Parole,
No. 04-CV-03901, 2017 WL 3600420, at *4 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 18, 2017) (“Because Rule 15(c)(1)(C)
cannot be used to save claims that are untimely due to a lack of knowledge, plaintiff’s claims
against Cieslak and DiBenedetto do not relate back to his original complaint under the federal
relation back doctrine.”); Doe v. New York, 97 F. Supp. 3d 5, 18 (E.D.N.Y. 2015) (finding that the
plaintiff could not avail himself of Rule 15(c)(1)(C) where he had brought claims against John
Doe defendants because “lack of knowledge of a John Doe defendant’s name does not constitute
a mistake of identity” (quoting Hogan, 738 F.3d at 517)); Ceara v. Deacon, 68 F. Supp. 3d 402,
407, (S.D.N.Y. 2014) (concluding that the plaintiff’s claims did not relate back under Rule
15(c)(1)(C) because the plaintiff was “ignorant” and not “mistaken” about the John Doe
defendants’ identities); Strada v. City of New York, No. 11–CV–5735 (MKB), 2014 WL 3490306,
at *10 (E.D.N.Y. July 11, 2014) (citing Hogan and explaining that “Barrow remains good
law . . . and precludes [the] [c]ourt from finding that [the] [p]laintiff’s failure to amend the
[c]omplaint to name the individual officers was a mistake contemplated by Rule 15(c)”).
Contrary to the Plaintiff’s arguments, Barrow is still the law of the Second Circuit. See,
e.g., DaCosta v. City of New York, No. 15-CV-5174, 2017 WL 5176409, at *16 (E.D.N.Y. Nov.
8, 2017) (“[T]he Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has not yet abandoned the Barrow rule.”).
In fact, in Hogan, the Court cited Barrow as precedent when it held that Rule 15(c)(1)(C) did not
allow for relation back where the plaintiff was ignorant of the identities of the John Doe
defendants. Hogan, 738 F.3d at 517–18.
More importantly, the Plaintiff has not supplied a proposed amended complaint, and did
not mention once in his motion which officers he sought to substitute for the John Does. The
Defendants and the Court are left to speculate as to which officers the Plaintiff seeks to substitute.
It is not clear whether the Plaintiff seeks to substitute certain officers in their individual capacities,
their official capacities, or both.
This is an insufficient showing, and sufficient reason to
summarily deny the Plaintiff’s motion to amend his complaint pursuant to Rule 15. See Christian
v. Town of Riga, 649 F. Supp. 2d 84, 100 (W.D.N.Y. 2009) (“Usually, a movant’s failure to submit
a proposed amended complaint constitutes sufficient grounds to deny a motion to amend.” (citing
Murray v. N.Y., 604 F. Supp. 2d 581, 588 (W.D.N.Y. 2009)); La Barbera v. Ferran Enterprises,
Inc., No. 06-cv-2678, 2009 WL 367611, at *3 (E.D.N.Y. Feb. 10, 2009) (“In order to meet the
requirements of particularity in a motion to amend, a complete copy of the proposed amended
complaint must accompany the motion so that both the Court and the opposing party can
understand the exact changes sought.”) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted); Team Air
Express, Inc. v. A. Heffco Technologies, Inc., No. 06-cv-2742, 2008 WL 3165892, at *10 n.10
(E.D.N.Y. Aug. 6, 2008) (stating that “the Court could recommend denial of the motion [for leave
to amend] solely on the basis of plaintiff’s failure to submit a proposed amended Complaint”); Zito
v. Leasecomm Corp., No. 02-cv-8074, 2004 WL 2211650, at *25 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 30, 2004) (“In
order to meet the requirements of particularity in a motion to amend, ‘a complete copy of the
proposed amended complaint must accompany the motion so that both the Court and opposing
parties can understand the exact changes sought.’” (quoting Smith v. Planas, 151 F.R.D. 547, 550
While it is true that a Court may grant a motion to amend based solely on the moving
papers where the “papers adequately explain the basis for, and nature of, the proposed
amendment,” Murray, 604 F. Supp. 2d at 588 (citing Segatt v. GSI Holding Corp., No. 07
CIV. 11413 (WHP), 2008 WL 4865033, at *4 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 3, 2008)), the Plaintiff did not
adequately explain the nature of the proposed amendment. That is, he did not say which officers
he seeks to substitute. The Smithtown Defendants assumed that the Plaintiff sought to substitute
Sokol and Paterson. The Court cannot engage in such conjecture.
In any event, as stated above, even if the Plaintiff had named certain officers, he would not
be able to avail himself of Rule 15(c)(1)(C).
Therefore, the Plaintiff’s motion to amend his complaint pursuant to Rule 15(c)(1)(C) is
2. N.Y. C.P.L.R. § 1024.
While the Plaintiff did not raise the issue, in an abundance of caution, the Court will also
examine whether the Plaintiff would be permitted to substitute certain police officers for the John
Doe Defendants under N.Y. C.P.L.R. §1024 (“Section 1024”).
The Second Circuit has held that even where a plaintiff’s claims do not relate back under
Rule 15(c)(1)(C), “Rule 15(c)(1)(A) permits an amended pleading to relate back when ‘the law
that provides the applicable statute of limitations allows relation back.’” Hogan, 738 F.3d at 518
(quoting FED. R. CIV. P. 15(c)(1)(A)); see also FED. R. CIV. P. 15(c)(1)(A) (stating that “[a]n
amendment . . . relates back . . . when the law that provides the applicable statute of limitations
allows relation back”). That is, Rule 15 “does not apply to preclude any relation back that may be
permitted under the applicable limitations law.” Id. “Rule 15(c)(1)(A) instructs courts, then, to
look to the entire body of limitations law that provides the applicable statute of limitations.” Id.
(emphasis in original).
New York State law “provides a more forgiving principle of relation back in the John Doe
context, compared to the federal relation back doctrine under Rule 15(c)(1)(C). Id. Here, the
applicable limitations law is Section 1024 of the N.Y. C.P.L.R., which states:
A party who is ignorant, in whole or in part, of the name or identity of a person who
may properly be made a party, may proceed against such person as an unknown
party by designating so much of his name and identity as is known. If the name or
remainder of the name becomes known all subsequent proceedings shall be taken
under the true name and all prior proceedings shall be deemed amended
N.Y. C.P.L.R. § 1024.
Under Section 1024 of the N.Y. C.P.L.R., a court may allow a plaintiff to substitute a
named party for a John Doe party if the plaintiff meets two requirements: (1) “‘exercise due
diligence, prior to the running of the statute of limitations, to identify the defendant by name,’”
and (2) “describe the John Doe party ‘in such form as will fairly apprise the party that [he] is the
intended defendant. ” Hogan, 738 F.3d at 518–19 (quoting Bumpus v. N.Y.C. Transit Auth., 66
A.D.3d 26, 883 N.Y.S.2d 99, 104 (N.Y. 2009)). A plaintiff must then “ascertain the identity of
unknown ‘Jane Doe’ parties, and . . . serve process upon them, within 120 days from filing.”
Bumpus, 66 A.D.3d at 31, 883 N.Y.S.2d at 105; see also JCG v. Ercole, No. 11–CV6844, 2014
WL 1630815, at * 13 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 24, 2014) (“If a plaintiff fulfills these conditions, he ‘must
then ascertain the identity of unknown [John] Doe parties, and . . . serve process upon them, within
120 days from filing [the original complaint].’” (alterations in original) (quoting Williams v. United
States, No. 07–CV–3018, 2010 WL 963474, at * 12 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 25, 2010))). The 120-day
deadline imposed by C.P.L.R. 305-b may be extended “upon good cause shown or in the interest
of justice.” N.Y. C.P.L.R. 305-b.
“To identify unknown parties after filing, a plaintiff is advised to serve discovery demands
upon any known parties, seek disclosures pursuant to a Freedom of Information Law (“FOIL”)
request, or otherwise act with diligence.” Williams, 2010 WL 963474, at *12 (citing Bumpus, 66
A.D.3d at 33–34, 883 N .Y.S.2d at 107).
Here, the Court finds that the Plaintiff did not act with due diligence. Assuming for the
purposes of this analysis that the Plaintiff seeks to substitute Healy, Sokol and Paterson for the
John Doe Defendants, the Plaintiff knew their identities years ago, yet failed to serve process upon
In New York, the statute of limitations for claims brought pursuant to Section 1983 is three
years. Morales v. Cty. of Suffolk, 952 F. Supp. 2d 433, 436 (E.D.N.Y. 2013) (Spatt, J.) (citing
Patterson v. Cty. of Oneida, 375 F.3d 206, 225 (2d Cir. 2004)). The Plaintiff alleges that his rights
were violated as late as July 5, 2013. The complaint was filed on October 3, 2013. The Plaintiff
moved to amend his complaint on August 4, 2017, more than four years after the incident. Healy
testified by deposition on November 6, 2015. Counsel for the Plaintiff was present, and questioned
Healy. Sokol was deposed on November 25, 2015. Counsel for the Plaintiff was present, and
questioned Sokol. Paterson was deposed on December 22, 2015. Counsel for the Plaintiff was
present, and questioned Paterson. Furthermore, counsel for the Smithtown Defendants submitted
an affidavit stating that the Plaintiff possessed the arrest records and prosecution records, which
contained Healy, Sokol, and Paterson’s names, no later than February 12, 2014, because counsel
for the Plaintiff produced those records at the GEN. MUN. LAW § 50-E (“Section 50-E”) hearing.
The Plaintiff cannot avail himself of the benefits of § 1024 where it is clear that he had the
names of Sergeant Healy, Ranger Sokol and Ranger Paterson before the statute of limitations had
run. The Plaintiff had the names of the officers before the statute of limitations expired, yet made
no attempt to amend his complaint or serve them. He did not move to amend his complaint until
more than three years after he produced documents with their names at the Section 50-E hearing,
and a year and a half after he deposed the officers.
“Here, Defendants provided Plaintiff with the names of the officers involved in Plaintiff's
arrest prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations and close of discovery, yet Plaintiff did
not attempt to amend the Complaint to add any individual officers prior to the expiration of the
statute of limitations.” Strada, 2014 WL 3490306, at *6.
While this may be a harsh result, it is mandated by the case law interpreting N.Y. C.P.L.R.
§ 1024. See Gonzalez v. City of N.Y., No. 14 CIV. 7721 LGS, 2015 WL 6873451, at *3 (S.D.N.Y.
Nov. 9, 2015) (“Where, as here, nothing in the record indicates that Plaintiff exercised due
diligence before the statute of limitations expired, she may not use the ‘John Doe’ procedure in §
1024.” (citing Temple v. N.Y. Cmty. Hosp. of Brooklyn, 89 A.D.3d 926, 933 N.Y.S.2d 321, 322
(N.Y. App. Div. 2011) (“To make use of the ‘John Doe’ procedure delineated in C.P.L.R. 1024,
parties must demonstrate that they have exercised due diligence . . . .”))); Vasconcellos v. City of
N.Y., No. 12 Civ. 8445, 2014 WL 4961441, at *9 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 2, 2014) (“[I]n order to invoke
C.P.L.R. § 1024’s benefits, [plaintiff] must first show that she exercise[d] due diligence, prior to
the running of the statute of limitations, to identify the defendant[s] by name.”) (internal citations
and quotation marks omitted)).
“The use of C.P.L.R. 1024 presents many pitfalls. One pitfall is that parties are not to
resort to the ‘Jane Doe’ procedure unless they exercise due diligence, prior to the running of the
statute of limitations, to identify the defendant by name and, despite such efforts, are unable to do
so.” Bumpus, 66 A.D.3d at 29–30, 883 N.Y.S.2d at 104 (emphasis added). The Plaintiff did not
exercise due diligence prior to the running of the statute of limitations, and has thus fallen into one
of the pitfalls of Section 1024.
Therefore, the Plaintiff cannot avail himself of Section 1024, and his motion to amend his
complaint pursuant to Rule 15 to substitute certain officers for the John Doe defendants is denied.
B. As to the Defendants’ Motions for Summary Judgment
1. The Legal Standard
Under FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a), “[t]he court shall grant summary judgment if the movant
shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment
as a matter of law.” When deciding a motion for summary judgment, “[t]he Court ‘must draw all
reasonable inferences and resolve all ambiguities in favor of the non–moving party.’” Castle Rock
Entm’t, Inc. v. Carol Publ’g Grp., Inc., 150 F.3d 132, 137 (2d Cir. 1998) (quoting Garza v. Marine
Transp. Lines, Inc., 861 F.2d 23, 26 (2d Cir. 1998)).
“[A]t the summary judgment stage the judge’s function is not  to weigh the evidence and
determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial.” Redd
v. N.Y. State Div. of Parole, 678 F.3d 166, 173–74 (2d Cir. 2012) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249, 106 S. Ct. 2505, 2511, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202 (1986) (internal quotation
marks omitted)). In other words, “[c]redibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and
the drawing of legitimate inferences from the facts are jury functions, not those of a judge.”
Barrows v. Seneca Foods Corp., 512 F. App’x 115, 117 (2d Cir. 2013) (quoting Redd, 678 F.3d at
174 (internal quotation marks omitted)). The Court should not attempt to resolve issues of fact,
but rather “assess whether there are any factual issues to be tried.” Cuff ex rel. B.C. v. Valley Cent.
Sch. Dist., 677 F.3d 109, 119 (2d Cir. 2012).
The movant has the burden of demonstrating the absence of genuine issues of material fact.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 2552, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265 (1986). If a
nonmoving party fails to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of their case where
they will have the burden of proof, then summary judgment is appropriate. Id. at 323. If the
nonmoving party submits evidence which is “merely colorable,” legally sufficient opposition to
the motion for summary judgment is not met. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 249. The mere existence
of a scintilla of evidence in support of the nonmoving party’s position is insufficient; there must
be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for that party. See Dawson v. Cty. of
Westchester, 373 F.3d 265, 272 (2d Cir. 2004).
2. The Applicable Law
a. Section 1983 Generally
42 U.S.C. § 1983 provides, in relevant part, that “any person who, under color of any
statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory . . . subjects, or causes to
be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the
deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, is liable
to the injured party for damages.”
To state a § 1983 claim, a plaintiff must allege: (1) that the challenged conduct was
“committed by a person acting under color of state law”; and (2) that such conduct “deprived [the
plaintiff] of rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution or laws of the United
States.” Cornejo v. Bell, 592 F.3d 121, 127 (2d Cir. 2010) (quoting Pitchell v. Callan, 13 F.3d
545, 547 (2d Cir. 1994)). Section 1983 does not create any independent substantive right, but
“redress . . . the
elsewhere.” Thomas v. Roach, 165 F.3d 137, 142 (2d Cir. 1999); see also Rosa R. v. Connelly, 889
F.2d 435, 440 (2d Cir. 1989) (“It is fundamental, however, that § 1983 creates no independent,
substantive constitutional rights but rather is a vehicle for enforcing such rights.”).
b. 1983 Claims Against Municipalities, namely, “Monell Claims”
It is well-established that “a municipality cannot be held liable under § 1983 on a
respondeat superior theory.” Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691, 98 S. Ct. 2018,
2037, 56 L. Ed. 2d 611 (1978).
However, section 1983 “extends liability to a municipal
organization where . . . the policies or customs it has sanctioned, led to an independent
constitutional violation.” Segal v. City of N.Y., 459 F.3d 207, 219 (2d Cir. 2006). “Municipal
liability may also be premised on a failure to train employees when inadequate training ‘reflects
deliberate indifference to . . . constitutional rights.’” Okin v. Village of Cornwall–On–Hudson
Police Dep’t, 577 F.3d 415, 440 (2d Cir. 2009) (quoting City of Canton v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378,
392, 109 S. Ct. 1197, 1206, 103 L. Ed. 2d 412 (1989)).
To prevail on a Section 1983 claim against a municipality, a plaintiff must show “that
‘action pursuant to official municipal policy’ caused the alleged constitutional injury.” Cash v.
Cty. of Erie, 654 F.3d 324, 333 (2d Cir. 2011) (quoting Connick v. Thompson, 563 U.S. 51, 60,
131 S. Ct. 1350, 1359, 179 L. Ed. 2d 417 (2011)); see also Monell, 436 U.S. at 690–91 (“[L]ocal
governments . . . may be sued for constitutional deprivations visited pursuant to governmental
‘custom’ even though such a custom has not received formal approval through the body’s official
A plaintiff can establish the existence of a municipal policy or custom by showing:
the existence of (1) a formal policy which is officially endorsed by the
municipality; (2) actions taken or decisions made by municipal officials with final
decision-making authority, which caused the alleged violation of plaintiff's civil
rights; (3) a practice so persistent and widespread that it constitutes a custom of
which constructive knowledge and acquiescence can be implied on the part of the
policy making officials; or (4) a failure by policymakers to properly train or
supervise their subordinates, amounting to deliberate indifference to the rights of
those who come in contact with the municipal employees.
Moray v. City of Yonkers, 924 F. Supp. 8, 12 (S.D.N.Y. 1996) (internal citations omitted).
Here, the Plaintiff argues that his Monell claims are premised upon an alleged failure to
train. “A municipality’s culpability for a deprivation of rights is at its most tenuous where a claim
turns on a failure to train.” Connick, 563 U.S. at 61. Only where a plaintiff can demonstrate that
a municipality’s failure to train “amounts to deliberate indifference to the rights of those with
whom municipal employees will come into contact” will a policy or custom actionable under
Section 1983 be established. Moray, 924 F. Supp. at 12 (internal quotation marks omitted); see
also Connick, 563 U.S. at 61–62; Canton, 489 U.S. at 388.
“‘[D]eliberate indifference’ is a stringent standard of fault, requiring proof that a municipal
actor disregarded a known or obvious consequence of his action.” Bd. of Cnty. Comm’rs v. Brown,
520 U.S. 397, 410, 117 S. Ct. 1382, 1391, 137 L. Ed. 2d 626 (1997). To establish deliberate
indifference, a plaintiff must demonstrate that: (1) “a policymaker knows to a moral certainty that
her employees will confront a given situation”; (2) “the situation either presents the employee with
a difficult choice of the sort that training . . . will make less difficult or that there is a history of
employees mishandling the situation”; and (3) “the wrong choice by the city employee will
frequently cause the deprivation of a citizen's constitutional rights.” Walker v. City of N.Y., 974
F.2d 293, 297–98 (2d Cir. 1992) (internal quotation marks omitted).
deliberate indifference requires a showing that the official made a conscious choice, and was not
merely negligent.” Jones v. Town of E. Haven, 691 F.3d 72, 81 (2d Cir. 2012).
“[W]here . . . a city has a training program, a plaintiff must . . . ‘identify a specific
deficiency in the city’s training program and establish that that deficiency is ‘closely related to the
ultimate injury,’ such that it ‘actually caused’ the constitutional deprivation.” Wray v. City of N.Y.,
490 F.3d 189, 196 (2d Cir. 2007) (quoting Amnesty Am. v. Town of W. Hartford, 361 F.3d 113,
129 (2d Cir. 2004)). “The plaintiff must offer evidence to support the conclusion that the training
program was inadequate, not ‘[t]hat a particular officer may be unsatisfactorily trained’ or that ‘an
otherwise sound program has occasionally been negligently administered,’ and that a
‘hypothetically well-trained officer’ would have avoided the constitutional violation.” Okin, 577
F.3d at 440–41 (quoting Canton, 489 U.S. at 390–91); see also Edrei v. City of N.Y., 254 F. Supp.
3d 565, 581 (finding that the plaintiffs plausibly alleged a failure-to-train claim where the City
armed police officers with powerful long-range acoustic devices and placed those officers in
“expectantly volatile protests” without training them).
“A pattern of similar constitutional violations by untrained employees is ordinarily
necessary to demonstrate deliberate indifference for purposes of failure to train.” Connick, 563
U.S. at 62 (internal citation andquotation marks omitted). This is because “[w]ithout notice that a
course of training is deficient in a particular respect, decisionmakers can hardly be said to have
deliberately chosen a training program that will cause violations of constitutional rights.” Id.
At the same time, however, the Supreme Court in Connick reaffirmed the viability, in
limited circumstances, of the “single-incident” theory of liability envisioned in the Court’s prior
Canton decision. See id. at 63–65; Canton, 489 U.S. at 390 n.10. Under the single-incident theory,
a municipality can be found to be deliberately indifferent based on a single constitutional violation
where “the unconstitutional consequences of failing to train [are] so patently obvious that a city
should be liable under [Section] 1983 without proof of a pre-existing pattern of violations.”
Connick, 563 U.S. at 64. Violation of constitutional rights must be a “highly predictable
consequence” of the failure to train. Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). “Thus, deliberate
indifference may be inferred where the need for more or better supervision to protect against
constitutional violations was obvious, but the policymaker failed to make meaningful efforts to
address the risk of harm to plaintiffs.” Cash, 654 F.3d at 334 (internal citations, quotation marks,
and alterations omitted).
c. Section 1983 Claims for Denial of Medical Care
While the Plaintiff has not named any individual defendants, the Monell claims are based
on an alleged denial of medical care. Where a plaintiff was allegedly deprived of medical care,
courts construe the rights seeking to be vindicated as arising under either the Eight Amendment
prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, Caiozzo v. Koreman, 581 F.3d 63, 69 (2d Cir.
2009), or the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, Darnell v. Pineiro, 849 F.3d 17, 29
(2d Cir. 2017). However, “Eighth Amendment scrutiny is appropriate only after the State has
prosecutions . . . . [T]he State does not acquire the power to punish with which the Eighth
Amendment is concerned until after it has secured a formal adjudication of guilt in accordance
with due process of law.” City of Revere v. Massachusetts Gen. Hosp., 463 U.S. 239, 244, 103 S.
Ct. 2979, 2983, 77 L. Ed. 2d 605 (1983).
Instead, “[a] pretrial detainee’s claims of unconstitutional conditions of confinement are
governed by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, rather than the Cruel and
Unusual Punishments Clause of the Eight Amendment.” Darnell, 849 F.3d at 29; see also Revere,
463 U.S. at 244 (“The Due Process Clause . . . require[s] the responsible government or
governmental agency to provide medical care to persons, such as Kivlin, who have been injured
while being apprehended by the police.”). Therefore, because the Plaintiff was merely an arrestee,
and not a sentenced prisoner, his claim is properly brought as a violation of his Fourteenth
Here, the Plaintiff was not a convicted prisoner, but an arrestee being held by the police.
Nevertheless, “it is plain that an unconvicted detainee’s rights are at least as great as those of a
convicted prisoner.” Weyant v. Okst, 101 F.3d 845, 856 (2d Cir. 1996) (citing Revere, 463 U.S. at
244 (“[T]he due process rights of a . . . [pretrial detainee] are at least as great as the Eighth
Amendment protections available to a convicted prisoner.” (internal citations and footnote
A plaintiff alleging deliberate indifference to medical needs must satisfy two prongs: an
“objective prong” showing that “the alleged deprivation [was] sufficiently serious, in the sense
that a condition of urgency, one that may produce death, degeneration, or extreme pain,
existed,” Hill v. Curcione, 657 F.3d 116, 122 (2d Cir. 2011) (quoting Hathaway v. Coughlin, 99
F.3d 550, 553 (2d Cir. 1996)), and a “‘mens rea prong,’ or ‘mental element prong’—showing that
the officer acted with at least deliberate indifference to the challenged conditions.” Darnell, 849
F.3d at 29. Prior to Darnell, the second prong was assessed subjectively in claims brought under
both the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. See Spavone v. N.Y. State Dep’t of Corr. Servs.,
719 F.3d 127, 138 (2d Cir. 2013) (“The second requirement is subjective: the charged officials
must be subjectively reckless in their denial of medical care.”); Caiozzo, 581 F.3d at 70 (“[T]he
standard for deliberate indifference is the same under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment as it is under the Eighth Amendment.”).
However, in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Kingsley v. Hendrickson, –– U.S. ––,
135 S. Ct. 2466, 192 L. Ed. 2d 416 (2015), the Second Circuit held that in claims brought pursuant
to the Fourteenth Amendment:
the pretrial detainee must prove that the defendant-official acted intentionally to impose
the alleged condition, or recklessly failed to act with reasonable care to mitigate the risk
that the condition posed to the pretrial detainee even though the defendant-official knew,
or should have known, that the condition posed an excessive risk to health or safety. In
other words, the “subjective prong” (or “mens rea prong”) of a deliberate indifference
claim is defined objectively.
Darnell, 849 F.3d at 35. Therefore, the “mens rea prong of a deliberate indifference claim brought
by a pretrial detainee is now to be assessed objectively.” Davis v. McCready, –– F. Supp. 3d ––,
No. 1:14-CV-6405-GHW, 2017 WL 4803918, at *5 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 23, 2017) (citing Darnell, 849
F. 3d at 35; Lloyd v. City of N.Y., 246 F. Supp. 3d 704, 719 (S.D.N.Y. 2017)).
3. Application to the Plaintiff’s Claims
a. As to the Claims Against the SCPD and the TSPP
The Plaintiff cannot sustain his claims against the SCPD and the TSPP because those
agencies are administrative arms of the respective municipalities.
“Under New York law, departments that are merely administrative arms of a municipality
do not have a legal identity separate and apart from the municipality and, therefore, cannot sue or
be sued.” Davis v. Lynbrook Police Dep’t, 224 F. Supp. 2d 463, 477 (E.D.N.Y. 2002) (Spatt, J.)
(citing Hall v. City of White Plains, 185 F. Supp. 2d 293, 303 (S.D.N.Y. 2002) (dismissing claim
against the police department); Polite v. Town of Clarkstown, 60 F. Supp. 2d 214, 216
(S.D.N.Y. 1999); Umhey v. Cty. of Orange, 957 F. Supp. 525, 530–31 (S.D.N.Y. 1997); Wilson v.
City of N.Y., 800 F. Supp. 1098, 1101 (E.D.N.Y. 1992)).
Accordingly, the Defendants’ motion for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56
dismissing the claims against those entities is granted.
b. As to the Claims Against Suffolk and Smithtown
Smithtown and Suffolk contend that the Plaintiff cannot establish municipal liability
because there is no underlying constitutional violation. They further argue that the Plaintiff has
not presented any evidence that any alleged constitutional injury was the result of a policy, practice
or custom. The Court disagrees with both points, and finds that the Plaintiff has presented enough
evidence for the Court to find that there are sufficient material questions of fact as to whether he
was denied medical care under Section 1983; and as to whether that denial was the result of a
failure to train by Suffolk and Smithtown.
i. As to Whether the Plaintiff Was Denied Medical Care
A. The Objective Prong
The Plaintiff told the officers that he had taken nine diazepam pills, two tabs of acid, and
smoked some marijuana. He was asleep when they found him. Rangers Paterson and Sokol
observed vomit on the seat. They were so concerned about him that they had him sit down. When
he arrived at the Fourth Precinct, he was unsteady on his feet; had slurred speech; and was
lethargic. Rangers Sokol and Paterson informed Sergeant Healy of the SCPD that the Plaintiff
admitted to taking a large quantity of drugs. By the time the rangers attempted to drop him off at
home, his daughter said that he looked like a zombie. Neither the TSPP rangers nor the SCPD
officers ever gave him medical attention. These facts, coupled with the officers’ knowledge that
the Plaintiff had ingested a large quantity of drugs, indicate that the officers may not have acted
reasonably in response to the Plaintiff’s sufficiently serious medical situation.
While it is true that “[t]he Constitution does not require an arresting police officer or jail
official to seek medical attention for every arrestee or inmate who appears to be affected by drugs
or alcohol,” Burnette v. Taylor, 533 F.3d 1325, 1333 (11th Cir. 2008); see also Estate of Lawson
ex rel. Fink v. City of Hamilton, No. C–1–07–927, 2009 WL 1444556, at *16 (S.D. Ohio May 21,
2009) (“The Constitution does not require an officer to provide medical assessment and care to
every intoxicated person he arrests, regardless of the degree of impairment.”), the officers were
aware that the Plaintiff had ingested a dangerously large amount of drugs. He told them he had
taken nine diazepam and two tabs of acid, and that he had smoked some marijuana. Ranger
Paterson knew that the pills were not prescribed to the Plaintiff. (Paterson Dep. at 45 (“When I
brought [the Plaintiff] to the precinct I had the pill bottles that he had in the vehicle that were not
assigned to him.”)).
The court in Bradway v. Town of Southhampton, 826 F. Supp. 2d 458 (E.D.N.Y. 2011),
faced with a factually similar situation in which the defendant officers observed the plaintiff ingest
a large amount of cocaine, summarized the case law regarding denial of medical treatment where
a plaintiff ingested drugs as follows:
the Court is obviously not suggesting . . . that a medical indifference claim will
potentially lie simply because officers fail to take every intoxicated arrestee to the
hospital at the time of the arrest for treatment. Such a rule would be absurd and,
given the number of arrestees who are intoxicated at the time of arrest, would turn
hospitals into arrest processing centers. . . . Instead, much more evidence must be
present for a plausible constitutional violation to exist and for a medical
indifference claim of this nature to survive summary judgment. In particular, there
generally must be evidence that the officers are aware of the ingestion of large
quantities of drugs or other intoxicants which, due to the quantities, pose a serious
or life-threatening danger to the arrestee, and/or there were obvious signs of distress
from the ingestion.
826 F. Supp. 2d at 471–72.
Here, such evidence is present for the Court to find that a plausible constitutional violation
exists. Rangers Paterson and Sokol were aware of the ingestion of a large quantity of drugs, which,
due to the quantity, may have posed a serious and life-threatening danger to the Plaintiff.
Furthermore, there were obvious signs of distress: the Plaintiff had fallen asleep; he had vomited
in the car; his speech was slurred; he was unsteady on his feet; he was lethargic; and by the time
he arrived home, he looked like a “zombie.” In such situations, courts have been reluctant to grant
summary judgment to defendants. See Border v. Trumbull Cnty. Bd. of Comm’rs, 414 F. App’x
831, 838 (6th Cir. 2011) (“In the instant case ... viewing the evidence in the light most favorable
to plaintiffs, [the officer’s] notation on the altered forms that [detainee] appeared to be ‘under the
influence of barbiturates, heroin or other drugs' and suffered a recent head injury, coupled with
[the detainee’s] signs of physical incapacity, severe intoxication and obvious disorientation
witnessed by the inmates during the period [the officer] was interacting with [the detainee],
sufficiently establish from an objective standpoint that a serious medical need existed and, in
addition, that a reasonable jury could conclude that [the officer] was ‘aware of facts from which
the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exist[ed] and [he] ignored that
risk.’”) (quoting Blackmore v. Kalamazoo Cnty., 390 F.3d 890, 899 (6th Cir. 2004)); Dean v. City
of Fresno, 546 F Supp.2d 798, 814 (E.D. Cal. 2008) (“A rational jury could find the officers’
conduct to be a form of inaction that amounts to deliberate indifference. Although the officers
maintain that they only thought that [the detainee] had cocaine in his mouth, that they did not think
that [the detainee] needed medical care, and that if [the detainee] had said he had swallowed
cocaine that they would have obtained medical aid, a rationale [sic] jury could look at the totality
of the circumstances and conclude that the officers had actual knowledge that [the detainee] had
swallowed cocaine and were deliberately indifferent to [the detainee’s] condition.”); Bradway, 826
F. Supp. 2d at 469–70 (finding that the plaintiff met the objective prong where the officers
observed him ingest cocaine, and he admitted to them that he ingested up to three grams of
cocaine); see also Iacovangelo v. Correctional Medical Care, Inc., 624 F. App’x 10, 13 (2d Cir.
2016) (holding that, on a motion to dismiss, the plaintiff plead sufficient facts alleging that she
suffered from a serious medical condition after she acknowledged she was under the influence of
drugs and had a history of drug abuse upon admission to county jail); McConville v. Montrym, No.
3:15-cv-00967 (MAD/DEP), 2016 WL 3212093, at *5 (N.D.N.Y. June 9, 2016) (holding that the
plaintiff’s complaint withstood a motion to dismiss where “the complaint alleges that Decedent
swallowed a toxic amount of oxycodone, smelled strongly of alcohol, was covered in urine, and
exhibited numerous presenting symptoms of overdose and intoxication, including incoherency,
motor impairment, dizziness, vomiting, impaired coordination, confusion, and trouble breathing.
Decedent also made repeated requests to be taken to a hospital. Construing the facts in the light
most favorable to Plaintiff, such allegations plausibly plead a serious medical condition under the
objective prong of the deliberate indifference analysis.” (internal citations omitted)); Vining v.
Dep't of Corr., No. 12 Civ. 3267 (JPO), 2013 WL 2036325, at *5 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 5, 2013) (stating,
in dicta, that a plaintiff’s situation would appear urgent where the officers knew that he had
ingested a dangerous amount of alcohol or drugs (citing Bradway, 826 F. Supp. 2d at 471)).
The Defendants rely almost entirely on the fact that the Plaintiff consistently refused
medical attention. However, this fact alone does not mean that the officers acted reasonably in
response to the Plaintiff’s situation. Namely, it does not change the conclusion that Rangers Sokol
and Paterson were aware that the Plaintiff had placed himself in a life-threatening situation by
ingesting a large quantity of drugs. See, e.g., Bradway, 826 F. Supp. 2d at 473 (stating that “the
Court has conducted independent research and carefully examined other cases that have dealt with
the ingestion of drugs in the medical indifference context. In many of the cases that grant summary
judgment for the defendants, the defendants were unaware of the actual amount of drugs consumed
and/or the plaintiff exhibited no signs of distress.” (collecting cases)). Here, the Plaintiff told the
rangers that he had taken nine diazepam that were not prescribed to him, two tabs of acid, and
smoked some weed; they observed vomit in the car; and he was unsteady on his feet and slurred
Although it is true, as the County points out, that the Plaintiff did not introduce any medical
evidence to support the contention that his ingestion of drugs created a sufficiently serious
question, in the Court’s opinion, such expert testimony is not necessary to create a question of fact.
The inherent danger of ingesting a large quantity of prescription drugs mixed with other narcotics
is something that is “obvious or common in everyday life,” Palmer v. Sena, 474 F. Supp. 2d 347,
350 (D. Conn. 2007), and arguably “dwells within the common knowledge of a layperson,” Gold
v. Dalkon Shield Claimants Tr., No. B-82-383 (EBB), 1998 WL 351456, at *3 (D. Conn. June 15,
1998), aff'd, 189 F.3d 460 (2d Cir. 1999). While the Plaintiff may require such expert testimony
at trial to prove his case, the Court finds that the mere ingestion of a large quantity of a mixture of
narcotic drugs, coupled with the apparent signs of distress, are sufficient evidence to create a
question of fact as to whether there was a sufficiently serious situation that could lead to serious
injury or death.
Finally, the evidence is clear that the officers never took the Plaintiff to a hospital. The
Plaintiff did not receive medical attention until his wife called 911. Therefore, there is a question
of fact as to whether they acted reasonably in response to the Plaintiff’s sufficiently serious
situation. The evidence is clear that the Plaintiff was in a sufficiently serious situation. He was in
a coma for six days, and has serious medical residuals. While there is no evidence that the delay
in medical treatment caused or exacerbated his condition, the Defendants did not raise that issue,
and the Court therefore declines to address it.
Therefore, the Court finds that the Plaintiff has introduced sufficient evidence to create a
question of fact as to whether he suffered a medical deprivation that was sufficiently serious. The
Defendants’ motions for summary judgment on that basis are denied.
B. The Mens Rea Prong
Similarly, the Court finds that there is a question of material fact as to whether officers
from both the TSPP and the SCPD “recklessly failed to act with reasonable care to mitigate the
risk that the condition posed to the [Plaintiff] even though the [officers] knew, or should have
known, that the condition posed an excessive risk to health or safety.” Darnell, 849 F.3d at 35.
“[F]ollowing Darnell, the Court is faced with a difficult task. It is called upon to determine,
without the benefit of medical expertise, whether an objectively reasonable person in
Defendant[s’] position would have known, or should have known, that Defendant[s’] actions or
omissions posed an excessive risk of harm to [the Plaintiff].” Davis, 2017 WL 4803918, at *8.
Here, the Court finds that there is a question of fact as to whether an objectively reasonable person
in the officers’ position would have known, or should have known, that failing to bring the Plaintiff
to the hospital posed an excessive risk of harm to the Plaintiff.
As stated above, Rangers Paterson and Sokol knew that the Plaintiff had ingested a
dangerous amount of narcotic drugs. Ranger Paterson knew that the prescriptions drugs he took
were not prescribed to him. They told Sergeant Healy of the SCPD how much the Plaintiff claimed
to have ingested. (See Paterson Dep. at 60 (“[W]as there any conversation about what [the
Plaintiff] said he had ingested at that point? Yes, there was. I explained to the sergeant what he
had told me and that’s when the sergeant asked his questioning [sic] about medical to make sure
that, you know, Mr. Boston was okay.”)). All three officers knew that the Plaintiff was at risk,
and they asked if he needed medical attention. As At the very least, they should have known that
the ingestion of a large quantity of drugs placed the Plaintiff in a serious situation.
Moreover, the Plaintiff exhibited outward signs of distress that put the officers on notice.
He was asleep when Rangers Sokol and Paterson found him; there was vomit in the car; he was
unsteady on his feet when he exited the car, and when he was brought into the precinct; Sergeant
Healy noted that he was lethargic and had slurred speech; and Ranger Paterson testified that “he
had a little bit of trouble moving . . . .” (Paterson Dep. at 66). Under these circumstances, coupled
with the officers’ knowledge of the Plaintiff’s ingestion of drugs, a reasonable juror could find that
the officers recklessly failed to act.
Courts have held that officers were aware of, and arguably disregarded, a substantial risk
that serious harm would result where they knew that the arrestee ingested drugs and the arrestee
exhibited outward signs of distress. See Iacovangelo, 624 F. App’x at 13 (holding, in a motion to
dismiss, that the defendant was aware of detainee’s drug withdrawal and intoxication during a
medical screening where the defendant was aware of the detainee’s drug history, a “visual
assessment” of the detainee indicated that she was under the influence of drugs, and the detainee
was observed vomiting); Border, 414 F. App’x at 838 (holding that an officer’s observation of a
detainee’s signs of physical incapacity, severe intoxication and obvious disorientation were
sufficient under the subjective prong to establish the officer’s awareness of the detainee’s
condition); Bradway, 826 F. Supp. 2d at 472 (finding that the officers were aware of a detainee’s
medical condition and disregarded a substantial risk of harm where the officers witnessed the
detainee’s drug consumption, he told the officers of his drug consumption and he displayed signs
of distress); Wilson v. City of New Haven, No. NNHCV106010876, 2017 WL 2111375, at *4
(Conn. Super. Ct. Apr. 19, 2017) (applying Darnell, finding that there was a question of fact as to
the plaintiff’s medical indifference claim where the plaintiff “began to show signs of discomfort
with crack residue coming out of the corner of his mouth. He was fainting, his speech became
slurred, and he complained that he felt weak and his stomach hurt. Johnson told the officers that
Wilson needed to go to the hospital,” and the officers knew that the plaintiff had bags of cocaine
in his mouth).
Finally, the Court cannot say as a matter of law that the officers did not act recklessly in
failing to provide the Plaintiff with medical care. While it is true that the Plaintiff repeatedly
declined medical treatment, “[t]here are certainly circumstances where an intoxicated person’s
statement that he or she does not need medical treatment should not be honored because it is
inconsistent with other objective facts indicating that hospitalization is clearly necessary.”
Bradway, 826 F. Supp. 2d at 473–74.
Therefore, the Plaintiff has shown that there is a question of fact as to whether Rangers
Paterson and Sokol, and Sergeant Healy “recklessly failed to act with reasonable care to mitigate
the risk that the condition posed to the [Plaintiff] even though the[y] knew, or should have known,
that the condition posed an excessive risk to health or safety.”
Darnell, 849 F.3d at 35.
Accordingly, the Court finds that there is a question of fact as to whether the Plaintiff suffered a
constitutional injury, and the Court turns to the Plaintiff’s Monell claims.
ii. As to Whether the Plaintiff’s Constitutional Injury Was the Result
of a Failure to Train by Suffolk and/or Smithtown
The Plaintiff argues that a question of fact remains as to whether Suffolk and Smithtown
failed to adequately train their officers, and that a rational juror could find that they should be held
liable for the Plaintiff’s constitutional injuries. In opposition, Suffolk and Smithtown contend that
the Plaintiff’s complaint alleges that the municipalities’ liability is premised upon a custom, policy,
usage, practice, procedure, or rule, and that the Plaintiff has failed to produce any evidence that
his injury was the result of a custom, practice, or policy. The Court, in its discretion, reads the
complaint broadly to include a claim for failure to train and finds that the Plaintiff has introduced
sufficient evidence for the Court to submit his Monell claims to the jury.
As to the wording of the claim, while it is true that in the complaint, the Plaintiff bases his
Monell claim on “customs, policies, usages, practice[s], procedures and rules” of the respective
municipalities, a failure to train is in itself a type of policy. See Connick, 563 U.S. at 61 (“[A]
local government’s decision not to train certain employees about their legal duty to avoid violating
citizens’ rights may rise to the level of an official government policy for purposes of § 1983.”).
Furthermore, in his state law claims, the Plaintiff alleges that the municipalities failed to properly
train and supervise their agents. Therefore, the Court reads the Plaintiff’s complaint broadly to
include a Monell claim for failure to train, because a failure to train can amount to a municipal
policy in certain circumstances.
As to the substance of the claim, the Plaintiff introduced, through deposition testimony,
that Rangers Sokol and Paterson had never received any training from Smithtown on how to
identify drugs; how drugs affect people; how to deal with individuals who are clearly in medical
distress; or how to interact with arrestees. Sergeant Healy testified that he never received any
training from Suffolk regarding how drugs affect people. He further testified that a desk officer
only needed to know when a prisoner had ingested a foreign substance if the ingestion was part of
a suicide attempt.
The Plaintiff has not introduced any evidence of “[a] pattern of similar constitutional
violations” as is “ordinarily necessary to show deliberate indifference for purposes of failure to
train.” Connick, 563 U.S. at 62 (internal citation and quotation marks omitted). However, in the
Court’s opinion, he has introduced sufficient evidence of deliberate indifference based on a singleincident theory.
Namely, the facts show that both Suffolk and Smithtown knew “to a moral certainty,”
Walker, 974 F.2d at 297, that officers would encounter arrestees who had ingested drugs and would
require medical attention. Paterson and Sokol both testified that they had encountered many
individuals under the influence of drugs. Paterson said that many people went to the park
specifically to do drugs. Sergeant Healy testified that he had encountered individuals under the
influence of narcotics. More generally, officers, including those employed by the Suffolk County
Police Department and the Town of Smithtown Park Police, encounter individuals who possess,
or have recently used narcotic drugs.
The situation in this case—whether or not to bring the Plaintiff to the hospital after he
ingested a large quantity of drugs but refused medical attention—“present[ed] the [officers] with
a difficult choice of the sort that training . . . w[ould] make less difficult . . . .” Id. That is, if
Rangers Sokol and Paterson and Sergeant Healy had been trained on the effects of drugs on
individuals, they would similarly not have faced a difficult choice. And a “highly predictable
consequence” of officers making the wrong choice in such a situation, Connick, 563 U.S. at 64,
would result in violations of arrestees’ constitutional rights. Said differently, if other officers
responded in the same way as Rangers Sokol and Paterson and Sergeant Healy did, then other
arrestees’ constitutional rights would also likely be violated. Therefore, the consequences of
Suffolk and Smithtown’s failure to train “are so patently obvious that [a rational juror could find
that they] should be liable under [Section] 1983 without proof of a pre-existing pattern of
Other courts have found that similar single-incident claims survive motions for summary
judgment or motions to dismiss. See Gerskovich v. Iocco, No. 15 CIV. 7280 (RMB), 2017 WL
3236445, at *10 (S.D.N.Y. July 17, 2017) (denying summary judgment on the plaintiff’s singleincident Monell claim where he alleged that his injuries were due to New York City’s failure to
train its police officers on the rights of protestors); Edrei, 254 F. Supp. 3d at 581 (finding that the
plaintiff’s single-incident Monell claim withstood a motion to dismiss where the plaintiff alleged
that the City of New York should have trained its police officers in the use of Long Range Acoustic
Devices in crowd control situations); Waller v. City of Middletown, 89 F. Supp. 3d 279, 284–86
(D. Conn. 2015) (finding that the plaintiff’s complaint stated a claim upon which relief could be
granted for a single-incident Monell violation where officers damaged the plaintiff’s home during
a search and the plaintiff alleged that the city “failed to train its Officers to understand that entry
into a private home to execute an arrest warrant, but without a search warrant and without exigent
circumstances, is illegal per se”); Prevost v. City of N.Y., No. 13-CV-3760 VEC, 2014 WL
6907560, at *7 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 9, 2014) (denying the City’s motion to dismiss based on singleincident theory where police officers allegedly received no training on the role exculpatory
evidence plays in determining probable cause); Chamberlain v. City of White Plains, 986 F. Supp.
2d 363, 393 (S.D.N.Y. 2013) (denying the City of White Plains’ motion to dismiss where the
complaint plausibly alleged a single-incident Monell violation based on the theory that the city
failed to train officers of the White Plains Police Department on how to deal with emotionally
While some courts have read Connick to define the requirements for succeeding on a
single-incident theory so narrowly as to eviscerate it, other courts have read the Supreme Court
ruling to permit single-incident theory under certain circumstances. See Waller, 89 F. Supp. 3d at
285 (collecting cases that “have not read the Supreme Court’s ruling as foreclosing single-incident
liability under appropriate circumstances”). This Court agrees with the logic and reasoning of
those cases that have found that single-incident theory survives Connick under certain
circumstances, such as those found here. In any event, neither Suffolk nor Smithtown move for
summary judgment on the basis that the Plaintiff cannot proceed under single-incident theory.
Therefore, the Court finds that there is a material issue of disputed fact as to whether the
Plaintiff’s injuries were caused by Suffolk and Smithtown’s failure to train their officers on the
effects of drugs on individuals and how to interact with arrestees. Accordingly, the Defendants’
motion for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 dismissing those claims is denied.
4. As to the Plaintiff’s State Law Claims
Suffolk and Smithtown both summarily claim that the Plaintiff failed to comply with the
requirements of N.Y. GEN. MUN. LAW § 50-e(1). They do not present any case law in support of
this contention, nor do they attempt to show why the Plaintiff’s notice of claim was insufficient.
Their respective arguments on the issue are each one sentence long. (See Suffolk Cty.’s Mem. of
Law in Support of Mot. at 23 (“The defendants respectfully request, in light of a lack of a viable
federal claim that the Court decline jurisdiction of the plaintiffs state claims, or in the alternative,
dismiss them for the plaintiff’s failure to comply with the provisions of the General Municipal
Law 50-e(1).”); Smithtown Mem. of Law in Support of Mot. at 23 (“In addition . . . the negligence
claim is barred by non-compliance with the conditions precedent to suit provide[d] for in the New
York General Municipal Law Section[s] 50-e, 50-h, and 50-i.”)). In a motion for summary
judgment, the defendant bears the initial burden of showing the absence of genuine issues of
material fact. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 323. The Plaintiff served a notice of claim on both
Suffolk and Smithtown within ninety days of the date of his alleged injury, complying with the
most basic requirement of N.Y. GEN. MUN. LAW 50-e. It is not clear from the Defendants’ papers
why the notice was insufficient, or why summary judgment should be granted on the Plaintiff’s
state law claims. Therefore, the Court declines to do the Defendants’ work for them, and their
motion to dismiss the Plaintiff’s state law claims pursuant to Rule 56 is denied.
For the reasons stated above, the Plaintiff’s motion to amend his complaint pursuant to
Rule 15 is denied; and the Defendants’ motions for summary judgment are granted in part and
denied in part. The motions for summary judgment are granted to the extent that the SCPD and
TSPP are administrative arms that cannot be sued separate and apart from their respective
municipalities and the claims against them are therefore dismissed. The motions for summary
judgment are denied to the extent that the Plaintiff’s Monell claims and state law claims against
Suffolk and Smithtown shall be presented to the jury.
It is SO ORDERED:
Dated: Central Islip, New York
January 9, 2018
_____/s/ Arthur D. Spatt_______
ARTHUR D. SPATT
United States District Judge
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