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Michael J. Murphy Successfully Defends Municipality, Police Officers in Civil Rights Action

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Michael J. Murphy successfully defended his clients, a New York municipality and its police officers, by obtaining summary judgment in an action brought in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant police officers entered her apartment without justification, falsely arrested her for harassing her daughter, used excessive force against her in effecting that arrest, and maliciously prosecuted her for harassment in the second degree and resisting arrest. Plaintiff also alleged that the defendant municipality maintained an unconstitutional policy requiring that police officers make arrests in all domestic violence cases and that it negligently maintained the detention cell in which she was confined, causing her personal injury. Based on these allegations, the plaintiff asserted eight causes of action against the defendants:

  • Illegal search and invasion of privacy under the Fourth Amendment;
  • Illegal detainment under the Fourth Amendment;
  • False arrest under New York State common law;
  • Excessive force under the Fourth Amendment;
  • Assault and battery under New York State common law;
  • Malicious prosecution under New York State common law;
  • Adopting and/or promulgating a policy that encouraged and/or caused violations of her Constitutional rights;
  • Negligently maintaining a detention cell under New York State common law.

Mike Murphy moved the Court for summary judgment on behalf of his clients, requesting that the Court dismiss the plaintiff’s Complaint in its entirety, arguing:

  • Plaintiff’s claim of illegal search fails as plaintiff presented no facts plausibly suggesting that such illegal search took place;
  • Plaintiff’s claim of invasion of privacy fails as her privacy could not have been invaded as she gave the police officers express and/or implied consent to enter her apartment;
  • Plaintiff’s claim of false arrest fails as the defendant police officers had probable cause to arrest the plaintiff and therefore, no illegal detainment occurred;
  • Plaintiff’s claims of false arrest, assault and battery, and negligence all fail as they are based on New York State common law and are subject to notice of claim upon the defendants within 90 days of the occurrence, which the plaintiff failed to abide by;
  • Plaintiff’s claim of excessive force fails as such claim is governed by “objective unreasonableness” and an officer’s underlying intent, neither of which were proven by the plaintiff;
  • Plaintiff’s claim of malicious prosecution fails as such claim needs a showing that the defendants acted with malice which was not proven by the plaintiff;
  • Plaintiff’s claim that the defendant municipality adopted and/or promulgated an unconstitutional policy fails as the defendants provided proof otherwise under General Order 0-36 and NY Criminal Procedure Law 140.10;
  • Plaintiff’s claims for invasion of privacy, illegal search, illegal detention, false arrest, and excessive force fail as the defendant police officers are protected from liability as a matter of law.

In a 47 page written opinion, the Hon. Glenn T. Suddaby, United States District Court Judge for the Northern District of New York, found in favor of the defendant municipality and its police officers, dismissing the plaintiff’s Complaint in its entirety.

Michael J. Murphy is a managing partner at Carter Conboy. Mr. Murphy is a trial attorney handling complex litigation with an emphasis on employment law. He maintains an active trial practice in state and federal courts as well as before the EEOC and the New York State Division for Human Rights.  He is regularly retained by leaders in business, government and the professions to represent their interests in sensitive, high profile litigation and investigations. Mr. Murphy is a member of the Rules Committee for the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York and has served as Chair of Merit Selection and Recertification Panels for United States Magistrate Judges.  Mr. Murphy is Past Chair of ALFA International and Past President of the Northern District of New York Federal Court Bar Association. He can be reached at mmurphy@carterconboy.com and 518.465.3484.

Carter Conboy is a Martindale-Hubbell AV® Preeminent™ peer rated full-service law firm committed to providing the highest quality legal representation to its clients. Founded in 1920, Carter Conboy has offices in Albany and Saratoga Springs, New York, serving clients throughout New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Florida. For additional information about the firm, visit www.carterconboy.com or contact the firm’s Director of Marketing, Stacy A. Smith, at 518-810-0516 or ssmith@carterconboy.com. ###