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As Reported In:

WylieLaw Clients v. The City of New York, Commissioner of the New
York City Police Department Bernard B. Kerik, Officer Norman Vitale, Officer Harold Astree and approximately 34 other unidentified New York City Police officers

Causes of Action

False Arrest and Malicious Prosecution - Intentional Torts - False Imprisonment - Violation of Civil Rights - §1983 Violations

Recovery

$262,000

   

Court

United States District Court, Southern District of New York

Judge

Honorable Judge Shira A. Scheindlin
Honorable Chief Magistrate Ronald L. Ellis

Description

A WylieLaw Client was hosting a christening for his daughter. Among the family members in attendance were his brother and cousins. At an apartment down the hall, a neighbor was hosting a birthday party for his wife, which was also attended by some of the brothers and cousins of the WylieLaw Client. Someone at the birthday party contacted the police about a domestic violence situation between the birthday party host and his wife, but when the police arrived at the party, the host and his wife had already left. However, two cousins of the WylieLaw Client were still at the party. The police ordered everyone to leave the apartment. As one cousin was exiting, a police officer began to push his nightstick into his back. This cousin was pushed into another cousin and told the police officer that he was trying to leave, but the hallway was not large and there were many people crowding the hallway making it difficult to move. Thereafter, the police officer knocked this cousin to the ground and began to handcuff him. The second cousin turned and questioned the police officer as to what was happening. At that point, that cousin was knocked to the ground and also placed under arrest.

The aunt of the WylieLaw Client saw the police knock the two men down and place them under arrest and alerted the other family members who then came into the hallway to try to help the two cousins being arrested. The police officers ordered everyone out of the hallway and back into the WylieLaw Client's apartment. The family followed this order and reentered the apartment, locking the door behind them. A few moments later, a police officer began to knock heavily on the door demanding that it be opened. At the same time, another cousin of the WylieLaw Client dialed 911 to explain that the police inside the building were out of control. The WylieLaw Client opened the door slightly, leaving the chain on, to speak with the officer. The officer then sprayed mace in his eyes and into the apartment. Another family member opened the door while the WylieLaw Client ran into the bathroom to wash out his eyes. The police then arrested three more of the family members, including the WylieLaw Client.

Five family members (who all became WylieLaw Clients) were each beaten and dragged out of the building and taken to the police precinct. Once at the precinct, each suffered a strip search. One client was being held in front of the supervising officer when he felt blood in his mouth. With no other choice, he spit the blood onto the floor, but was then beaten by the officers, maced and thrown into a jail cell. Two of the men were taken to the hospital by the police. A third was taken, via ambulance, to the hospital immediately from his arraignment. A fourth family member presented himself at the hospital post-arraignment.

Each family member was charged with Assault 2nd degree, Assault 3rd degree, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, Harassment 2nd degree. Six months later, all charges were dismissed against all of the men. A CCRB investigation was undertaken. An unofficial determination indicated that the two most culpable officers had subsequently resigned from the police force.

Injuries

WylieLaw Client 1: Laceration to his check under his right eye; bruises on his torso, right leg and left shoulder; mace to the eyes; strip search; herniated disk L4-5.

WylieLaw Client 2: Bruises on his shoulder, back and feet; taser wound including brief loss of consciousness; mace to the eyes; strip search; herniated disk L4-5, L5-S1.

WylieLaw Client 3: Concussion; head injury; brief loss of consciousness; continuous treatment for dizziness and loss of balance/equilibrium including regular medication; mace to the eyes; strip search.

WylieLaw Client 4: A permanently damaged ligament in left pinky finger that has resulted in a constant bend in the digit; mace to the eyes; strip search.

WylieLaw Client 5: Contusions and lacerations to the front and back of his head resulting in regular headaches; concussion; loss of consciousness; bruises on his knees, arms, left shoulder, right elbow and face; mace to the eyes.

Result

The matter settled for a total payout of $262,000. The Honorable Chief Magistrate Ronald L. Ellis and his staff were instrumental in resolving this claim. There was a lengthy mediation process that lasted almost three hours but did not result in a settlement until the Judge asserted a mediator's recommendation. Both sides were to report back within two hours to determine whether the recommendation was accepted. Both sides accepted the recommendation and the matter settled at $262,000.