Dawes Sr. v. City of New York

NEW YORK COUNTY
Civil Rights

New York Law Journal

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Justice Kathryn Freed

New York City moved to dismiss plaintiffs' pleadings alleging civil rights violations in this action to recover damages for personal injuries allegedly sustained from an incident when plaintiffs were arrested. Plaintiffs asserted claims including civil rights and due process violations, among others. The city moved for summary judgment on the civil rights and due process violations claims arguing plaintiffs failed to state valid claims. It alleged the claims were not actionable as they were improperly pleaded as they were devoid of any particularized allegations of fact. The city also alleged it could not be held liable under 42 USC §1983 on a respondeat superior theory. Plaintiffs claimed the acts of defendant's officers were done under the color and pretense of law and under their authority as police officers, arguing they were deprived their constitutional rights because of their race. The court ruled there was no respondeat superior liability for a municipality under §1983, thus the violation of plaintiffs' civil rights by municipal employees, without more, would not render the municipality liable for such violations. Also, it found the complaint alleged in conclusory fashion the officers deprived plaintiffs of their civil rights. Thus, plaintiffs' fourth and fifth causes of action were dismissed.

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