Ruane v. County of Suffolk

Civil Rights

New York Law Journal

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Judge Denis Hurley

Ruane's boyfriend was arrested for driving while intoxicated, on Dec. 1, 2007, while operating Ruane's 2002 Dodge Ram truck absent her consent or knowledge. Pursuant to its DWI seizure program—codified at Suffolk County Code §270—defendant county seized Ruane's vehicle. At a Dec. 17, 2007, retention hearing the county was directed to retain Ruane's vehicle pending resolution of a civil forfeiture proceeding. On Aug. 2, 2010, Suffolk County supreme court granted judgment for Ruane in the civil forfeiture action. It ordered her vehicle's release "forthwith." The police and county attorney's office refused to release the vehicle until Ruane signed a general release. Only after she did so—and the police released her vehicle in July 2011—did Ruane discover that the vehicle sustained $5,700 in damages while in defendant county's possession. The court partly granted the county's motion to dismiss Ruane's 42 USC §1983 action as time barred. Distinguishing Remigio v. Kelly, the court found the continuing violation doctrine inapplicable to Ruane's claims arising from the Dec. 17, 2007, retention hearing. Thus, those claims were deemed time barred as beyond the three year statute of limitations.

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