Frey v. City of New York

Civil Rights

New York Law Journal


Judge Thomas Griesa

Frey was on active New York Police Department (NYPD) duty when ordered, on Dec. 2, 2010, to enter the Mirmont Treatment Center for alleged alcohol abuse. He entered a treatment program that was to end on Dec. 31. On Dec. 15, Frey became eligible to retire. He was told that if he left treatment before Dec. 31 he would become ineligible to retire. In addition to conspiracy and state law claims, Frey's March 2012 lawsuit under 42 USC §§1983 and 1985 asserted false imprisonment violating the Fourth Amendment. District court dismissed Frey's complaint, noting that the threat of ineligibility for retirement is not, as a matter of law, sufficient to make out a claim of unlawful imprisonment. Citing Davis v. City of New York, the court observed that a series of cases have held that the NYPD's policy of mandating inpatient treatment for alcohol abuse on pain of termination does not constitute false imprisonment. Under Davis, McNamara v. City of New York and MacShane v. City of New York, confinement by threat is only actionable if it is achieved by threats of violence or other lawless conduct. Threats of peaceful legal action, or of the imposition of other peaceful consequences for noncompliance, do not support a false imprisonment claim.

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