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Steven Friedman v. New York City Administration For Children's

November 6, 2012

STEVEN FRIEDMAN, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
NEW YORK CITY ADMINISTRATION FOR CHILDREN'S SERVICES, SONIA RICKETTS-HUBBARD, MARCO CARDENAS, DANIEL COHEN, BARNEY MASNICK, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES, SAINT VINCENT'S CATHOLIC MEDICAL CENTERS, JENNIFER MASNICK, HELENE FRIEDMAN, ZILMA CONSTANZA, PATRICE MCFARLAN-WOODEN, DEFENDANTS.



Appeal from a November 10, 2010 judgment of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York (Frederic Block, Judge).

10-5008-cv

Friedman v. New York City Administration for Children's Services, et al.

SUMMARY ORDER

Rulings by summary order do not have precedential effect. Citation to a summary order filed on or after January 1, 2007, is permitted and is governed by Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 32.1 and this Court's Local Rule 32.1.1. When citing a summary order in a document filed with this Court, a party must cite either the Federal Appendix or an electronic database (with the notation "summary order"). A party citing a summary order must serve a copy of it on any party not represented by counsel.

At a stated term of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, held at the Daniel Patrick Moynihan United States Courthouse, 500 Pearl Street, in the City of New York, on the 6th day of November, two thousand twelve.

PRESENT: JOSE A. CABRANES, DENNY CHIN, SUSAN L. CARNEY, Circuit Judges.

UPON CONSIDERATION WHEREOF, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED that the judgment is AFFIRMED.

Plaintiff-Appellant Steven Friedman appeals a November 10, 2010 judgment entered by the District Court after a jury trial. On appeal, he argues that the District Court erred by granting summary judgment in favor of various defendants and by failing to properly instruct the jury. We assume the parties' familiarity with the facts and prior proceedings, which we reference only briefly.

BACKGROUND

A. Facts

On July 24, 2003, the New York City Administration for Children's Services ("ACS") received a report made by Dr. Daniel Cohen, a psychiatrist at St. Vincent's Catholic Medical Center. In the report, Dr. Cohen indicated that Steven Friedman was putting Friedman's children in the middle of his custody battle by telling his children that (1) "he will kill them if they do not lie and say that mommy beats me and that you want to live with me," and (2) "mommy's bad, she doesn't love you and she is having affairs." Dr. Cohen also reported that these statements were causing the children to experience emotional effects, such as crying and shaking.

That same day, Marco Cardenas, an ACS caseworker, interviewed Helene Friedman, the children's mother, and the two oldest children, Jacob and Rachel. Mrs. Friedman stated that the allegations in the report were true and that the children had come home crying after visiting their father. When Cardenas interviewed Jacob, he asked whether Jacob's father threatened to kill him if Jacob did not say that his mother hit him. Jacob responded, "only sometimes." Rachel said that "her daddy tells her to say mommy hits her but not to tell mommy" and that "her daddy told her 'if you don't say that mommy hits you harder than an animal, I'll kill you.'"

The next day, Cardenas interviewed Dr. Cohen. Dr. Cohen stated that he was a family friend and that Mrs. Friedman asked him to speak with the children. He told Cardenas that he met with the children and that during his meeting with the children, they "cried to the point where they [we]re shaking." He also stated that Jacob and Rachel told him that their father "makes them lie and say things about their mother" including "that she mistreats them and hits them." While Dr. Cohen stated that he was a family friend, he did not disclose during the interview that he was romantically involved with Mrs. Friedman's sister, Jennifer Masnick.

Cardenas then interviewed Steven Friedman, who denied the allegations in the report. After Cardenas informed Mr. Friedman that he already had interviewed the children, Cardenas noted that Mr. Friedman's "demeanor change[d]" and he "appeared extremely nervous, his hands were shaking, and he began to sweat profusely." Mr. Friedman then stated that "Jacob is a very intelligent boy" but that "Rachel sides more with her mother and she is easily influenced by his wife who tells her what to say." Mr. Friedman also provided Cardenas with a list of collateral contacts, including neighbors of Mrs. Friedman, whom he wanted Cardenas to contact and interview. Cardenas stated that he would not contact anyone who would "bad mouth" Mrs. Friedman―especially neighbors―for privacy reasons. At the end of the ...


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