MELINDA MITCHELL, individually and on behalf of a class of all others similarly situated, HARVEY MITCHELL, individually and on behalf of a class of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
THE CITY OF NEW YORK, a municipal entity, NYC POLICE OFFICER JAMES SCHUESSLER, Shield No. 28718, RICHARD ROES, 1-50 NEW YORK CITY POLICE SUPERVISORS AND COMMANDERS, JOHN DOES, 1-50 NEW YORK CITY POLICE OFFICERS, individually, and in their official capacities, jointly and severally, POLICE OFFICER JOSEPH BRINADZE, NYPD CAPTAIN JOSEPH GULOTTA, NYPD SERGEANT DANIELLE ROVENTINI, and NYPD LIEUTENANT KATHLEEN CAESAR, Defendants-Appellees.
Argued: February 20, 2015
from a judgment of the United States District Court for the
Southern District of New York (Lewis A. Kaplan,
Judge), granting appellees' motion for summary
judgment and dismissing appellants' claims. We hold that
there is a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the
New York City Police officers had probable cause to arrest
appellants for trespass. The district court therefore
improperly dismissed appellants' false arrest claim. We
affirm as to all other claims.
JEFFREY A. ROTHMAN (Jonathan C. Moore & Joshua S.
Moskovitz, Beldock Levine & Hoffman LLP, New York, NY, on
the brief) New York, NY, for Plaintiffs-Appellants.
A. COLLEY, for Zachary W. Carter, Corporation Counsel of the
City of New York, New York, NY, for Defendants-Appellees.
Before: WINTER, POOLER, and SACK, Circuit Judges
WINTER, Circuit Judge
Mitchell and Harvey Mitchell -- we will refer to them as
Melinda and Harvey because they are not related -- along with
other similarly situated individuals, appeal from Judge
Kaplan's dismissal of their complaint on a grant of
summary judgment to appellees. We hold that there is a
genuine dispute of material fact as to whether the appellee
police officers had probable cause to arrest appellants for
trespass. We therefore vacate the judgment. We remand the
false arrest claim and appellees' claim of qualified
immunity related to the false arrest. We affirm the dismissal
of the malicious prosecution, abuse of process, and municipal
appeal is from a grant of summary judgment, and the following
recitation of facts, therefore, views the evidentiary record
in the light most favorable to appellants, the non-moving
party. Rentas v. Ruffin, 816 F.3d 214, 220 (2d Cir.
2016) (citation omitted).
December 2010, Lieutenant Kathleen Caesar of the New York
City Police Department ("NYPD") responded to a
report of a sexual assault at a brownstone located at 2142
Atlantic Avenue, in Brooklyn, New York. When Caesar arrived
with another police officer, she saw two women, one of whom
said she was robbed in the brownstone. After no one responded
to her knocks at the front door, Caesar entered the premises
through the back door. She found no one inside. On the first
floor, she observed a bar area next to the kitchen, a room
with a dance pole, and a living room with no furniture.
Caesar concluded that the house was abandoned. She told her
colleague Lieutenant John Hopkins of this and later made it a
point to drive by the brownstone during her patrol shifts
since she believed the brownstone might have been "being
used for parties." J. App'x at 104.
month later, on January 9, 2011, Melinda and Harvey attended
a party at the 2142 Atlantic Avenue brownstone. While both
were invited by acquaintances, neither knew who was hosting
the party or who owned the property. To enter the brownstone,
they opened a small unlocked gate, and proceeded through the
front door. There were no signs prohibiting entrance to the
building. There was, however, a realtor's for-sale sign
on the property.
about 2:15 a.m. on January 9, 2011, Caesar was driving by the
brownstone when she saw three people standing on its stoop.
She called Hopkins to inform him that suspicious activity
might be taking place at the premises. After Hopkins, Captain
Joseph Gulotta, and other officers arrived, Caesar knocked at
the front door but no one answered. She tried to open the
door, but it was locked. She and some of the officers
proceeded to the rear of the property and entered the
brownstone through the back door. Caesar then made her way
through the brownstone, past "about 30 kids" to the
front door to let in more officers. Id. at 127-128.
the officers found at least 30 people. According to
appellants, space was set up for a party, with a bar, a
projector screen, disco lights, running water, working heat,
DJ equipment, and an area with a big TV and some couches.
Gulotta testified at his deposition that he saw that
electricity was being routed in from outside the house via
extension cords. Gulotta also testified at his deposition
that he smelled marijuana upon entering the brownstone, and
another officer, James Schuessler, testified at his
deposition that he recalled seeing six or eight
"nickel" or "dime" bags containing what
looked to be marijuana and crack cocaine on the floor of the
entering the brownstone, the police told everyone to be quiet
and then repeatedly asked who owned the property and who was
hosting the party. Some people replied that they did not know
who the owner was. When no one revealed the owner or host,
Gulotta ordered the arrest of everyone present. The arrests
were based on Gulotta's belief that everyone at the party
had: (i) "trespass[ed]"; (ii) "loiter[ed] for
the purpose of using narcotics"; and (iii)
"endanger[ed] the welfare of a child because there was a
12 year-old child present." Id. at 582. The