In some welcome good news during this challenging time, CMM is pleased to report that our Municipal Liability team has successfully defended Riverhead’s Finest in a civil rights action.
The case stemmed from a domestic dispute incident over six years ago. A husband and wife undergoing a contentious divorce had obtained orders of protection against each other while still living together. In December 2013, an officer with the Riverhead Police Department was called to the home, as he had been several times prior. On this occasion, the husband alleged that the wife had violated the order of protection he had obtained against her. He presented the police officer with a recording of a conversation between the estranged couple about a cruise the husband had taken with a girlfriend. The police officer learned the contents of the order of protection and, upon consideration of the recording and at the request of the husband, arrested the wife for violating the terms of the order.
After her arrest, the wife was taken to police headquarters, processed, taken to local Criminal Court, arraigned, and released on her own recognizance. (The case against her was ultimately dismissed.) As a result of these events, she brought a lawsuit against the Town of Riverhead and its Police Department alleging false arrest and malicious prosecution.
Under the guidance of Scott Middleton, our team moved for summary judgment (essentially, asking the Court to dismiss the case because there are no facts in dispute). We argued that because the arresting officer had confirmed the order of protection and had been presented with the recording, that probable cause existed and thus as a matter of law, the facts could not have amounted to false arrest (or subsequent malicious prosecution). Based on CMM’s efforts, the motion was granted and the case was dismissed.
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