Think municipal law is limited to zoning disputes? You’ll be intrigued by CMM’s latest municipal law success story involving an animal shelter, an arrest for trespass, and an accusation of malicious prosecution.

CMM’s client, a Suffolk County Town, had previously suspended the plaintiff (the supervisor of the Town animal shelter) based upon concerns about her performance. Pending a hearing on the matter, the Town barred her from returning to Town property. Days later, she appeared at the shelter, and Town employees reported the incident. The plaintiff was subsequently arrested for trespassing (charges that were later dropped).

The plaintiff sued the Town in 2017, alleging First Amendment (freedom of assembly) and Fourth Amendment (abuse of process) claims, as well as malicious prosecution. Almost immediately, CMM secured the dismissal of all claims except malicious prosecution, which the Court allowed to proceed through discovery. The plaintiff claimed that the Town (through certain employees and investigators) “initiated” criminal proceedings against her by urging her prosecution and providing false information to the D.A.’s office. After discovery concluded, with these claims debunked, CMM’s Scott Middleton and Richard DeMaio moved for summary judgment (essentially, asking the Court to find that there are no facts in dispute and to rule in our favor).

In a recent decision, the Court granted that motion and dismissed the case. The Court found that the plaintiff failed to establish that the Town employees initiated criminal proceedings; rather, all they did was report a perceived trespass. The Court also found that regardless of whether there was a crime, the Town employees were entitled to qualified immunity.

This outcome was a major win for the Town, finally putting this case to rest after more than five years. Visit our Municipal Liability page to learn more about other successful cases.