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New York Judge Finds Probable Cause to Grant Summary Judgement (NY)

August 21, 2020

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<p style="text-align: justify;">In <em>Showon v. City of New York</em>, the plaintiff brought a cause of action against the City of New York for false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, and battery after being arrested for running over a passenger’s foot and leaving the scene of an accident.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">In the criminal case, the plaintiff taxicab driver who allegedly ran over a passenger’s foot was prosecuted for leaving the scene of an accident without reporting personal injury. The New York City Police Department arrested and charged the plaintiff after conducting an investigation and receiving a signed criminal court supporting deposition, which is verified under the penalty of perjury. Ultimately, the prosecution against the plaintiff was dismissed.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">On August 5, 2016, the plaintiff filed his complaint in New York County’s Civil Term. After discovery and depositions were taken, the City of New York moved for summary judgment pursuant to CPLR § 3212.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">In his decision, the Honorable Laurence L. Love noted that the existence of probable cause rebuts a claim of false arrest, false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution under both New York State law and Federal Law. In order for the plaintiff to set out a cause of action for false arrest and/or imprisonment, a plaintiff must show that the defendant intended to confine the plaintiff, that the plaintiff was conscious of the confinement and did not consent to it, and the confinement was not otherwise privileged.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Judge Love noted that “the false arrest and false imprisonment claims did not lie if the City could establish existence of probable cause for the plaintiff’s arrest.” Judge Love stated that the supporting deposition and the NYPD’s investigation supported a finding of probable cause to arrest the plaintiff. The plaintiff argued that a question of fact exists as to whether the defendant had probable cause to arrest the plaintiff because the plaintiff was never notified that he had “run over” a passengers foot, and that leaving the scene after receiving payment was normal business behavior for a taxi driver.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Despite viewing the facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, the Court was not swayed by the plaintiff’s argument, finding that the plaintiff did not put forth evidence that “materially impeached” the facts that lead to his arrest. The Court found the City had probable cause to arrest the plaintiff, and granted the City’s motion for summary judgment. This case confirms that a finding of probable cause for an arrest will preclude a pliantiff from filing suit for false imprisonement based on that arrest.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Thanks to Irving Fayman for his contribution to this post. Please contact <a href="mailto:Haquino@wcmlaw.com">Heather Aquino</a> with any questions.</p>

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