Garcia v. NYC 2.23.15

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2d Circuit Opinion

Text of Garcia v. NYC 2.23.15

  • 122634cvGarciav.Jane&JohnDoes

    UNITEDSTATESCOURTOFAPPEALSFORTHESECONDCIRCUIT

    AugustTerm,2012

    (Argued:April22,2013Decided:August21,2014

    RehearingFiled:December18,2014Amended:February23,2015)

    DocketNo.122634cv

    KARINAGARCIA,asClassRepresentativeonbehalfofherselfandotherssimilarlysituated,YARIOSORIO,asClassRepresentativeonbehalfofherselfandothers

    similarlysituated,BENJAMINBECKER,asClassRepresentativeonbehalfofhimselfandotherssimilarlysituated,CASSANDRAREGAN,asClassRepresentativeon

    behalfofherselfandotherssimilarlysituated,YAREIDISPEREZ,asClassRepresentativeonbehalfofherselfandotherssimilarlysituated,TYLERSOVA,as

    ClassRepresentativeonbehalfofhimselfandotherssimilarlysituated,STEPHANIEJEANUMOH,asClassRepresentativeonbehalfofherselfandotherssimilarlysituated,MICHAELCRICKMORE,asClassRepresentativeonbehalfof

    himselfandotherssimilarlysituated,BROOKEFEINSTEIN,asClassRepresentativeonbehalfofherselfandotherssimilarlysituated,

    PlaintiffsAppellees,

    MARCELCARTIER,asClassRepresentativeonbehalfofhimselfandotherssimilarlysituated,

    Plaintiff,

  • v.

    JANEANDJOHNDOES140,individuallyandintheirofficialcapacities,

    DefendantsAppellants,

    RAYMONDW.KELLY,individuallyandinhisofficialcapacity,CITYOFNEWYORK,MICHAELR.BLOOMBERG,individuallyandinhisofficialcapacity,

    Defendants.*

    Before:

    CALABRESI,LIVINGSTON,andLYNCH,CircuitJudges.

    __________________

    Defendantsappellants,NewYorkPoliceDepartmentofficers,appealfrom

    anorderoftheUnitedStatesDistrictCourtfortheSouthernDistrictofNewYork

    (JedS.Rakoff,Judge)denyingtheirmotionpursuanttoRule12(b)(6)todismiss

    plaintiffsappelleescomplaintagainstthemonqualifiedimmunitygrounds.

    Defendantsarguethatthedistrictcourterredinconcludingthatplaintiffs

    complaint,andothermaterialsthatcouldproperlybeconsideredonamotionto

    dismissforfailuretostateaclaim,didnotestablishthatdefendantshadarguable

    *TheClerkofCourtisrespectfullydirectedtoamendtheofficialcaptioninthiscasetoconformwiththecaptionabove.

    2

  • probablecausetoarrestplaintiffsfordisorderlyconduct.OnAugust21,2014,

    weissuedanopinionaffirmingthedistrictcourtsjudgment.OnDecember17,

    2014,thisopinionwaswithdrawn.Onappellantspetitionforrehearing,wenow

    grantthepetition,reversethejudgmentofthedistrictcourt,andremandwith

    instructionstodismissthecomplaint.

    REVERSED.

    MARA VERHEYDENHILLIARD (Andrea Hope Costello and CarlMessineo,onthebrief),PartnershipforCivilJusticeFund,Washington,D.C.,forPlaintiffsAppellees.

    RONALD E. STERNBERG, Assistant Corporation Counsel (LeonardKoernerandArthurG.Larkin,AssistantCorporationCounsel,onthebrief),forMichaelA.Cardozo,CorporationCounseloftheCityofNewYork,NewYork,NewYork,forDefendantsAppellants.

    GERARDE.LYNCH,CircuitJudge:

    Plaintiffsappellees,participantsinademonstrationwhowerearrested

    afteraconfrontationwithpoliceattheManhattanentrancetotheBrooklyn

    Bridge,broughtthisactionforfalsearrestinviolationoftheirFirst,Fourth,and

    FourteenthAmendmentrights.Defendantappellantpoliceofficersappealfrom

    3

  • arulingoftheUnitedStatesDistrictCourtfortheSouthernDistrictofNewYork

    (JedS.Rakoff,Judge)denyingtheirmotiontodismissthecomplaintpursuantto

    Rule12(b)(6)ongroundsofqualifiedimmunity.Byadividedvote,weinitially

    affirmedthedistrictcourtsjudgment.OnDecember17,2014,theCourtentered

    anordergrantingappellantspetitionforrehearingenbancandwithdrawingour

    prioropinion.Onappellantspetitionforrehearing,wenowconcludethat

    appellantsareentitledtoqualifiedimmunity.Accordingly,weGRANTthe

    petitionforrehearing,REVERSEthejudgmentbelow,andREMANDthecase

    withinstructionstodismissthecomplaint.

    BACKGROUND

    Plaintiffsbroughtthisactionforfalsearrestunder42U.S.C.1983followingtheirarrestsduringademonstrationinsupportoftheOccupyWallStreetmovement.1PlaintiffsattachedfivevideoexcerptsandninestillphotographsasexhibitstotheSecondAmendedComplaint(theComplaint),whichweconsiderwhendecidingthisappeal.SeeDiFolcov.MSNBCCableL.L.C.,622F.3d104,111(2dCir.2010).Wealsoconsidervideossubmittedbydefendants,whichplaintiffsconcedearesimilarlyincorporatedintothe

    1Althoughplaintiffsbringtheirsuitasaputativeclassaction,noclasshasbeencertified.Accordingly,weaddressonlytheclaimsmadebythetennamedplaintiffs.

    4

  • Complaintbyreference.2Forpurposesofthisappeal,wetakeastruethefactssetforthintheComplaint,seeAlmontev.CityofLongBeach,478F.3d100,104(2dCir.2007),totheextentthattheyarenotcontradictedbythevideoevidence.I. TheProtestandPlaintiffsArrests

    OnOctober1,2011,thousandsofdemonstratorsmarchedthroughLowerManhattantoshowsupportfortheOccupyWallStreetmovement.ThemarchbeganatZuccottiParkinManhattanandwastoendinarallyatBrooklynBridgeParkinBrooklyn.Althoughnopermitforthemarchhadbeensought,theNewYorkCityPoliceDepartment(NYPD)wasawareoftheplannedeventinadvance,andNYPDofficersescortedmarchersfromZuccottiParktotheManhattanentrancetotheBrooklynBridge(theBridge),attimesflankingthemarcherswithofficersonmotorscootersormotorcycles.Thoseofficersissuedordersanddirectivestoindividualmarchers,attimesdirectingthemtoproceedinwaysordinarilyprohibitedundertrafficregulationsabsentpolicedirectiveorpermission.J.Appxat165.Theofficersblockedvehiculartrafficatsomeintersectionsandonoccasiondirectedmarcherstocrossstreetsagainsttrafficsignals.Asfarasappearsfromthevideoexcerpts,neitherthedemonstrationnortheactionsoftheofficersincontrollingorfacilitatingitcausedanysignificant

    2WehaveneveraddressedwhetherFed.R.Civ.P.10(c),whichprovidesthatawritteninstrumentincludedasanexhibittoapleadingisapartofthepleadingforallpurposes,extendstovideosofthesortpresentedinthiscase.BecausenopartyconteststheinclusionofthevideosintheCourtsreviewoftheComplaint,however,wehavenooccasiontoreachthatissuehere.

    5

  • disruptionofordinarytrafficpatternsduringthisstageofthemarch.WhenthemarcharrivedattheManhattanentrancetotheBridge,thefirst

    marchersbeganfunnelingontotheBridgespedestrianwalkway.Police,includingcommandofficials,andothercityofficialsstoodintheroadwayentrancetotheBridgeimmediatelysouthofthepedestrianwalkwayand,atleastatfirst,watchedastheprotesterspouredacrossCentreStreettowardstheBridge.Abottlenecksoondeveloped,creatingalargecrowdattheentrancetotheBridgespedestrianwalkway.WhilevideofootagesuggeststhatthecrowdwaitingtoenterthepedestrianwalkwayblockedtrafficonCentreStreet,defendantsdonotcontendthattheyhadprobablecausetoarrestplaintiffsfortheirobstructionoftrafficatthatpoint,asopposedtotheirlaterobstructionoftrafficontheBridgeroadway.Indeed,plaintiffsallegedintheirComplaintthatthepolicethemselvesstoppedvehiculartrafficonCentreStreetneartheentrancetotheBridge3beforethemajorityofthemarchersarrivedattheentrance.

    Whileasteadystreamofprotesterscontinuedontothewalkway,agroupofprotestersstoppedandstoodfacingthepoliceontherampconstitutingthevehicularentrancetotheBridgeatadistanceofapproximatelytwentyfeet.Bythistime,alargecrowdofdemonstratorshadpooledbehindthatleadgroup.Giventhesizeanddensityofthecrowd,itwouldclearlyhavebeenimpossibleforvehiclestoenterthebridgeusingtherampatthatlocation.Someofthe

    3TherearethreeeastboundentryrampstotheBridgeontheManhattanside.Therampreferredtohereisthenorthernmostramp.

    6

  • protestersbeganchantingTakethebridge!andWhosestreets?Ourstreets!Atthispoint,allthevideoevidenceconfirmsthatthemarchhaddivided;onegroupwasproceedingacrosstheBridgeviathepedestrianwalkway,whileasecondgrouphadmovedontothevehicularroadway,wheretheywereblockedbyalineofpolice.4

    Anofficeronthevehicularrampsteppedforwardwithabullhornandmadeanannouncement.InthevideotakenbytheNYPDsTechnicalAssistanceResponseUnit,theofficercanclearlybeheardrepeatingseveraltimesintothebullhorn:Iamaskingyoutostepbackonthesidewalk,youareobstructingtraffic.Plaintiffsallegethatthesestatementweregenerallyinaudible,J.Appxat166,andthevideoexcerptstheyhaveprovidedareconsistentwiththatallegation.Twominuteslaterthesameofficerannouncedintothebullhorn:Youareobstructingvehiculartraffic.Ifyourefusetomove,youaresubjecttoarrest,andIfyourefusetoleave,youwillbeplacedunderarrestandchargedwithdisorderlyconduct.Whileitisclearthatatleastsomemarchersatthefrontofthecrowdheardthisannouncement,plaintiffsallegethattheofficersknewthattheirwarningsororderstodispersewouldnothavebeenaudibleto

    4Althoughthisdivisionwasclearatthefrontofthemarch,additionaldemonstratorswerebackedupbehindthedividedleadgroups.Thepedestrianwalkwaywascrowded,andthegrouponthevehicularroadwaywasblockedbypolice,creatingabottlenecksuchthatsomedemonstratorswerenotclearlypartofeithergroup.

    7

  • thevastmajorityofthoseassembled.Therewasconsiderablenoiseandconfusionatthescene.

    Aminuteandahalfafterthesecondannouncement,theofficersandcityofficialsintheleadgroupturnedaroundandbeganwalkingunhurriedlyontotheBridgeroadwaywiththeirbackstotheprotesters.Theprotestersbegancheeringandfollowedtheofficersontotheroadwayinanorderlyfashionabouttwentyfeetbehindthelastofficer.Theprotestersontheroadwaythenencouragedthoseonthepedestrianwalkwaytocomeover,andthevideosshowseveralprotestersjumpingdownfromthepedestrianwalkwayontotheroadway,thoughforthemostpartthemarchersonthepedestrianwalkwaycontinuedtheirprogressonthewalkwayanddidnotenterthevehicularlanes.ProtestorsinitiallywalkeduptheBridgeviathefirst(northernmost)entryramp,buttheyeventuallyblockedthesecondandthirdrampsaswellandoccupiedalloftheBridgeseastboundtrafficlanes,preventinganycarsfrommovingontotheBridgeinthatdirection.

    MidwayacrosstheBridge,theofficersinfrontofthelineofmarchersturnedandstoppedallforwardmovementofthedemonstration.Anofficerannouncedthroughabullhornthatthoseontheroadwaywouldbearrestedfordisorderlyconduct.Plaintiffsallegethatthisannouncementwasalsoinaudible.OfficersblockedmovementinbothdirectionsalongtheBridgeroadwayandpreventeddispersalthroughtheuseoforangenettingandpolicevehicles.J.Appxat173.Theofficersthenmethodicallyarrestedoversevenhundredpeople

    8

  • whowereontheBridgeroadway.Theseindividualswerehandcuffed,takenintocustody,processedandreleasedthroughoutthenightintotheearlymorninghours.J.Appxat174.

    Plaintiffsallegethattheofficersledthemarchacrossthebridge,andthatthemarcherssawtheofficersmovementontotheroadwayasanactualandapparentgrantofpermissiontofollow.J.Appxat168.TheyallegethatthecombinationofthoseofficersinfrontleadingtheprotestersontotheroadwayandtheofficersonthesideescortingthemalongtheroadwayledthemtobelievethattheNYPDwasescortingandpermittingthemarchtoproceedontotheroadway,asithadescortedandpermittedthemarchthroughLowerManhattanearlierintheday.

    Officersattheroadwayentrancedidnotinstructtheongoingflowofmarchersnottoproceedontotheroadway.Otherofficerswalkedcalmlyalongsidetheprotestersontheroadwayanddidnotdirectanyprotesterstoleavetheroadway.Thenamedplaintiffsallegethattheydidnothearanywarningsorordersnottoproceedontheroadway,andunderstoodtheirpassageontotheBridgeroadwaytohavebeenpermittedbythepolice.5Nevertheless,plaintiffsdonotallegethatanyofficerexplicitlystatedthatthemarcherswouldbepermittedtoadvancealongthevehicularlanesoftheBridge.Nordoesany

    5Whileoneplaintiff,CassandraRegan,acknowledgesthatshewastoldtoleavetheroadway,sheallegesthatthewarningwasgivenonlyafterdefendantshadblockedofftheroadwayandnoexitwaspossible.

    9

  • plaintiffallegethatheorsheobservedanyofficerbeckontothedemonstratorsorstatebywordorgesturethattheywerewelcometoproceed.TheComplaintsallegationthatthepolicehadgivenactualandapparentpermissionofthemarchtoproceed,J.Appxat173,isalegalconclusionbasedentirelyoninferencesdrawnfrom(a)theofficershavingfollowedalongthecourseofthemarchbeforethearrivalattheBridgewithoutinterferingwith,andoccasionallyfacilitating,minorbreachesoftrafficrules;(b)theofficersretreatfromtheirinitiallocationblockingtheprotestersadvanceontotheBridgeroadwayafterthebullhornannouncementtodisperse;and(c)thefailureofofficerswalkinginfrontofthedemonstratorsoralongsidethemastheyprogressedacrosstheBridgetorepeatanywarnings,untiltheultimatecommencementofthearrests.II. DistrictCourtProceedings

    PlaintiffssuedtheunidentifiedNYPDofficerswhoparticipatedintheirarrests,6aswellasMayorMichaelR.Bloomberg,PoliceCommissionerRaymondW.Kelly,andtheCityofNewYork,allegingthatthearrestsviolatedplaintiffsrightsundertheFirst,Fourth,andFourteenthAmendments.DefendantsmovedtodismissplaintiffsSecondAmendedComplaintonqualifiedimmunitygroundsandpursuanttoMonellv.DepartmentofSocialServices,436U.S.658

    6Elevenofthese40JohnandJaneDoeshavesincebeenidentifiedandtheirnameshavereplacedJohn/JaneDoes##111inthecaptionofthedistrictcourtproceedings.WhentheComplaintwasfiledandtherelevantdistrictcourtopinionwasissued,however,noneoftheNYPDofficerswhoparticipatedinthearrestshadbeenidentified.

    10

  • (1978),arguing,inpart,thattheComplaintandthevideosdemonstratethattheyhadprobablecausetoarrestplaintiffsfordisorderlyconduct.7

    ThedistrictcourtdeniedthemotiontodismisstheclaimsagainsttheindividualofficersandgrantedthemotiontodismisstheclaimsagainsttheCity,Bloomberg,andKelly.8Garciav.Bloomberg,865F.Supp.2d478(S.D.N.Y.2012).ThedistrictcourtheldthattheallegationsintheComplaint,iftrue,establishedthatareasonableofficerwouldhaveknownthathedidnothaveprobablecausetoarrestplaintiffs.ThedistrictcourtfurtherheldthatwhileplaintiffshadclearlyviolatedthelawbyenteringtheBridgeroadwayandblockingvehiculartraffic,basedonthefactsalleged,noreasonablepoliceofficercouldbelievethatplaintiffshadreceivedfairwarningthattheirbehaviorwasillegal,asrequiredbylaw.ThedistrictcourtconcludedthatwhileNewYorksdisorderlyconduct

    7Whiledefendantsinitiallyarrestedmanyoftheplaintiffsforfailuretoobeyalawfulorder,theoffensethatanofficercitesatthetimeofthearrestneednotbethesameas,orevencloselyrelatedto,theoffensethattheofficerlatercitesasprobablecauseforthearrest.SeeDevenpeckv.Alford,543U.S.146,15455.Defendantsnowarguethatplaintiffsengagedindisorderlyconduct,definedtoincludetheconductof,withintenttocausepublicinconvenience,annoyanceoralarm,orrecklesslycreatingariskthereof[,]...obstruct[ing]vehicularorpedestriantraffic.N.Y.PenalLaw240.20(5).WhiledefendantsarguedbeforethedistrictcourtthattheyalsohadprobablecausetoarrestplaintiffsformarchingwithoutapermitinviolationofNewYorkCityAdministrativeCode10110(a),defendantshaveabandonedthatargumentonappeal.

    8PlaintiffsarguedthattheCityofNewYorkmaintainsapolicy,practice,and/orcustomoftrappingandarrestingpeacefulprotesterswithoutprobablecause.Thedistrictcourtheldthatplaintiffshadnotplausiblyallegedanysuchpolicy,practice,orcustom.Thatinterlocutoryrulingisnotbeforeus,andwehavenooccasiontoaddressitsmerits.

    11

  • statutewouldnormallyhavegivenprotestersfairwarningnottomarchontheroadway,itdidnotdosohere,wheredefendants,whohadbeendirectingthemarchalongitsentirecourse,seemedimplicitlytosanctiontheprotestersmovementontotheroadway.9

    Defendantsnowappealthedenialoftheirmotiontodismissonqualifiedimmunitygrounds,arguingthatunderthecircumstances,anobjectivelyreasonablepoliceofficerwouldnothaveunderstoodthatthepresenceofpoliceofficersontheBridgeconstitutedimplicitpermissiontothedemonstratorstobeontheBridgeroadwayincontraventionofthelaw.10AppellantsBr.at3.

    DISCUSSION

    I. AppellateJurisdictionWehavejurisdictionoveranappealfromadistrictcourtsdenialof

    qualifiedimmunityatthemotiontodismissstagebecausequalifiedimmunitywhichshieldsGovernmentofficialsfromliabilityforcivildamagesinsofarastheirconductdoesnotviolateclearlyestablishedstatutoryorconstitutional

    9Thedist...