LYLES v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2002-010-046, Claim No. 105774, Motion No.
A constitutional tort remedy should not be implied where there is an available
common law tort remedy.
ARTEMUS LYLES The Court has, sua sponte, amended the caption to reflect the only proper party defendant.
Footnote (claimant name)
THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name)
Terry Jane Ruderman
ARTHUR N. EISENBERG, ESQ.JEREMIAH S. GUTMAN, ESQ.
HON. ELIOT SPITZER
Attorney General for the State of New YorkBy: Richard Lombardo, Assistant Attorney General
September 26, 2002
See also (multicaptioned
The following papers numbered 1-5 were read and considered by the Court on
defendant's motion to dismiss:
Defendant's Notice of Motion, Attorney's Supporting Affirmation and
Claimant's Memorandum of Law in
Defendant's Reply Affirmation and
Claimant's Sur-Reply in
Defendant's Further Reply
Defendant brings the instant motion to dismiss Claim No. 105774 on the basis
of, inter alia, lack of jurisdiction. Specifically, defendant argues that the
Federal Constitutional claims warrant dismissal because this Court lacks subject
matter jurisdiction over those claims and that the State Constitutional claims
warrant dismissal because a State Constitutional claim should not be implied on
the facts herein. Defendant also argues that any common law claims are
A Notice of Intention was served upon the Attorney General's office on June
22, 1999. It alleged that on March 27, 1999, at about 12:30 a.m., claimant was
"driving westbound along highway 287 toward the New York State Thruway for
approximately five minutes" with a co-worker passenger when New York State
Troopers Allen and Morgan directed claimant to pull over to the side of the road
(Defendant's Ex. A to Motion). The Notice of Intention further alleged the
following. The troopers told claimant he was pulled over because of smoke
emanating from his exhaust pipe. Upon noticing that claimant's 10 day
temporary inspection sticker had expired, claimant was ticketed for the
violation. Claimant consented to a search of his person for weapons or
contraband; nothing was found. Claimant did not consent to the subsequent
search of his vehicle, wherein the driver's door was pulled apart. Claimant was
allegedly detained for one hour and 20 minutes before being permitted to
Approximately three minutes later, the troopers again directed claimant to the
side of the road; this time due to a windshield obstruction by an air freshener
hanging from claimant's rearview mirror. The troopers inquired of claimant as
to the contents of his car's trunk and then allegedly proceeded, without
claimant's consent, to search the driver's door and under the dashboard. New
York State Trooper Sergeant Stamps then arrived and purportedly searched
claimant's person without his consent. The search was not fruitful and Stamps
asked claimant about the trunk's contents. Claimant did not consent to a search
of the trunk. Stamps purportedly told claimant that he would be handcuffed if
he did not agree to open the trunk. Stamps then allegedly cuffed claimant and
claimant offered to use a screwdriver to open the trunk because the cylinder
lock was not functioning. The troopers searched the trunk and "threw items
including [claimant's] guitar from the trunk of the car onto the road" and then
replaced the items in the trunk (Id., ¶ 2). After having been
detained for a total of approximately 60 minutes for the second stop, claimant
was permitted to leave.
The Notice of Intention alleged:
"[t]he claimant has been damaged as follows: (1) he and his property were
subjected to unreasonable searches and seizures and he seeks $15,000 to
compensate for this injury; (2) he was falsely imprisoned and he seeks $15,000
to compensate for this injury; (3) he suffered pain and suffering from assault
and battery caused by the unjustified handcuffing and he seeks $15,000 to
compensate for this injury; (4) he suffered from the intentional injury to
property including damage to his car door, dashboard, armrest and guitar and he
seeks $2,100 to compensate for this injury; (5) he suffered from the negligent
injury to his property including his car door, dashboard, armrest, and guitar
and he seeks $2,100 to compensate for this injury; and (6) he was denied equal
protection of the law and seeks $15,000 to compensate for this injury. Based
upon the information known to the claimant to date, the claimant has suffered
damages amounting to no less than $64,200"
A claim was served upon the Attorney General's office on March 18, 2002 and
filed with the Court on March 19, 2002 (Defendant's Ex. B to Motion Papers).
The claim alleged that claimant, "a black man", was subjected to an
unconstitutional search and seizure of his person and his automobile
, ¶ 2). Paragraph 22 of the claim stated that "[t]he conduct of
the State police officers described is so unreasonable that it cannot be
explained on any plausible ground except for the race of the
Thus, claimant alleged the
following Federal and State Constitutional violations:
"24. The search and seizure of Mr. Lyles, as described here, was undertaken in
violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. He seeks
$15,000 to compensate for this constitutional injury.
25. The search and seizure of Mr. Lyles, as described here, was undertaken in
violation of Article I § 12 of the New York Constitution. He seeks $15,000
to compensate for this constitutional injury.
26. The search of Mr. Lyles' automobile, as described here, was undertaken in
violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. He seeks
$2100 to compensate for this injury.
27. The search of Mr. Lyles' automobile, as described here, was undertaken in
violation of Article I § 12 of the New York Constitution. He seeks $2100
to compensate for this injury.
28. The unjustified conduct by State officials, as described here, violated the
Equal Protection Clause to the Fourteenth Amendment. Claimant seeks $15,000 to
compensate for this constitutional injury.
29. The unjustified conduct by State officials, as described here. Such
conduct violated the Equal Protection Clause of Article I § 11 of the New
York Constitution. Claimant seeks $15,000 to compensate for this constitutional
(Id.). The claim did not allege any common law tort causes of
DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS
Federal Constitutional Claims
As the Court of Appeals stated in Brown v State of New York, 89 NY2d
172, 42 USC §1983, together with 42 USC §1981, is the enabling
legislation which provides a damage remedy against State officials and some
entities for violation of Federal Constitutional rights. However, since
Monell v New York City Dept. of Social Services, 436 US 658, it has been
settled that the State is not "a person" within the meaning of §1983.
Therefore, the Court of Appeals concluded that no action will lie against the
State under §1983 or §1981 (Brown, 89 NY2d at 184-86).
Notwithstanding this well settled law under §1983, claimant invokes
Bivens v Six Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents, 403 US 388, which
established an implied cause of action against federal officials for violation
of Federal Constitutional rights. Claimant argues that the Court of Claims
should recognize a Bivens cause of action for damages against the State
for deprivation of Federal Constitutional rights. A Bivens cause of
action has already been held unavailable against a city and city officers
(see, Weimer v City of Johnstown, 249 AD2d 608). There is a lack
of authority for this Court to create a monetary cause of action against the
State based upon the Federal Constitution absent congressional or state
legislative approval and to do so would raise serious Eleventh Amendment policy
concerns (see Chemerinsky, Federal Jurisdiction, §9.1.4 [3d
ed 1999]; see also Santiago v New York State Department of
Correctional Services, 945 F2d 25 [2d Cir 1991]; Vakas v Rodriquez,
728 F2d 1293 [10th Cir 1984]; Gillum v New York State Department of
Corrections, Albany, New York, 1993 WL 158397 [US Dist Ct, SD NY 1993]).
Consequently, it would be inappropriate and unwarranted for this Court to imply
such a cause of action.
Accordingly, this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the Federal
Constitutional claims set forth in ¶¶ 24, 26, 28 of the claim;
therefore they are DISMISSED.
State Constitutional Claims
On the facts presented in Brown, the Court of Appeals held that an
implied cause of action to recover damages may be asserted against the State
for violation of the Equal Protection and Search and Seizure Clauses of the
State Constitution. However, the Court did not expressly address the issue
raised by defendant herein, i.e., whether such cause of action is available to a
claimant who has an adequate remedy at common law. Analysis of this issue
begins with the Court of Appeals reasoning in Brown that an implied
constitutional tort was recognized because it was both, "necessary and
appropriate to ensure the full realization of the rights" of the claimants under
the State Constitution (Brown, 89 NY2d at 189). This reasoning led to
the Court's holding in Martinez v City of Schenectady, 97 NY2d 78, that
the exclusion of constitutionality challenged evidence and the reversal of the
conviction was itself an adequate remedy. Therefore, the Court concluded,
"[r]ecognition of a constitutional tort claim here is neither necessary to
effectuate the purposes of the State Constitutional protections plaintiff
invokes, nor appropriate to ensure full realization of her rights
(Martinez, 97 NY2d at 83). The Court also characterized the
constitutional tort remedy established in Brown as "a narrow remedy" that
was "not boundless" (Martinez, 97 NY2d at 83). A fortiori, a monetary
common law remedy, which is essentially duplicative of a constitutional tort
remedy, is an adequate remedy and other courts have already so held (see
Augat v State of New York, 244 AD2d 835; Remley v State of New
York, 174 Misc 2d 523).
Additionally, the Court of Appeals reasoning in Brown drew upon the
rationale in Bivens. It is significant that subsequent United States
Supreme Court decisions have narrowed the Bivens cause of action and held
it unavailable when there is an alternative remedy or special factors that
counsel hesitation (see Schweiker v Chilicky, 487 US 412;
United States v Stanley, 483 US 669; Bush v Lucas, 462 US 367;
Chappell v Wallace, 462 US 296; see also Gail Donoghue and
Jonathan I. Edelstein, Life After Brown; The Future of State Constitutional
Tort Actions in New York, 42 NYL Sch L Rev 447, 485-88 ).
Finally, in the instant case, a beneficial effect of holding the implied
constitutional tort remedy unavailable, and relegating claimant to common law
remedies, prevents manipulation and frustration of the legislative policies
embodied in the limitation periods of Court of Claims Act §10(3)(3-b),
which are conditions of the State's waiver of sovereign immunity (see
Alston v State of New York, 97 NY2d 159).
For all the foregoing reasons and because the alleged wrongs could have been
redressed by timely interposed common law tort claims, e.g., false arrest, false
imprisonment, assault and battery, intentional injury to property, negligent
injury to property, and negligent infliction of emotional distress, this Court
holds that an implied constitutional tort remedy is not available to claimant.
Accordingly, the State Constitutional claims set forth in ¶¶ 25, 27,
29 of the claim are DISMISSED.
Claimant did not assert any common law causes of action in his claim and had
such claims been alleged, they would warrant dismissal under Court of Claims Act
§ 10(3)(3-b). These sections are jurisdictional in nature and provide
that, where a Notice of Intention is served, a claim based upon the negligent or
unintentional tort of a state officer or employee must be filed within two years
after its accrual and a claim based upon an intentional tort must be filed
within one year after its accrual (see Welch v State of New York,
286 AD2d 496; Coleman v Webb, 158 AD2d 500). Here, the claim was filed
nearly three years after its accrual.
Accordingly, defendant's motion is GRANTED in its entirety and Claim No.
105774 is DISMISSED.
September 26, 2002
Plains, New York
HON. TERRY JANE RUDERMAN
Judge of the Court of
The race of the troopers was not set forth in
either the claim or the Notice of Intention.