NYPD Agrees to Settlement of $18M in False Arrest Class Action Lawsuit
It has been reported in the New York Law Journal on January 15, 2014 and in the New York Times on January 16, 2014, that New York City is set to pay an $18M settlement after an extensive and brutal 10 year class action lawsuit for the wrongful arrest and detention of roughly 1,800 New Yorkers in 2004. While some individual cases still remain open, of the plaintiff’s who settled, each will, on average, receive $6,400.
On August 31, 2004 roughly 1,800 people were arrested in New York City in what the Bloomberg administration claimed as the necessary precautions for the Republic National Convention. Police made mass arrests of protesters, bystanders, and journalists for disorderly conduct and parading without a permit. Normally, these violations would be addressed with a summons, but the police adopted a no-summons policy for the Convention and instead fingerprinted and arrested the alleged violators. Many of the arrestees were detained for hours, and sometimes days, in the unsanitary conditions of the Pier 57 bus terminal, which the police transformed into a improvised holding facility.
According to The New York Law Journal, one plaintiff was arrested “while going to get a milkshake at a local fast food restaurant and then held for 50 hours on the pier.”
The City defended the NYPD claiming that they were attempting to limit the disruption of civilian protest and gave appropriate dispersal orders. Manhattan Federal Judge Richard J. Sullivan explained in his 2012 ruling that while dispersal orders are an important factor when determining probable cause, police must still make individual determinations of who has violated the law and who is simply a bystander. Essentially, police don’t have a right to arrest someone without the individual probable cause that is required by the 4th Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures. Furthermore, police may not use the artificial concept of mass probable cause to arrest a group of people.
Those who believe that they have been wrongfully arrested and/or detained for similar offenses should seek the advice of knowledgeable New York attorneys who can fight for the justice and compensation that they deserve.