University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Woods v. City of New York PN-NY-0022
Docket / Court 1:09-cv-00598 ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Policing
Case Summary
On January 21, 2009, an inmate at Rikers Island filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York under 42 U.S.C. §1983 against the City of New York. The plaintiff, represented by private counsel, asked the court for monetary damages as well as an award of ... read more >
On January 21, 2009, an inmate at Rikers Island filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York under 42 U.S.C. §1983 against the City of New York. The plaintiff, represented by private counsel, asked the court for monetary damages as well as an award of costs and attorneys fees, claiming that Officers of the New York City Department of Corrections in their official capacity intentionally subjected the plaintiff to excessive force, assault and battery, and deprivation of liberty.

At the time of the incident, the plaintiff was in custody at Rikers Island as a pre-trial detainee and was awaiting trial for the murder of police officer Russel Timoshenko. The plaintiff alleges that on October 26, 2007, on the order of their Captain, four corrections officers searched his cell and that the search failed to reveal any contraband. The officers then performed a strip search, which also failed to result in any contraband. After a few hours, the plaintiff claims that the guards returned to perform a second strip search. At that time, the plaintiff asked why he needed to be strip searched again and put his arm on top of the holding pen lock.

In response, the guards repeatedly jabbed the key into the lock until the plaintiff removed his hand. The five guards then entered the plaintiff's cell, handcuffed him, and proceeded to punch the plaintiff in the ribs, kick him repeatedly, beat him with handcuffs meant to bind prisoners' feet, and called the plaintiff "a fucking cop killer," a "black stupid monkey," and told the plaintiff that they should kill him. The plaintiff lost consciousness during the assault. When he later came to, Emergency Medical Services transferred the plaintiff to Elmhurst Hospital where he received multiple x-rays to his chest, pelvis and fingers, as well as CT SCANS of his head, spine, pelvis and chest.

The plaintiff was found to have suffered various fractures to his face, bruising and hemorrhaging to his left eye, a laceration above his right eye, a broken nose, a spinal fracture, and a chipped incisor tooth. The plaintiff brought suit, alleging that the guards used excessive and unnecessary force for no penological purpose when they repeatedly hit, punched and kicked the plaintiff while he was handcuffed. The plaintiff requested a jury trial, where he sought monetary damages (special, compensatory and punitive) against the defendant, as well as an award of costs and attorneys' fees and any other relief the Court deemed proper.

The City of New York also demanded a jury trial, which began on August 15, 2011 and concluded on August 24, 2011. The jury deliberated for five hours and returned a verdict in favor of the defendants. On September 7, 2011, Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein decreed that the plaintiff's civil suit was dismissed.

Kayla Arslanian - 04/08/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Assault/abuse by staff
Excessive force
Personal injury
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) City of New York
City of New York
Plaintiff Description Inmate at Rikers Island Correctional Facility
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2011
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Federal Enforcement of Police Reform
By: Stephen Rushin (University of Illinois College of Law, University of California, Berkeley - Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program )
Citation: 82 Fordham Law Review 3189 (2014)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Panopticism for Police: Structural Reform Bargaining and Police Regulation by Data-Driven Surveillance
By: Mary D. Fan (University of Washington)
Citation: Forthcoming, 87 Washington L. Rev. __ (2012).
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  What Happens When Police Are Forced to Reform?
Written: Nov. 13, 2015
By: Kimbriell Kelly, Sarah Childress and Steven Rich (Frontline/Post)
Citation: Washington Post (Nov. 13, 2015)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:09-cv-00598 (S.D.N.Y.) 11/18/2011
PN-NY-0022-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 01/21/2009
PN-NY-0022-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint 01/28/2009
PN-NY-0022-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judgment 09/08/2011 (S.D.N.Y.)
PN-NY-0022-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Bill of Costs 11/18/2011 (S.D.N.Y.)
PN-NY-0022-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Hellerstein, Alvin K. (S.D.N.Y.)
PN-NY-0022-0004 | PN-NY-0022-0005 | PN-NY-0022-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Conti-Cook, Cynthia H. (New York)
PN-NY-0022-0001 | PN-NY-0022-0002 | PN-NY-0022-9000
Stoll, Andrew B. (New York)
PN-NY-0022-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Deitch, Adam W. (New York)
PN-NY-0022-9000
Francolla, Brian C Mr. (New York)
PN-NY-0022-9000
Stockman, Benjamin E. Mr. (New York)
PN-NY-0022-9000
Weng, Jenny Sue-Ya Ms. (New York)
PN-NY-0022-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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