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Case Name Matthews v. City of New York PN-NY-0019
Docket / Court 1:12-cv-01354-PAE ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Policing
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Case Summary
On February 23, 2012 the plaintiff, a New York City Police Officer, filed a complaints against the City of New York, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The plaintiff, represented by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), sought ... read more >
On February 23, 2012 the plaintiff, a New York City Police Officer, filed a complaints against the City of New York, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The plaintiff, represented by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), sought compensatory damages and an injunction ordering the City of New York to cease all retaliation against the plaintiff. He claimed that his superiors at his precinct had targeted him for retaliation and harassment, because he had repeatedly complained about the use of an illegal quota system at his precinct. According to his complaint, these practices were in violation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and Art. I, § 8 of the New York State Constitution.

Specifically, the plaintiff police officer claimed that an illegal system of quotas mandating numbers of arrests, summonses, and stop-and-frisks was in use in the 42nd precinct. He alleged that police officers were under intense pressure to meet their quotas and that officers who do not meet their quotas faced punishments ranging from undesirable assignments or the loss of overtime to separation from partners and poor evaluations. He stated that on four occasions he complained to his commanding officers about the use of the quota system by his mid-level superiors, but that no action was taken to stop the practice.

As a result of his complaints, he was personally targeted by his mid-level superiors for harassment and retaliation. Specifically, in his 2010 and 2011 evaluations, he received reduced marks that put him at risk of being fired, accompanied by comments such as "[he] is argumentative and questioning regarding his assignments." He was also permanently reassigned to a new partner, unique among officers who failed to meet their quotas, and he was denied overtime, time off, and was denied the sorts of assignments that offer overtime and that officers of his seniority usually would receive.

On April 12, 2012, Judge Barbara S. Jones granted the defendants' motion to dismiss. Matthews v. City of New York, No. 12 CV 1354 (BSJ), 2012 WL 8084831 (S.D.N.Y. April 12, 2012). The court found that the plaintiff police officer was acting as an employee and not as a civilian when he notified his superiors of the quota system. Thus, the Court held his speech was not entitled to First Amendment protection.

On November 28, 2012, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed. Matthews v. City of New York, 488 Fed. Appx. 532 (2d Cir. 2012). The Court found that there was insufficient discovery to conclude that the plaintiff spoke pursuant to his official duties, and so ordered the district court to re-open the case and begin discovery proceedings in order to decide whether as a matter of law the plaintiff's speech was entitled to constitutional protection.

On remand, on July 29, 2013, Paul Adam Engelmayer of the District Court for the Southern District of New York granted summary judgment for the defendant. Matthews v. City of New York, 957 F.Supp.2d 442 (S.D.N.Y. 2013). The court found that the police officer was speaking pursuant to his official duties and therefore held that his speech was unprotected by the Constitution.

On August 1, 2013, the plaintiff appealed the summary judgment order to the Second Circuit. On February 26, 2015, the Second Circuit (Judges John M. Walker, Peter W. Hall, Garvan Murtha of the United States District Court District of Vermont, sitting by designation) vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment, finding that the plaintiff police officer's comments on precinct policy did not fall within his official duties and that he spoke as a citizen because he elected a channel with a civilian analogue to pursue his complaint. 779 F.3d 167. The Second Circuit remanded the case to the district court. The parties and the district court formed a new case management plan and the parties proceeded with fact discovery. A settlement conference was held before Magistrate Judge Debra C. Freeman on October 27, 2015.

On November 17, 2015, the parties notified the court that they had reached a verbal agreement on the material terms of a settlement. Judge Englemayer entered the parties' stipulation and order of settlement and dismissal on December 7, 2015. Under the settlement agreement, the defendant agreed: 1) to void the plaintiff police officer's 2011 evaluation's 2.5 rating and to confirm in writing that the plaintiff was no longer subject to Level 1 Command Monitoring as a result of his 2011 negative rating now deemed void; 2) to pay the plaintiff back wages of $35,582.78; 3) to pay the plaintiff compensatory damages of $125,000; and 4) to pay attorney fees of $130,000 to the NYCLU. Upon the defendants' compliance with the above terms, the action was dismissed with prejudice.

The case is now closed.

Nick Kabat - 03/09/2014
Sarah McDonald - 08/13/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
General
Grievance Procedures
Pattern or Practice
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
State law
Defendant(s) City of New York
Plaintiff Description New York City Police Officer
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Filing Year 2012
Case Closing Year 2015
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
12 CIV 1354 (S.D.N.Y.)
PN-NY-0019-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/07/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PN-NY-0019-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/23/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Motion To Dismiss [ECF# 18] (2012 WL 8084831) (S.D.N.Y.)
PN-NY-0019-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 04/12/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Vacating District Court Order and Remanding Case for Further Proceedings [ECF# 30] (S.D.N.Y.)
PN-NY-0019-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/19/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Motion For Summary Judgment [ECF# 47] (957 F.Supp.2d 442) (S.D.N.Y.)
PN-NY-0019-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/29/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion [Ct. of App. ECF# 60]
PN-NY-0019-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/26/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation and Order of Settlement and Dismissal [ECF# 67] (S.D.N.Y.)
PN-NY-0019-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/07/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Carney, Susan Laura (Second Circuit)
PN-NY-0019-0003
Engelmayer, Paul Adam (S.D.N.Y.)
PN-NY-0019-0004 | PN-NY-0019-0006 | PN-NY-0019-9000
Jones, Barbara S. (S.D.N.Y.)
PN-NY-0019-0002
Raggi, Reena (E.D.N.Y., Second Circuit)
PN-NY-0019-0003
Plaintiff's Lawyers Dunn, Christopher (New York)
PN-NY-0019-0001 | PN-NY-0019-0006 | PN-NY-0019-9000
Harrist, Erin Beth (New York)
PN-NY-0019-0006 | PN-NY-0019-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Carter, Zachary W. (New York)
PN-NY-0019-0006
Fraenkel, William S.J. (New York)
PN-NY-0019-0006 | PN-NY-0019-9000

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