University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
view search results
page permalink
Case Name Encarnacion v. City of New York CJ-NY-0013
Docket / Court 1:16-cv-00156-DLC ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Case Summary
On January 8, 2016, plaintiffs filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to recover property seized by the NYPD after an arrest. The individual plaintiff was arrested in November 2014, and his iPhone and $1,399 in wages were seized by police. In his ... read more >
On January 8, 2016, plaintiffs filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to recover property seized by the NYPD after an arrest. The individual plaintiff was arrested in November 2014, and his iPhone and $1,399 in wages were seized by police. In his criminal case, which was dismissed in May 2015, he was represented by the Bronx Defenders, who are the second plaintiff to this lawsuit. The Bronx Defenders, a non-profit organization that provides criminal defense and civil legal services to law-income people in the Bronx, also assists hundreds of clients every year who are attempting to retrieve property seized pursuant to an arrest. Together they brought this lawsuit against the City of New York under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the City violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, inter alia. The plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief as well as compensatory damages for the individual plaintiff for the monies seized from him at his arrest, the replacement costs for his iPhone, and all applicable interest.

According to the complaint, after a person is arrested, the NYPD routinely seizes his or her personal property and records it in a computerized invoice system that tracks and categorizes it. Once the criminal case against that individual is terminated, and the time to appeal has lapsed, the U.S. Constitution mandates that the government demonstrate a new legal basis to retain the property. However in practice, the NYPD often retains property and refuses to release it until claimants obtain a "DA Release," even where all charges have been dismissed and sealed. In the Bronx, the District Attorney's Office frequently fails to respond to requests for DA Releases and the City does not provide an alternate recourse or assistance. The plaintiffs here alleged in the complaint that they tried numerous times - via voicemails, letters, and in-person requests - to obtain the property seized by the NYPD with no success. They subsequently filed this complaint against the city.

On May 17, 2016, U.S. District Court Judge Denise L. Cote signed an order referring this case to a magistrate judge for settlement and the settlement discussions were to take place in June. However, on June 3, 2016, the plaintiffs filed their first amended complaint, which added two additional individual plaintiffs who experienced similar property loss by the NYPD and provided more facts as to the NYPD's process of returning property seized after an arrest. Five days later, the plaintiffs filed a motion for class certification.

On July 25, 2016, the parties agreed to stay all proceedings through February 28, 2017 to work toward a possible settlement. Accordingly, on the same day Judge Cote ordered that the plaintiffs' motion for class certification be denied without prejudice to renewal upon the expiration of the six-month stay. This case is ongoing.

Saeeda Joseph-Charles - 12/01/2016


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Unreasonable search and seizure
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
General
Forfeiture
Pattern or Practice
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) City of New York
Plaintiff Description Individuals whose property was seized by the NYPD during an arrest and wrongfully withheld by the NYPD even after their criminal cases were dismissed, and The Bronx Defenders who represented these individuals in their criminal cases.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
  Philadelphia Forfeiture
http://ij.org/case/philadelphia-forfeiture/
Date: Aug. 11, 2014
By: Institute for Justice (Institute for Justice)
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
1:16-cv-00156 (S.D.N.Y.)
CJ-NY-0013-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/24/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
CJ-NY-0013-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/08/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Complaint [ECF# 31]
CJ-NY-0013-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/03/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum of Law in Support of Plaintiffs' Motion to Certify a Class Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 [ECF# 33]
CJ-NY-0013-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/08/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Cote, Denise (S.D.N.Y.)
CJ-NY-0013-9000
Francis, James C. IV (S.D.N.Y.) [Magistrate]
CJ-NY-0013-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Brenner, Eric (New York)
CJ-NY-0013-0002 | CJ-NY-0013-0003 | CJ-NY-0013-9000
Kolodin, Zachary J. F. (New York)
CJ-NY-0013-0002 | CJ-NY-0013-0003
Kovel, Mariana Louise (New York)
CJ-NY-0013-0001 | CJ-NY-0013-0002 | CJ-NY-0013-0003 | CJ-NY-0013-9000
Shoop, Adam Nicholas (New York)
CJ-NY-0013-0001 | CJ-NY-0013-0002 | CJ-NY-0013-0003 | CJ-NY-0013-9000
Steinberg, Johanna B. (New York)
CJ-NY-0013-0001 | CJ-NY-0013-0002 | CJ-NY-0013-0003 | CJ-NY-0013-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Horowitz, Aviva Yocheved (New York)
CJ-NY-0013-9000

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
view search results
page permalink

- top of page -