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Case Name Sow v. City of New York PN-NY-0059
Docket / Court 1:21-cv-00533 ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Policing
Special Collection Police Violence Protests (Spring/Summer 2020)
Case Summary
Ten New York residents, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, brought this class action against the City of New York and the New York City Police Department on January 21, 2021 in the Southern District of New York. The plaintiffs sued under 42 U.S.C § 1983 alleging excessive force ... read more >
Ten New York residents, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, brought this class action against the City of New York and the New York City Police Department on January 21, 2021 in the Southern District of New York. The plaintiffs sued under 42 U.S.C § 1983 alleging excessive force and unlawful seizure in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments; First Amendment violations, including retaliation for the exercise of First Amendment rights; and violations of the plaintiffs’ due process and equal protection rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. The plaintiffs also alleged municipal liability on the part of the City of New York. The complaint sought declaratory and injunctive relief, compensatory and punitive damages, attorneys’ fees and costs, and any other relief the Court deemed just and proper.

The complaint alleged that NYPD officers, with the approval of their supervisors, regularly engaged in the practice of using excessive force against and falsely arresting peaceful protestors during the widespread racial justice protests that took place in the summer of 2020. The complaint specifically alleged that on different occasions, officers responded to the plaintiffs’ peaceful participation in the protests with violence, including: striking plaintiffs repeatedly with batons, fists, and bicycles; tackling plaintiffs to the ground and pinning them with their bodies; indiscriminately pepper spraying plaintiffs; tightly zip-tying or handcuffing plaintiffs’ wrists for extended periods of time, causing significant pain; and kettling plaintiffs to prevent their compliance with curfew. According to the complaint, the actions taken by officers resulted in loss of circulation, lacerations, fractures, nerve damage, bruising, abrasions, sprains, debilitating pain, and emotional distress to the plaintiffs and other protesters. In addition, the complaint alleged that several of the plaintiffs were arrested and held without cause in unclean, overcrowded cells, without food, water, or medical assistance to treat their injuries. Plaintiffs further alleged that – despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic – police officers responding to protests frequently failed to wear masks or to assist detained protesters in covering their noses and mouths, and on occasion even forcibly removed protesters’ masks, exposing protesters to a heightened risk of contracting COVID-19. The plaintiffs also alleged that on numerous occasions, NYPD officers confiscated personal belongings, including cell phones and eyeglasses, and declined to return them or returned them damaged.

The case was related to People of New York v. New York and assigned to Judge Colleen McMahon. In January 2021, Judge McMahon consolidated this case with three other police conduct cases (People of New York, Payne v. De Blasio, and Wood v. De Blasio) for pre-trial purposes. On February 4, 2021, the case was referred to Magistrate Judge Gabriel W. Gorenstein. Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on March 6 that further alleged violations of the New York State Constitution and state law, including claims of assault and battery, conversion, false imprisonment and unreasonable detention, negligent training and supervision, and excessive detention. As of March 16, 2021, the case remains pending in the District Court.

Rachel Harrington - 03/16/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Freedom of speech/association
Unreasonable search and seizure
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
General
Excessive force
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
False arrest
Over/Unlawful Detention
Pepper/OC spray
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
State law
Defendant(s) City of New York
Plaintiff Description A group of ten New York City residents, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, who alleged that NYPD officers violated their constitutional rights during protests against systemic racism and police violence.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Pending
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 01/21/2021
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing PN-NY-0057 : Payne v. de Blasio (S.D.N.Y.)
PN-NY-0058 : Wood v. De Blasio (S.D.N.Y.)
PN-NY-0054 : People of New York v. New York (S.D.N.Y.)
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Class Action Civil Rights Suit Filed over Brutal NYPD Policing of BLM Protests
Beldock Levine & Hoffman LLP
Date: Aug. 20, 2019
By: Beldock Levine & Hoffman LLP
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
S.D.N.Y.
03/10/2021
1:21-cv-00533-CM
PN-NY-0059-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
S.D.N.Y.
01/21/2021
Class Action Complaint [ECF# 1]
PN-NY-0059-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
03/06/2021
First Amended Class Action Complaint [ECF# 49]
PN-NY-0059-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Gorenstein, Gabriel W. (S.D.N.Y.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PN-NY-0059-9000
McMahon, Colleen (S.D.N.Y.) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0059-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Adams, Katherine (New York) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0059-0002 | PN-NY-0059-9000
Arena, Marc (New York) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0059-0001 | PN-NY-0059-0002 | PN-NY-0059-9000
Azizi, Deema (New York) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0059-0001 | PN-NY-0059-0002 | PN-NY-0059-9000
Cohen, Elena L (New York) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0059-0001 | PN-NY-0059-0002 | PN-NY-0059-9000
Droubi, Luna (New York) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0059-0001 | PN-NY-0059-0002 | PN-NY-0059-9000
Green, J Remy (New York) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0059-0001 | PN-NY-0059-0002 | PN-NY-0059-9000
Lord, Masai (New York) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0059-0002 | PN-NY-0059-9000
Massimi, Jessica (New York) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0059-0001 | PN-NY-0059-0002 | PN-NY-0059-9000
Moore, Jonathan C. (New York) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0059-0001 | PN-NY-0059-0002 | PN-NY-0059-9000
Oliver, Gideon Orion (New York) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0059-0001 | PN-NY-0059-0002 | PN-NY-0059-9000
Pattiz, Rebecca Leigh (New York) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0059-0001 | PN-NY-0059-0002 | PN-NY-0059-9000
Powers, Regina (New York) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0059-0002 | PN-NY-0059-9000
Rankin, David Bruce (New York) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0059-0001 | PN-NY-0059-0002 | PN-NY-0059-9000
Stecklow, Wylie M (New York) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0059-0001 | PN-NY-0059-0002 | PN-NY-0059-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Weiss, Dara Lynn (New York) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0059-9000

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