United States District Court, D. Connecticut
BENCH TRIAL RULING
C. Hall United States District Judge
an action brought by plaintiff Ludys Nino
(“Nino”) pursuant to sections 1983 and 1988 of
title 42 of the United States Code against defendants Oliver
Doenges and Andres Sanchez, both officers in the Greenwich,
Connecticut, Police Department. Nino alleges that Officers
Doenges and Sanchez entered her home without a warrant and
conducted a search, without consent and in the absence of
exigent circumstances, in violation of the Fourth Amendment
to the United States Constitution.
case was tried to the court on September 25, 2017.
FINDINGS OF FACT
August 15, 2012, Ludys Nino called the Greenwich Police
Department and requested to speak with the chief of police
about the FBI planting probes in her house and watching her.
Nino was told that someone would call her back. Captain
Pamela Gustovich was told of Nino's call. Captain
Gustovich called Nino twice. Both times, someone picked up.
Captain Gustovich could hear breathing on the line, but no
one spoke. Captain Gustovich performed a records check on
Nino and discovered that this was not Nino's first
contact with the Greenwich Police. In the months preceding
August 15, Nino had voiced a range of complaints to the
police, including a complaint in April that someone had put
poison in her juice; complaints in May and July that someone
was putting radiation in her house that was making her feel
sick; and another complaint in July that her roommate had
inserted a microchip in her body.
Gustovich dispatched Greenwich Police Officers Oliver Doenges
and Andres Sanchez to Nino's address at 25 Alexander
Street, Greenwich, Connecticut, to check on Nino's
welfare. The dispatcher who called Officer Sanchez
told him to contact the desk officer, Sergeant Reeves, for
background on the visit to Nino. Sergeant Reeves told Officer
Sanchez that Nino had called the police, described Nino's
response to Captain Gustovich's calls, and explained that
Captain Gustovich wanted Officer Sanchez to check on
Sanchez had met Nino twice before. The first time, she had
come to the police station to file a report about her phones
being tapped and the FBI's unresponsiveness when she had
contacted them. She had also complained of an unjustified
foreclosure on her house. The second time, a little over a
month before the visit at issue in this case, Officer Sanchez
went to Nino's residence with another officer in response
to a call Nino had placed to the police department. At that
time, Nino complained that someone was shooting radiation
into her home and referred to a microchip in her body.
arriving at Nino's address, Officer Sanchez waited for
Officer Doenges to arrive and then knocked on Nino's
door. When Nino opened the door, the defendants, who were
wearing police uniforms, identified themselves as police
officers. Officer Sanchez asked if they could come in and
speak to her. Nino said yes and invited the officers in. She
walked down the hallway and the defendants followed her,
eventually arriving in the kitchen area. When they reached
the kitchen, Officer Sanchez told Nino that Captain Gustovich
had been trying to reach her and that the defendants had come
on a welfare check. Nino became insulted because she
understood Officer Sanchez to be saying that she was on
welfare. Officer Sanchez clarified that he meant that he and
Officer Doenges had come on a welfare check to make sure Nino
was okay, not that she was on welfare payments, and asked if
there was any way he could help her.
told the defendants that people were shooting radiation
through the house during the night and that her phones were
tapped. She also said she was being physically assaulted at
night. She said she did not go to the hospital because people
following her could hack the systems and see her information.
Officer Sanchez observed tin foil wrapped around the
chandelier around her bed, which Nino had explained during
Officer Sanchez's visit the previous month was to prevent
radiation from reaching her. Officer Sanchez asked Nino if
she would like him to call medics for her, but she declined.
While they were in Nino's home, the defendants observed
the condition of rooms visible from the hallway as they
walked to and from the kitchen, and the state of the kitchen.
Noting the absence of any visible food in the kitchen,
Officer Doenges opened the refrigerator to see if Nino had
basic provisions, which he observed she did. The defendants
concluded that Nino was not a threat to herself based on the
orderliness of her home and the food in the refrigerator.
They provided her with service cards and left the residence.
After departing, the defendants documented their visit and
attempted to contact Nino's son and social services.
the defendants and Nino spoke calmly throughout the
interaction, beginning at the front door and while in
Nino's house. The only exception was Nino's
aggravation when she thought she had been mistaken as being
on welfare. At no time did the defendants raise their voices
or intimidate Nino. Nino did not ask the defendants to leave
at any point or to stop what they were doing. The visit
lasted for approximately 20 minutes.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
1983 of Title 42 is a mechanism to seek damages for the
deprivation of constitutional rights by state actors.
See 42 U.S.C. § 1983. To prove a claim under
section 1983, the conduct complained of “must have been
committed by a person acting under color of state law”
and “must have deprived a person of rights, privileges
or immunities secured by the Constitution or laws of the
United States.” Cornejo v. Bell, 592 F.3d 121,
127 (2d Cir. 2010).
is no dispute that defendants were acting under color of
state law as members of the Greenwich, Connecticut Police
Department. Thus, the inquiry centers on ...