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Golodner v. Martinez

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

December 21, 2017



          Michael P. Shea, U.S.D.J.

         Following their romance, the relationship between Daniel Golodner and Linnette Baez Rivera soured, and they secured court orders of protection against each other. When they both thereafter made complaints to Groton Town police officers about each other, the defendant officers allegedly refused to investigate Golodner's claims against Baez Rivera while thoroughly investigating her claims against him. Golodner alleges that this amounted to the defendants' taking his claims less seriously than those from similarly situated women and that this treatment was motivated by discriminatory animus based on gender in violation of his Fourteenth Amendment right of equal protection. The defendants have moved for summary judgment. They argue that the undisputed material facts show that they did not discriminate against Golodner on the basis of his gender. For the reasons that follow, I agree.

         I. Background[1]

         After they stopped dating, Golodner and Baez Rivera both secured court orders of protection against each other. (ECF Nos. 25-2 at ¶¶ 1, 2, 7, 25-3 at 7, 26-1 at 1 ¶¶ 1, 2, 7.) Specifically, Golodner obtained two orders of protection from the Superior Court at New London: (1) a civil order of protection, on October 17, 2014, which protected him from assault, harassment, following, interfering, or stalking by Baez Rivera; and (2) a criminal order of protection, on November 10, 2014, which protected him from contact, assault, threatening, abuse, harassment, following, interference, or stalking by Baez Rivera and ordered her to stay 100 yards away from him at all times. (ECF No. 26-1 at 4-5, ¶¶ 1-2.) The criminal order of protection also included a direction that Baez Rivera was not to “contact the protected person[, Golodner, ] in any manner, including written, electronic or telephone contact, and . . . not [to] contact [his] home, workplace or others with whom the contact would be likely to cause annoyance or alarm to [him].” (ECF No. 26-4 at 2.) Baez Rivera also secured a protective order against Golodner, ECF No. 25-3 at 7, but that document is not part of the summary judgment record.

         On October 13, 2014, Baez Rivera reported to the Groton Town Police Department (GTPD) that her vehicle had been vandalized. (ECF No. 25-7 at ¶ 4.) Officer Jason Urian, who is not a defendant, investigated this complaint. (ECF No. 25-7 at 5.) He visited the scene and observed several deep scratches on her vehicle, a shattered right mirror, and a deflated right front tire. (Id. at ¶ 4.) Baez Rivera stated that she believed that either one of two men was responsible. She had previously dated both of them, and she had secured protective orders against both. (Id.) One of them was Daniel Golodner. (Id.) Baez Rivera did not make a claim that Golodner had violated her protective order. Instead, she reported damage to her vehicle, Urian instituted a criminal mischief investigation, and Baez Rivera gave Urian the names of the two men, one of whom she believed was responsible. (Id., ECF No. 25-7 at 5.) Urian called both men, and he spoke with Golodner the next day. (Id. at ¶ 5.) Golodner stated that he had nothing to say. (Id.)

         On October 16, 2014, Urian took a complaint from Golodner, who stated that he had a protective order against Baez Rivera that she had violated by sending him an offensive email. (ECF No. 25-7 at ¶ 6.)[2] Golodner provided a copy of the email. (Id., ECF No. 25-7 at 12.) After speaking with Baez Rivera, Urian applied for an arrest warrant for Baez Rivera for violation of Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 53a-223b, Violation of a Restraining Order, and called Golodner to tell him that. (Id. at 14.)

         On December 18, 2014, Baez Rivera again reported to the GTPD that her car had been damaged. (ECF Nos. 25-2 at ¶ 27, 25-5 at ¶ 5, 26-1 at ¶ 27.) Again, she did not claim that Golodner had violated her protective order. (ECF No. 25-5 at ¶¶ 1-7.) Officer Martinez, after responding to the report of criminal mischief, observed physical damage to the gas cap of Baez Rivera's car and several scratches on the car. (ECF Nos. 25-5 at 7, 9.) According to Martinez's incident report, “[w]hen asked who could have done this, Baez named [another man] and Daniel Golodner as possible suspects.” (ECF No. 25-5 at 9, see also ECF Nos. 25-2 at ¶ 28, 26-1 at ¶ 28.) She told Martinez she had had extra-marital affairs with both men in the recent past, and that she had a protective order against Golodner. (ECF No. 25-5 at ¶ 9.) Martinez investigated both men. (ECF Nos. 25-2 at ¶ 29, 26-1 at ¶ 29.) Golodner resented Martinez's questioning and felt that he was being harassed by this investigation. (ECF Nos. 25-2 at ¶ 30, 26-1 at ¶ 30.) Martinez explained to Golodner that he was doing his job and that he could not disregard Baez Rivera's information about potential suspects. (ECF Nos. 25-2 at ¶ 31, 26-1 at ¶ 31.) On December 20, 2014, Martinez returned a call from Golodner, and Golodner apologized for being abrasive on the phone in the past: he explained that he was frustrated and still had feelings for Baez Rivera. (ECF No. 25-2 at ¶ 32, 26-1 at ¶ 32.)

         On December 24, 2014, Martinez received an envelope from Golodner, which contained a handwritten note stating that it was a counter-complaint against Baez Rivera. (ECF Nos. 25-2 at ¶ 33, 26-1 at ¶ 33.) Later that day, Martinez spoke with Golodner. (ECF Nos. 25-2 at ¶ 34, 26-1 at ¶ 34.) Golodner stated that he was being “harassed” by the GTPD “via [Baez Rivera]'s false complaints.” (Id.) Martinez again “explained that he had to investigate . . . Golodner, as well as the other man identified by [Baez Rivera].” (Id.) He told Golodner that he “did not have any information that the criminal mischief complaint . . . was false.” (ECF Nos. 25-2 at ¶ 35, 26-1 at ¶ 35.) When Martinez asked how Baez Rivera was harassing Golodner in violation of the protective order, Golodner cited only the fact that she was filing complaints against him with the GTPD; he cited no instances in which she directly contacted him. (ECF No. 25-2 at ¶ 37, 25-3 at 8-11.)[3]Martinez did not commence an investigation of Baez Rivera. (ECF Nos. 25-2 at ¶ 38, 26-1 at ¶ 38.) Golodner was not arrested on the basis of Baez Rivera's complaint. (Id.)

         On March 26, 2015, Golodner again contacted the GTPD. (ECF Nos. 25-2 at ¶ 42, 25-6 at ¶ 4, 26-1 at ¶ 42.) Golodner spoke with Officer Kenyon, and he once again expressed that he wanted to file a complaint against Baez Rivera for violating the protective order. (ECF Nos. 25-2 at ¶¶ 40-42, ECF No. 26-1 at ¶¶ 40-42.) “Golodner complained that police contacting him regarding criminal investigations he believed to be false is a violation of a protective order he has against [Baez Rivera].” (ECF No. 25-6 at 6.) But “[w]hen he lodged th[is] complaint . . ., [Golodner] admitted that he had no evidence that [Baez Rivera] was contacting him directly in violation of the protective order.” (ECF Nos. 25-2 at ¶ 42, 26-1 at ¶ 42.)[4] Kenyon told Golodner that if an investigation indicated that any of Baez Rivera's complaints were false, she would be investigated and arrested if appropriate. (ECF Nos. 25-2 at ¶ 43, 26-1 at ¶ 43.) Golodner told Kenyon that he would sue the department for not hearing his complaint and left “upset and shouting obscenities.” (ECF Nos. 25-2 at ¶ 44, 26-1 at ¶ 44.) Golodner states that Kenyon refused to take his complaint, laughed at him and mocked him, and was rude, condescending, and disrespectful. (ECF No. 26-2 at 3.)

         Golodner states that, in all, he was contacted at least ten times by the GTPD to investigate Baez Rivera's “false complaints” against him, although he provides no details about these complaints and does not specify how many of them involved the three defendants. (ECF No. 26-2 at ¶ 4.) He also states that he spoke with Lieutenant Bee of the GTPD “about defendant Martinez's refusal to investigate his complaint and [that] defendant Bee refused to entertain the complaint.” (ECF No. 26-1 at 5, ¶ 5.) Golodner claims that Baez Rivera called him and told him “she knew the defendants would not do anything to her if she violated the protective orders against her.” (ECF Nos. 26-1 at 5, ¶ 8, 26-2 at ¶ 12.) Golodner does not present any evidence that he reported this phone call to the defendants.

         II. Legal Standard

         Summary judgment is appropriate only when “the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving parties-here, the defendants-bear the burden of demonstrating that no genuine issue exists as to any material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-25 (1986). “A dispute regarding a material fact is genuine if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Williams v. Utica Coll. of Syracuse Univ., 453 F.3d 112, 116 (2d Cir. 2006) (quotation marks omitted). “The substantive law governing the case will identify those facts that are material, and only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment.” Bouboulis v. Transp. Workers Union of Am., 442 F.3d 55, 59 (2d Cir. 2006) (internal citations and alterations omitted).

         If the moving party carries its burden, “the opposing party must come forward with specific evidence demonstrating the existence of a genuine dispute of material fact.” Brown v. Eli Lilly & Co., 654 F.3d 347, 358 (2d Cir. 2011). The Court considers all facts “in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party”-here, the plaintiff-after drawing “all reasonable inferences in his favor.” Sologub v. City of New York, 202 F.3d 175, 178 (2d Cir.2000) (quotation marks omitted).

         III. ...

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