United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON DEFENDANTS' PARTIAL MOTION TO
MICHAEL P. SHEA U.S.D.J.
Neelu Pal filed suit against various officers in the Wilton
Police Department (Robert Cipolla, Robert Smaldone, Michael
Tyler, and Scott Sear), emergency medical personnel from
Wilton Ambulance (Daniel Monahan and Richard Janes), and the
Town of Wilton. (ECF No. 49). Pal's claims arise out of
the search of her home and her arrest, detention, and
prosecution. Pal alleges (1) deprivation of civil rights
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (count one); (2) excessive force
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (count two); (3) unlawful search
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (count three); (4) malicious
prosecution under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (count four); (5)
malicious abuse of process under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (count
five); (6) municipal liability under 42 U.S.C. § (count
six); (7) conspiracy to violate civil rights (count seven);
(8) assault and battery (count eight); (9) negligent
infliction of emotional distress (count nine); (10)
intentional infliction of emotional distress (count ten);
(11) theft and larceny (count eleven); and (12) negligence
(count twelve). (Id.). Defendants Cipolla, Smaldone,
Tyler, Sear, and the Town of Wilton (collectively,
“Defendants”) moved to dismiss all state law
claims for failure to complete service within the applicable
statute of limitations, but later conceded that the state law
claims were not time barred. I therefore DENY the motion to
dismiss as to the state law claims. Defendants also moved to
dismiss the municipal liability claim for failure to state a
claim. For the reasons discussed below, the motion to dismiss
the municipal liability claim is GRANTED.
following facts are drawn from the second amended complaint,
(ECF No. 49), and are accepted as true for the purpose of
deciding the Defendants' motion to dismiss.
April 2015, Pal observed the owner of her son's school
and other adults “improperly observing and/or
photographing [her] son and other children while the children
were undressed and in a bathroom” at the Goddard School
of Wilton (“Goddard School”). (Id. at
¶ 20). Pal contacted the owner's wife, Debbie Lee,
to express her concerns about this incident. (Id.).
After Pal reported her concerns, Ms. Ahmad
(“Ahmad”), an employee of Goddard School,
repeatedly contacted Pal. (Id. at ¶ 21). Ahmad
called Pal and “stated threateningly” that Pal
needed to come to the school to “‘witness'
what Ms. Ahmad intended to do to Debbie Lee and/or . . . the
Goddard School.” (Id. at ¶ 22).
April 29, 2015, Pal observed someone driving past her home
and through her driveway repeatedly; she believed it was
Ahmad. (Id. at ¶ 26). Pal dialed 911 to reach
the Wilton Police Department and reported “suspicious
activity near [her] home; improper, voyeuristic and sexually
abusive conditions that involved [her] son and other children
at her son's preschool . . . and a threatening statement
made to [her] by an employee of [her son's
school].” (Id. at ¶ 19). Pal was put on
hold for long periods of time and her calls were terminated
by the Wilton Police Department. (Id. at ¶ 29).
Pal alleges that when she reported her complaint, an
unidentified police officer told her “in a threatening
tone ‘you cannot make trouble for Debbie
Lee.'” (Id. at ¶ 30). Pal,
“frustrated by the inappropriate response, ” used
profanity to address Cipolla. (Id. at ¶ 31).
Cipolla called Pal back and told her the police were coming
to her house. (Id. at ¶ 32). Pal contends that
Cipolla, Smaldone, and Tyler went to her house to arrest her
without a warrant or probable cause. (Id. at ¶
remained inside her home when the officers arrived.
(Id. at ¶ 36). She asked the officers for
identification, which they refused to provide. (Id.
at ¶ 36). The officers approached Pal in a
“physically threatening manner” and Pal closed
the door of her home. (Id. at ¶¶ 36-37).
The officers forced open the door and entered Pal's home
without permission or a warrant and arrested her.
(Id. at ¶ 38). Pal repeatedly told them to
“get out of [her] house.” (Id. at ¶
39). When Pal asked why she was being arrested, Smaldone said
“words to the effect of ‘we told you to stop
calling.'” (Id. at ¶ 40).
Smaldone, and Tyler “physically and violently
dragged” Pal out of her home. (Id. at ¶
41). They handcuffed, searched, and “repeatedly and
forcefully grop[ed] [Pal's] breast, ” and then
forced Pal into the rear of the police cruiser. (Id.
at ¶ 41). Pal did not resist or threaten the officers.
(Id. at ¶ 42). During the encounter, Tyler
referred to Pal as “[M]uslim bitch” and Smaldone
made other derogatory comments toward Pal and threatened to
use his taser on her. (Id. at ¶ 44). Pal's
four-year-old son ran frantically between the police cars and
Pal heard the officers tell strangers that they were looking
for someone to take Pal's son because they were going to
“take [Pal] away.” (Id. at ¶ 46).
Cipolla and Smaldone called an ambulance. (Id. at
¶ 47). At approximately 2:40 p.m., Cipolla, Smaldone,
and Tyler, along with emergency medical personnel, Monahan
and Janes, handcuffed Pal and restrained her inside the
ambulance. (Id. at ¶ 48). Monahan, Janes, and
Smaldone then “removed portions of her clothing, and
subjected her to physical assault and sexual assault.”
(Id. at ¶ 49). They also injected a substance
into Pal's arm. (Id. at ¶ 50). Because of
the injection, Pal lost consciousness for a period of time in
the ambulance. (Id. at ¶ 52). On the way to the
hospital, the ambulance made multiple stops. (Id. at
¶ 51). Pal was released about four hours after she
arrived at the emergency room. (Id. at ¶ 53).
that day, Cipolla, Tyler, and Smaldone entered Pal's home
without a warrant, permission or purpose. (Id. at
¶ 56). Cipolla conducted a search upstairs in Pal's
home. (Id. at ¶ 56). Pal's child witnessed
Cipolla opening drawers and closets and removing contents
from within them. (Id.). Upon returning home, Pal
discovered that she was missing $404 and gold jewelry worth
over $4, 000. (Id.). Pal contends that the officers
took the money and jewelry during their search.
on April 29, 2015, Cipolla, Tyler, and Smaldone, as well as
“other unknown persons, ” used their personal
cellphones to discuss Pal. (Id. at ¶ 59).
During one call, Cipolla said “we pulled her out (of
the home), and toughed her up [sic] like we were arresting
her.” (Id. at ¶ 60). Later, the officers
were recorded on a body microphone talking about how to
create false incident reports. (Id. at ¶ 61).
One of the officers said: “we can say we were here for
investigation [sic] and put her in handcuffs.”
(Id.). Pal alleges that the officers falsified
documents and testimony against her. (Id. at ¶
63). On May 25, 2015, Pal demanded in writing that the Wilton
Police Department preserve audio and video from April 29,
2015 as well as any subsequent recordings related to the
events of that day. (Id. at ¶ 62).
about June 1, 2015, Smaldone and Monahan “created
affidavits that contained false statements and information
to support a warrant” for Pal's arrest.
(Id. at ¶ 63). Pal contends that the officers
“prepared false, fraudulent and misleading incident
reports, and made false, fraudulent, and misleading
statements to their superior officers and to the prosecuting
attorney.” (Id.). On June 7, 2015, Pal was
arrested and charged with “misuse of 911 in violation
of CGS § 53-182d” as well as “assault on
safety personnel in violation of CGS § 53a-167c”
and “attempted assault on safety personnel in violation
of CGS § 53a-49.” (Id. at ¶ 64).
August 18, 2015, Pal submitted a written complaint to Chief
Crosby and Sargent Tunney of the Wilton Police Department
about the actions of Cipolla, Smaldone, Tyler, Monahan, and
Janes. (Id. at ¶ 65). At the time she filed her
second amended complaint, Pal had not received any
information about the status of her complaint or whether a
complaint No. had been assigned. (Id. at
March 6, 2017, Pal missed a hearing in her criminal case, and
the court charged her with failure to appear and issued a $5,
000 non-surety bond. (Id. at ¶¶ 70-72).
Pal voluntarily turned herself in to the Wilton Police
Department and when she tried to leave, Cipolla and Sears
“detained, threatened, assaulted, imprisoned and
forcibly prevented” her from leaving the station unless
she paid them $5, 000 in cash. (Id. at ¶ 73).
On May 10, 2017, the State's Attorney abandoned the
charges of misuse of 911, assault on a safety personnel, and
attempted assault on a safety personnel. (Id. at
¶ 75). On May 10, 2017 the State's Attorney
“entered a long form substitute charge of infraction of
creating a public ...