WHITE PLAINS, NY (September 16, 2022) — Federal Judge Kenneth M. Karas has implemented what is known as the Section 1983 Plan and assigned a mediator to the case brought by Malik Fogg against Michael Vaccaro, and the City of New Rochelle and the New Rochelle Police Department, Joseph Schaller, Matthew Velasco, Scott Wallach and Melvin Molina,
On September 9, a Section 1983 Plan 100-Day Review was undertaken along with a Notice of Selection for Mediation. A Notice of Mediator Assignment was filed September 14.
What is Section 1983?
Section 1983 of Title 42 of the U.S. Code is part of the civil rights act of 1871. This provision was formerly enacted as part of the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 and was originally designed to combat post-Civil War racial violence in the Southern states. Reenacted as part of the Civil Rights Act, section 1983 is as of the early 2000s the primary means of enforcing all constitutional rights.
What is a Section 1983 Plan?
In 2010, the court asked a group of plaintiffs’ attorneys who routinely handle 42 U.S.C § 1983 cases and the New York City Law Department to form a working group to address the increasing number of § 1983 cases being filed and the lengthening time from complaint to disposition. The goal of the working group was to develop a pilot program to test whether the administration of justice in § 1983 litigation could be improved and whether the Court could reduce the time to disposition in the typical § 1983 cases brought against the NYPD and its officers.
On September 9, 2022, two defense attorneys filed Answers to the Fogg Complaint filed on May 14, 2022
Michael Vaccaro continues to be represented by Andrew Quinn of the Quinn Law Firm.
On September 8, John M. Murtagh of Murtagh, Cossu, Venditti & Castro-Blanco, LLP filed a notice of appearance to represent The City of New Rochelle and the New Rochelle Police Department, Joseph Schaller, Matthew Velasco, Scott Wallach and Melvin Molina,
Murtagh filed an Answer to Malik Fogg’s Complaint dated September 8, 2022. Most of the Answer is a standard denial of the allegations contained in the Fogg Complaint filed on May 14, 2022, but includes Affirmative Defenses based on doctrines of absolute immunity and qualified immunity.
Murtagh argued that “Any harm which allegedly came to plaintiff was a direct and proximate result of plaintiff’s own actions; Any force used by the defendants was reasonable, lawful and/or authorized under the circumstances; and Answering defendants had probable cause to arrest plaintiff.”
Quinn likewise offered a standard denial of the allegations contained in the Fogg Complaint while arguing that given Fogg’s failure to comply with a lawful police order to get on the ground, Vaccaro appropriately provided assistance to Officer Matthew Velasco in bringing plaintiff into custody by employing the minimum amount of force reasonable and necessary in the circumstances. More broadly, Quinn argued that Vaccaro’s use of force was reasonable and necessary in the circumstances.
Both Quinn and Murtagh argued their clients are entitled to receive reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs and that the complaint should be dismissed in its entirety
Murtagh further argued that Fogg’s lawsuit is frivolous and Fogg and/or his attorneys should have been aware that the action was frivolous at the time it was filed.