Police Misconduct Cases Now Sent To Mediation in Federal Court

In October 2010, the judges for the Southern District of New York (Covering counties including Westchester, Manhattan, and the Bronx among others) voted to change its rules to allow specific categories of cases to be designated for automatic mediation. Effective August 1, 2011, excluding class actions, civil rights violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 filed in federal court in the Southern District of New York will be automatically designated for mediation. Civil rights violations under § 1983 include police misconduct, false arrest, excessive force, and malicious prosecution claims. Often, these federal claims are paired with state law causes of action of false imprisonment, assault and battery, and malicious prosecution. This has major implications for the New York City Police Department, who is named as a defendant in hundreds of lawsuits in the Southern District each year.

Most of these §1983 civil rights cases settle. This program is designed to start the settlement process as soon as possible. Setting early will reduce the total cost of litigation, saving parties thousands of dollars, and reduce volume of cases on the federal Court’s docket. Mediation is efficient, and fair to all involved. Since mediation is non-binding, the parties may still proceed forward in the normal course of litigation if early settlement talks fail.

Under the new program, both parties are required to disclose key information quickly, at the beginning of the lawsuit. All plaintiffs must now include HIPAA releases for medical records and arrest records with the summons and complaint. Within 28 days of the the defendant’s answer, the police department must exchange records from Internal Affairs, any Civilian Complaint Review Board, similar complaints involving the same defendant police officer, and key information from the defendant officer’s file. Within 45 days of the answer, the plaintiff must make a settlement demand, and within 14 days, the defendant police department must respond. Within 90 days of the answer, both parties must go to mediation. If a settlement is reached, the defendant still has 90 days to issue payment to the plaintiff.

Contact the Westchester County Personal Injury Attorneys at the Law Office Of Mark A. Siesel online or toll free at 888-761-7633 if you or a loved one has been the victim of police brutality, false arrest, malicious prosecution or other type of civil rights violation for a free consultation with an experienced trial lawyer who will fight to maximize your compensation for all of your injuries- physical, financial and emotional.