August 30, 2013

Village appeals Lake Placid cop case


---- — LAKE PLACID — Attorneys for the village and two Lake Placid policemen have appealed a State Supreme Court civil-lawsuit decision.

The ongoing civil case alleges that two police officers, James Staats and Matthew J. Braunius, falsely arrested a college student, handcuffed and held her without formal charges and searched her property in violation of civil rights.

The early morning incident occurred in January 2012, when Taryn Stanfa, then age 20, was parked in a grocery-store parking lot outside the village limits.

Staats and Baunius approached the parked car while Stanfa was searching for her missing keys. They allegedly handcuffed her, interrogated her and a female friend and searched the vehicle and Stanfa’s purse.

Stanfa was released without charges and sought medical care for bruising related to the incident, according to affidavits in the case.

In May, State Supreme Court Justice Thomas D. Buchanan upheld seven of 11 charges alleged by Stanfa’s attorney, Matthew D. Norfolk, against the village and the two police officers.

The attorney for the village and the policemen, Jonathan M. Bernstein of the Albany law firm Goldberg Segalla LLP, claimed several charges in the case were duplicative.

Buchanan’s order and decision, filed in late July, did dismiss claims brought against the two policemen in their “official capacity” but retained claims against them as employees of Lake Placid.

“Because the Village of Lake Placid is a named defendant, (Stanfa) will have a remedy in either situation,” the judge wrote in the decision.

“If the proof shows that either officer committed a tortious act in his official capacity, then Plaintiff’s remedy will be against the village (of Lake Placid).”

The judge upheld seven charges against the village and two police officers.

Last week, Village Attorney Bernstein appealed the decision to the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court. Bernstein says State Supreme Court erred by not dismissing all claims in the complaint.

The seven charges pending against Lake Placid and its police officers are: false imprisonment, assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, unreasonable search and seizure, negligence and gross negligence, and negligent hiring and supervising by the village.

Email Kim Smith