Case: Clark v. City of New York

1:18-cv-02334 | U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York

Filed Date: March 16, 2018

Case Ongoing

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On March 16, 2018, the nonprofit Turning Point for Women and Families and individuals who were forced to remove their religious head coverings for post-arrest photographs while in the custody of the New York Police Department filed this class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The plaintiffs sued the City of New York under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), § 1983 for violations of plaintiffs’ right to freely exercise…

On March 16, 2018, the nonprofit Turning Point for Women and Families and individuals who were forced to remove their religious head coverings for post-arrest photographs while in the custody of the New York Police Department filed this class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The plaintiffs sued the City of New York under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), § 1983 for violations of plaintiffs’ right to freely exercise their religion under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and New York state law. The plaintiffs, represented by Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP and the Council for American-Islamic Relations New York Inc., sought injunctive relief against the challenged policy, an order stipulating the adoption of non-discriminatory post-arrest photography policy, declaratory judgment, compensatory and punitive damages, and attorney’s fees. The plaintiffs also asked the court to certify the class as all individuals who were forced to remove their religious head coverings for post-arrest photographs while in NYPD custody. Judge Robert W. Sweet was first assigned and then replaced with Judge Analisa Torres.

Specifically, the lawsuit alleged that the NYPD enacted and maintained a policy of forcing individuals who wore head coverings as part of their religion to remove these coverings in order to take booking photos after being arrested and that these photos were then stored in and easily accessible NYPD database. The plaintiffs claimed that this policy violated RLUIPA and the Free Exercise Clause because it placed a substantial and undue burden on protected religious practices. In addition, they said that the forced removal of religious head coverings could be a distressing experience, and, in some cases, required individuals to violate their own religion. They further claimed that these policies were not only discriminatory and unnecessary, but that they were out of step with nationwide policies regarding post-arrest photographs.

The City of New York filed a motion to dismiss on June 13, 2018, arguing that the plaintiffs lacked standing and failed to state a claim. Both parties filed supplemental points regarding the motion, but oral arguments were delayed based on talks of settlement agreements between the parties. On January 23, 2019, the court opened discovery and approved the parties’ jointly submitted discovery plan on February 1, 2019.

On March 24, 2019, the presiding judge passed away and the case was reassigned to Judge Judge Analisa Torres, with all urgent and routine case management matters assigned to Magistrate Judge Kathrine H. Parker. Discovery resumed on June 19, 2019. During this time, settlement talks were still ongoing. On January 16, 2020, this case was related to Elsayed v. City of New York, No. 18-cv-10566, another case involving forced removal of religious head coverings while in NYPD custody proceeding in the Southern District of New York.

The court largely denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss on September 30, 2020. However, the court dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims for punitive damages because the plaintiffs conceded that the City is immune from punitive damages. One of the plaintiff’s claims for compensatory damages was dismissed for failure to file a timely notice of claim.

The parties reached a partial settlement agreement in late October, and the court approved it on November 5, 2020. This settlement included the plaintiffs and defendants both in this case and in Elsayed. Under the agreement, the City agreed to make changes to its Patrol Guide regarding its post-arrest photography policy. The agreement also awarded reasonable fees to the plaintiffs’ attorneys. It did not resolve the monetary claims of the organizational or personal plaintiffs in this case, although the parties in the Elsayed case came to a separate settlement agreement concerning monetary damages.

On February 16, 2021, the court granted the plaintiff’s motion for class certification as "a class consisting of all persons who were required to remove religious head coverings for post-arrest photographs while in NYPD custody". The case is ongoing.

Summary Authors

Michael Cronin (3/7/2021)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/6421747/parties/clark-v-city-of-new-york/


Judge(s)

Parker, Katherine H. (New York)

Torres, Analisa Nadine (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Aboushi, Tahanie (New York)

Arena, Marc (New York)

Brinckerhoff, Matthew D. (New York)

Cahn, Albert Fox (New York)

Droubi, Luna (New York)

Fraser Wilson, Ogilvie Andrew (New York)

Freeman, Emma L. (New York)

Moore, Jonathan C. (New York)

Judge(s)

Parker, Katherine H. (New York)

Torres, Analisa Nadine (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Aboushi, Tahanie (New York)

Arena, Marc (New York)

Brinckerhoff, Matthew D. (New York)

Cahn, Albert Fox (New York)

Droubi, Luna (New York)

Fraser Wilson, Ogilvie Andrew (New York)

Freeman, Emma L. (New York)

Moore, Jonathan C. (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Depoian, Carolyn (New York)

Dervin, James Monroe (New York)

Haider, Bilal (New York)

Mettham, Suzanna Publicker (New York)

Millar, Samantha Rena (New York)

Seligman, Rachel Amy (New York)

Weiss, Rachel Seligman (New York)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket [PACER]

Jan. 6, 2021 Docket
1

Class Action Complaint and Jury Demand

Clark v. New York

March 16, 2018 Complaint
144

Order

Sept. 30, 2020 Order/Opinion
153

Stipulation and Order of Settlement

Nov. 5, 2020 Settlement Agreement
157

Order

Feb. 16, 2021 Order/Opinion

Resources

Title Description External URL

Jamilla Clark and Arwa Aziz on Behalf of Themselves and Others Similarly Situated, and Turning Point for Women and Families -AGAINST- The City of New York

Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, Inc.

STOP and our co-counsel are pursuing a federal civil rights lawsuit to end the NYPD policy of forcing arrestees to remove religious head coverings, including turbans, wigs, hats, and the hijab. Our p… March 11, 2019 https://www.stopspying.org/hijab

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/6421747/clark-v-city-of-new-york/

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

State / Territory: New York

Case Type(s):

Policing

Key Dates

Filing Date: March 16, 2018

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

All persons who were required to remove religious head coverings for post-arrest photographs while in NYPD custody

Plaintiff Type(s):

Non-profit NON-religious organization

Private Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP

Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

City of New York (New York), City

Defendant Type(s):

Law-enforcement

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Religious Freedom Rest. Act/Religious Land Use and Inst. Persons Act (RFRA/RLUIPA)

State law

Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201

Constitutional Clause(s):

Free Exercise Clause

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Order Duration: 2020 - 2023