Police Had No "Special Duty" to Protect Student Shot on Way Home From High School

Case: Melvon Moore v. The City of New York

Court: Supreme Court, Kings County

Date: July 30, 2013

From: New York attorney Gary E. Rosenberg (personal injury and accident attorney and lawyer; serving Brooklyn and Queens; Queens injury attorney)

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Facts: This sad injury case made the newspapers. The Court=s decision turns on whether the NYPD had a "special duty" to protect this shooting victim.

Plaintiff was a student in high school when attacked by a group of boys on his way home. He took a short beating; the attackers ran when they heard police sirens. The police spoke to the plaintiff, who took off running after one of the young men who had attacked him. The two began to fight.

The attacker's friends showed up in force and chased the young victim for a few blocks. Two police cars pulled up and cornered the plaintiff and his attackers. The police yelled at everyone to break it up and drove away.

Plaintiff was shot in the back and paralyzed below the waist.

Plaintiff and the defense (the City of New York and NYPD) each ask the Court for summary judgment against the other.

The issue: Did the police assume a "special duty" that made plaintiff's situation more dangerous?

Plaintiff argues: The NYPD assumed a special duty to plaintiff when they responded to the first assault and moved the crowd. When he later saw the police cars, he felt safe. Then the police drove away.

Defense argues: No special protection was promised to this victim upon which he could have relied.

Held: Plaintiff had no reason to believe that the police undertook a "special duty" to protect him. He never asked the responding officers for help and the officers did not speak to him alone --- they just told everyone on the street to go home.

Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment is denied. The City's motion for summary judgment is granted and this case is dismissed.

Given the serious nature of plaintiff's injury (paralyzed), I suspect there will be an appeal.

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