By Jessica Dye
NEW YORK, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Two Brooklyn court officers
must face a lawsuit brought by a man who claimed he was falsely
arrested for speaking on his phone while waiting to go through
courthouse security, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
U.S. District Judge William Kuntz said there was a genuine
issue of fact about what happened on June 18, 2010, when Getro
Milfort was asked to end his phone call or exit the security
line at the Kings County Civil Court in Brooklyn.
The judge allowed Milfort to proceed with claims of false
arrest, false imprisonment and use of excessive force against
court officers Felix Prevete and Christopher Ferrari.
Milfort said that he left the security line when asked by
the officers, according to the ruling. As he was finishing his
call, he said Prevete grabbed the phone from him hand and pushed
He was arrested by several court officers, including
Ferrari, whom Milfort said twisted his arm and told him to shut
up when he complained about the pain, according to the ruling.
Milfort was issued a summons for disorderly conduct
following the incident. He accepted an adjournment in
contemplation of dismissal on Sept. 13, 2010.
Shortly afterward, he sued Prevete and Ferrari for false
arrest, false imprisonment, excessive force, denial of equal
protection and deprivation of due process.
The officers claimed Milfort began arguing in a "loud and
belligerent manner" when he was asked to hang up the phone or
step aside, the ruling said. The officers denied using excessive
In Wednesday's ruling, Kuntz said that a jury should decide
which version of events to believe.
"(I)f a reasonable jury were to credit plaintiff's version
of the facts, the jury could find that defendants' actions were
objectively unreasonable," Kuntz wrote in allowing the false
arrest and excessive force claims to proceed.
The judge granted summary judgment to the officers on the
equal protection and due process claims.
A lawyer for Milfort, Paul Hale, said he was pleased with
the ruling. The New York attorney general's office, which
represents the officers, did not immediately return a request
The case is Milfort v. Prevete et al., U.S. District Court
for the Eastern District of New York, No. 10-4467.
For Milfort: Paul Hale.
For Prevete and Ferrari: Roberta Martin and Charles Sanders
of the New York State Office of the Attorney General.
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