UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
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ABDELILLAH MRIGLE and ADEL SAYED,
Plaintiffs,
Index No. 11 CIV 4443 GBD ECF CASE
-againstCOMPLAINT
AND DEMAND FOR
JURY TRIAL
CITY OF NEW YORK; individually and in their official
capacities as New York City Officers DAVID
KANTOR (Shield No. 27638), THOMAS KELLY
(Shield No. 10711), and JOHN DOES, police officers,
non-uniformed employees, and supervisory officers of the
New York City Police Department, the identity and number
of whom is presently unknown.

Defendants.
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Plaintiffs ABDELILLAH MRIGLE and ADEL SAYED, by their attorneys, for
their Complaint against the Defendants, allege as follows:
PRELIMINARY STATEMENT
1.

Plaintiffs are licensed street vendors and business partners who sell

delicious food from a pushcart in a legal vending location on the corner of 29th Street and
Broadway in Manhattan. Both are naturalized U.S. citizens – from Morocco and Egypt,
respectively -- who have been vending for at least seven years. Each of them uses his income
from his vending business to support his wife and children in Brooklyn.
2.

This complaint alleges that, during September and October, 2010

Plaintiffs Mrigle and Sayed (“Plaintiffs”) were targeted by New York City Police Officers
Kantor, Kelly, and John Does (“Defendant officers”) in a campaign of illegal enforcement that

included bogus tickets, the public denigration of their food to their loyal customers, unwarranted
threats of arrest, illegal orders to close their cart, and finally, on October 27, 2010, the unlawful
arrest of Plaintiff Mrigle and the excessive use of force against him during the arrest. As a result
of Defendants’ actions, Plaintiffs suffered a loss in business, illegal confinement, and mental and
physical harm for which they now seek redress.
3.

This action arises out of the deprivation of Plaintiffs’ liberty and property

interests by Defendants, who acted under color of state law.
4.

Plaintiffs bring this action for compensatory damages, punitive damages,

and attorneys’ fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of their civil rights, as said rights
are secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States and the State of New York.
JURISDICTION
5.

This action arises under the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments to

the United States Constitution, 42 U.S.C § 1983, and the laws of the State of New York.
6.

Jurisdiction is invoked pursuant to 28 U.S.C §§ 1331, 1343, and 2202.

Plaintiffs further invoke the supplemental jurisdiction of this Court to adjudicate pendant state
law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1367 since they derive from the same facts as the federal
claims.
VENUE
7.

Venue is properly laid in the Southern District of New York under 28

U.S.C. §1391(b)(2) because the events giving rise to these claims occurred and arose in this
district.

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JURY DEMAND
8.

Plaintiffs respectfully demand a trial by jury of all issues in this matter

pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 38(b).
PARTIES
9.

Plaintiff ABDELILLAH MRIGLE is a resident of Brooklyn, New York,

and a licensed New York City mobile food vendor.
10.

Plaintiff ADEL SAYED is a resident of Brooklyn, New York and a

licensed New York City mobile food vendor.
11.

Defendant Officer DAVID KANTOR is sued in his individual and official

capacity. He was at all times relevant to this action a police officer employed by the City of New
York, acting within the scope of his employment and under color of state law, to wit, under the
color of the statutes, ordinances, regulations, policies, customs and usages of the State of New
York and/or the City of New York.
12.

Defendant Officer THOMAS KELLY is sued in his individual and official

capacity. He was at all times relevant to this action a police officer employed by the City of New
York, acting within the scope of his employment and under color of state law, to wit, under the
color of the statutes, ordinances, regulations, policies, customs and usages of the State of New
York and/or the City of New York.
13.

Defendant JOHN DOES, at all relevant times, were police officers, non-

uniformed employees, and supervisory officers of the City of New York, the identity and number
of whom is presently unknown.

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STATEMENT OF FACTS
14.

Plaintiffs are licensed street vendors and partners in a food cart business

that sells chicken, falafel, rice, salad, hot dogs, shish-kabobs, and gyro in New York. Plaintiff
Mrigle has been vending in Manhattan for seven years. He is a naturalized citizen who
immigrated to the United States ten years ago from Morocco, and lives with his wife and three
children in Brooklyn. Plaintiff Sayed has been vending for twelve years in Manhattan and
Brooklyn. He is a naturalized citizen who immigrated to the United States thirteen years ago
from Egypt, and who also lives with his wife and three children in Brooklyn.
15.

Plaintiffs vend in a legal vending location in compliance with all

regulations applicable to New York City mobile food vendors. Plaintiff Mrigle has been vending
from his food cart at the northwest corner of West 29th Street and Broadway in Manhattan for
six years, and Plaintiff Sayed has been vending from the same food cart for 10 months. The food
cart was operated from this location for 15 years before Plaintiffs became partners.
16.

Plaintiffs are members of the Street Vendor Project, an organization of

street vendors, which is part of the non-profit Urban Justice Center. During 2009, Officers David
Kantor, Thomas Kelly, and John Does repeatedly visited Plaintiff Mrigle’s food cart at 29th and
Broadway, told Plaintiff Mrigle to leave the area, and issued Plaintiff Mrigle tickets which were
later dismissed. Plaintiff Mrigle and Street Vendor Project staff complained several times to the
Midtown South Precinct about Defendant officers’ issuance of baseless tickets. During one visit
to the precinct, Defendant officers ordered Plaintiff Mrigle to leave the precinct. Plaintiff Mrigle
left without concluding his complaint.

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17.

On September 16, 2010, Officers David Kantor, Thomas Kelly, and John

Does arrived in a white police van at 29th Street and Broadway between 4 and 6 pm. The hours
between 4 and 7 pm were Plaintiffs’ peak sales time.
18.

Defendant officers yelled at Plaintiffs, “Close! Shut down! You can’t be

here! Get out of here!” Defendant officers told customers the food was dirty and scared
customers away. Plaintiff Mrigle showed the officers his license and asked them, “What’s the
problem? Why do I need to move?” Defendant officers did not answer him, and told him to
leave.
19.

Plaintiff Sayed told Defendant officers, “I work to support my family.

This place is legal.” Plaintiff Sayed asked Defendant officers to measure the location, to ensure
that it was in compliance with all applicable vending regulations, but they did not respond.
Defendant officers issued Plaintiff Sayed three tickets – for allegedly violating New York City
Administrative Code §§ 17-315(a), (d), and § 17-311 for vending on a sidewalk that is less than
12 feet wide, for vending less than 20 feet from a building entrance, and for vending without
conspicuously displaying a license, respectively. Plaintiffs’ cart was on a sidewalk that was
more than 12 feet wide and their cart was positioned more than 20 feet from the nearest building
entrance. The tickets were all later dismissed.
20.

One month later, on October 16, 2010, Officers David Kantor, Thomas

Kelly, and John Does arrived at 29th Street and Broadway with four inspectors from the
Department of Health. The Defendant officers did not say anything during this visit. Plaintiff
Mrigle asked the inspectors what was the problem, and they did not respond. The inspectors
issued three tickets to Plaintiff Mrigle for allegedly violating New York Administrative Code §
17-315(c), and New York Health Code §§ 81.09, and 89.23(e) for improperly storing a

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generator, for keeping foods at improper temperatures, and for failure to have an unobstructed
work area, respectively. Later, after a hearing with Plaintiff Mrigle and the health inspector,
these tickets were dismissed.
21.

Three days later, on October 19, 2010, Officers David Kantor, Thomas

Kelly, and John Does arrived at 29th Street and Broadway between 4 and 6 pm. Defendants
shouted at Plaintiff Sayed, “Close! Close! Close! Go! Go! Move! Move!” A customer asked
Defendant officers, “What is wrong? Is the food bad?” Defendants responded, “Yes. The food is
bad.” As the Defendant officers were yelling at him, Plaintiff Sayed experienced chest pains and
an increase in his blood pressure. Plaintiff Sayed asked the officers to please stop shouting at
him. When Plaintiff Mrigle arrived, Plaintiff Sayed was lying on the ground and was not saying
anything. Plaintiff Mrigle asked the police to call an ambulance. An ambulance came to pick up
Plaintiff Sayed, who was released from the hospital around 11 p.m. on the same date.
22.

Before the ambulance came, Defendant officers issued Plaintiff Sayed

tickets for allegedly violating New York City Administrative Code § 17-315(a) for vending on a
sidewalk that was less than 12 feet wide and for an inexistent section of the New York City
Health Code. Plaintiffs’ cart was on a sidewalk wider than 12 feet. Both tickets were later
dismissed.
23.

Defendant officers told Plaintiff Mrigle, “Close. Get out of here. You can’t

be here.” Defendants told Plaintiffs’ customers they were not allowed to purchase food and
refused to allow Plaintiff Mrigle to serve his customers. Defendants told the customers that the
food was dirty. Defendants also threatened to take Plaintiffs’ cart and told Plaintiff Mrigle that
they had a hitch on their van to tow the cart away. In response, Plaintiff Mrigle closed the food
cart.

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24.

Defendant officers’ actions caused Plaintiff Sayed physical and mental

pain and suffering. Plaintiff Sayed had heart surgery about five years ago and was taking
prescription medicine to control his blood pressure and cholesterol. His felt his blood pressure go
up each time Defendant officers came to the food cart, and he had a hard time sleeping. He was
constantly thinking about Defendant officers’ threats. He was concerned about his health, paying
for all the tickets, and taking care of his family. As a result, during this period, he missed many
days of work.
25.

Eight days later, on the afternoon of October 27, 2010, Officers David

Kantor, Thomas Kelly, and John Does arrived at 29th Street and Broadway in a black, unmarked
car. Plaintiff Sayed phoned Plaintiff Mrigle, who was nearby, and told him to come to the cart.
When Plaintiff Mrigle arrived, Plaintiff Sayed was being issued a ticket for allegedly violating
New York Administrative Code § 20-465(d), which applies to merchandise vendors, not food
vendors. The ticket was later dismissed.
26.

A customer arrived, and Plaintiff Mrigle began to make the customer’s

order. Defendant officers told Plaintiffs to shut down the cart. Plaintiff Mrigle asked, “For
what?”, and the officer responded “I don’t care. Get out of here.”
27.

Defendant Kantor told Plaintiff Mrigle he was under arrest, told him to put

everything down and put his hands behind his back. Plaintiff Mrigle dropped his cooking
utensils, raised his hands, and then put them behind his back. The customer asked, “Why are you
arresting him?”, but he did not answer. Plaintiff Sayed told the Defendant officers that Plaintiff
Mrigle did not do anything wrong and there was no reason to arrest him. Defendant officers
responded, “Stop talking. This is none of your business.” Defendant Kantor applied the
handcuffs very tight around Plaintiff Mrigle’s wrists. Plaintiff Mrigle told Defendant Kantor that

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the handcuffs were too tight, but Defendant Kantor did not adjust them. Plaintiff Mrigle was put
in the car and was driven to the Midtown South Precinct.
28.

Afraid of also being arrested, Plaintiff Sayed closed the cart and called for

someone to bring it to the garage.
29.

While in the police car, Defendant Kantor asked Plaintiff Mrigle “Do you

think Urban Justice is going to help you? Urban Justice can’t do nothing for you” and “What
country are you from?” When Plaintiff Mrigle responded, “Morocco,” Defendant Kantor asked
“Do you not listen to the police in your country?” Defendant Kantor asked Plaintiff Mrigle if he
was a citizen, to which Plaintiff Mrigle responded “Yes.” Defendant Kantor took Plaintiff
Mrigle’s wallet from him, removed his driver’s license, inspected it, and then returned it.
30.

Inside the precinct, Defendant Kantor removed the handcuffs from

Plaintiff Mrigle’s wrists and placed him in a very dirty cell that smelled very bad.
31.

After several hours, Defendant Kantor came into the cell and again placed

handcuffs on Plaintiff Mrigle too tightly, exacerbating his pain. Defendant Kantor took his
picture and fingerprints and placed him back in the cell, where he removed the handcuffs.
Another hour later, Defendant Kantor came back and gave Plaintiff Mrigle a ticket for disorderly
conduct, saying “That’s it. Go home.” It was approximately 11 p.m. Plaintiff Mrigle had been
detained for about 6 hours and his wrists were injured from the handcuffs being applied too tight.
32.

Defendant officers’ actions caused Plaintiff Mrigle both physical and

mental pain and suffering. This was the first time Plaintiff Mrigle was arrested in 52 years of his
life – in fact, Plaintiff Mrigle had never experienced anything like before. After the arrest,
Plaintiff Mrigle had difficulty sleeping and suffered from nightmares. Nervous and
uncomfortable, he could only work for an hour or two at the cart each day. He continues to feel

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anxious and uncomfortable working at the cart and wants to change his location. Plaintiff
Mrigle’s family was also very distressed. His wife and children cried upon learning Plaintiff
Mrigle had been arrested. They were scared and anxious, and worried that Plaintiff Mrigle had
committed a crime.
33.

Plaintiffs’ business depended on its loyal customers, many of whom

witnessed the ticketing, threats, and arrests that occurred in September and October, 2010. As a
result of the Defendants’ actions, Plaintiffs have lost a significant portion of their business.
Customers later asked Plaintiffs if they had sold drugs, stolen something, or cooked bad food.
34.

The day after the arrest, October 28, 2010, the Defendant officers returned

to Plaintiffs’ cart. Defendant officers told Plaintiff Mrigle to move across the street. The other
side of the street has a doorway, meaning that Plaintiffs would be in violation of the regulations
if they moved the cart there. Plaintiff Mrigle did not move the cart. He was issued a ticket for
allegedly violating § 17-315(a) for vending from a sidewalk less than 12 feet wide. The sidewalk
where the food cart was located was in fact wider than 12 feet. The ticket was later dismissed.
35.

On October 31, 2010, police officers from a different precinct arrived at

29th Street and Broadway. Plaintiff Mrigle asked the officers, “What’s the problem?” The
officers told Plaintiff Mrigle he did not have the required 12 feet of sidewalk width, according to
§ 17-315(a). Plaintiff Mrigle measured the space with his measuring tape for the officers.
Plaintiff Mrigle showed a copy of the regulations to the officers. The officers left without issuing
any tickets and did not come back again.

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CAUSES OF ACTION
CLAIMS AIRSING UNDER 42 U.S.C § 1983
Count I – Unlawful Arrest
36.

Plaintiff Mrigle repeats and realleges the allegations contained in all

preceding paragraphs as if set forth in full.
37.

By their conduct, under color of law, Defendants deprived Plaintiff Mrigle

of his constitutional right under the Fourth Amendment to be free from unreasonable searches
and seizures.
38.

Defendant Officers unlawfully arrested Plaintiff Mrigle, intended to

confine him, and confined him without probable cause to believe that Plaintiff had committed
any offense or violated the law.
39.

Plaintiff Mrigle was aware of his confinement as he was locked in a small

cell for approximately 6 hours without his consent or any reasonable justification.
Count II – Unreasonable Force
40.

Plaintiff Mrigle repeats and realleges the allegations contained in all

preceding paragraphs as if set forth in full.
41.

By their conduct, under color of law, Defendants violated Plaintiff

Mrigle’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from the use of force that is unconstitutionally
excessive.
42.

Plaintiff Mrigle was subject to a seizure within the meaning of the Fourth

Amendment when he was arrested by Defendant Kantor.
43.

Defendant Kantor applied unreasonable force during the arrest of Plaintiff

Mrigle. When Officer Kantor requested Plaintiff Mrigle to put his hands behind his back,

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Plaintiff Mrigle complied and did not say or do anything to resist the arrest. Defendant Kantor
applied handcuffs on Plaintiff Mrigle’s wrists too tightly when he was at his food cart and while
he was at the precinct. Plaintiff Mrigle told Officer Kantor the handcuffs were too tight.
Count III – Interference with First Amendment Rights
44.

Plaintiffs repeat and reallege the allegations contained in all preceding

paragraphs as if set forth in full.
45.

By their conduct, under color of law, Defendants violated Plaintiffs’ First

Amendment rights by interfering with Plaintiffs’ freedom of association.
46.

Plaintiffs are members of an association of street vendors called Street

Vendor Project. In 2009, the Street Vendor Project assisted Plaintiff Mrigle in complaining about
Defendants issuance of numerous baseless tickets.
47.

During Plaintiff Mrigle’s arrest, Defendants made several remarks about

his membership with the association of street vendors. Defendant Officers issued numerous
baseless tickets to Plaintiffs and arrested Plaintiff Mrigle without probable cause. Plaintiffs were
targeted, in whole or in part, because of their association with Street Vendor Project. Defendants’
actions – ticketing, arrest, orders to close down, and threats to confiscate the pushcart -- would
likely deter a person of ordinary firmness from exercising First Amendment rights of freedom of
association.
Count IV – Due Process Claim
48.

Plaintiffs repeat and reallege the allegations contained in all preceding

paragraphs as if set forth in full.
49.

By their conduct, under color of law, Defendants deprived Plaintiffs of

their constitutional right under the Fourteenth Amendment to pursue their occupation. The due

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process clause protects a liberty and property interest in pursuing common occupations or
professions. (Benigni v. City of Hemet, 879 F.2d 473, 478 (9th Cir. 1988))
50.

Defendant officers repeatedly visited Plaintiffs’ business location, where

their unconstitutional actions were directed at Plaintiffs to push them out of business. Defendant
officers repeatedly told customers the food was bad or dirty, prevented Plaintiffs from serving
customers, told Plaintiffs to leave their business location, and threatened to confiscate Plaintiffs’
food cart. Defendant officers visited Plaintiffs’ business during their busiest time of day, issued
numerous baseless tickets, and brought health inspectors to Plaintiffs’ business location. All
tickets issued by the officers and inspectors were dismissed. Furthermore, Defendant officers
arrested Plaintiff Mrigle in front of his customers, further leading customers to believe Plaintiff
Mrigle was committing wrongful acts. As a result, Plaintiffs were deprived of their due process
rights to pursue their occupation.
Count V – City Liability for Unconstitutional Acts
51.

The City of New York, through its policies, customs or practices, and

decisions or acquiescence of its policymakers has exhibited a deliberate indifference to the
constitutional rights of licensed street vendors selling food, which caused a violation of
Plaintiffs’ rights.
52.

It was the policy and custom of the City to in adequately train, supervise,

and discipline police officers with respect to the rights of licensed street vendors selling food,
thereby causing Defendants to engage in unlawful conduct described above.
53.

As a direct and proximate cause of the City’s deliberate indifference,

Defendants violated Plaintiffs’ constitutional rights for which they suffered damages.

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Count VI – Defendant Supervisory Liability for Unconstitutional Acts
54.

Defendant supervisory officers exhibited a deliberate indifference to their

subordinate officers’ unconstitutional conduct. Supervisory officers knew or should have known
their subordinates were engaged in unconstitutional conduct and failed to adequately respond,
causing subordinate officers to violate the constitutional rights and harm Plaintiffs.
55.

Defendant supervisory officers had previously received complaints of

defendant officers who committed a series of unconstitutional acts against Plaintiff Mrigle.
Defendant supervisory officers failed to appropriately supervise, train, and correct the
misbehavior of subordinate officers causing defendant officers to violate Plaintiffs’ constitutional
rights.
Count VII – Intentional Discrimination
56.

Plaintiffs repeat and reallege the allegations contained in all preceding

paragraphs as if set forth in full.
57.

By their conduct, under color of law, Defendants deprived Plaintiffs of

their constitutional right under the Fourteenth Amendment to be free from intentional
discrimination based upon race, color, and national origin.
58.

Defendant officers intentionally discriminated against Plaintiffs based

upon their race, color, and national origin.
59.

During Plaintiff Mrigle’s arrest, Defendants made remarks to Plaintiff

Mrigle about his country of origin and citizenship. Defendant officers issued Plaintiffs baseless
tickets and arrested Plaintiff Mrigle, unlike other nearby vendors who were not Arab or Middle
Eastern.

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PENDANT STATE CLAIMS
Count VIII False Arrest and Imprisonment
60.

Plaintiff Mrigle repeats and realleges the allegations contained in all

preceding paragraphs as if set forth in full.
61.

Defendant Officers unlawfully arrested Plaintiff Mrigle, intended to

confine him, and confined him without probable cause to believe that Plaintiff Mrigle had
committed any offense or violated the law.
62.

Plaintiff Mrigle was aware of his confinement as he was locked in a small

cell for approximately 6 hours without his consent or any reasonable justification.
Count IX Negligence
63.

Plaintiff Mrigle repeats and realleges the allegations contained in all

preceding paragraphs as if set forth in full.
64.

Defendant officers had a duty to exercise reasonable care in applying

handcuffs to Plaintiff Mrigle. Defendant officers’ failure to act with reasonable care was a direct
cause of the injury to Plaintiff Mrigle’s wrists.

Count X Assault and Battery
65.

Plaintiff Mrigle repeats and realleges the allegations contained in all

preceding paragraphs as if set forth in full.
66.

Defendant officers created a reasonable apprehension of bodily harm in

Plaintiff. Defendant officers intentionally arrested Plaintiff Mrigle and used excessive force,
injuring Plaintiff Mrigle’s wrists.

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Count XI Defamation
67.

Plaintiffs repeat and reallege the allegations contained in all preceding

paragraphs as if set forth in full.
68.

Defendant officers made false and defamatory statements about Plaintiffs

and their food to their customers and potential customers, causing injury to their reputation and
business.
Count XII Interference with Business Relations
69.

Plaintiffs repeat and reallege the allegations contained in all preceding

paragraphs as if set forth in full.
70.

Defendant officers knew customers wanted to purchase food from

Plaintiffs and customers attempted to do so. Defendant officers made statements to prevent
customers from purchasing food from Plaintiffs and caused Plaintiffs to lose customers and their
future business.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs request the following relief jointly and severally as against all
the Defendants:
(a)

Award compensatory damages in an amount to be determined at trial;

(b)

Award punitive damages in an amount to be determined at trial;

(c)

Disbursements, costs, and attorneys’ fees; and

(d)

For such other and further relief as this Court may seem deem just and
proper.

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Dated:

June 28, 2011
New York, New York

Respectfully submitted,

Counsel:
URBAN JUSTICE CENTER
Sean Basinski, Esq.
123 William Street, 16th Floor
New York, NY 10038
Telephone: (646) 602-5600
Facsimile: (212) 533-4598
Attorney for Plaintiffs

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