Police detective who did not properly discharge his duties not entitled to a defense or indemnification by the employer in a lawsuit in which he or she is a defendant
2017 NY Slip Op 00649, Appellate Division, Second Department
General Municipal Law §50-l provides that "Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law, code or charter, the county of Nassau shall provide for the defense of any civil action or proceeding brought against a duly appointed police officer of the Nassau county police department and shall indemnify and save harmless such police officer from any judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction whenever such action, proceeding or judgment is for damages, including punitive or exemplary damages, arising out of a negligent act or other tort of such police officer committed while in the proper discharge of his duties and within the scope of his employment. Such proper discharge and scope shall be determined by a majority vote of a panel consisting of one member appointed by the Nassau county board of supervisors, one member appointed by the Nassau county executive, and the third member being the Nassau county police commissioner or a deputy police commissioner."
The Nassau County Police Officer Indemnification Board determined that a Nassau County Police Detective was not entitled to a defense or to indemnification pursuant to General Municipal Law §50-l in a federal action civil rights action in which he was named a defendant. Supreme Court sustained the Board’s decision and the Detective appealed.
The Board had determined that the Detective had failed to notify anyone that an individual who had been arrested and held in jail for four months before he was arraigned could not possibly have committed the robbery for which he was charged because he was incarcerated on the day of the robbery. This failure, said the Board, was not "committed while in the proper discharge of his duties."
The Appellate Division said that the Board’s decision was supported by the facts and was not arbitrary and capricious. Further, said the Appellate Division, a court "may not substitute its judgment for that of the agency responsible for making the determination, but must ascertain only whether there is a rational basis for the decision or whether it is arbitrary and capricious."
Accordingly, the Appellate Division found that Supreme Court had properly denied the Detective’s petition and had properly dismissed the action the Detective had brought pursuant to CPLR Article 78.