Guidelines applicable when police officer being sued in a civil action seeks to have his or her employer provide for his or her defense and indemnification in the civil action
2017 NY Slip Op 01549, Appellate Division, Second Department
A federal civil rights action was commenced in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York against, among others, a Nassau County police officer [Petitioner]. The claims in the federal action against Petitioner arose from an off-duty altercation caused by a traffic dispute, during which the Petitioner allegedly fired a gun at the plaintiff in the federal action. Petitioner sought to have his employer, Nassau County, defend and indemnify him in the federal action.
The Nassau County Police Officer Indemnification Board* concluded that Petitioner was not entitled to defense or indemnification by Nassau County because the alleged acts underlying the federal action were not committed "while [Petitioner was engaged] in the proper discharge of his duties and were not within the scope of his employment."
Supreme Court dismissed Petitioner's challenge of the Board's determination and he appealed its ruling.
Citing General Municipal Law §50-l, the Appellate Division said that question of whether a police officer's acts which formed the basis of the civil action were committed in the proper discharge of his or her duties and within the scope of his or her employment is to be determined in the first instance by the Board.
The Board's determination that Petitioner was not acting in the proper discharge of his duties and within the scope of his employment may be set aside by a court only if it was made in violation of lawful procedure, was affected by an error of law, or was arbitrary and capricious or an abuse of discretion.
The Appellate Division, sustaining Supreme Court's ruling, concluded that the record supported the Board's determination that Petitioner "was not acting while in the proper discharge of his duties or within the scope of his employment, since there is a factual basis for the conclusion that the alleged misconduct arose from an altercation that was personal in nature" and was not undertaken in the exercise of his "public responsibility as a police officer."
* General Municipal Law §50-l, in pertinent part, provides for "the defense of any civil action or proceeding brought against a duly appointed police officer of the Nassau county police 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 ...."
The decision is posted on the Internet at: