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Merced v. City of New York
986 F.Supp. 774, S.D.N.Y., NY, 11/12/1997
Category Victim v. Third Party; Victim v. Perpetrator 
Topic Government, General; Special Victims 
Filename Informants, Others Aiding Law Enforcement; Women Victims 
Crime Assault; Shooting 
Location Residence 
Prevailing Party Plaintiff 
Other Parties Housing Authority Police Department 
Holding

Statement of Facts: On March 9, 1989, two unknown assailants shot the plaintiff, Diana Merced, in the face outside her mother's third-floor apartment in a New York City Housing Authority project in the Bronx. The shooting occurred on the very day that the plaintiff was scheduled to testify against Joseph Navedo, her ex-boyfriend and known drug dealer. The plaintiff filed suit against the New York City Housing Authority and the City of New York alleging that the defendants failed to protect her from Navedo. After removing the case to federal court, the defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. Holding: The United States District Court denied the defendants' respective motions. The Court held that a reasonable jury could find that the defendants owed a special duty to the plaintiff, that they failed to meet their obligations to protect the plaintiff, and that, as a proximate result, she was shot. The plaintiff was cooperating with law enforcement authorities, who knew that Navedo had physically abused and threatened her. They were aware that at one point Navedo had kidnapped the plaintiff and her son and threatened to kill them. The authorities were aware of the orders of protection that the plaintiff had obtained against Navedo. Finally, the plaintiff had specifically asked both the HAPD and the NYPD for assistance, and at the very least, they had implicitly promised her protection. The Court concluded that these facts raised a genuine issue of fact concerning whether the defendants assumed an affirmative duty to act on the plaintiff's behalf and whether the defendants knew or should have known that their inaction could lead to the plaintiff's harm. 


Damage Award Not tried 
Victim's Counsel     
Plaintiff's Counsel Dienst & Serrins, by Jonny Kool, New York City 
Plaintiff's Expert      
Defense Counsel Corporation Counsel 
Defense Expert

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