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Mody v. City of Hoboken

filed: March 23, 1992.

JAMSHID R. MODY, AS ADMINISTRATOR AD PROSEQUEDUM FOR THE HEIRS-AT-LAW OF NAVROZE MODY, DECEASED AND AS ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF NAVROZE MODY, DECEASED
v.
THE CITY OF HOBOKEN; LIEUTENANT KILEY; THOMAS CAHILL; GEORGE CRIMMINS; MIRIAM ACEVEDO, AS PARENT AND NATURAL GUARDIAN OF DEFENDANTS, LUIS ACEVEDO AND WILLIAM ACEVEDO; LUIS ACEVEDO; WILLIAM ACEVEDO; "JOHN" GONZALEZ, FICTITIOUS FIRST NAME REPRESENTING THE PARENT AND NATURAL GUARDIAN OF DEFENDANT, RALPH GONZALEZ; RALPH GONZALEZ; JOHN PADILLA, FIRST NAME FICTITIOUS INTENDED TO REPRESENTING THE NAME OF THE PARENT AND NATURAL GUARDIAN OF DEFENDANT, LUIS PADILLA; LUIS PADILLA AND GEORGE CRIMMINS, THIRD PARTY PLAINTIFF V. IMPERIAL CASUALTY AND INDEMNITY CO., A CORPORATION DOING BUSINESS IN NEW JERSEY JAMSHID R. MODY, APPELLANT



Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. (D.C. Civil Action No. 89-01672)

Present: Mansmann, Hutchinson and Rosenn, Circuit Judges

Author: Hutchinson

Opinion OF THE COURT

HUTCHINSON, Circuit Judge.

Jamshid Mody (Mody), an Asian Indian, appeals a ruling of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey directing a verdict against Mody on his civil rights claims against the City of Hoboken, New Jersey (Hoboken) and three of its police officers. Mody is suing in his capacity as the administrator of the estate of his late son, Navroze Mody. Navroze was beaten to death in Hoboken by a gang of young thugs. Navroze's father claims the Hoboken police's indifference to acts of violence perpetrated against Asian Indians violated Navroze Mody's equal protection rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and proximately caused his son's death. The district court directed a verdict against Mody because it believed he had not shown that the Hoboken Police Department's alleged indifference was the product of racial discrimination against Asian Indians or that its indifference had caused the beating that killed Navroze Mody. We will affirm.

I.

Mody filed a complaint against Hoboken and Hoboken police officers Lieutenant Martin Kiely (Lieutenant Kiely), Detective Thomas Cahill (Detective Cahill), Police Chief George Crimmins (Chief Crimmins) (collectively "the defendants") and others*fn1 in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey on April 19, 1989. Mody brought claims under 42 U.S.C.A. § 1983 (West 1981) and § 1985(3) (West 1981).*fn2 In his section 1983*fn3 claim, Mody stated the defendants violated the equal protection rights of his son when they did not file criminal complaints against persons who had committed earlier acts of violence against Asian Indians in Hoboken. He also alleged that criminal complaints were not filed because Hoboken and its police discriminated against Asian Indians on the basis of race and that their discriminatory behavior led to Navroze Mody's beating and death. Mody's section 1985(3)*fn4 claim stated that the defendants conspired to engage in the racially discriminatory conduct that the section 1983 claim was based on.

After discovery, the defendants filed motions for summary judgment. The district court denied these motions and the case went to trial. At the close of Mody's case, the district court heard motions for directed verdicts by the defendants. Initially, it reserved decision on the motions and the defense began its case on April 24, the fifth day of trial; but, later that day, it decided to grant the defendants' motions for directed verdicts.

The district court held evidence was lacking in crucial areas. First, it decided:

There has been no evidence submitted that the original attack on the two Indian victims was motivated by the fact that the victims were Indian.

Further, the Court concludes that there was no evidence submitted that the failure to prosecute the assailants was motivated by the fact that the victims were Indians.

Appellant's Appendix (App.) at 362-63. The court then reached the question of proximate cause:

Here again as to causation, there is no competent evidence that had the assailants been prosecuted, that the tragic death of Mr. Mody would not have occurred.

Id. at 364. The court did rule that Mody brought this action in good faith and it was not frivolous, so precluding the defendants from securing counsel fees or ...


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