LAKE PLACID - A lawsuit filed in July against two members of the Lake Placid Police Department will end up in federal court.
A notice of removal filed by attorneys for police officers James D. Staats and Matthew J. Braunius, the village of Lake Placid and the Lake Placid Police Department on Sept. 11 seeks to have a lawsuit filed by Taryn Stanfa, 21, of Watertown, removed from Jefferson County Supreme Court and placed in United States District Court for the Northern District of New York, according to court documents.
Stanfa's lawsuit, which seeks $1 million for losses and damages, was filed on July 12. She alleges that on Jan. 21 between 5 and 6 a.m., Staats threw her to the ground and injured her without justification. Stanfa claims she and a friend were at Hannaford supermarket, just outside the village of Lake Placid, trying to use the bathroom. Village police were called to the scene by state police, who had been contacted by store employees when Stanfa and her friend didn't leave after being told the store was closed.
The notice by the village's lawyers states that federal court has "original jurisdiction over this action on the basis that it involves a claim or right under the Constitution." It says the plaintiff's claim concerns "a federal question.
"To wit: alleged violation of federally protected civil rights pursuant to the Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution," the notice reads. Those amendments guarantee against unreasonable search and seizure and for the rights to due legal process.
A message left for Jonathan M. Bernstein of Goldberg Segalla LLP, who is representing the police officers and the village, hadn't been returned as of Monday.
Stanfa's lawyer, Matthew Norfolk of Lake Placid, said because the lawsuit includes federal civil rights claims, the defendants are able to file a notice to remove the case.
"Right now, technically, it's in federal court," he said. "You don't even have to ask for permission. They have effectively removed it by filing these papers."
Norfolk said he could contest the notice of removal, but he doesn't foresee doing that. He said the change of courts won't affect his client's case.
Norfolk said a court conference to "narrow the issues and get a schedule in place" has been scheduled for Oct. 18.
Contact Chris Morris at 891-2600 ext. 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org.