By Garett Metcalf (Touro Law Center 2014). Garett served as a pro bono Research Fellow for the Land Use & Sustainable Development Law Institute.
On February 26, 2014, the trial Mangino v. Incorporated Village of Patchogue (Case Number 2:06-CV-05716) began in the Eastern District of New York in front of Judge Joseph F. Bianco. The Village Defendants are represented by Brian S. Sokoloff, the Fire Department defendants are represented by Jeffrey B. Siler, and plaintiffs John and Elaine Mangino are represented by Robert A. Siegel.
This case ignited interest for me as a Research Fellow of the Institute of Land Use & Sustainable Development because it involves the rental permit law of the Village of Patchogue, where I grew up. Specifically, the case is a civil rights and malicious prosecution action by owners of an 8-unit apartment building, who challenged the constitutionality of the Village’s rental permit law, and contended that building inspectors called the fire department as a pretext to search the building. The rental permit law in Patchogue makes it unlawful for any absentee landlord to permit any tenant to take up residence by a rental occupancy in any dwelling unit without the owner’s first having completed and filed with the Code Enforcement Officer a rental registration form approved by the Senior Building Inspector, and bearing the signature of the owner acknowledging the requirements of such permit. New York, Patchogue Municipal Code § 336-4.
Plaintiffs in this case argued that they had exclusive control over a locked room in the basement and stored personal items there and that they had Fourth Amendment standing to challenge any entry and/or inspection of the contents of that room. See generally United States v. Hamilton, 538 F.3d 162, 169 (2d Cir.2008). Plaintiffs put forth evidence arguably directly contradicting the sworn testimony of the Fire Marshall regarding the purported exigency that prompted him to contact the Fire Department so that the apartment could be searched. In his deposition, the Fire Marshall asserted that the exigency was based upon a call by the resident of the building regarding sparking wires in her apartment. In particular, the Fire Marshall testified that he was “informed of sparking wires in an apartment at the Village office, the girl was—a tenant was on the phone and she wanted someone over there right away. That’s when I went right over to determine what the problem was.” (Poulos Dep. at 211.)
On Monday, March 10, the jury came back with a verdict of no liability in favor of the defendants.