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Sorichetti v. City of New York
New York Court of Appeals
482 N.E.2d 70 (1985)
Frank Sorichetti attacked and mutilated his six-year-old daughter Dina while police ignored her mother’s pleas for help. Josephine Sorichetti had obtained three restraining orders against her drunken, violent husband because he attacked and threatened her. Frank also destroyed everything in their apartment when served divorce papers—but the police refused to arrest him, because “he lived there.” The court ultimately entered a final protection order for one year, but gave Frank visitation with Dina from 10 a.m. Saturdays to 6 p.m. Sundays. The following Saturday, when Josephine brought Dina to the local police precinct as directed, Frank threatened to kill Josephine and injure Dina. Josephine immediately reported Frank’s threats to the police, but the police did nothing. Josephine returned at 5:30 p.m. the next day distraught with the protection order, which authorized the police to arrest Frank for any violation and assist in protecting Josephine, but was told to wait outside until 6 p.m. When Frank did not show, the police told Josephine to wait longer. Josephine continued to plead with the police to take immediate action. But at 7 p.m., the police simply took Josephine’s phone number and told her to go home. Meanwhile, Frank attacked Dina with a knife, fork, and a screwdriver, and attempted to saw off her leg. Josephine and Dina (plaintiffs) sued the City of New York (City) (defendant) based on the police’s failure to take any action. The jury returned a verdict for Josephine and Dina. The City appealed, arguing it had no duty to protect Dina.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Alexander, J.)
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