In a 108-page opinion today, Judge Torres ruled that various police unions could not intervene to block or appeal the settlement of litigation concerning the police practice known as “stop-and-frisk.” New York City and the plaintiffs have agreed to settlement terms, but Judge Torres found that the unions raised their objections too late and that, in any event, the unions lacked sufficient interest in the merits that were distinct from the interests of the City:
The Unions contend that they have interests sufficient to warrant intervention because the Court ordered “injunctive relief against their members.” PBA Mem. 13. They are legally and factually mistaken. In truth, the Court found that the City violated the law by turning a blind eye to police officers’ use of unconstitutional stop-and-frisk tactics. Moreover, the court-imposed injunction runs against the City, which must change its policy; it does not run against the Unions or their members apart from their employment with the City . . . . Vindicating the legality of City policy and City employee conduct is an interest that belongs to the City. That City employees happen to be members of a labor union does not alter or extinguish the City’s exclusive right to pursue its chosen litigation strategy. The Unions’ contention that all NYPD officers are besmirched by the Liability Order rests on the flawed assumption that anonymous officers who have not taken part in this litigation have a reputational interest arising from the Court’s finding against their employer. As a general matter, employees suffer no legally protectable reputational harm merely because their employer is found liable in a lawsuit. This principle derives from the law of agency, where an agent cannot suffer actionable injury based on a finding of liability against the principal. As articulated by the First Circuit, the mere fact “that Party A, in a suit against Party B, intends to introduce evidence that will indicate that a non-party, C, behaved improperly does not, by itself, make C a necessary party.” Pujol v. Shearson Am. Exp., Inc., 877 F.2d 132, 136 (1st Cir. 1989) (Breyer, J.). The court reasoned that, “[g]iven the vast range of potential insults and allegations of impropriety that may be directed at non-parties in civil litigation, a contrary view would greatly expand the universe” of parties . . . .
Prior posts on the stop-and-frisk litigation are here.