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Local man drops false-arrest suit

November 2, 2012
LEVI PASCHER , The Leader Herald

GLOVERSVILLE - A lawsuit by a Johnstown man against the city, the Police Department and Capt. John Sira alleging unlawful arrest has been discontinued.

James D. DeRusha claimed false arrest and false imprisonment after he was charged April 15, 2010, with aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.

In his lawsuit filed a year after his arrest, DeRusha was asking for monetary damages to be determined at trial.

"During the course of taking depositions of the witnesses involved in the matter, it became obvious that the case was no longer viable," said DeRusha's Johnstown-based attorney, Robert Subik. "The oral depositions were given truthfully, but the case was no longer viable, so we asked for a discontinuance."

The attorney representing the Police Department, Thomas K. Murphy of the Albany-based Murphy, Burns, Barber & Murphy, said DeRusha agreed to withdraw the claim in a July 24 court filing.

"He will not be able to file the claim in the future," said Murphy.

This was the second lawsuit brought by DeRusha against the city. His previous lawsuit, which was dismissed by a judge, stemmed from a May 2008 incident in which DeRusha was hired by a city resident to do landscaping work at his home. DeRusha was arrested after a dispute over payment. He claimed police should not have arrested him.

In the latest lawsuit, Murphy said that during the discovery process, the attorney conducted depositions of the witnesses identified by DeRusha and found that none of the witnesses supported his version of the events. He said all of the witnesses supported Capt. Sira's report of the incident.

The suit stemmed from an incident at Rocky's Tavern. According to the police report, authorities - knowing DeRusha's license was revoked - saw a man riding DeRusha's motorcycle southbound on North Main Street. Within minutes, police found the motorcycle parked at Rocky's Tavern. They found DeRusha and arrested him.

The police report prepared by Sira said DeRusha told police he had driven the motorcycle and he knew his license was revoked, but in court documents, DeRusha claimed a repair shop had the bike and a mechanic drove it to Rocky's Tavern.

Chief Donald VanDeusen said, "As a department, we are very happy this has been brought to a conclusion. We felt from the beginning that [neither] Capt. Sira nor any other member of this department did anything that they weren't supposed to. We never doubted that for a second."

The chief said he's concerned an attorney would bring the lawsuit against the department without doing more "due diligence" to assure witnesses were telling the truth. He said that when he gets a deposition of the case, he may forward it to the Office of Professional Standards so it can take a look at Subik's conduct.

"He should have [done] his homework," VanDeusen said. "Sometimes, people see municipalities as easy targets, and I am hoping that the tide has changed and people will understand that if we are in the right, we will fight to protect ourselves against frivolous lawsuits."



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