Sentenced to 15 days incarceration concurrently." See id.
Plaintiffs contend that the indictment under which Mr. Brown was charged is void because it was based upon the perjured testimony of defendant David Shephard. See Plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint at 9. Furthermore, they assert that either or both of the statutes under which he was convicted are void for vagueness as enacted and as applied. See id. at 9-10. Finally, they aver that because Mr. Brown's sentence and conviction were based upon violations of his constitutional rights, they are a nullity. See id. at 10.
Before it addresses the merits of this cause of action, the court must direct its attention to a procedural problem with the same. Although not raised as a basis for their present motion, defendants assert as an affirmative defense in their answer that the allegations in plaintiffs' complaint are barred by the applicable statute of limitations. See Defendants' Exhibit AA, Defendants' Answer, Seventh Affirmative Defense.
"The applicable statute of limitations for § 1983 actions arising in New York requires claims to be brought within three years." Pinaud v. County of Suffolk, 52 F.3d 1139, 1156 (2d Cir. 1995) (citing Owens v. Okure, 488 U.S. 235, 250-51, 109 S. Ct. 573, 582, 102 L. Ed. 2d 594 (1989); Eagleston v. Guido, 41 F.3d 865, 871 (2d Cir. 1994)). Defendants filed the complaint in this action on February 1, 1993. Therefore, to be timely, plaintiffs' second cause of action must be based upon events which occurred on or after February 1, 1990.
In the present case, the events that form the gravamen of plaintiffs' second cause of action are clearly untimely. As stated above, plaintiffs allege that Mr. Brown's conviction and sentence should be vacated due to various Constitutional problems with the laws under which he was charged, his indictment, and his Conviction. Mr. Brown was indicted in 1987 and convicted by a jury in 1988. He did not appeal this conviction. Moreover, Mr. Brown was sentenced on August 12, 1988, and resentenced on January 9, 1989. All of these events occurred more than three years before plaintiffs filed their complaint in the present action. Therefore, plaintiffs' second cause of action is untimely. Accordingly, the court grants defendants' motion for summary judgment with respect to plaintiffs' second cause of action on the grounds that it is barred by the applicable three year statute of limitations.
C. Plaintiffs' Fourth Cause of Action9
In their fourth cause of action, plaintiffs allege that Mr. Brown was forced to inhale cigarette smoke daily during his incarceration in violation of Public Health Law § 1399-n and that such exposure constitutes a denial of due process, trespass and battery. See Plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint at 10. Furthermore, plaintiffs assert that such exposure constituted cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. See id. at 11.
Plaintiffs cannot maintain this cause of action against these defendants for the very simple reason that these defendants were not personally involved in the alleged constitutional violation. There is nothing in the record to indicate that defendants personally exposed Mr. Brown to cigarette smoke. Moreover, even if the court were to assume that defendants were in some way responsible for Mr. Brown's incarceration, there is no evidence that defendants have any responsibility for maintaining the Madison County jail or for promulgating rules and regulations establishing minimum standards for the care, custody, correction or treatment of inmates.
Based upon this record, the court concludes that plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate an essential element of this cause of action -- that these defendants were involved personally in the alleged constitutional violation which forms the basis of this claim. Accordingly, the court grants defendants' motion for summary judgment with respect to plaintiffs' fourth cause of action.
D. Plaintiffs' First and Third Causes of Action
Plaintiffs' first and third causes of action concern the removal and sale of certain items situated on Mr. Brown's property by defendant Michael Larkin. The New York State Supreme Court for Madison County appointed Mr. Larkin as a receiver to carry out a judgment entered against Mr. Brown in a civil action brought by the Town. In their first cause of action, plaintiffs allege that "the confiscation of a 40-year collection of vehicles and other items by the Defendants is an unreasonable seizure of Plaintiffs' property without just compensation, in violation of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments, U.S. Constitution, and violates Article I Section 7(a) and 12 of the New York State Constitution." See Plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint at 8. In their third cause of action, plaintiffs further allege that they
were denied due process of law and suffered unreasonable seizure of property and private property taken for public use without just compensation, when valuable items were taken and again when Defendants secured an order for said items to be sold on the LOCAL market . . . [in violation of] the Fourth, Fifth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.
See id. at 10.
In response to these allegations, defendants assert, first of all, that Mr. Larkin is shielded from suit by the doctrine of absolute quasi-judicial immunity. See Defendants' Memorandum of Law at 2-5. Secondly, they argue that defendants Costello, Keator, and Shephard are not subject to liability for the receiver's actions. See id. at 5-6. Finally, they contend that to the extent that plaintiffs' claims are based upon a theory that they are liable to him because they instituted a civil enforcement action against him, Mr. Costello, Mr. Keator, and Mr. Shephard are shielded from suit by the doctrine of absolute legislative immunity. See id. at 6-8. In opposition to these arguments, plaintiffs focus exclusively upon Mr. Larkin's actions in his capacity as a court-appointed receiver. See. generally, Plaintiffs' Memorandum of Law.
1. Liability of the Town of Fenner
It is unclear from plaintiffs' second amended complaint what the basis of their claim against the Town is. To the extent that plaintiffs seek to impose liability upon the Town for the alleged unconstitutional acts of its employees Costello, Shephard and Keator, their claim must fail. In Monell v. Department of Social Svcs., 436 U.S. 658, 98 S. Ct. 2018, 56 L. Ed. 2d 611 (1978), the Supreme Court expressly rejected municipal liability based upon respondeat superior. In this regard, the Court held that "[a] municipality cannot be held liable solely because it employs a tortfeasor -- or, in other words, a municipality cannot be held liable under § 1983 on a respondeat superior theory." Id. at 691, 98 S. Ct. at 2036, 56 L. Ed. 2d at (emphasis in original).
As a result of Monell, plaintiffs who seek to impose liability upon a municipality under § 1983 must prove that "the constitutional harm suffered was the result of a municipal policy or custom." Sorlucco v. New York City Police Dep't, 971 F.2d 864, 870 (2d Cir. 1992) (citing Monell, 436 U.S. at 690-91, 98 S. Ct. at 2035-36; Pembaur, 475 U.S. 469 at 478-79, 106 S. Ct. at 1297-98; Ricciuti v. New York City Transit Auth., 941 F.2d 119, 122 (2d Cir. 1991); Fiacco v. City of Rensselaer, 783 F.2d 319, 326 (2d Cir. 1986)).
To establish a municipal policy or custom, "the plaintiff must allege a specific pattern or series of incidents that support the general allegation of a custom or policy; alleging one specific incident in which the plaintiff suffered a deprivation will not suffice." Henry v. Farmer City State Bank, 808 F.2d 1228, 1237 (7th Cir. 1986) (citations omitted).
Reading plaintiffs' complaint very broadly, the only possible basis for a claim that the Town had a policy which deprived any of the plaintiffs of their constitutional rights is the Town Board's decision to commence a civil enforcement action against Mr. Brown. To the extent that this is plaintiffs' intention, it is equally obvious that such a claim could only be asserted on behalf of Mr. Brown, as he was the only one of the plaintiffs who was involved in that state court proceeding.
The problem with such a claim, however, is that it is barred by the doctrine of res judicata. Pursuant to Migra v. Warren City School Dist. Bd. of Educ., 465 U.S. 75, 81, 104 S. Ct. 892, 896, 79 L. Ed. 2d 56 (1984), a federal court must give the same preclusive effect to a state court decision as a state would give it. Therefore, in this case, the court must look to New York law. Under New York law, "parties are precluded from raising in a subsequent proceeding any claim they could have raised in the prior one, where all of the claims arise from the same underlying transaction." Schulz v. Williams, 44 F.3d 48, 53 (2d Cir. 1994) (citing Reilly v. Reid, 45 N.Y.2d 24, 29, 407 N.Y.S.2d 645, 379 N.E.2d 172 (1978)). This is true even if the other claims are "'based upon different legal theories or if seeking a different remedy.'" Silverman v. Leucadia, Inc., 156 A.D.2d 442, 443, 548 N.Y.S.2d 720, 721 (2d Dep't 1989) (quoting O'Brien v. City of Syracuse, 54 N.Y.2d 353, 357, 445 N.Y.S.2d 687, 429 N.E.2d 1158) (other citations omitted). Moreover, under New York law, for res judicata purposes, a default judgment is conclusive. 548 N.Y.S.2d at 721 (citations omitted).
In the present case, there can be no dispute that the claims in the present suit arise from the same underlying transaction as those in the prior state court action. In that action, the Town of Fenner sought to have the court permanently enjoin Mr. Brown from operating an illegal junkyard. As a result of the default judgment entered therein, the court appointed a receiver to dispose of the automobiles, automobile parts, and miscellaneous junk which were situated in that junkyard. In the present action, plaintiffs contend that Mr. Brown was not operating a junkyard and that the vehicles and vehicle parts on his property were part of a valuable collection. Furthermore, they allege that the Town's decision to commence an action against him over these items was harassment.
Mr. Brown never appealed any orders of the court in the prior state court action nor did he move the court to remove the default judgment once it had been entered against him. Moreover, when the receiver moved to settle his account, Mr. Brown did not challenge the accounting in the state court. Instead, as he admits, he commenced the present action. Mr. Brown had the opportunity to challenge the Town's actions in the prior state court proceeding. Moreover, he could have raised any of the claims he now raises, including his federal and state constitutional claims, but he chose not do so. Having made this choice, he is bound by it and is, therefore, barred from relitigating these claims by the doctrine of res judicata. Accordingly, the court grants defendants' motion for summary judgment with respect to the Town as barred by res judicata.
2. Liability of Michael Larkin
Judges are absolutely immune from civil liability for acts performed in their judicial capacity, provided such acts are not done in the "'clear absence of all jurisdiction.'" Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 357, 98 S. Ct. 1099, 1105, 55 L. Ed. 2d 331 (1978) (quoting Bradley v. Fisher, 80 U.S. 335, 13 Wall. 335, 351, 20 L. Ed. 646 (1872)). Likewise, "nonjudicial officials are encompassed by a judge's absolute immunity when their official duties 'have an integral relationship with the judicial process.' Ashbrook v. Hoffman, 617 F.2d 474, 476 (7th Cir. 1980). Like judges, these officials must he acting within the scope of their authority." Roland v. Phillips, 19 F.3d 552, 555 (11th Cir. 1994) (citation omitted). Absolute immunity will not attach to such individuals only when they perform acts which are "clearly outside the scope of their jurisdiction." Cok v. Cosentino, 876 F.2d 1, 3 (1st Cir. 1989) (citation omitted). Moreover, "allegations of malice, or bad faith or, [even], a claim of conspiracy will not defeat the protection of derivative absolute immunity for actions taken pursuant to court orders." Id. (citing Dorman v. Higgins, 821 F.2d 133, 139 (2d Cir. 1987); Moses v. Parwatikar, 813 F.2d 891, 892-93 (8th Cir. 1987); Demoran, 781 F.2d 155, 158). The policy behind affording absolute quasi-judicial immunity to such officials is to ensure that those who are assigned to carry out a judge's orders "can perform their function without the need to secure permanent legal counsel. A lesser degree of immunity could impair the judicial process." Valdez v. City and County of Denver, 878 F.2d 1285, 1288 (10th Cir. 1989).
Courts that have addressed this issue have found that such an "integral relationship" encompasses the activities of guardians ad litem, conservators, probation officers, and court appointed receivers. See Cok v. Cosentino, 876 F.2d 1 (1st Cir. 1989) (conservator, guardian ad litem); Dorman v. Higgins, 821 F.2d 133 (2d Cir. 1987) (probation officers); Kermit Construction v. Banco Credito Y Ahorro Ponceno, 547 F.2d 1 (1st Cir. 1976) (court appointed receiver). As the First Circuit explained in Kermit Construction, to deny a receiver the immunity of his appointing judge
would make the receiver a lightning rod for harassing litigation aimed at judicial orders. In addition to the unfairness of sparing the judge who gives an order while punishing the receiver who obeys it, a fear of bringing down litigation on the receiver might color a court's judgment in some cases; and if the court ignores the danger of harassing suits, tensions between receiver and judge seem inevitable.
Kermit Construction, 547 F.2d at 3.
Plaintiffs do not dispute the fact that court-appointed receivers, such as Mr. Larkin, enjoy judicial immunity for acts within the scope of their authority. Their assertion, however, is that Mr. Larkin "relinquished his judicial immunity by his conduct not prescribed by the court's order, since the said order did not specify removal of valuable automobiles, trucks, seasonal-use farm equipment, or valuable miscellany, yet such valuable things were carted off." See Plaintiff's Memorandum of Law at 2. Specifically, in their complaint, plaintiffs allege that
upon information and belief, State Supreme Court Judge Albert E. Tait, Jr's December 20, 1990 Amended Order was for Defendant Receiver Larkin to sell "junk automobiles, automobile parts and miscellaneous junk" at such prices as may FAIRLY and reasonably be obtained UPON THE LOCAL MARKET, yet no local market was explored by the Defendants for the COLLECTION items other than as SCRAP and no public auction was announced or held.