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GREENBERG v. NEW YORK STATE

April 3, 1996

JEFFREY M. GREENBERG, Plaintiff, against NEW YORK STATE, NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES, NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF AUDIT AND CONTROL, and NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF CIVIL SERVICE, Defendants.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: SEYBERT

 SEYBERT, District Judge:

 Plaintiff brings the instant action against defendants New York State, New York State Department of Correctional Services ("DOCS"), New York State Department of Audit and Control ("Audit and Control"), and New York State Department of Civil Service ("Civil Service") (hereinafter "defendants") pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. ยงยง 12112-12117 (amended by the Civil Rights Act of 1991, Pub. L. No. 102-166) ("ADA"). In his complaint, plaintiff alleges that he was not appointed to the position of Correction Officer with DOCS because he was perceived as having a mental disability. Pending before the Court is defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. In their motion, defendants allege that the complaint should be dismissed because (1) plaintiff has failed to allege sufficient facts to state a claim based upon the ADA and (2) defendants Civil Service, Audit and Control and the State of New York are not proper parties to this action. For the reasons set forth below, defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint is GRANTED in its entirety.

 FACTUAL BACKGROUND

 The following facts are the material facts alleged in the complaint, and as required on a motion to dismiss, the Court accepts them as true. Bankers Trust Co. v. Rhoades, 859 F.2d 1096, 1099 (2d Cir. 1988), cert. denied sub nom., Soifer v. Bankers Trust Co., 490 U.S. 1007, 109 S. Ct. 1642, 104 L. Ed. 2d 158 (1989).

 Plaintiff alleges that he was a candidate for the position of Correction Officer with DOCS. After passing the written examination, plaintiff, as part of the screening requirements, underwent a psychological examination. On October 7 1993, plaintiff alleges that he was notified by DOCS that he failed to meet the psychological requirements for the position of Correction Officer. Specifically, DOCS psychologist, Michael Prezioso, found that plaintiff "lacked the ability to make decisions regarding security and safety in emergency situations, to perform effecttively (sic) and efficiently under stress, and to identify with potential or actual disruptive situations, required by Correction Officers." Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Prezioso only indicated a selective portion of his past history on the report. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that Dr. Prezioso failed to indicate that plaintiff is, and has been since 1989, a full-time Campus Security Officer with the Hewlett-Woodmere U.F.S.D. and that plaintiff is, and has been since July 1989, a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician/defibrillation with the Hewlett Bay Fire District.

 Plaintiff alleges that although he has no mental disability, he was perceived by DOCS as having a mental disability, and thus was disqualified from a position as a Correction Officer. In support of his claim, plaintiff contends that he submitted to DOCS an eleven page psychological screening report from Kevin J. Worgul, Ph.D., dated January 31, 1994, that indicated that plaintiff was psychologically suitable for the position of Correction Officer. Plaintiff further alleges that Civil Service "failed to address [his] appeal so that the civil service list [would] expire and in fact did expire in September 1994." In his complaint, plaintiff makes no allegations against the State of New York or against Audit and Control.

 On or about February 15, 1994, plaintiff filed a charge with the New York State Division of Human Rights or the New York City Commission on Human Rights regarding defendants alleged discrimination. On November 24, 1994, plaintiff filed a similar charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and on March 6, 1995, plaintiff received a right to sue letter. On or about May 4, 1995, plaintiff commenced the instant action.

 DISCUSSION

 Defendants have requested the Court to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Specifically, defendants allege that plaintiff cannot maintain a claim pursuant to the ADA because he cannot establish a disability within the meaning of the statute. Defendants further claim that while plaintiff presumably named New York State, Civil Service and Audit and Control as necessary parties pursuant to Rule 19 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, such inclusion is unwarranted because plaintiff fails to allege (1) any involvement by these agencies in the decision not to appoint plaintiff as a Correction Officer and (2) any unlawful acts on the part of these agencies.

 Plaintiff, in contrast, contends that he is naming all of the listed defendants because the original complaint from the New York Division of Human Rights named all of the defendants as necessary parties. In addition, plaintiff claims that he named Civil Service as a defendant because it is plaintiff's understanding that Civil Service has jurisdiction in a case where a candidate is disqualified for a specific reason and Civil Service reviews the reason for the disqualification. Plaintiff further claims that he should be allowed to proceed with his claim under the ADA because he was denied a position with DOCS based on DOCS' perception that he had a mental disability, even though plaintiff contends that this is false.

 I. STANDARDS GOVERNING A MOTION TO DISMISS UNDER RULE 12(B)(6)

 A district court should grant a motion to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim only if "'it is clear that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the allegations.'" H.J. Inc. V. Northwest Bell Tel. Co., 492 U.S. 229, 249-50, 109 S. Ct. 2893, 2906, 106 L. Ed. 2d 195 (1989) (quoting Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73, 104 S. Ct. 2229, 2232, 81 L. Ed. 2d 59 (1984)); Annis v. County of Westchester, 36 F.3d 251, 253 (2d Cir. 1994); Easton v. Sundram, 947 F.2d 1011, 1014 (2d Cir. 1991), cert. denied, 504 U.S. 911, 112 S. Ct. 1943, 118 L. Ed. 2d 548 (1992). In applying this standard, a district court must "read the facts alleged in the complaint in the light most favorable" to the plaintiff, and accept these allegations as true. Id. at 249, 109 S. Ct. at 2906; see Christ Gatzonis Elec. Contractor, Inc. v. New York City Sch. Constr. Auth., 23 F.3d 636, 639 (2d Cir. 1994); see also Leatherman v. Tarrant County Narcotics Intelligence and Coordination Unit, 507 U.S. 163, 168, 113 S. Ct. 1160, 1163, 122 L. Ed. 2d 517 (1993) (citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2) to demonstrate liberal system of 'notice pleading' employed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure). The court's duty merely is "to assess the legal feasibility of the complaint, not to assay the weight of the evidence which might be offered in support thereof." Geisler v. Petrocelli, 616 F.2d 636, 639 (2d Cir. 1980); accord Goldman v. Belden, 754 F.2d 1059, 1067 (2d Cir. 1985). The appropriate inquiry, therefore, is not "whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims." Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236, 94 S. Ct. 1683, 1686, 40 L. Ed. 2d 90 (1914); Ricciuti v. New York City Transit Auth., 941 F.2d 119, 124 (2d Cir. 1991) (plaintiff is not compelled to prove his case at the pleading stage). Additionally, the Rules do not require the claimant to set out in detail the facts upon which he or she bases a claim, but only that he or she gives a statement of his or her claim that will give defendant "fair notice of what [his or her] claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S. Ct. 99, 2 L. Ed. 2d 80 (1957). Therefore, where a complaint is filed that charges each element necessary to recover, dismissal of the case for failure to set out evidential facts can seldom be warranted. U.S. v. Employing Plasterers Assoc'n, 347 U.S. 186, 188-89, 74 S. Ct. 452, 453-54, 98 L. Ed. 618 (1954). Individual allegations, however, that are so baldly conclusory that they fail to give notice of the basic events and circumstances of which the plaintiff complains are meaningless as a practical matter and, as a matter of law, insufficient to state a claim. Barr v. Abrams, 810 F.2d 358, 363 (2d Cir. 1987).

 When a party is proceeding pro se, as in the instant action, the Court has an obligation to construe the pleadings of the pro se litigant liberally. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520, 92 S. Ct. 594, 595, 30 L. Ed. 2d 652 (1972) (per curiam) (proclaiming that pro se complaints should be "held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers"); Super v. Price Waterhouse, No. 94 Civ. 7466, 1995 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12034, 1995 WL 498773 (S.D.N.Y.) (same). A pro se party's general conclusions, however, completely unsupported by specific allegations of fact, are not ...


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