The opinion of the court was delivered by: SCHEINDLIN
SHIRA A. SCHEINDLIN, U.S.D.J.
Defendants William Soltis ("Soltis"), The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (collectively the "LA County Defendants"), Mervyn H. Wolf ("Wolf"), and Donald Zelinsky ("Zelinsky") move, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2), to dismiss this action for lack of personal jurisdiction. The LA County Defendants also move to dismiss Plaintiff's state law claim for abuse of process as barred by the statute of limitations, and to dismiss Plaintiff's §§ 1983 and 1985(3) claims pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). In addition, Defendants Wolf and Zelinsky move to dismiss Plaintiff's abuse of process claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). For the reasons set forth below, the motions to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(2) are granted as to Wolf, Zelinsky, and the LA County Defendants, and under Rule 12(b)(6) as to all Defendants, including Defendant Pina Maria Colapinto ("Colapinto").
Plaintiff Martin Heinfling and Defendant Colapinto have been embroiled in a bitter and ongoing child support dispute for several years. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants conspired to force him into a child support settlement favorable to Colapinto by means of a scheme that involved Colapinto's filing of allegedly false criminal charges against him under the "advice" and with the help of Defendant Soltis, a Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff.
This filing allegedly was followed by threats and promises by Soltis and by Defendants Wolf and Zelinsky, both attorneys for Colapinto, to have the charges dismissed if Plaintiff would cooperate with a generous settlement.
The Amended Complaint includes allegations of events that occurred in California prior to and not at issue in this action. However, the gist of the California allegations is the same as those alleged here and provides useful background for Plaintiff's New York claims. Plaintiff alleges that during the pendency of child support proceedings in California, Colapinto, with the assistance of her co-Defendants, "continuously brought criminal charges against Plaintiff" in California "in an effort to secure a generous support settlement." Am. Compl. P 13. Plaintiff acknowledges that he pled "no contest" to some of these charges. Id. at P 14. He also alleges that prior to being arrested for domestic violence charges in November 1992 by Defendant Soltis, Soltis assaulted Plaintiff and fractured Plaintiff's ribs. Id. at P 16. Plaintiff contends that during the assault, Soltis threatened him either to settle the child support matter or to face more criminal charges, and used anti-Semitic ethnic slurs. Id.
In October 1993, Colapinto filed a criminal complaint in New York. Id. at P 18. Plaintiff alleges that prior to his arraignment on these charges, Soltis advised the New York County District Attorney's office that Plaintiff was a fugitive in California on criminal misdemeanor charges, for which bail had been set at $ 500,000. Id. at P 19. Plaintiff concedes that he was a fugitive, but despite this he was released on his own recognizance in the New York matter. Id. at P 20.
Pending disposition of the criminal charges, an Order of Protection was issued against Plaintiff on behalf of Colapinto. Id. at 21. This Order was lifted in February 1994. Id. at P 22. Plaintiff alleges that soon after, Defendant Wolf contacted the District Attorney's office to urge that the Order be reinstated because Plaintiff had threatened Colapinto immediately upon the vacating of the Order. Id. Plaintiff does not allege that the Order was reinstated, nor does he deny that he threatened Colapinto.
Plaintiff states that throughout this period, Wolf and Zelinsky contacted him several times in New York by telephone or mail from California and advised him that if he settled the child support matter, Colapinto would "do all she can to have the criminal charges dropped." Id. at PP 23, 24. Plaintiff alleges that Wolf accompanied Colapinto to New York on one occasion, and gave the same advice over the telephone from New York. Id. at P 23. Plaintiff contends that Soltis also contacted Plaintiff by telephone from California and suggested that it "would be to Plaintiff's benefit to settle the child support" matter, and threatened him with felony charges if the matter were not settled. Id. at P 25. He also alleges that Soltis contacted Plaintiff's employee and his mother to suggest the same, making anti-Semitic remarks to Plaintiff's mother in the process. Id.
Plaintiff asserts that his arrest for the allegedly false charges was an abuse of process under New York State law. Id. at PP 27-38. He further contends that Defendant Soltis was motivated by anti-Semitic animus, and therefore that the Defendants conspired to deprive him of his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment right to liberty in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3). Id. at PP 39-48. Plaintiff brings the abuse of process and § 1985(3) claims against all of the Defendants. He also alleges that Soltis was acting under color of state law when he advised Colapinto to file false charges in New York, and that Soltis' actions deprived Plaintiff of his Fourteenth Amendment right to liberty in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Id. at PP 49-55. Plaintiff brings this cause of action against the LA County Defendants only. He seeks damages of $ 30 million for loss of business opportunities, damage to his reputation, pain and suffering, medical bills, and legal fees. Id. at PP 38, 48, 55.
A. Rule 12(b)(2) Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal ...