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BOWLES v. NEW YORK

January 25, 1999

TONY BOWLES, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE STATE OF NEW YORK, THE RIVERBANK STATE PARK, AND J. HARDISON, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Stein, District Judge.

OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Tony Bowles brings this action pro se pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that defendants have violated his Constitutional rights by falsely arresting him, maliciously prosecuting him, verbally harassing him and using excessive force during his arrest. Plaintiff seeks $40 million in damages. Defendants move for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Fed. R.Civ.P. 12(c). For the following reasons, defendants' motion is granted and the amended complaint is dismissed.

BACKGROUND

The following allegations are taken from the amended complaint: Bowles alleges that in "September and October 1997" he was "harassed and verbally abused" in Riverbank State Park by defendant New York State Park Police Officer J. Hardison. Amended Complaint at "fifth". On October 15, 1997, defendant "spotted [Bowles] in the park and informed him that the park was closed, and ordered him to leave." Amended Complaint at "sixth". Plaintiff allegedly "proceeded to leave, but was arrested and brought to the park police station." Id. Officer Hardison allegedly "pushed and shoved him while conducting a search" of Bowles. Id. He was held in a cell for three hours, issued two summonses for disorderly conduct and released. Id. One month later — November 17, 1997 — one of the disorderly conduct charges was dismissed and the other was adjourned in contemplation of dismissal ("ACD") and ultimately dismissed.*fn1 Amended Complaint at "seventh".

Plaintiff filed this action in November of 1997 against the State of New York, the Riverbank State Park, and officer Hardison. Defendants have now moved for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). Defendants contend that the Eleventh Amendment precludes this suit against all three defendants. The parties have fully briefed this motion, including the submission of a sur reply by plaintiff dated January 8, 1999.

DISCUSSION

The standard governing a motion for judgment on the pleadings is equivalent to the standard governing a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See Sheppard v. Beerman, 18 F.3d 147, 150 (2d Cir. 1994), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 816, 115 S.Ct. 73, 130 L.Ed.2d 28 (1994). Accordingly, in evaluating a Rule 12(c) motion, a court must accept as true the allegations of the complaint and must view the pleadings in the light most favorable to, and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of, the nonmoving party. See, e.g., Id.; Madonna v. United States, 878 F.2d 62, 65 (2d Cir. 1989); New York Criminal Bar Ass'n v. Newton, 1999 WL 14015, *1 (S.D.N Y Jan.13, 1999). The Court "may not dismiss the complaint `unless it appears beyond doubt that plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief.'" Madonna, 878 F.2d at 65 (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957)). In other words, "[j]udgment on the pleadings is appropriate if, from the pleadings, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Burns Intern. Sec. Servs. Inc. v. International Union, United Plant Guard Workers of America, 47 F.3d 14, 16 (2d Cir. 1995).

Moreover, as a pro se litigant, plaintiff is entitled to significant liberality in how his pleadings are construed. A pro se plaintiffs pleadings are held "to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Haines, 404 U.S. at 520-21, 92 S.Ct. 594; see Ortiz v. Cornetta, 867 F.2d 146, 148 (2d Cir. 1989). Nevertheless, for the following reasons, defendants' motion is granted.

I. The Eleventh Amendment Bars the Action Against the State of New York

The claim against the State of New York must be dismissed because the Eleventh Amendment bars from federal court all section 1983 suits for legal or equitable relief brought by citizens against unconsenting states and agencies of those states. Alabama v. Pugh, 438 U.S. 781, 782, 98 S.Ct. 3057, 57 L.Ed.2d 1114 (1978) (per curiam); Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651, 94 S.Ct. 1347, 39 L.Ed.2d 662 (1974); see also Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 99 S.Ct. 1139, 59 L.Ed.2d 358 (1979) (section 1983 does not override the immunity granted to states by the Eleventh Amendment); Trotman v. Palisades Interstate Park Comm'n, 557 F.2d 35, 40 (2d Cir. 1977) (New York is an unconsenting state).*fn2

  II. Riverbank State Park is not a "Person" and Cannot be Sued Pursuant
      to 42 U.S.C. § 1983

III. False Arrest and Malicious Prosecution

No claim may be brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 for false arrest or malicious prosecution if the plaintiff was convicted of the offense for which he was arrested. Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 489, 114 S.Ct. 2364, 129 L.Ed.2d 383 (1994) ("[A] section 1983 cause of action for damages attributable to an unconstitutional conviction or sentence does not accrue until the conviction or sentence has been invalidated."); Cameron v. Fogarty, 806 F.2d 380, 386-88 (2d Cir. 1986), cert. denied. 481 U.S. 1016, 107 S.Ct. 1894, 95 L.Ed.2d 501 (1987) (citations omitted); see also Dukes v. New York, 743 F. Supp. 1037, 1040-41 (S.D.N.Y. ...


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