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SUTTON v. VILLAGE OF VALLEY STREAM

May 8, 2000

RAYMOND J. SUTTON, JR., PLAINTIFF,
V.
VILLAGE OF VALLEY STREAM, NEW YORK, JAMES DARCY, PATRICK MCKENNA AND NICHOLAS CAMARANO, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This is a civil rights case brought by plaintiff Raymond Sutton, Jr. ("Plaintiff" or "Sutton, Jr."), an employee of the Village of Valley Stream (the "Village") against the Village, its mayor, the Village attorney and a Village employee.

Also pending before this court is a factually related lawsuit commenced by the father of the Plaintiff herein. In that lawsuit, filed under docket number 98-5360, Plaintiff's father, Raymond Sutton, Sr. ("Sutton, Sr.") claims that adverse employment action was taken against him because of the exercise of his First Amendment rights — his expression of support for a particular political group.

Like the Sutton, Sr. lawsuit, this lawsuit alleges adverse employment action taken in retaliation for the exercise of First Amendment rights. This lawsuit differs from the Sutton, Sr. lawsuit in one important respect. Sutton, Jr. does not allege that he was retaliated against for his support of a slate of candidates. Instead, Sutton, Jr. argues that he suffered adverse employment action because his father voiced his political beliefs. Thus, Sutton, Jr. alleges a violation of his constitutional right to associate with his father, Sutton, Sr. Additionally, Sutton, Jr. alleges a violation of his right to substantive due process.

Presently before the court is defendants' motion to dismiss, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.

BACKGROUND

I. The Parties

As noted, Plaintiff is Raymond J. Sutton, Jr. Named as defendants are the Village along with the individual who was the Mayor of the Village at all relevant times, James Darcy ("Darcy"), Village Attorney Patrick McKenna ("McKenna") and Supervisor of the Village Department of Public Works, Nicholas Camarano ("Camarano"). The individual defendants are named in their official as well as their individual capacities.

II. The Facts Alleged By Plaintiff

The facts alleged in support of Plaintiffs' claims, as set forth in the complaint and accepted as true for the purpose of this motion, are as follows.

Plaintiff was first employed by the Village as a Motor Equipment Operator. After a 1991 car accident, Plaintiff received workers compensation payments for approximately two years. Thereafter, in September of 1993, Plaintiff returned to work for the Village at his prior title, but performing different duties.

Plaintiff alleges that his father, Sutton, Sr., was known to be an active supporter of Mayor Donley who, in 1995, lost the Village mayoral election to defendant James Darcy. In or about December of 1996, after the election of defendant Darcy, Plaintiff began to work under defendant Camarano who is alleged to have begun harassing both Sutton Jr. and his father. This "campaign of harassment" is alleged to have intensified after Sutton, Sr. filed his lawsuit in this court. The acts of harassment of which Sutton, Jr. complains include, inter alia:

• ordering that Plaintiff's assignment be changed to the Village Sanitation Department (against Plaintiff's physician recommendation that he remain in the Highway Department);
• suspending Plaintiff's driving privileges because Plaintiff was allegedly involved in several motor vehicle accidents;
• accusing Plaintiff of removing a bag of cement from the Village without authorization (which accusation resulted in a suspension and reduction in wage grade);
• disciplining Plaintiff more harshly than other employees who engaged in ...

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