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ARUM v. MILLER

March 20, 2002

CAROLE ARUM, PLAINTIFF,
V.
MR. RICHARD MILLER, DIRECTOR OF PUPIL SERVICES, SYOSSET, S.D., BOARD OF EDUCATION OF SYOSSET, S.D., DR. STREITMAN, ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT SYOSSET S.D., SYOSSET CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT, POLICE OFFICER JOHN KLESSERATH, POLICE OFFICER JOHN WHEELER, SERGEANT RALPH HOFFMAN, DET. DAVID M. OHAYON, COUNTY OF NASSAU POLICE DEPARTMENT, COUNTY OF NASSAU, N.Y., DEFENDANTS



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

    MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER

This action arises out of a claim by Pro Se plaintiff Carole Arum ("Arum" or the `plaintiff') against the defendants Richard Miller ("Miller"), the Board of Education of the Syosset School District (the "Board of Education"), Dr. Jeffery Streitman ("Streitman"), Syosset Central School District (the "Central School District"), Police Officer John Klesserath ("Klesserath"), Police Officer John Wheeler ("Wheeler"), Sergeant Ralph Hoffman ("Hoffman"), Detective David M. Ohayon ("Ohayon"), the County of Nassau Police Department (the "Nassau County Police Department") and the County of Nassau, New York (the "County of Nassau"). The plaintiff alleges that the defendants violated her constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983") on the grounds of false arrest, malicious prosecution, excessive force, harassment and failure to provide her with a French interpreter during her arrest. Presently before the Court is a motion by Miller, the Board of Education, Streitman and the Central School District to dismiss the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, lack of personal jurisdiction and failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1), 12(b)(2) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

I. BACKGROUND

The following facts are taken from the complaint. On January 5, 2000, the plaintiff, a resident of Syosset, New York, went to the Syosset School District to meet with Miller, the Director of Pupil Services for the Syosset School District. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss a bus safety issue involving her son, who is disabled. The meeting took place in Miller's office. During the meeting, the plaintiff stepped outside the office, wrote a letter requesting a second "Impartial Hearing" and gave the letter to Miller's secretary.

The plaintiff then asked Miller if she may review her son's educational file. Miller consented and an employee in Miller's office brought the file to the plaintiff. While the plaintiff was reviewing the file, Miller suddenly pulled the file away from her elbowing the plaintiff in the mouth. The plaintiff fell off her chair and on to the floor. The plaintiff then tried to call the police but she could not get an outside line. Miller went to another telephone, called the police and told them that he had asked the plaintiff to leave and that she refused. The plaintiff then called 911 and requested an ambulance and the police. Because the police did not arrive immediately, the plaintiff called the police a second time.

When officers from the Nassau County Police Department arrived, Police Officer Klesserath and Streitman, the Assistant Superintendent for the Syosset School District, entered the office of the secretary with six or seven male police officers behind them. Sergeant Hoffman was one of the officers present in this group. Klesserath asked the plaintiff what happened. The plaintiff replied that Miller hit her while she was looking at her son's file. The plaintiff then asked Klesserath to arrest Miller. Klesserath immediately accused the plaintiff of stealing her son's file.

Shortly thereafter, an ambulance arrived. The plaintiff asked the driver of the ambulance to take her to the hospital. The driver responded that he must first wait for the sergeant. The plaintiff asked Hoffman what is the status of the investigation and Hoffman replied that it was over. The plaintiff asked Miller's secretary whether Hoffman had asked any questions and she replied in the negative.

The plaintiff then asked Streitman and Hoffman for a French-speaking interpreter. Streitman and Hoffman laughed at the plaintiff. Hoffman told the plaintiff that if she did not leave the building on her own without the ambulance, he would arrest her for trespass. The plaintiff did not reply and simply showed her hands. An unidentified police officer then handcuffed her. While seated in a chair, Klesserath then jumped on her left arm causing a large abrasion to her arm. The plaintiff told Klesserath that he hurt her arm and Klesserath immediately accused the plaintiff of twisting his pinky.

The complaint further alleges that the ambulance then took the plaintiff to the Nassau County Medical Center (the "Medical Center") for a psychiatric evaluation. The plaintiff met with a psychiatrist, a physician. a social worker and a student for her evaluation and each individual concluded that she was of sound mind. After her psychiatric examination, unidentified police officers then transported the plaintiff to an unidentified hospital in Nassau County. While reading a medical report in the Emergency Room at this hospital, Klesserath suddenly charged at the plaintiff. Wheeler, Klesserath and an unidentified nurse then grabbed the plaintiff, hit her or. the head and lips and handcuffed her. The plaintiff alleges that she did not resist during this time.

After being handcuffed, unidentified officers took her to a cell at the Medical Center and then transferred her to the precinct. At the precinct, unidentified officers took her to the basement and tied her to a wall with handcuffs. Shortly thereafter, unidentified officers transferred the plaintiff in a locked cage while still tied to a wall with handcuffs. The plaintiff alleges that she was tied to a wall with handcuffs for about eleven hours. The plaintiff alleges that she suffered bruising to her wrists and distress as a result of this experience.

The complaint alleges that at the precinct, an unidentified officer unzipped her pants in front of six or seven male officers and at that moment took a picture of her face. The complaint also alleges that unidentified officers did not permit her to use the bathroom for hours.

Minutes before midnight on January 5, 2000, unidentified officers transported the plaintiff to the detention center. At this time, an unidentified officer offered to transport the plaintiff to Winthrop Hospital. However, two unidentified officers advised this officer not to take the plaintiff to the hospital. The plaintiff then asked the officer, who initially offered to take her to the hospital, to transport her to the hospital because both her arms were swollen and burning; this officer refused her request.

On January 6, 2000, the Nassau County District Attorney's Office (the "District Attorney") charged the plaintiff with one count of assault in the second degree for striking a police officer and two counts of trespass. On May 24, 2000, a grand jury dismissed the count of assault and voted a prosecutor's information of two counts of trespass. On October 17, 2000, the District Attorney dismissed the counts of trespass in the interest of justice. The complaint alleges that the arrest of the plaintiff was not supported by probable cause and that the Nassau County Police Department violated her rights by imprisoning her for about 23 hours.

On December 18, 2000, the plaintiff commenced this action. The plaintiff asserts twenty-eight causes of action in violation of section 1983. The Court addresses only the eight causes of action which are the subject of the motion to dismiss presently before this Court. The plaintiff numbers her causes of action from 4.1 to 4.28. The plaintiff alleges:

4.21 Malicious Prosecution by Mr. Miller

The plaintiff alleges that Miller maliciously prosecuted her when he told the police that she was trespassing at the Syosset School District. The plaintiff further alleges that Miller accused her of trespassing to avoid being arrested for assault.

4.22 Blackmail, Harassment and Intimidation by the School District

Although the allegations in this cause of action are vague, the plaintiff seems to allege that the Board of Education and the Central School District engaged in various conduct to harass her. Specifically, the plaintiff alleges that on October 15, 1999, James Collins ("Collins"), the principal of the Thompson Middle School, called the police to arrest the plaintiff after Collins claimed that the plaintiff became violent during a dispute involving a book for her son. The plaintiff also alleges that on an unspecified date one Principal Wood ("Wood") of the Robbins Lane School called the police when the plaintiff and her son were at Hofstra University because Wood "thought" the plaintiff was going to take her son out of the University without a note.

4.23 Assault By Mr. Miller

The plaintiff alleges that Miller struck her in the mouth with his elbow causing her to suffer a broken tooth.

4.24 Mr. Miller Abused Authority

Although the allegations in this cause of action are vague, the plaintiff seems to allege that Miller abused his authority at a hearing which took place over the course of 1 1/2 years where her son was found disabled. The plaintiff alleges further that the Syosset School District referred to her as "bad, cruel and delusional" during the hearing.

4.25 Deliberate Indifference by Dr. Streitman and Board of Directors

The plaintiff alleges that Miller and Streitman called the police on January 5, 2000 after the plaintiff had previously warned the Board of Education "about the dangers of calling the police to resolve any disagreements."

4.26 Pain & Suffering

Although the allegations in this cause of action are vague, the plaintiff seems to allege that the events of January 5, 2000 have caused the plaintiff to sustain pain and suffering. The plaintiff alleges further that the pending charges prevented the plaintiff from applying for unspecified jobs.

4.27 Discrimination against Minority and Refusal to Provide Interpreter

The plaintiff alleges that Streitman and Hoffman refused to provide her with an interpreter and the police transported her to the Medical Center for a psychiatric evaluation.

4.28 False Arrest and Wrongful Imprisonment

The plaintiff alleges that Miller made false accusations to the police which resulted in her arrest on January 5, 2000.

Presently before the Court is a motion by Miller, the Board of Education, Streitman and the Central School District to dismiss the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, lack of personal jurisdiction and failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1), 12(b)(2) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

II. DISCUSSION

In addressing the present motion, the Court is mindful that the plaintiff is proceeding pro se and that her submissions should be held "`to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. . . .'" Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9, 101 S.Ct. 173, 176, 66 L.Ed.2d 163 (1980) (per curiam) (quoting Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520, 92 S.Ct. 594, 595, 30 L.Ed.2d 652 (1972)); see also Ferran v. Town of Nassau, 11 F.3d 21, 22 (2d Cir. 1993). The Court recognizes that it must make reasonable allowances so that a pro se plaintiff does not forfeit rights by virtue of her or his lack of legal training. See Traguth v. Zuck, 710 F.2d 90, 94 (2d Cir. 1983).

Indeed, district courts should "read the pleadings of a pro se plaintiff liberally and interpret them `to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest.'" McPherson v. Coombe, 174 F.3d 276, 280 (2d Cir. 1999) (quoting Burgos v. Hopkins, 14 F.3d 787, 790 (2d Cir. 1994)). Nevertheless, the Court is also aware that pro se status "`does not exempt a party from compliance with relevant rules of procedural and substantive law.'" Traguth, 710 F.2d at 95 (quotations omitted).

The Court will address the issue of jurisdiction before turning to the merits of the motion under Rule 12(b)(6). See Rhulen Agency, Inc. v. Alabama Ins. Guar. Ass'n, 896 F.2d 674, 678 (2d Cir. 1990) (stating that a motion challenging subject matter jurisdiction should be considered before deciding a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted); Magee v. Nassan County Med. Ctr., 27 F. Supp.2d 154, 158 ...


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