The opinion of the court was delivered by: William C. Conner, United States District Judge.
Plaintiff Diana Fieldcamp brings the instant action under
42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 1985 and the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to
the Constitution of the United States against defendants the City of New
York, the New York City Police Department ("NYPD"), and Detective Alfred
Lorenz. Plaintiff alleges that Detective Lorenz, acting under color of
state law, intentionally and willfully deprived plaintiff of her civil
rights. Defendants move to dismiss the Complaint pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can
be granted on the grounds that: (1) plaintiff has not alleged and cannot
show that defendants deprived her of a constitutional right under §
1983; (2) failure to place plaintiff in a safety restraint while being
transported at most sets forth a claim of negligence, which is not
actionable under § 1983; (3) the NYPD is not a suable entity and as
such any claims against it must be dismissed; and (4) Detective Lorenz is
entitled to qualified immunity. For the reasons set forth below,
defendants' motion is granted as to the claims against the NYPD but is
On a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the issue is "whether the
claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims." Scheuer,
416 U.S. at 236. A complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state
a claim "unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no
set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief."
Padavan v. United States, 82 F.3d 23, 26 (2d Cir. 1996) (quoting Hughes
v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 10 (1980)).
Generally, "[c]onclusory allegations or legal conclusions masquerading
as factual conclusions will not suffice to prevent a motion to dismiss."
2 JAMES WM. MOORE ET AL., MOORE'S FEDERAL PRACTICE § 12.34[b] (3d
ed. 1997); see also Hirsch v. Arthur Andersen & Co., 72 F.3d 1085,
1088 (2d Cir. 1995). Allegations that are so conclusory that they fail to
give notice of the basic events and circumstances of which the plaintiff
complains are insufficient as a matter of law. See Martin v. New York
State Dep't of Mental Hygiene, 588 F.2d 371, 372 (2d Cir. 1978). Under
the relaxed federal pleading requirements, it is enough that the pleading
"contain `a short and plain statement of the claim' sufficient to put the
[adverse party] on notice of the grounds for which the [claimant] seeks
relief." Reuben H. Donnelley Corp. v. Mark I Mktg. Corp., 893 F. Supp. 285,
291 (S.D.N.Y. 1995) (Conner, J.) (quoting FED. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2)).
"[T]he principal function of pleadings under the Federal Rules is to give
the adverse party fair notice. . . so as to enable [that party] to answer
and prepare for trial." Salahuddin v. Cuomo, 861 F.2d 40, 42 (2d Cir.
1988) (dismissal under Rule 8 "is usually reserved for those cases in
which the complaint is so confused, ambiguous, vague or otherwise
unintelligible that its true substance, if any, is well disguised").
Although the pleading requirements are construed liberally, "[l]iberal
construction has its limits, for the pleading must at least set forth
sufficient information for the court to determine whether some recognized
legal theory exists upon which relief could be accorded the pleader. If
it fails to do so, a motion under Rule 12(b)(6) will be granted."
2 MOORE's FEDERAL PRACTICE § 12.34[b] at 12-60 (3d ed.).
To state a cognizable claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, "a plaintiff
must allege a violation of rights secured by the Constitution or laws of
the United States, and that such violation was committed by a person
acting under color of state law." Kern v. City of Rochester, 93 F.3d 38,
43 (2d Cir. 1996). It is undisputed that defendant Lorenz clearly acted
under color of state law because the actions about which plaintiff
complains were committed, in part, by defendant Lorenz as a detective in
the course of duty. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 49-50 (1988).
Defendants argue however, that plaintiff cannot maintain a claim under
§ 1983 because she has failed to demonstrate that she was deprived of
any constitutional right. (Defs. Mem. Supp. Mot. Dismiss at 3.) Plaintiff
maintains that she has properly asserted a § 1983 claim for a
violation of her rights under the Fourth Amendment. (Pl. Mem. Opp. Mot.
Dismiss at 4.) The Fourth Amendment states:
The right of the people to be secure in their
persons, houses, papers, and effects, against
unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be
violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon
probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and
particularly describing the place to be searched, and
the persons or things to be seized.
Our first inquiry, whether Detective Lorenz's actions constituted a
seizure under the Fourth Amendment, requires the Court to determine
whether a reasonable person in plaintiff's position would not have felt
free to leave the officers' custody. Tankleff v. Senkowski, 135 F.3d 235,
244 (2d Cir. 1998). According to the Complaint, plaintiff was
rear-handcuffed and held in the back of a police car for several hours.
(Complt. ¶ 9.) The officers' action in this case would certainly
convey to a reasonable person that he or she was not free to go about
their business. See California v. Hodari D., 499 U.S. 621, 628 (1991);
see also United States v. Moreno, 897 F.2d 26, 30 (2d Cir. 1990)
("When. . , an officer even briefly detains an individual and restrains
that person's right to walk away, he has effected a seizure and the
limitations of the fourth amendment become applicable."). Having
established that plaintiff's detention constituted a seizure under the
Fourth Amendment, our inquiry proceeds to the question of whether that
seizure was reasonable under the circumstances. See Whren v. United
States,517 U.S. 806, 810 (1996).
The "Fourth Amendment shields arrestees from police conduct that
unreasonably aggravates the intrusion on privacy properly occasioned by
the initial seizure." Lauro v. Charles, 219 F.3d 202, 212 (2d Cir.
2000). The courts have recognized that the constitutional right to
privacy also includes a right to bodily privacy. See, e.g., Hayes v.
Marriott, 70 F.3d 1144, 1146 (10th Cir. 1995); Fortner v. Thomas,
983 F.2d 1024, 1030 (11th Cir. 1993); Covino v. Patrissi, 967 F.2d 73, 78
(2d Cir. 1992). Plaintiff contends that the conditions of the seizure
were unreasonable in that the police officers, through their intentional
inaction after handcuffing and incapacitating plaintiff, violated her
right to privacy with respect to her unclothed body. (Pl. Mem. Opp. Mot.
Dismiss at 5.) Specifically, plaintiff alleges that Detective Lorenz and
other officers were aware that because she was rear-handcuffed, plaintiff
could not cover her exposed breast, but deliberately failed and refused
to assist her. (Complt. ¶ 9.) In Franklin v. Foxworth, 31 F.3d 873,
876 (9th Cir. 1994), the
court stated that "[a] detention conducted in
connection with a search may be unreasonable if it is unnecessarily
painful, degrading, or prolonged, or if it involves an undue invasion of
privacy." The fact that the police in Franklin did not initially clothe or
cover the plaintiff was one of the factors relied upon by the court that
led it to conclude that the officers' actions were unreasonable. In the
instant case, not only did the officers ...