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GONZALEZ v. ESPARZA

July 30, 2003

CHRISTOPHER JOHN GONZALEZ, PLAINTIFF, AGAINST JUDITH ESPARZA, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS A FORMER TEACHER OF THE COMPREHENSIVE MODEL SCHOOL PROJECT, MATTHEW ANGRISANI, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS PRINCIPAL OF COMPREHENSIVE MODEL SCHOOL PROJECT, JOHN DOE, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS SUPERINTENDENT OF MANHATTAN HIGH SCHOOLS, HAROLD LEVY, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS CHANCELLOR OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK, BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK, AND THE CITY OF NEW YORK, DEFENDANTS.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Shirley Kram, Senior District Judge

OPINION & ORDER

Defendants Matthew Angrisani ("Angrisani"), Harold Levy ("Levy"), the Board of Education of the City of New York (the "Board," and together with Angrisani and Levy, the "Board Defendants"), and the City of New York (the "City"), jointly move for dismissal of this action pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion is granted.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Christopher John Gonzalez brings this action against Judith Esparza ("Esparza"), Angrisani, Levy,*fn1 the Board, and the City arising out of his sexual relationship with Esparza while he was a student at the Comprehensive Model School Project ("CMSP")

Plaintiff, now over the age of 18, was a student at CMSP from September 1995 through his graduation from high school in June 2001. Compl. ¶¶ 1, 10. In or about May 1999, while plaintiff was a high school sophomore, he met Esparza, then a teacher at CMSP. Compl. ¶¶ 12, 13. Plaintiff and Esparza began having contact of a sexual nature in June 1999, both on and off school grounds. Compl. ¶¶ 14-15, 18. During the summer of 1999, plaintiff and Esparza saw each socially on approximately three occasions, and on each occasion, they had contact of a sexual nature. Compl. ¶¶ 19-22. Plaintiff discontinued his relationship with Esparza shortly thereafter. Compl. ¶ 23.

Plaintiff and Esparza again had contact of a sexual nature in October 1999, after he sought her help with a school project. Compl. ¶ 24. Plaintiff asserts that Esparza again contacted plaintiff and expressed a desire to resume their relationship in or about December 1999. Compl. ¶ 25. During the Spring 2000 school term, Esparza accused plaintiff of misconduct in connection with his extra-curricular school activities, and in response, plaintiff cursed at Esparza. Compl. ¶ 27. Plaintiff was then summoned to the Assistant Principal's office and questioned about the incident. Compl. ¶ 28. As a result, plaintiff was removed from his position on the Committee on Student Activities. Id.

On June 6, 2001, plaintiff was summoned to Principal Angrisani's office and was questioned regarding the nature of his relationship with Esparza. Compl. ¶ 31. Plaintiff admitted to having such a relationship, and the next day, was contacted by detectives from the New York City Police Department and representatives from the New York County District Attorney's Office. Compl. ¶¶ 31-32. Esparza was subsequently charged with, among other things, rape, third degree, due to her sexual contact with plaintiff. Compl. ¶ 32.

II. DISCUSSION

A. STANDARD OF REVIEW

On a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court must accept as true the factual allegations contained in the complaint, and view the complaint in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Bolt Elec, Inc. v. City of N.Y., 53 F.3d 465, 469 (2d Cir. 1995); see also Walker v. City of N.Y., 974 F.2d 293, 298 (2d Cir. 1992). Dismissal is warranted only if "it appears beyond doubt that plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Walker, 974 F.2d at 298 (quoting Ricciuti v. N.Y. City Transit Auth., 941 F.2d 119 (2d Cir. 1991)).

B. PLAINTIFF's CLAIMS AGAINST THE CITY OF NEW YORK

Plaintiff's claims against the City must be dismissed, "since the Board of Education is an entity separate from the City itself." Linder v. City of N.Y., ___ F. Supp.2d ___, No. 01 Civ. 8245, 2003 WL 21079216, *2 (E.D.N.Y. Mar. 13, 2003); see also Campbell v. City of N.Y., 203 A.D.2d 504, 611 N.Y.S.2d 248, 249 (2d Dep't 1994). Therefore, the City is not liable for torts committed by the Board. Titusville Iron Co. v. City of N.Y., 207 N.Y. 203, 100 N.E. 806 (1912); see also Linder, supra.

Although plaintiff argues that recent changes in the structure of the Board and the control by the mayor's office over the position of Chancellor have blurred the division between the two entities, the Board continues "for all purposes, [to] be the government or public employer of all persons appointed or assigned by the city board or the community districts[.]" N.Y. Educ. Law. ยง 2590-g(2) (McKinney 2003). The Court agrees with the Corporation Counsel for the City that changes in the statutory scheme regarding the interplay between the Board and the City can be best described as "political," with the Board continuing to exist as a separate and distinct ...


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