The opinion of the court was delivered by: SHIRA SCHEINDLIN, District Judge
OPINION AND ORDER
William Washington, proceeding pro se, brings this action under
section 1983 of Title 42 of the U.S. Code ("section 1983")
seeking damages for false arrest, wrongful imprisonment and malicious
prosecution. Plaintiff alleges that on April 16, 2002, Police Officer
Milutinovic arrested him at the Port Authority bus terminal in New York
City and charged him with two felonies: robbery in the third degree and
criminal possession of stolen property. After trial, plaintiff was
acquitted of the more serious robbery charge but was found guilty of the
stolen property charge. District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau ("D. A.
Morgenthau") moves to dismiss on the basis that plaintiff's allegations
fail to state a claim against him upon which relief can be granted. For
the following reasons, D. A. Morgenthau's motion is granted and he is
dismissed from this lawsuit. I. BACKGROUND
Plaintiff claims that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated when
P.O. Milutinovic arrested him at the Port Authority bus terminal and
charged him with robbery in the third degree and criminal possession of
stolen property. Plaintiff admits that he stole a wallet containing $90
in cash but claims that he should only have been charged with petit
larceny, a misdemeanor. See Complaint, Statement of Claim at
1-2. Plaintiff asserts that P.O. Milutinovic, working under the direct
supervision of Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, knew that the felony
arrest was a "fraud" but nonetheless detained plaintiff and initiated a
criminal proceeding. See id., Second Cause of Action at I. In
addition, plaintiff claims that the State lacked probable cause to
prosecute him for third-degree robbery and that the prosecution for that
charge was motivated by "malice." See id., First Cause of
Action. Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages from all defendants.
Under Rules 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a
complaint should be dismissed if "it appears beyond doubt that the
plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would
entitle him to relief." Caiola v. Citibank, N.A., New York,
295 F.3d 312, 321 (2d Cir. 2002) (internal quotation marks and citation
omitted); see also Sweet v. Sheahan, 235 F.3d 80, 83 (2d Cir.
2000). At the motion to dismiss stage, the issue "`is not whether a
plaintiff is likely to prevail ultimately, but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims.
Indeed it may appear on the face of the pleading that a recovery is very
remote and unlikely but that is not the test.'" Phelps v.
Kapnolas, 308 F.3d 180, 184-85 (2d Cir. 2002) (per curiam)
(quoting Chance v. Armstrong, 143 F.3d 698, 701 (2d Cir. 1998)).
Therefore, the task of the court in ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is
"`merely to assess the legal feasibility of the complaint, not to assay
the weight of the evidence which might be offered in support thereof"
Pierce v. Marano, No. 01 Civ. 3410, 2002 WL 1858772, at
*3 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 13, 2002) (quoting Saunders v.
Coughlin, No. 92 Civ. 4289, 1994 WL 98108, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Mar.
When deciding a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a court
must accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true and draw all
reasonable inferences in plaintiff's favor. See Chambers v.
Time Warner. Inc., 282 F.3d 147, 152 (2d Cir. 2002). Courts may
not consider matters outside the pleadings but may consider documents
attached to the pleadings, documents referenced in the pleadings, or
documents that are integral to the pleadings. See id. at 152-53.
Of course, the allegations of a pro se plaintiff should be liberally
construed. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972);
Sims v. Artuz, 230 F.3d 14, 20 (2d Cir. 2000). However,
if a liberally construed pro se complaint fails to meet these minimal
standards, it must be dismissed like any other deficient complaint.
See Rodriguez v. Weprin, 116 F.3d 62, 65 (2d Cir. 1997)
("Although less stringent standards apply where, as here, a litigant is
pro se, dismissal is nevertheless appropriate where it appears beyond
doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief) (internal
quotation marks and citations omitted).
B. False Arrest/Malicious Prosecution
Under New York law, false arrest is synonymous with false imprisonment.
See Posr v. Doherty, 944 F.2d 91, 96 (2d Cir. 1991). To
establish a cause of action for false arrest or false imprisonment, a
plaintiff must show that "(1) the defendant intended to confine him, (2)
the plaintiff was conscious of the confinement, (3) the plaintiff did not
consent to the confinement, and (4) the confinement was not otherwise
privileged." Id. at 97.
In order to state a claim for malicious prosecution, a plaintiff must
establish the following elements: (1) the defendant either commenced or
continued a criminal proceeding against him; (2) that the proceeding
terminated in plaintiff's favor; (3) that there was no probable cause for
the criminal proceeding; and (4) that the criminal proceeding was
instituted with actual malice. See DiBlasio v. City of New
York, 102 F.3d 654, 657 (2d Cir. 1996) (applying state tort law
elements to a section 1983 malicious prosecution claim).
A. Plaintiff's Claims Must Be Dismissed for Lack of Personal
"It is well settled in this Circuit that `personal involvement of
defendants in alleged constitutional deprivations is a prerequisite to an
award of damages under § 1983.'" Wright v. Smith,
21 F.3d 496, 501 (2d Cir. 1994) (quoting Moffitt v. Town of Brookfield, 950 F.2d 880, 885 (2d Cir. 1991)). Because the
general doctrine of responded superior does not apply in section
1983 actions, the defendant must be responsible for the alleged
constitutional deprivation. See Al-Jundi v. Estate of
Rockefeller, 885 F.2d 1060, 1065 (2d Cir. 1989); see also Ying
Jing Can v. City of New York, 996 F.2d 522, 536 (2d Cir. 1993) ("[A]
supervisory official cannot be held liable under § 1983 on a theory
of respondeat superior.").
A supervisory official may be personally involved in a section 1983
violation in several ways: (1) the official may have directly
participated in the violation; (2) the official, after learning of the
violation, may have failed to remedy the wrong; (3) the official may have
created a policy or custom under which unconstitutional practices
occurred; (4) the official may have been grossly negligent in managing
subordinates who caused the unlawful condition or event; or (5) the
official may have exhibited deliberate indifference by failing to act on
information indicating that unconstitutional acts were occurring. See
Colon v. Coughlin, 58 F.3d 865, 873 (2d Cir. 1995); see also
Williams v. Smith, 781 F.2d 319, 323-24 (2d Cir. 1986).
Plaintiff has failed to plead any facts which would support the
imposition of liability as to D.A. Morgenthau on any of the foregoing
theories. With regard to his malicious prosecution and wrongful
imprisonment claims, plaintiff does not assert that D.A. Morgenthau
personally prosecuted the case against him. Rather, plaintiff seeks to
hold D.A. Morgenthau liable on a respondeat superior theory for
the actions of his employees. Given that the doctrine of respondeat
superior is inapplicable to section 1983 claims, personal involvement is necessary for the imposition of
liability. See Black v. Coughlin, 76 F.3d 72, 74 (2d Cir. 1996)
("[A] defendant in a § 1983 action may not be held liable for damages
for constitutional violations merely because he held a high position of
authority."); Colon v. Coughlin, 58 F.3d at 873. ...