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FISK v. LETTERMAN

November 17, 2005.

SHIRLEY ANN FISK, Plaintiff,
v.
DAVID LETTERMAN, WORLDWIDE PANTS, SUMNER M. REDSTONE, LESLIE MOONVES, MEL KARMAZIN, VIACOM INC., CBS INC., CITY OF NEW YORK, WILLIAM DELACE, MICHAEL Z. McINTEE, PROJECT HELP, DR. JOHN DOE, JOHN JOE, OFFICER J. SOE, DR. KOE, DR. RICARDO CASTANEDA, DR. STEVEN CIRIC, DR. WILLIAM ROMAN, SUSAN KOLCUN, DELSA BEST, GRACE MONES, STATE OF CONNECTICUT, DOES 1-30, Defendants.



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

DECISION AND ORDER

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Shirley Ann Fisk ("Fisk") brought this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("§ 1983") against various private individuals and corporations, state officials and unidentified defendants (collectively, "Defendants"). Fisk alleges that she was falsely accused of stalking television show host David Letterman and that, in connection with an involuntary psychiatric commitment of her, Defendants conspired to deprive her of civil rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution. She has also filed pendent state law claims.

  Pursuant to Rule 12(b) (6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, defendants David Letterman, Leslie Moonves, Mel Karmazin, William Delace, Michael McIntee, Sumner Redstone, Viacom Inc., CBS Broadcasting Inc. (named as "CBS Inc."), and Worldwide Pants Inc. (collectively, the "CBS Defendants"), filed a motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Defendant Susan Kolcun ("Kolcun") also moved for dismissal on the same ground. Defendants Grace Mones ("Mones") and the State of Connecticut (collectively, the "Connecticut Defendants") moved to dismiss the complaint on the grounds of (1) sovereign immunity, (2) lack of personal jurisdiction, (3) lack of service, (4) improper venue, and (5) failure to state a claim.

  By Order dated September 19, 2005, Magistrate Judge James C. Francis IV, to whom this matter had been referred for pretrial supervision, issued a Report and Recommendation (the "Report"), a copy of which is attached and incorporated hereto, recommending that the Court grant the various motions to dismiss the federal claims Fisk's complaint asserts as to these defendants. The Report further recommends that the Court not exercise pendent jurisdiction to review Fisk's state law causes of action. Fisk, whose time to submit objections to the Report was to expire on October 3, 2005, requested a 10-day extension, which the Court granted by memo-endorsed Order dated October 4, 2005, thus moving the deadline to October 14, 2005. To date, Fisk has not filed any response or requested any further extension. The CBS Defendants filed a timely limited objection to the Report insofar as it recommends dismissal of Fisk's federal claims against them without prejudice. For the reasons stated below, the Court adopts the Report, with the exception of the recommendation that the dismissal as to the CBS Defendants be without prejudice.

  II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

  A district court evaluating a Magistrate Judge's report may adopt those portions of the report to which no "specific, written objection" is made, as long as the factual and legal bases supporting the findings and conclusions set forth in those sections are not clearly erroneous. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b); Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 149 (1985); Greene v. WCI Holding Corp., 956 F. Supp. 509, 513 (S.D.N.Y. 1997). "Where a party makes a `specific written objection' within `[ten] days after being served with a copy of the [magistrate judge's] recommended disposition,' however, the district court is required to make a de novo determination regarding those parts of the report." Cespedes v. Coughlin, 956 F. Supp. 454, 463 (S.D.N.Y. 1997) (citation omitted) (citing United States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 676 (1980)). A district judge may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings and recommendations of the Magistrate Judge. See Deluca v. Lord, 858 F. Supp. 1330, 1345 (S.D.N.Y. 1994); Walker v. Hood, 679 F. Supp. 372, 374 (S.D.N.Y. 1988).

  III. DISCUSSION

  The Court finds that the facts set forth in the Report are supported by the record and are thus incorporated herein by reference. Having conducted a review of the full record, including, among other things, the parties' submissions on the record, the Report and applicable legal authorities, the Court concludes that the findings, reasoning and legal support for the recommendations made in Report are not clearly erroneous. Insofar as the CBS Defendants object to the recommendation that the dismissal of the claims against them be without prejudice, upon de novo review of the relevant documents of record and related circumstances the Court finds the Magistrate Judge's determination unwarranted because any further amendment of the complaint encompassing Fisk's claims implicating the CBS Defendants would be futile. See Ruffolo v. Oppenheimer & Co., 987 F.2d 129, 131 (2d Cir. 1993).

  The Report properly recognizes governing doctrine that a claim under § 1983 must be predicated on state action and state actors. See Report at 16-17 (citing cases). Moreover, a private party who calls police officers for assistance or provides them with information that may lead to an arrest of an individual does not become a state actor rendering that party liable under § 1983 to the person detained, unless the police officers were improperly influenced or controlled by the private party. See id. at 19-20 (citing cases). The Report further finds that, by Fisk's own account, Fisk's involuntary commitment to the hospital was carried out by the doctors involved and that she alleged no facts from which it could be reasonably inferred that the process was in any way subverted as a consequence of any actions taken by the CBS Defendants. See id. at 20. Upon a review of Fisk's amended complaint and the documentation attached to it, the Court is persuaded that the record indicates that Fisk's commitment was conducted pursuant to legal process carried out over an extended period of time, and that the police officers, doctors and other state officials involved acted independently of any of the CBS Defendants. Thus, the evidence Fisk has entered into the record as part of her pleadings refutes any theory that the CBS Defendants improperly influenced or controlled the exercise of judgment by the police and medical officials, and thus these defendants cannot properly be found to have become state actors for the purpose of stating a cause of action under § 1983.

  The Court is mindful that in considering a motion to dismiss it must view the pleadings in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and read the allegations of a pro se litigant to state the strongest claim they could support. The Court, however, is not obliged to reconcile plaintiff's own pleadings that are contradicted by other matters asserted or relied upon or incorporated by reference by a plaintiff in drafting the complaint. See See Colodney v. Continuum Health Partners, Inc., No. 03 Civ. 7276, 2004 WL 829158, at *7 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 15, 2004) ("Colodney fails to state a cause of action for slander because the facts contained in his own pleading contradict any naked assertion that Donovan's statements about him were false. . . . Leave to amend is properly denied since any amendment would be futile. Colodney having himself undermined any allegation that Donovan's alleged libelous statements were false, further litigation regarding Donovan's statements is not warranted."); Matusovsky v. Merrill Lynch, 186 F. Supp. 2d 397, 399-400 (S.D.N.Y. 2002) (noting that in evaluating a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12 (b) (6) a court may consider "documents attached to the complaint as exhibits, or incorporated by reference, as well as any documents that are integral to, or explicitly referenced in, the pleading. . . . If a plaintiff's allegations are contradicted by such a document, those allegations are insufficient to defeat a motion to dismiss."). Accordingly, the Court dismisses Fisk's federal law claims against the CBS Defendants with prejudice and declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over any of the state law claims asserted.

  Based on its review of the Report as it pertains to Kolcun, Mones and the State of Connecticut the Court is persuaded that the factual and legal findings described therein are similarly not clearly erroneous. Thus, the Court adopts the Report's recommendation that the federal claims against those defendants also be dismissed with prejudice and that the Court decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction with regard to Fisk's state law claims against them.

  IV. ORDER

  For the reasons stated above, it is hereby

  ORDERED that the Court adopts the Report and Recommendation of Magistrate Judge James F. Francis IV dated September 19, 2005, with the exception of the recommendation that the granting of certain motions to dismiss the complaint be granted without prejudice; and it is further

  ORDERED that the motions of defendants David Letterman, Leslie Moonves, Mel Karmazin, William Delace, Michael McIntee, Sumner Redstone, Viacom Inc., CBS Broadcasting Inc. (named as "CBS Inc."), and Worldwide Pants Inc. (collectively, the "CBS Defendants") (Docket No. 12); Susan Kolcun (Docket No. 53); and Grace Mones and the State of Connecticut (Docket No. 23) to dismiss the complaint be GRANTED. SO ORDERED. REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

  The plaintiff, Shirley Ann Fisk, has brought this case under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against private individuals and corporations, state officials and various unidentified defendants. This action arises out of the involuntary psychiatric commitment of the plaintiff. Ms. Fisk alleges that she was falsely accused of stalking late-night talk show host David Letterman and that the defendants conspired to deprive her of civil rights guaranteed by the Constitution. She has also filed pendent state law claims.

  Pursuant to Rule 12(b) (6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, David Letterman, Leslie Moonves, Mel Karmazin, William Delace, Michael McIntee, Sumner Redstone, Viacom Inc., CBS Broadcasting Inc. (named as "CBS Inc."), and Worldwide Pants Inc. (collectively the "CBS defendants") have moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Susan Kolcun has moved for dismissal on the same ground. Grace Mones and the State of Connecticut (collectively the "Connecticut defendants") have moved to dismiss the complaint on the grounds of (1) sovereign immunity, (2) lack of personal jurisdiction, (3) lack of service, (4) improper venue, and (5) failure to state a claim.

  For the reasons stated below, I recommend that the ...


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