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Mahoh v. Town of Islip

March 3, 2006


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


Pro se Plaintiff Brian J. Mahon ("Plaintiff" or "Mr. Mahon") brought the present suit against Defendants Town of Islip ("Islip"); Suffolk County Department of Social Services ("Suffolk County"); Laura Parker ("Parker"); John Scimeca ("Scimeca"); Tim Shea ("Shea"); Joe Mandanici ("Mandanici"); Emily Pines ("Pines"); Pete McGowan ("McGowan"); Bard Simpson ("Simpson"); and Fleet Mortgage Corporation ("Fleet") for violations of his civil rights, 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("§ 1983"); conspiracy to violate his civil rights, 42 U.S.C. § 1985 ("§ 1985"); intentional infliction of emotional distress and financial hardship; and defamation of character. In a Memorandum and Order, dated February 12, 2004 ("Feb. 12 Order"), the Court dismissed all claims against Defendants Parker, Shea, Mandanici, Pines, McGowan and Fleet. (See Feb. 12 Order at 18-19.) Defendants Islip, Suffolk, Scimeca, and Simpson now move for summary judgment on the remaining claims. Because the submitted evidence demonstrates that the Defendants are entitled to judgment as a matter of law, the Court GRANTS Defendants' motions for summary judgment in their entirety.


The following summary of the facts is based upon Defendants' Local Rule 56.1 Statements, Plaintiff's affidavits in opposition, and the submitted evidence.

Plaintiff Mahon owned a one-story, zoned single family house in Islip, New York ("Islip house") from before 1986 through 2001. He moved his family out of the house sometime in 1996 or 1997 and began using the home as a boarding house. He never sought or obtained a rental permit.

In March 1996, an incident occurred involving Mr. Mahon's possession of a dog. The details that precipitated the involvement of the police are unclear, and make their way before this Court in the wake of a confrontational deposition hearing. (See Dep. of Bard Simpson, dated Dec. 10, 2004 ("Simpson Dep."), at 24-25.)*fn1 Apparently, Ira Mace ("Mace"), a former tenant of Mr. Mahon's, had moved out of the house because of unpaid rent. Mace called the Suffolk County Police, alleging that Mr. Mahon had confiscated Mace's dog in lieu of rent. Defendant Simpson, a Suffolk County Police Officer, reported to the scene where he spoke with Mr. Mahon regarding the animal.

Apparently, the dog was once Mace's, but he had transferred ownership of the animal to Mr. Mahon. Nevertheless, during Mahon's conversation with Defendant Simpson, Mace made off with the dog. The dog has since been returned to Mr. Mahon. (See Aff. of Brian J. Mahon in Opp'n to Defs. Suffolk's and Simpson's Mot. for Summ. J., dated Aug. 15, 2005 ("Mahon Aff. II"), ¶ 3 ("The dog in question is at this moment lying under the desk I'm typing at possibly awaiting another abduction by P.O. Simpson.").) Mr. Mahon alleges that Simpson behaved in a threatening manner at that time, but he provided no further details. On April 3, 1996, Mr. Mahon made a complaint to the Suffolk County Police Department relating the above events.

At some time in 1998, approximately two years later, Mr. Mahon was issued several traffic summonses by Police Officer Simpson. After a hearing, Mr. Mahon admitted and was found guilty of having no license plate on his vehicle.

Plaintiff was cited on March 3, 1998 after County Police contacted the Department of Code Enforcement that the Islip house was being used as an illegal rental house and that one of the illegal tenants had been found dead in the house. Mr. Mahon does not dispute these allegations, but rather states that it "is inaccurate also there was not 4 deaths in the house Mr. Ortiz is exaggerating and embellishing to say the least." (Aff. of Brian J. Mahon in Opp'n to Defs. Islip and Scimeca's Mot. for Summ. J., dated Aug. 1, 2005 ("Mahon Aff. I") ¶ 4.)

In or about September 1999, Mr. Mahon applied for and was granted a building permit, allowing him to expand the Islip house. In October 1999, Mr. Mahon allowed Islip Town Code Enforcement Investigator Javier Ortiz ("Ortiz") to inspect the premises. During the inspection, Ortiz found that the house was being rented to a number of individuals, in contravention of local zoning ordinances. Ortiz issued three summonses to Mr. Mahon for renting without a permit, change of use, and an illegal shed. Because of these violations, the building permit was suspended and a stop work order was issued. Thereafter, Defendant Scimeca refused to reinstate the building permit.

In court proceedings before former defendant, New York State District Judge Emily Pines, Mr. Mahon pled guilty to unlawfully renting his premises to individuals for habitation without a rental permit, and allowing the premises to be used as an illegal boarding house. Mr. Mahon admitted that he illegally rented out his premises to individuals in six separate and distinct bedrooms.*fn2 As part of his plea and conditional discharge, Mr. Mahon agreed to restore the premises to a one-family dwelling or obtain a rental permit for the premises.

Mr. Mahon failed to remove the illegal tenants or seek a rental permit after his January 2000 guilty plea. Nevertheless, he asked that the Islip house be reinspected so as to lift the building permit suspension. Islip officials informed him that he was not entitled to a lifting of the suspension so long as he continued to illegally rent the house without proper rental permits. On March 8, 2000, Mr. Mahon unsuccessfully attempted to withdraw his guilty plea.

On June 16, 2000, the Islip house was again inspected by Ortiz. Ortiz found that it was still inhabited by multiple tenants and that the prior violations were uncorrected. Ortiz issued nine more summonses, including change of use, interior maintenance violations, electrical violations, fire safety equipment, unlawful litter and debris, rental without permit, and permits required. Mr. Mahon does not dispute that the premises merited these violations.*fn3

Mr. Mahon now decries the service of the June 16th summonses because Ortiz served them on a tenant who was being evicted. According to Mr. Mahon, Ortiz did not serve the summonses on Mr. Mahon "so that they would not allow me the opportunity to go before another judge and [undo their] scheme to deny me the building permit justice and due process." (Mahon Aff. I ¶ 17.) It is undisputed, however, that Mr. Mahon was not present at the site when Ortiz issued the summonses. What's more, Mr. Mahon admits that the summonses were justified. (Dep. of Brian J. Mahon, dated Dec. 10, 2004 ("Mahon Dep."), at 171-72.)

Nevertheless, the service of these violations and subsequent court proceedings serve as the basis for Mr. Mahon's civil rights conspiracy claims involving the Islip Supervisor and Suffolk County Department of Social Services. (See id. ¶ 16 ("The [Town of Islip] had achieved their goal and destroyed my ability to control my life my property and my destiny.").) Mr. Mahon admitted in deposition, however, that he does not have any proof of any contact between the parties.

Mr. Mahon commenced the present lawsuit on June 7, 2001. In the August 12 Order, the majority of Mr. Mahon's claims were dismissed against the majority of the defendants. The remaining Defendants now move for summary judgment. Plaintiff did not supply a memorandum of law in opposition to the motion, though he did receive notice that a decision on a motion for summary judgment could conclude the proceedings without trial. (See Docket Entries 84, Ex. 10, & 87, Ex. 19.) Instead, he submitted two affidavits. (See Mahon Aff. I & Mahon Aff. II.)


Summary judgment is generally appropriate where the "pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Viola v. Philips Med. Sys. of N. Am., 42 F.3d 712, 716 (2d Cir. 1994) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)). The party seeking summary judgment "bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion," and identifying those materials "it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). When a party is proceeding pro se, the Court construes his submissions "to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest." McPherson v. Coombe, 174 F.3d 276, 280 (2d Cir. 1999) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted); see also Graham v. Henderson, 89 F.3d 75, 79 (2d Cir. 1996). Nevertheless, ...

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