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Stiggins v. Sullivan

March 31, 2006

LAURA D. STIGGINS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
GARY SULLIVAN, PETER CARR, MICHAEL MCCARTNEY, JOHN TUNNEY, GERRY SOLOMAN, FRANKLIN BASSETT, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael A. Telesca United States District Judge

DECISION and ORDER

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Laura Stiggins, proceeding pro se, brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claiming that her rights were violated by the defendants in connection with a criminal prosecution against her in Steuben County. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that defendants engaged in malicious prosecution against her with respect to a State court criminal proceeding in which she was charged with workers' compensation fraud. According to the Amended Complaint, plaintiff was acquitted of the charges following trial.

On October 9, 2003, defendant Franklin Bassett, ("Bassett"), moved to dismiss the original Complaint on grounds that he was entitled to absolute immunity. By Order dated April 12, 2004, I denied defendant's motion to dismiss on grounds that although Bassett is entitled to absolute immunity for claims made against him based on his trial testimony, under the liberal pleading rules afforded pro se litigants, the Court could not hold that as a matter of law plaintiff had failed to allege any cause of action against Bassett. Specifically, I held that plaintiff's Complaint could be construed as stating a claim against Bassett for engaging in a conspiracy to violate her civil rights. I also noted that upon completion of relevant discovery, Bassett could move for summary judgment should the uncontroverted facts warrant such a motion.

Defendant Bassett has now moved for summary judgment against the plaintiff on grounds that there is no evidence in the record to support a conspiracy claim against him, and that as a matter of law, he is entitled to summary judgment in his favor. Defendants Gary Sullivan, Peter Carr, and Jerry Soloman (incorrectly identified as "Gerry Soloman" in the Amended Complaint) also move for summary judgment on grounds that they are entitled to qualified immunity from suit, and that plaintiff has failed to state a cause of action. Plaintiff opposes defendants' motions.

For the reasons set forth below, I grant defendants' motions to dismiss, and dismiss the Complaint.

BACKGROUND

According to the Complaint, plaintiff Laura Stiggins is a former Town Justice in Dansville, New York. She claims that in December 1999, she was unjustly indicted for insurance fraud, grand larceny, and offering for filing a false instrument. She contends that defendant Gary Sullivan ("Sullivan") an investigator with the New York State Insurance Fund who investigated plaintiff's alleged fraudulent activity, misrepresented the findings of his investigation and lied to the court and prosecuting authorities in an attempt to obtain an indictment against her. Plaintiff also claims that defendant Jerry Soloman ("Soloman"), the Regional Director of the Medicaid Fraud Unit of the New York State Attorney General's Office, also participated in the malicious prosecution.

Plaintiff's criminal case was tried in Steuben County Court by Judge Peter C. Bradstreet. The State was represented by defendant John Tunney ("Tunney"). Plaintiff claims that Tunney prosecuted Stiggins despite knowing that the charges against her were false.

Finally, plaintiff alleges that at her trial, defendant Bassett testified falsely against her, revealed confidential information related to plaintiff's personnel records, and materially participated in the prosecution against her. She claims that he falsely testified against her in retaliation for a wrongful discharge claim that she had previously filed against Bassett's employer.

DISCUSSION

I. Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment

Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if 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." When considering a motion for summary judgment, all inferences and ambiguities must be resolved in favor of the party against whom summary judgment is sought. R.B. Ventures, Ltd. v. Shane, 112 F.3d 54 (2nd Cir. 1997). If, after considering the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, the court ...


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