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Khalifa v. Town of Coventry

July 17, 2006

SAYED KHALIFA AND AMANY CORP. PLAINTIFFS,
v.
THE TOWN OF COVENTRY; DONALD G. O'SHEA, SUPERVISOR OF THE TOWN OF COVENTRY; THERESA A. SCHULTHEIS, TOWN CLERK OF THE TOWN OF COVENTRY; RICHARD METZGER, ORDINANCE OFFICER OF THE TOWN OF COVENTRY; JACK STAFFORD, TAX ASSESSOR OF THE TOWN OF COVENTRY; ROBERT M. LARKIN, ESQ., ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY FOR CHENANGO COUNTY AND TOWN ATTORNEY FOR THE TOWN OF COVENTRY; THOMAS J. LOUGHREN, SHERIFF OF CHENANGO COUNTY. DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Thomas J. McAVOY, Senior United States District Judge

DECISION & ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiffs commenced this action seeking damages and injunctive relief for harassment and discriminatory treatment Plaintiffs allege were suffered at the hands of Defendants. See Compl. ¶ 1. In this regard, Plaintiffs assert violations of various constitutional rights purportedly caused by the various defendants' actions, and contend they suffered injury as a result of various state common law torts committed by Defendants. See generally Compl. Defendants move to dismiss the action pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or, in the alternative, for an Order requiring a restatement of the Complaint pursuant to Rules 12(e) and 10(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons that follow, the motion is DENIED.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review

"[A] complaint must only include 'a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002)(quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)). "This simplified notice pleading relies on liberal discovery rules and summary judgment motions to define disputed facts and issues and to dispose of unmeritorious claims." Id. Thus, a complaint is sufficient if it gives the defendant fair notice of the plaintiff's claims, the grounds upon which they rest, and states claims upon which relief could be granted. Id. at 514.

"A party endeavoring to defeat a lawsuit by a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim faces a 'higher burden' than a party proceeding on a motion for summary judgment." McKenna v. Wright, 386 F.3d 432, 436 (2d Cir. 2004). On a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), the Court accepts as true all factual allegations in the complaint. See Leatherman v. Tarrant County Narcotics Intelligence & Coordination Unit, 507 U.S. 163, 164 (1993). "Further, the court should construe the complaint liberally and draw inferences from the plaintiff's allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Tomayo v. City of N.Y., 2004 WL 137198, at * 5 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 27, 2004)(citing Desiderio v. National Ass'n of Sec. Dealers, Inc., 191 F.3d 198, 202 (2d Cir. 1999)). On the motion, the Court limits it review to the allegations contained in the Complaint, to documents attached to the Complaint, or to documents incorporated within the complaint by reference. Hayden v. County of Nassau, 180 F.3d 42, 54 (2d Cir. 1999). Dismissal is appropriate only 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," Phillip v. Univ. of Rochester, 316 F.3d 291, 293 (2d Cir. 2003)(citation omitted), or where the complaint necessarily fails as a matter of law. Phelps v. Kapnolas, 308 F.3d 180, 187 (2d Cir. 2002).

B. Application of Rule 12(b)(6)

Defendants, who are represented by counsel, move in simplistic fashion for dismissal by making broad, generalized arguments about the Complaint. In this regard, Defendants' entire argument under Rule 12(b)(6) is as follows:

Taking the statement of facts set forth in the plaintiff's [sic] complaint as valid, it does not set forth a cognizable claim. Moreover, the plaintiffs fail to establish standing given alleged acts concerning unnamed potential plaintiffs.*fn1

The facts asserted are undated, and, based upon prior litigation, are likely beyond the 3 year statute of limitations for 28 [sic]U.S.C. [§§] 1983 and 1985 claims. In addition, the claims against the Town defendants were part of an earlier stipulation placed upon the Court's record.

The allegations do not set forth personal involvement of defendants O'Shea, Schultheis, Metzger and Stafford, beyond vague assertions that they influenced legislation, which is not sufficient for individual liability. In addition, some of the factual claims involve the rights of unnamed customers or potential customers of the plaintiff. Reliance upon facts concerning unnamed potential plaintiffs is not proper. Dismissal is appropriate pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) under the circumstances, (see Taylor v. Vermont Dept. of Education, 313 F3d 768 (2nd Circuit, 2002)[)], given the lack of standing demonstrated on the face of the complaint.

This Court previously held, when dismissing plaintiffs' action filed in 2003 under the same facts, that there were "no allegations of a sufficiently close relationship between Plaintiffs and their customers or that the customers are unable to protect their own interests." (October 9, 2003 Decision, Case No. 3:03-CV-1230[], citing Prestopnik v. Whalen, 235 F. Supp.2d 369 (N.D.N.Y. 2003)[)]. The same deficiencies exits in the current complaint, and dismissal is again appropriate. Def. Mem. L. pp. 2-3.

The Plaintiffs' opposition to the motion is, essentially, one (1) sentence asserting that the Complaint is sufficient under the federal liberal pleading standard because it gives Defendants "fair notice of the nature and ...


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