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Laubmeier v. Bennett

January 20, 2007


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


Plaintiff commenced the instant action against Defendants arising out of his arrest and confinement in a hospital. Plaintiff brings claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and also asserts various state law causes of action. Presently before the Court are: (1) Defendant Wayne Bennett's motion to dismiss; and (2) Plaintiff's cross-motion for leave to file an amended complaint.


Distilling the lengthy Amended Complaint*fn1 to the facts necessary to address the pending motion to dismiss, Plaintiff alleges that he was unlawfully seized and detained pursuant to a false allegation that he posed a danger to himself or others. The Complaint alleges that on June 10, 2004, Plaintiff was pulled over by two unknown New York State Troopers who arrested him and transported them to Defendant A.O. Fox Memorial Hospital where he apparently was detained and administered medications against his will. Thereafter, Plaintiff was transferred to Defendant Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital ("Bassett") in Cooperstown, New York. Plaintiff was detained at Bassett for eight days.

The Complaint further alleges that, on or about, August 30, 2005, Plaintiff received a telephone call by certain unknown New York State Troopers who ordered Plaintiff to turn himself in because a mental health order had been signed as against him. Plaintiff complied. Plaintiff was then returned to Bassett where he was detained for several days.

Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Wayne E. Bennett was at all times relevant hereto in charge of the New York State Police with ultimate responsibility for the selection and training of the Defendant New York State Troopers. Plaintiff claims that "Defendant Troopers John Doe #1 and #2 failed to recognize the impact their action [sic] were having on plaintiff's constitutional rights because they had not received proper or adequate training under the defendant Wayne E. Bennett." Am. Compl. at ¶ 164; see also Am. Compl. at ¶¶ 172, 180, 187, 189, 254. The Complaint clearly states that "Defendant, Wayne E. Bennett, is not claimed to have had any direct part in the events alleged below, but his [sic] is alleged to be liable to the plaintiff because he failed to adequately train and supervise the defendant Troopers. . . ." Id. at ¶ 11.


The pending motion tests the sufficiency of the claims pleaded in the Amended Complaint. As the Supreme Court has held, "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.

On a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, 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)). However, 'sweeping legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations' do not suffice to state a claim even at the Rule 12(b)(6) stage. 5A Charles Alan Wright et al., FEDERAL PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE § 1357 (2d ed. 1990). 'While the pleading standard is a liberal one, bald assertions and conclusions of law will not suffice.' Leeds v. Meltz, 85 F.3d 51, 53 (2d Cir. 1996).

Law Offices of Curtis V. Trinko, L.L.P. v. Bell Atlantic Corp., 309 F.3d 71, 74 (2d Cir. 2002). Thus, the complaint must allege sufficient facts that would make the pleaded legal theories plausible. See Twombly v. Bell Atlantic Corp., 425 F.3d 99, 111 (2d Cir. 2005); Todd v. Exxon Corp., 275 F.3d 191, 200 (2d Cir. 2001). 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 fails as a matter of law. Phelps v. Kapnolas, 308 F.3d 180, 187 (2d Cir. 2002). With this standard in mind, the Court will address the pending motion to dismiss.


Defendant Bennett moves to dismiss the Complaint as against him on the grounds that: (1) the Complaint does not allege any personal involvement on his part; (2) the claims against him in his official capacity are barred by the Eleventh Amendment; and (3) Plaintiff's state law claims are time-barred.

a. Personal Involvement

It is well-settled that to impose liability upon an individual pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, it must be shown that the individual was somehow personally involved in the deprivation of a federal constitutional or statutory right. Richardson v. Goord, 347 F.3d 431, 435 (2d Cir. 2003); Leonard v. Poe, 282 F.3d 123, 140 (2d Cir. 2002) ("A supervisor may not be held liable under section 1983 merely because his subordinate committed a constitutional tort."). Plaintiff may demonstrate supervisory liability by demonstrating one or more of the following criteria: (1) Bennett actually and directly participated in the alleged acts; (2) Bennett failed to remedy a wrong after being informed of the wrong; (3) Bennett created or approved a policy or custom that sanctioned objectionable conduct which rose to the level of a constitutional violation or allowed such a policy or custom to continue; (4) Bennett ...

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