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Chesney v. Valley Stream Union Free School Dist. No. 24

April 30, 2007

KEVIN CHESNEY AND LORRAINE CHESNEY, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
VALLEY STREAM UNION FREE SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 24; VALLEY STREAM UNION FREE SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 24 BOARD OF EDUCATION; JOSEPH CONRAD, PRESIDENT; CAROLE MEANEY, VICE PRESIDENT; HENRIETTA CARBONARO, PAUL DEPACE, ANTHONY IADEVAIO, FRANK NUARA, AND LAWRENCE TROGEL; EACH IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY; EDWARD M. FALE, PH.D., SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY; LISA K. CONTE, PRINCIPAL; CHARLES BROCEAUR, MAINTENANCE SUPERVISOR, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY; STEPHEN HARAMIS, CUSTODIAN AND UNION REPRESENTATIVE, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY; LOCAL 74 SEIU; "JOHN DOES AND JANE DOES A THROUGH D", THE LATTER BEING PERSONS AND/OR ENTITIES UNKNOWN TO COMPLAINANT, AND THE NASSAU COUNTY DIVISION OF THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION OF NEW YORK STATE, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

Plaintiffs Kevin Chesney ("Plaintiff" or "Chesney") and Lorraine Chesney*fn1 brought the present suit against Valley Stream Union Free School District No. 24; Valley Stream Union Free School District No. 24 Board of Education; Joseph Conrad; Carole Meaney; Henrietta Carbonaro; Paul DePace; Anthony Iadevaio; Frank Nuara; Lawrence Trogel; Edward M. Fale; Lisa K. Conte; Charles Broceaur; Stephen Haramis (hereinafter, collectively, "District Defendants"); Local 74 Service Employee International Union ("Local 74"); "John Does and Janes Does A through D"; and the Nassau County Civil Service Commission (the "Commission") in the Supreme Court of the State of New York County of Nassau alleging violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 2601 et seq.; the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act ("COBRA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1166; the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C.A. § 12131 et seq; Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985; the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; the "Eighth Amendment right to confront his accusers"; and six state law claims. Presently before the Court is the motion of the Commission to dismiss the amended complaint. Plaintiff has not opposed the motion. For the reasons set forth herein, the Court GRANTS the motion.

BACKGROUND

The following summary of facts is drawn from the amended complaint. Plaintiff resides in Valley Stream, New York, with his wife, Lorraine Chesney. Valley Stream Union Free School District ("District") is a municipal corporation for public education that receives state and federal funding and has its administrative offices in Valley Stream, New York. The District's Board of Education ("Board") was comprised of Joseph Conrad, President; Carole Meaney, Vice President; Henrietta Carbonaro, Paul DePace, Anthony Iadevaio, Frank Nuara, and Lawrence Trogel at the times relevant to the present dispute. Joan DeBell was the District Clerk; Andrea DiFusco was the District Treasurer; and Edward M. Fale, Ph.D., was the Superintendent of Schools for the District; Lisa K. Conte was the Principal of District No. 24. Defendant Local 74, with its principle offices in Long Island City, New York, had a collective bargaining agreement with the District. Chesney was a member of Local 74. The Commission, located in Hempstead, New York, was "united in interest with the New York State Civil Service Commission." (Id. ¶ 10.) Such is Plaintiff's description of the various defendants in this dispute.

Plaintiff worked for the District from October 3, 2003, to May 17, 2004, as an "able- bodied man." (Id. ¶ 13.) On March 18, 2004, the Board approved Plaintiff's permanent appointment as a "cleaner" at the Robert W. Carbonaro School, effective April 5, 2004. This approval conferred upon Plaintiff the designation of a "permanent" civil service employee. The appointment was the result of the successful completion of Plaintiff's probationary appointment.

On May 17, 2004, Chesney was "breaking down" the gym, which had been the location of a school event the night before. While he was performing this task, he felt a "pop" in his back, and could "barely get out of bed the following day." (Id. ¶¶ 22, 23.) "Nevertheless, plaintiff Chesney traveled to the District and duly filed an accident report in accordance with District policy." (Id. ¶ 24.) Plaintiff missed several days of work due to the injury, and "learned he had a herniated disc, which was causally related to the accident of May 17, 2004." (Id. ¶ 26.) Plaintiff submitted a Worker's Compensation claim on May 25, 2004, and he did not return to his job "for a period of time." (Id. ¶ 29.) At this point, the amended complaint is somewhat vague and difficult to follow. It appears that Plaintiff did return to work shortly thereafter, but "[o]n or about June 9, 2004, he left work early and did not return at that time due to his disability." (Id. ¶ 31.)

On June 11, 2004, Defendant Haramis, "plaintiff's co-worker and shop steward contacted Superintendent Fale to ascertain whether or not Plaintiff was driving a cab on June 11, 2004." (Id. ¶49.) The District and Superintendent Fale instructed Defendant Broceaur, Supervisor of Maintenance, to "initiate an 'investigation' of Chesney's second job as a taxi driver." (Id. ¶ 50.) Upon confirming that Plaintiff was indeed employed and working as a taxi driver, while he was receiving Worker's Compensation benefits, Superintendent Fale held a meeting with a union representative, a co-worker, Principal Conte, and Plaintiff. Superintendent Fale said to Plaintiff:

You were seen driving a cab at about 6:30 p.m. on June 11; you cannot be employed or receive any income while receiving workers' compensation benefits; that is insurance fraud, working your second job and being out sick while I'm paying for overtime is theft of services. We are terminating you, but if you resign right now, you will leave with a good recommendation, clean record, and I will allow you to pursue your compensation claim.

(Id. ¶ 58.) Plaintiff was terminated shortly thereafter.

Without filing an EEOC complaint, an action with any corresponding state agency, or a notice of claim, Plaintiff commenced a lawsuit asserting fourteen causes of action, and seeking $26,000,000.00 for "pain and suffering, inability to obtain critical surgery, and damages as yet undetermined." (Id. ¶ 64.) The suit was filed in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Nassau on June 12, 2005. District Defendants subsequently removed the suit to this court on November 1, 2005, on the basis of federal question jurisdiction. Plaintiff filed an amended complaint with this Court on December 8, 2005.

By Memorandum and Order dated September 22, 2006 (the "September Memorandum"), the Court dismissed all claims against Defendant Local 74 and dismissed all claims, except for the COBRA claim, against the District Defendants.

STANDARD

The court may not dismiss a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief. King v. Simpson, 189 F.3d 284, 286 (2d Cir. 1999); Bernheim v. Litt, 79 F.3d 318, 321 (2d Cir. 1996). The complaint need only provide "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Swierkiewicz v. Sorema, 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2)). Thus, "a plaintiff is required only to give a defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Leibowitz v. Cornell Univ., 445 F.3d 586, 591 (2d Cir. 2006). Nonetheless, "a plaintiff's allegations, accepted as true, must be sufficient to establish liability." Amron v. Morgan Stanley Investment Advisors Inc., 464 F.3d 338, 344 (2d Cir. 2006).

In construing a complaint on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court must accept all factual allegations in the proposed complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. King, 189 F.3d at 287; Jaghory v. New York State Dept. of Educ., 131 F.3d 326, 329 (2d Cir. 1997). The Court must confine its consideration "to facts stated on the face of the complaint, in documents appended to the complaint or incorporated in the complaint by reference, and to matters of which judicial notice may be ...


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