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Bacon v. Suffolk Legislature

August 8, 2007

REVEREND HENRY BACON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SUFFOLK LEGISLATURE, ET AL. DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joseph F. Bianco, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Pro se plaintiff Reverend Henry Bacon (hereinafter "plaintiff" or "Rev. Bacon") brings the instant lawsuit against defendants Suffolk Legislature, Legislator Elie Mystal, Legislator Allen Binder, Legislator Paul Tonna, Legislator Michael Caraccioloa, Legislator Guidi, Legislator Towle, Legislator Joseph T. Caracappa, Legislator Vivian Fisher, Legislator Haley, Legislator Brian Foley, Legislator William Lindsey, Legislator Angie Carpenter, Legislator Crecca, Legislator Lynne Norwick, Legislator David Bishop, Legislator Jon Cooper, the Estate of Honorable Legislator Maxine Postal, Christine Costigan, Suffolk County Director of the Department of Real Estate, Allen Grecco, former Director of the Department of Real Estate, former County Executive Robert Gaffney, County Executive Steve Levy, Suffolk County Police Department and John Does I-III (collectively, "defendants"), alleging claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1982, 1983, 1985 and 1986, and 18 U.S.C. §§ 241 and 242.*fn1 Defendants now move to dismiss the plaintiff's complaint in its entirety, pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and 8.*fn2

For the reasons set forth below, defendants' motion is granted on timeliness grounds as to the Section 1986 claims, and under Rule 8 with respect to all other claims.

I. BACKGROUND

A. The Facts

The following facts are taken from the amended complaint and are not findings of fact by the Court, but rather are assumed to be true for the purpose of deciding this motion and are construed in a light most favorable to plaintiff, the non-moving party.

On May 20, 1997, pursuant to Resolution No. 384, the Town of Babylon (hereinafter "Babylon") accepted certain property located at 8 Andrews Avenue, Wyandanch, New York ("the Property") from the County of Suffolk ("the County") for reconveyance to the Compel Mission Church of God in Christ, Inc., whose agent was the plaintiff. (Compl. Ex. C.)

On October 14, 1997, the plaintiff, on behalf of the Church, entered into a license agreement (hereinafter "the Agreement") with the County to rehabilitate the Property. (Compl. Ex. A.) The Agreement states that Babylon is the contract vendee of the Property pursuant to N.Y. Gen. Mun. Law § 72-h.*fn3 (Id.) Pursuant to the Agreement, Babylon, as contract vendee, has "agreed to purchase the property from the County of Suffolk for community purposes." (Id.) With regard to plaintiff, the Agreement provides Rev. Bacon, who is designated as a "licensee," with a license "only for the limited purpose of permitting the licensee to enter upon the premises for the purpose or rehabilitating the realty," and did not "give rise to a lease or to any agreement for Use and Occupancy." (Id.) However, plaintiff contends that he signed "a license agreement to purchase the property" on behalf of the church." (Compl. ¶ 1.)

By letter dated January 8, 1998, defendant Suffolk County legislator Maxine Postal ("Ms. Postal") requested that the County transfer the Property "directly to the Wyandanch Union Free School District as a 72H." (Compl. Ex. B.) Ms. Postal's letter indicated that a previous transfer was prevented "by the sectarian nature of the agency seeking to acquire the [P]roperty." (Id.) In response, plaintiff established a nonsectarian non-profit organization, pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 501(c)(3), named Compel Mens Resource and Referral Center, Inc. ("Compel"), in February 1998. (Compl. Ex. G.) The organization was "approved" by the federal government on October 21, 1998. (Id.)

On November 17, 1998, Babylon adopted Resolution No. 745, which was issued to correct the name of the proper "grantee" of the Property as set forth in Resolution, No. 384. (Compl. Ex. C.) According to Resolution No. 745, "the correct name of the party who will be ultimately receiving title of the property is the Compel Mens Resource and Referral Center, Inc." (Compl. Ex. C.) In a subsequent November 25, 1998 letter from the Town of Babylon to defendant Maxine Postal ("Ms. Postal"), a County Legislator, the Town Attorney advised Ms. Postal that "Rev. Bacon should now obtain the deed from the County to the Town, after which, we will prepare deed from the Town to Compel Resource." (Compl. Ex. D.)

Notwithstanding the license's grant of limited access to the Property for purposes of rehabilitation, rather than "[u]se and [o]ccupancy," plaintiff asserts that, during this time, Compel offered community services at the Property, including computer training, a food pantry, alcohol and drug abuse referrals, job fairs, employment skills workshops, holiday food baskets, Christmas gift distribution, summer camp, after-school academic enrichment programs, and job placement services. (Id. ¶ 5.) Plaintiff also allegedly invested $400,000 worth of renovations, labor and services in-kind in the Property. (Compl. Ex. G.) According to plaintiff, the defendants - and Ms. Postal in particular - undermined his efforts to fund such programs and to complete renovations of the property. (Id.) For example, in July 2002, Long Island Cares, Inc., a non-profit organization, cancelled its agreement to provide food to Compel on the basis that several building code violations were present at the Property. (Compl. Ex. F.)

Plaintiff also contends that, from 1998 to 2002, the County engaged in delay tactics to prevent transfer of the deed to Compel. (Compl. Ex. G.) For instance, on June 15, 1999, plaintiff contacted Ms. Postal to request the deed, and Ms. Postal assured plaintiff that she would assist him in obtaining it. (Id.) However, when plaintiff called again, several weeks later, Ms. Postal informed him that no deeds were being transferred at the time, and forwarded to plaintiff a confidential Suffolk County Legislature memo indicating that property transfers were being put on hold pending County tax legislation. (Compl. Exs. E, G.) During this time, the County allegedly offered the Property to "at least sixteen organizations or individuals within the community," despite the Town's previous promises to convey the deed for the property to Compel. (Compl. ¶ 7.)

Beginning in February 2002, Compel was the subject of ongoing eviction proceedings at the Property. (Compl. Ex. G.) On September 17, 2002, plaintiff spoke before the Suffolk Legislature to urge them to reconsider the pending eviction. (Compl. Exs. G, J.) On October 30, 2002, Compel was forcibly evicted from the Property, and two-hundredthousand dollars worth of items were allegedly removed from the property and put onto the street. (Compl. Ex. G.)

On June 1, 2005, plaintiff contacted Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy ("Mr. Levy"), to request that the Property deed be turned over to Compel, and for additional relief. (Compl. Ex. G.) On August 17, 2005, Deputy County Executive Jeffrey W. Szabo ("Mr. Szabo") responded, stating "we are unable to remove this property from the auction. . . . I have been advised that the property will be used for higher government needs." (Compl. Ex. H.)

Plaintiff avers that the acts taken in preventing Compel's possession of the deed to the Property and the hindrances imposed on its use were in retaliation for his political activities. (Compl. ¶ 8.) Specifically, during the years 1995 to 1998, plaintiff participated in an effort to address fatalities on Straight Path, a county road. (Id. ¶ 3.) In addition, in January 1998, plaintiff opposed the appointment of defendant Elie Mystal ("Mr. Mystal") as public relations officer for the Wyandanch school district. (Id. ¶ 4.) According to plaintiff, between February 1998 and 2002, the defendants "publicly [p]romise[d] retaliation" against the plaintiff for his advocacy efforts regarding Straight Path, homelessness and other community issues, his complaints that he had not received a deed to the Property, and his refusal to support Mr. Mystal. (Id. ¶ 8.)

As an example of such retaliation, plaintiff claims that, on May 11, 1999, he and his wife were pulled over and a gun was put to his and his wife's heads by certain of defendants. (Id. ¶ 2.) In addition, plaintiff contends that unspecified defendants slandered him from 2002 to the present, falsely accused him of criminal activity and attempted to "influence community members to run the [p]laintiff out of town." (Id. ¶¶ 9, 10, 11.) Furthermore, the plaintiff asserts, the defendants "refuse[d] to carryout the specifics of the written [c]ontract and the verbal agreed upon amendments to the contract." (Id. ¶ 12.) On April 8, 2005, unspecified defendants allegedly kicked down the plaintiff's bedroom door without a search warrant. (Id. ¶ 32.) The plaintiff, who is an African-American male, believes that these alleged retaliatory acts were also motivated by racism. (Id. ¶ 13.)

B. Procedural History

On September 12, 2005, plaintiff filed the instant complaint. He also sought an order to show cause to prevent the defendants from "interfering with the Plaintiffs [sic] license to enter [the Property]." (Pl.'s Proposed Order to Show Cause, Sept. 12, 2005). The Honorable Sandra J. Feuerstein denied plaintiff's proposed order to show cause on September 12, 2005.

On March 10, 2006, this case was reassigned to the undersigned. On April 10, 2006, defendants served their motion to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) on plaintiff. On April 11, 2006, plaintiff requested an extension of time to file his opposition to the motion. The Court granted plaintiff's request for an extension. The Court granted plaintiff a subsequent extension of sixty-days' time on June 15, 2006. On September 22, 2006, having received no opposition from plaintiff, defendants filed their motion to dismiss with the Court. On September 27, 2006, the Court received a letter from plaintiff requesting a further extension of time until February 2007 to file his opposition to defendants' motion. The Court granted plaintiff's request.

On February 15, 2007, again having received no opposition from plaintiff, defendants renewed their motion to dismiss. The Court ordered plaintiff to respond by April 1, 2007, and warned that if plaintiff failed to do so, the Court would decide the motion based upon the defendants' papers alone. On April 12, 2007, when no opposition from plaintiff was filed, the Court held a telephone status conference, in which the plaintiff failed to appear. The Court issued an order permitting plaintiff until May 23, 2007 to file his opposition. On May 23, 2007, the plaintiff requested that the Court adjourn all proceedings due to his personal health issues. The Court granted ...


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