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Rheingold v. Harrison Town Police Dep't

July 18, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Conner, Sr. D.J.



Plaintiff, Alan Rheingold, brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against defendants Harrison Town Police Department;*fn1 Harrison Police Officer J. Parrello ("Parrello"); the Town/Village of Harrison (the "Town") and Deborah Rheingold a/k/a Deborah Gierszewski ("Gierszewski"), alleging that defendants violated his rights under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and New York law when they falsely arrested, falsely imprisoned and maliciously prosecuted him. He also claims that defendants violated his civil rights under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution by discriminating against him on the basis of his gender. Parrello and the Town moved to dismiss the claims against them pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P. 12(c). For the following reasons, defendants' motion is granted.


Plaintiff alleges the following in his Complaint.

Defendant Gierszewski is plaintiff's ex-wife and for many years was involved in custody proceedings against plaintiff in Kings County, New York. (Complt. ¶ 6.) On October 19, 2006, Gierszewski initiated a family-offense proceeding against plaintiff in Westchester County Family Court, despite directions from Kings County Supreme Court Justice Michael Ambrosio and Kings County Judicial Hearing Officer Leon Deutsch not to initiate proceedings against plaintiff in any other county. (Id. ¶ 7.) The Westchester County Family Court issued an order on October 19, 2006, modifying plaintiff's parenting time with his two children from alternate weeks to weekdays after school until 8:30 p.m. (Id. ¶ 8.) Plaintiff claims the October 19 order was based on misrepresentations by Gierszewski. (Id.)

On October 27, 2006, based upon a complaint by Gierszewski that plaintiff violated the Westchester County Family Court order when plaintiff returned his children at 8:50 p.m. instead of the directed time of 8:30 p.m., plaintiff was arrested by Parrello and charged with criminal contempt in the second degree. (Id. ¶ 10.) Plaintiff protested his innocence to Parrello, begged them to investigate the allegations of contempt made by Gierszewski and provided them with written documentation that the order had not been violated. (Id. ¶ 11.) Plaintiff alleges defendants failed and refused to investigate the validity of the complaint made by Gierszewski and that there was no basis to arrest him. (Id. ¶¶ 12-13.) Plaintiff also alleges that he was falsely imprisoned and in custody in the detention cell of the Harrison Police Department. (Id. ¶ 14.)

On November 3, 2006, plaintiff was falsely and maliciously charged with criminal contempt in the second degree, without probable cause, before a judge of the Town Court of Harrison, County of Westchester. (Id. ¶ 41.) As a result of the false arrest and imprisonment he was forced to spend $5,000 to retain counsel to defend him against the false charges and was caused to appear on eight occasions in the Harrison Town Court. (Id. ¶ 16.) On August 3, 2007, the criminal charges against plaintiff were dismissed. (Id. ¶ 43.) Plaintiff claims that his false arrest, imprisonment and prosecution resulted from the municipal defendants' careless and negligent hiring, training and supervising of Parrello. (Id. ¶ 30.) Plaintiff further alleges that defendants refused to investigate or accept his complaints of harassment, contempt and stalking against Gierszewski, made to defendants on October 21 and 22, 2006, and mocked him and refused to investigate the basis for Gierszewski's allegations against him on October 27, 2007. (Id. ¶¶ 33-34.) Plaintiff claims that defendants' actions were gender discriminatory because defendants regularly pursue complaints of domestic violence made by females but reject and refuse to investigate similar complaints made by males. (Id. ¶¶ 35, 37.)

Plaintiff served the municipal defendants with a Supplemental Notice of Claim on August 29, 2007. (Id. ¶ 18.) Plaintiff filed this Complaint in the Supreme Court of New York, County of Westchester, on October 25, 2007. Plaintiff filed claims under New York and federal law for false arrest, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution, as well as a claim of gender discrimination under federal law. Defendants Parrello and the Town removed the action to this Court on January 4, 2008.


I. Legal Standard

"In deciding a Rule 12(c) motion, we apply the same standard as that applicable to a motion under Rule 12(b)(6)." Sheppard v. Beerman, 18 F.3d 147, 150 (2d Cir. 1994) (internal citations omitted). A motion brought under FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6) posits that the plaintiff has failed "to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6). On a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a court must accept as true all of the well-pleaded facts and consider those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974), overruled on other grounds, Davis v. Scherer, 468 U.S. 183 (1984); Nechis v. Oxford Health Plans, Inc., 421 F.3d 96, 100 (2d Cir. 2005); In re AES Corp. Sec. Litig., 825 F. Supp. 578, 583 (S.D.N.Y. 1993) (Conner, J.). In assessing the legal sufficiency of a claim, the Court may consider only the facts alleged in the complaint, and any document attached as an exhibit to the complaint or incorporated in it by reference. See FED. R. CIV. P. 10(c); Dangler v. N.Y. City Off Track Betting Corp., 193 F.3d 130, 138 (2d Cir. 1999); De Jesus v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 87 F.3d 65, 69 (2d Cir. 1996).

On a motion to dismiss pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6), the issue is "not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims." Eternity Global Master Fund Ltd. v. Morgan Guar. Trust Co. of N.Y., 375 F.3d 168, 177 (2d Cir. 2004) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). The fact pleading standard is "a flexible 'plausibility standard' which obliges a pleader to amplify a claim with some factual allegations in those contexts where such amplification is needed to render the claim plausible." Iqbal v. Hasty, 490 F.3d 143, 157-58 (2d. Cir. 2007) (emphasis in original); see Ello v. Singh, 531 F. Supp. 2d 552, 562 (S.D.N.Y. 2007). Allegations that are so conclusory that they fail to give ...

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