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De Asis v. New York City Police Dep't

August 18, 2008

SAMUAL DE ASIS, PRO SE,
v.
NEW YORK CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dora L. Irizarry United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

DORA L. IRIZARRY, United States District Judge

Plaintiff filed the instant action against Defendants alleging various constitutional and statutory federal claims, as well as state law claims, arising out of the issuance and resolution of three parking tickets. Defendants filed the instant motion seeking dismissal, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Plaintiff opposed the motion. For the reasons set forth more fully below, defendants' motion is granted.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are undisputed and taken from the complaint and its attachments unless otherwise noted. Defendant New York State Parking Violations Bureau ("PVB") issued plaintiff three parking tickets. PVB issued the first ticket on February 26, 1999, the second on August 20, 1999, and the third on June 20, 2006. After plaintiff participated in administrative procedures, PVB dismissed each ticket. On November 27, 2006, plaintiff filed a Notice of Claim with the Office of the Comptroller for the City of New York ("Comptroller") seeking damages in the amount of two hundred-fifty thousand dollars for economic and psychological injuries. (See Compl., Ex. A.) The Comptroller dismissed plaintiff's claim on April 20, 2007.

(Id.) Plaintiff filed the instant action on September 18, 2007, against the New York City Police Department, Department of Finance, and PVB, and Maureen Brown, John Doe 1, and John Doe 2 (collectively, the "Defendants"). Plaintiff alleges claims under (i) the Due Process Clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, (ii) 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983, 1985, and 1986, and (iii) state common law.

DISCUSSION

I. Standard of Review

Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states that a defendant may move, in lieu of an answer, for dismissal of a complaint for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). On a motion to dismiss, the court accepts as true all well-pleaded factual allegations and draws all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. See Dangler v. New York City Off Track Betting Corp., 193 F.3d 130, 138 (2d Cir. 1999). In Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, the Supreme Court retired the standard set forth half a century ago in Conley v. Gibson, that a complaint should not be dismissed "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," in favor of the requirement that plaintiff plead enough facts to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1968-69, 1974 (2007) (quoting Conley, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957)). To be facially plausible, a complaint cannot make merely "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action," but must allege facts that "raise a right of relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact)." Bell Atlantic, 127 S.Ct. at 1964-65 (citations omitted). The Second Circuit interpreted Bell Atlantic to "requir[e] 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," rather than to mandate a "universal standard of heightened fact pleading." Iqbal v. Hasty, 490 F.3d 143, 157-58 (2d Cir. 2007).

When material outside the complaint is "presented to and not excluded by the court, the motion must be treated as one for summary judgment . . . and all parties must be given a reasonable opportunity to present all the material that is pertinent to the motion." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d). For the purposes of this rule, the complaint is deemed to include writings and documents attached to it, referenced in it, or integral to it. See Chambers v. Time Warner, Inc., 282 F.3d 147, 152-53 (2d Cir. 2002); Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(c). A document is "integral" to the complaint if "the complaint relies heavily upon its terms and effects." Chambers, 282 F.3d at 153 (citations omitted). "A plaintiff's reliance on the terms and effect of a document in drafting the complaint is a necessary prerequisite to the court's consideration of the document on a dismissal motion; mere notice or possession is not enough." Id. (emphasis in original).

Plaintiffs are harmed when material outside a complaint is considered on a motion to dismiss as they lack notice that such consideration is occurring. Global Network Commc'ns, Inc. v. City of New York, 458 F.3d 150, 155 (2d Cir. 2006). Rule 12(d)'s conversion requirement remedies this problem by "deter[ring] trial courts from engaging in fact finding when ruling on a motion to dismiss and ensur[ing] that when a trial judge considers evidence dehors the complaint, a plaintiff will have an opportunity to contest defendant's relied-upon evidence by submitting material that controverts it." Id. Accordingly, when there is actual notice by the opposing party of all the information in the movant's papers, the necessity to convert a motion to dismiss to one for summary judgment is largely dissipated. Chambers, 282 F.3d at 153.

II. Application

The complaints of pro se plaintiffs must be read liberally and interpreted as raising the strongest arguments they suggest. See, e.g., McEachin v. McGuinnis, 357 F.3d 197, 200 (2d Cir. 2004) (citing Weinstein v. Albright, 261 F.3d 127, 132 (2d Cir. 2001)). If a liberal reading of the complaint "gives any indication that a valid claim might be stated," this court must grant leave to amend. See Cuoco v. Moritsugu, 222 F.3d 99, 112 (2d Cir. 2000) (citing Gomez v. ...


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