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Guadagni v. New York City Transit Authority

June 29, 2009

LOUIS GUADAGNI, PLAINTIFF,
v.
NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT AUTHORITY AND LOUIS DELVALLE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sifton, Senior Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

On May 2, 2008, plaintiff Louis Guadagni commenced this action against defendant the New York City Transit Authority ("Transit Authority")*fn1 and Police Officers "John Doe" and "Jane Doe," alleging violations of 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, 1986, and 1988, based on, inter alia, unspecified violations of the First, Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, as well as various violations of state law. On January 27, 2009, I dismissed plaintiff's complaint in its entirety, without prejudice, for failure to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. On February 26, 2009, plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint naming the Transit Authority and its employee Louis Delvalle as defendants, alleging violations of 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1998,*fn2 including, in particular, false arrest and imprisonment, malicious prosecution, violation of the right to free speech, denial of due process, denial of equal protection of the laws, and other unspecified violations of the First, Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Presently before this Court is defendants' motion to dismiss the Amended Complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted pursuant Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.*fn3 For the reasons that follow, defendants' motion to dismiss is granted.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are drawn from the Amended Complaint, documents referred to therein and incorporated by reference, documents in plaintiff's possession and relied upon by plaintiff, and matters of which this Court may take judicial notice. See Kramer v. Time Warner, Inc. 937 F.2d 767, 773 (2d Cir. 1991) (district court may consider "documents attached to the complaint as exhibits or incorporated in the complaint by reference" on motion to dismiss); Brass v. Am. Film Techs., Inc., 987 F.2d 142, 150 (2d Cir. 1993) (district court may consider "documents either in plaintiffs' possession or of which plaintiffs had knowledge and relied on in bringing suit" on motion to dismiss); Fed. R. Evid. 201 (setting forth conditions under which court may take judicial notice of certain matters). Plaintiff's allegations are accepted as true for the purposes of defendants' motion to dismiss, and all reasonable inferences are drawn in favor of plaintiff as the nonmoving party. See Patel v. Searles, 305 F.3d 130, 135 (2d Cir. 2002).

Defendant Transit Authority is a public authority and public benefit corporation duly organized and existing under the Public Authorities Laws of the State of New York. Am. Compl. ¶ 2.; Pub. Auth. Law § 1200 et seq.. Defendant Louis Delvalle is employed by the Transit Authority as a member of its Special Investigations Unit ("SIU"). Am. Compl. ¶ 13.

Beginning on February 26, 2001, plaintiff Louis Guadagni worked for defendant Transit Authority as a Train Operator. Id. ¶ 28. Prior to that date, plaintiff was an owner, uncompensated officer and compensated, work-performing employee of SMS Food Corp., a family-owned supermarket. Id. ¶ 27. On February 26, 2001, following the commencement of his employment by the Transit Authority, plaintiff ceased to act as a compensated, work-performing employee of SMS Food Corp. Id. ¶¶ 29-30.

In March of 2002, plaintiff sustained a job-related injury to the lower back. Id. ¶ 33. As a consequence, plaintiff filed for and received worker's compensation benefits for a 58-day period, following which he returned to work at the Transit Authority. Id.

On November 20, 2005, while performing his duties as a Train Operator, plaintiff sustained a job-related leg injury and aggravation of his prior low back injury. Id. ¶ 34. Thereafter, plaintiff filed for and received worker's compensation benefits. Id. The doctor retained by the Transit Authority who examined plaintiff in connection with his November 2005 application for worker's compensation diagnosed plaintiff with a partial disability. Id. ¶¶ 36-38. Although plaintiff attempted to secure medical approval to return to work on multiple occasions following his November 2005 injury, he was not medically cleared until January 26, 2006, at which time he returned to work. Id. ¶¶ 39-42.

Prior to or in November of 2005, defendants commenced an investigation of plaintiff which involved clandestine videosurveillance of plaintiff. Id. ¶¶ 43-44. The surveillance tapes obtained by defendant Delvalle show plaintiff going to and from the supermarket he owned, doing paperwork at the supermarket he owned, carrying groceries for personal use, and carrying an empty quarter-keg of beer. Id. ¶¶ 46-49. Plaintiff alleges that in the period during which he received worker's compensation benefits following his November 2005 injury, he did not perform any work the doctors retained by the Transit Authority found him unable to perform. Id. ¶ 51.

On April 30, 2007, defendant Delvalle, allegedly misinterpreting the content of the surveillance videos, provided sworn testimony against plaintiff in a criminal complaint filed against plaintiff in the King's County Criminal Court. Id. ¶ 55; Declaration of Gerard A. Lucciola dated November 26, 2008 ("Lucciola Decl."), Ex. 1 (copy of criminal complaint). In the complaint, defendant Delvalle stated that he was informed by two doctors who examined plaintiff in December and January of 2005 that plaintiff complained of back pain and numbness in his leg, which caused the doctors to restrict plaintiff from, among other things, lifting, pushing, or pulling heavy objects and operating a car. Lucciola Decl., Ex. 1, at 2-4. According to defendant Delvalle, during the doctors' examinations, plaintiff filled out and signed Daily Activities Questionnaires certifying that he was not working in any capacity for any employer, that he had difficulty standing for long periods of time, and that he was not performing any physical activities outside of his home. Id. Defendant Delvalle further stated that the surveillance tapes he obtained showed plaintiff, in December and January of 2005, driving to and from a supermarket of which plaintiff is the registered "President/Chief Executive Officer," carrying multiple boxes of groceries, entering private areas in the grocery store, handling plastic bags, and talking with workers inside the store, all without displaying any signs of physical discomfort. Id.

The April 30, 2007 criminal complaint charged plaintiff with, inter alia, grand larceny, insurance fraud, and falsification of business records.*fn4 Am. Compl. ¶ 55; Lucciola Decl. Ex. 1 at 1. On May 4, 2007, on the basis of defendant Delvalle's testimony in the criminal complaint, plaintiff was arrested and transported to the 60th precinct of the New York City Police Department. Id. ¶ 56.

The present action was commenced on May 2, 2008, in New York Supreme Court, Kings County. See Declaration of Gena Usenheimer dated April 23, 2009 ("Usenheimer Decl."), Ex. 2 (copy of Complaint filed on May 2, 2008).

On June 13, 2008, plaintiff was indicted in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Kings, on, inter alia, one count of larceny, three counts of insurance fraud, and three counts of falsifying business records. See Am. Compl. ¶ 67; Lucciola Decl. Ex. 2 (copy of indictment). Plaintiff has entered a plea of not guilty, and the criminal proceedings against plaintiff are pending. Am. Compl. ¶ 68.

On August 4, 2008, defendant Transit Authority removed the present action to this Court, and on September 8, 2008, moved, inter alia, to dismiss the original Complaint. I granted defendant Transit Authority's motion without prejudice on January 27, 2009, and plaintiff filed his Amended Complaint on February 26, 2009. Following my March 19, 2009 denial of plaintiff's motion for reconsideration of my January 27, 2009, order, defendants filed the present motion on April 23, 2009.

DISCUSSION

I. Standard for Motion to ...


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