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Coleman v. City of New York

October 20, 2009

DAWSON COLEMAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF NEW YORK, POLICE OFFICER BRETT M. RASO, #22183, POLICE TOUR COMMANDER JOHN DOE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John Gleeson, U.S.D.J.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

JOHN GLEESON, United States District Judge

On December 29, 2008, plaintiff Dawson Coleman filed this pro se action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claiming that defendants, including the City of New York, New York City Department of Probation, New York City Department of Correction, New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, the District Attorney, an Assistant District Attorney and two police officers, arrested and prosecuted him on a charge to which he had previously pled guilty, in violation of his rights under the Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Specifically, Coleman alleges his rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizure and double jeopardy, as well as his rights to due process and equal protection under the law, were violated.

On April 1, 2009, Judge Dora L. Irizarry ordered a partial dismissal of Coleman's complaint. Specifically, Judge Irizarry dismissed the claims against the New York City Department of Probation, the New York City Department of Correction, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, the District Attorney and the Assistant District Attorney named in the suit. On June 9, 2009, Judge Irizarry recused herself and the case was reassigned to me.

On August 31, 2009,*fn1 the remaining defendants, the City of New York, Officer Brett M. Raso and police tour commander John Doe, filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). Coleman filed his opposition to the defendants' motion on September 23, 2009. I heard oral argument on October 9, 2009. For the reasons set forth below, the defendants' motion to dismiss is granted.

BACKGROUND

The following facts, taken from the plaintiff's complaint and supplemented by him orally at oral argument on the motion, are assumed to be true for the purposes of this motion.

On September 24, 1998, Coleman was arrested and detained on a charge of failure to appear or answer 121 outstanding summonses. On January 7, 1999, Coleman entered a guilty plea to the charge of failing to appear or answer the outstanding summonses and was sentenced to incarceration for thirty days.

On September 30, 2005, at approximately 2:30 P.M., Coleman was stopped by Officer Brett Raso. Coleman was pulling a cart filled with automobile parts and other metal objects. Raso placed him under arrest, and Coleman was charged with possessing a knife with a blade in excess of four inches, which Raso found inside a bag in the cart. When Raso ran Coleman's name through the system, all the old vehicle and traffic violations appeared, so Coleman was also charged with aggravated failure to answer tickets or pay fines imposed. On October 1, Coleman appeared before a judge, bail was set and he was released on bail several days later.

In January 2006, Coleman filed papers in his criminal proceeding stating that he had previously pled guilty to the same summonses underlying one of the charges against him. Compl. Ex. 4. However, that claim was not adjudicated. Rather, Coleman agreed on March 11, 2007, to resolve both charges against him via an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal pursuant to N.Y. C.P.L. § 170.55. The charges were dismissed on September 11, 2007. Compl. Ex. 5.

DISCUSSION

A. Motion to Dismiss -- Standard of Review

Motions to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) test the legal, not the factual, sufficiency of a complaint. See, e.g., Sims v. Artuz, 230 F.3d 14, 20 (2d Cir. 2000) ("At the Rule 12(b)(6) stage, 'the issue is not whether a plaintiff is likely to prevail ultimately, but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims.'" (quoting Chance v. Armstrong, 143 F.3d 698, 701 (2d Cir. 1998))). Accordingly, I must accept the factual allegations in the complaint as true, Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007) (per curiam), and "draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff." Bolt Elec., Inc. v. City of New York, 53 F.3d 465, 469 (2d Cir. 1995). However, "the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009).

Iqbal offered district courts additional guidance regarding the consideration of motions to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). Citing its earlier decision in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. ...


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