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Gonzalez v. Lufkin

December 28, 2009

CAESAR GONZALEZ, PLAINTIFF,
v.
APRIL LUFKIN, A/K/A LOPEZ, COUNTY OF NASSAU, NASSAU COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Seybert, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff, Caesar Gonzalez ("Plaintiff"), commenced this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action on March 19, 2008 against April Lufkin a/k/a Lopez ("Lopez"), the State of New York, Nassau County, and Nassau County Department of Social Services ("Defendants") alleging, inter alia, conspiracy, interference with his parental rights, infliction of emotional distress, and defamation. On March 31, 2009, this Court dismissed Plaintiff's claims against the State of New York with prejudice and dismissed Plaintiff's remaining claims with leave to file an Amended Complaint. Pending before the Court is Defendant Nassau County's motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).

BACKGROUND

The following facts are set forth in the Amended Complaint. Plaintiff has two adult children with Defendant Lopez.

According to Plaintiff, the Nassau County Department of Social Services, in conjunction with Defendant Lopez, prevented Plaintiff from interacting with his children. Lopez allegedly "defeated, impaired, impeded, or prejudiced the rights or remedies of Plaintiff by alienating him from . . . [his] children". (Am. Comp. ¶ 8.) In April of 1992, a court order granted Plaintiff joint custody and visitation rights. (Id. ¶ 9.) However, in March of 1993, Lopez informed Plaintiff that she had been advised by Social Services and the Nassau County Family Court to prohibit the children from visiting with Plaintiff. (Id. ¶ 11.) Plaintiff maintains that he repeatedly attempted to contact his children and was finally successful in reaching them via e-mail seven years later. Lopez allegedly discovered that Plaintiff had contacted the children, and again informed Plaintiff that she had court orders barring Plaintiff from contacting the children. In January of 2008, Plaintiff discovered that, contrary to Lopez's representations, there were no court orders prohibiting Plaintiff from contacting his children.

Plaintiff maintains that the Nassau County Department of Social Services ("DSS") facilitated Plaintiff's alienation from his children. Plaintiff states that DSS made no efforts to contact Plaintiff regarding the health and welfare of his children and failed to inquire as to whether Plaintiff had visited his children. Numerous complaints were allegedly filed with DSS regarding Lopez's alleged neglect of Plaintiff's children; however, DSS purportedly failed to inform Plaintiff of the reports and complaints. Furthermore, Plaintiff contends that DSS wrongfully continued to bill Plaintiff for child support after Plaintiff was no longer able to see his children.

DISCUSSION

I. Standard on Motion to Dismiss

In deciding motions to dismiss brought under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), the Court applies a "plausibility standard," which is guided by "[t]wo working principles," Ashcroft v. Iqbal, __ U.S. __, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed. 2d 868 (2009); Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009). First, although the Court must accept all of a complaint's allegations as true, this "tenet" is "inapplicable to legal conclusions"; thus, "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Harris, 572 F.3d at 72 (quoting Ashcroft). Second, only complaints that state a "plausible claim for relief" survive a motion to dismiss, and determining whether a complaint does so is "a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense."

Id.

In deciding a 12(b)(6) motion, the Court is confined to "the allegations contained within the four corners of the complaint." Pani v. Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, 152 F.3d 67, 71 (2d Cir. 1998.) Additionally, the Court may examine "any written instrument attached to [the complaint] or any statements or documents incorporated in it by reference" as well as any document on which the complaint relies heavily. Chambers v. Time Warner, Inc., 282 F.3d 147, 152-153 (2d Cir. 2002). "Of course, it may also consider matter of which judicial notice may be taken under Fed. R. Evid. 201." Kramer v. Time Warner, Inc., 837 F.2d 767,773 (2d Cir. 1991).

A district court, in applying this standard, must "accept all of plaintiff's factual allegations in the complaint as true and draw inferences from those allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Desiderio v. Nat'l., 191 F.3d 198, 202 (2d Cir. 1999); H.J. Inc. v. Northwestern Bell Tel. Co., 492 U.S. 229, 249, 109 S.Ct. 2893, 2906, 106 L.Ed. 2d 195 (1989). Furthermore, "the need to draw all inferences in the plaintiff's favor has heightened application when the plaintiff is proceeding pro se." McInerney v. Rensselaer Polytechnic Inst., 505 F.3d 135, 138 (2d Cir. 2007) (citing Bertin v. United States, 478 F.3d 489, 491 (2d. Cir. 2007)).

II. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint Fails to State a Section ...


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