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Utsey v. Murphy

January 13, 2010

CHARLES D. UTSEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
OFFICER JON MURPHY; MENANDS VILLAGE POLICE DEPT; ADA RENEÉ MERGES; AND DAVID SOARES, ALBANY COUNTY DIS. ATTY. OFFICE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Norman A. Mordue, Chief U.S. District Judge

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

Presently before the Court are motions (Dkt. Nos. 18, 27) by all defendants to dismiss the complaint in this pro se action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("section 1983"). Plaintiff Charles D. Utsey ("Utsey") has not submitted opposition to the motions. As explained below, the claim against Menands Village Police Dept. is deemed to be a claim against the Village of Menands; the motion to dismiss (Dkt. No. 18) by defendants Officer Jon Murphy and Menands Village Police Dept. is granted with respect to any claim for assault under New York State law, and is otherwise denied; and the motion to dismiss (Dkt. No. 27) by defendants ADA Reneé Merges and David Soares, Albany County Dis. Atty. Office, is granted.

II. BACKGROUND

This action stems from an incident occurring on September 27, 2006, when defendant Officer Jon Murphy ("Officer Murphy") of the Menands Village Police Department ("Police Department") arrested Utsey and filed criminal charges against him for operating a vehicle without insurance, operating a vehicle while the registration was suspended, aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle, and resisting arrest. The accusatory instrument charging resisting arrest, signed by Murphy, states:

The above named defendant [Utsey] was stopped for having a suspended license and driving a vehicle with a suspended registration. The writer gave [Utsey] instructions as to putting his hands behind his back and

[Utsey] did not. [Utsey] kept reaching to put his phone away. [Utsey] was placed in handcuffs and the writer started searching [Utsey]. While the writer was searching [Utsey] he kept trying to pull away from the writer and wouldn't let the writer search him.

Defendant Reneé Merges, Esq. ("ADA Merges"), an Assistant District Attorney in the office of defendant David Soares, Esq. ("DA Soares"), Albany County Albany County District Attorney, prosecuted the charges. Ultimately, the charges were dismissed in the interests of justice.

In his complaint, Utsey alleges that on September 27, 2006, Officer Murphy violated his Fourth Amendment rights by conducting a search and seizure without probable cause; that on the same date Officer Murphy assaulted him during an illegal arrest; and that the Police Department failed to train and supervise Officer Murphy properly. The complaint further avers that ADA Merges prosecuted the case against Utsey; that the case was ultimately dismissed; that ADA Merges violated his Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process; that ADA Merges made a false statement in court regarding her conversation with Utsey's probation officer; and that ADA Merges improperly sought to have Utsey serve jail time for the charges.

III. APPLICABLE LAW

Section 1983 allows an action at law against a "person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State ... subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States ... to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws." 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendants move to dismiss on the ground that the complaint fails to state a cause of action. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). To survive a dismissal motion, "a complaint must plead 'enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ruotolo v. City of New York, 514 F.3d 184, 188 (2d Cir. 2008) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974 (2007)). The court must accept as true all factual allegations in the complaint and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. See id. A complaint should be "especially liberally construed when it is submitted pro se and alleges civil rights violations." Jacobs v. Mostow, 271 Fed.Appx. 85, 87 (2d Cir. 2008) (citing Fernandez v. Chertoff, 471 F.3d 45, 51 (2d Cir. 2006)). The submissions of a pro se litigant should be interpreted to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest. See Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 474 (2d Cir. 2006).

IV. DEFENDANTS OFFICER MURPHY AND THE POLICE DEPARTMENT

Defendants Officer Murphy and the Police Department move (Dkt. No. 18) to dismiss the complaint on a number of grounds. As set ...


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