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Rubino v. Town of Babylon

November 12, 2010

FELICE RUBINO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
TOWN OF BABYLON; SUFFOLK COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff Felice Rubino ("Plaintiff") brings this action against defendants Town of Babylon ("Town") and Suffolk County Police Department ("SCPD") (collectively, "Defendants") seeking recovery for alleged violations of his constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 arising out of Defendants' alleged unconstitutional raid of Plaintiff's business.

The Town moves to dismiss complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 12 (b)(6). For the reasons that follow, the Town's motion is granted.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are drawn from the complaint.

Plaintiff is a resident of the Town and owns a business in the Town called the Zodiac Lounge, a club frequented by members of the gay and lesbian community. Plaintiff alleges that the Town and the SCPD "raided the Zodiak Lounge on August 28, 2008 and cited violations in a discriminatory and harassing manner." (Compl. ¶ 10.) Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that John Farrell, the Town Enforcer, threatened Plaintiff and referred to him as "a gay [b]astard." (Id.) Mr. Farrell allegedly stated that "[g]ay issue or not[,] if you F . . K with the Town the Town will F . . K with you." (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that the Town discriminatorily singled out his business based upon Plaintiff's sexual orientation as well as the sexual orientation of the Lounge's clientele. Plaintiff claims that Defendants' actions were the result of complaints of several community members who sought the removal of Plaintiff's business from the neighborhood due to its clientele.

Plaintiff seeks an Order declaring that his constitutional rights were violated and compensatory and punitive damages pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Without any elaboration as to which rights he was deprived, with the exception of his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches, Plaintiff asserts that "[t]his action arises under the United States Constitution, particularly under the provisions of the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and under the federal law, particularly 42 U.S.C. § 1983." (Id. ¶ 2.) With regard to the Fourth Amendment, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants conducted an improper and unreasonable search of both his business and adjoining apartment without a warrant. (Id. ¶ 10.)

DISCUSSION

I. Motion to Dismiss: Legal Standards

Rule 8(a) provides that a pleading shall contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). The Supreme Court has recently clarified the pleading standard applicable in evaluating a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6).

First, in Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), the Court disavowed the well-known statement in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957) that "a complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim 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." 550 U.S. at 561. Instead, to survive a motion to dismiss under Twombly, a plaintiff must allege "only enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570.

While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).

Id. at 555 (citations and internal quotation marks omitted).

More recently, in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, -- U.S. --, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (2009), the Supreme Court provided further guidance, setting forth a two-pronged approach for courts deciding a motion to dismiss. First, a court should "begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth." 129 S.Ct. at 1950. "While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual assumptions." Id. Thus, "[t]hreadbare recitals of the ...


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