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Jerome T. Dorfman v. Robert A. Bruno

January 18, 2011


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


This litigation arises out of a disturbance that allegedly took place in Nassau County District Court. Plaintiff Jerome T. Dorfman, who is an attorney and appears here on his own behalf, is suing Defendants Judge Robert A. Bruno, Charles Ready, Christian Vetter and Christopher Schemmer. Plaintiff asserts a civil rights claim and several state law claims.

Pending before the Court is Defendants' unopposed motion to dismiss Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint.

Defendants, in this motion and in other documents filed with the Court, refer to an Amended Complaint and a Second Amended Complaint. Apparently, Plaintiff served these documents on Defendants but never filed them with the Court. Accordingly, Plaintiff's original Complaint is the operative Complaint in this litigation. Defendants' unopposed motion, which the Court construes as a motion to dismiss Plaintiff's initial Complaint, is GRANTED and Plaintiff's Complaint is DISMISSED.


The following facts are taken from Plaintiff's Complaint and are presumed to be true for the purposes of this Memorandum and Order.

On the morning of October 8, 2008, Plaintiff appeared before Judge Bruno in Nassau County District Court to represent a client who had received a summons for a building code violation. (Compl. ¶ 8.) Plaintiff attempted to present his case to Judge Bruno, but he was interrupted twice by Defendant Ready, the court clerk assigned to Judge Bruno's courtroom that day. (Id. ¶ 10.) In response, Plaintiff explained to Ready that he was addressing Judge Bruno, not him. (Id.) At that point, Ready "angrily came directly in front of the podium, blocking [Plaintiff] from speaking, harangued [Plaintiff] verbally in front of a courtroom full of litigants and attorneys, and then ordered him to leave the courtroom." (Id.) Plaintiff repeatedly asked Judge Bruno whether he was directing Plaintiff to leave the courtroom, but Judge Bruno gave no answer. (Id. ¶ 11.) Ready and Defendant Vetter, a court officer, then pushed Plaintiff out of the courtroom. (Id. ¶ 12.)

Ready and Vetter followed Plaintiff into the corridor, and Ready approached Plaintiff, put his face an inch from Plaintiff's, and shouted at him "loudly and angrily." (Id. ¶ 14.) Then, as he was walking back toward the courtroom door, Ready turned to Plaintiff and shouted "fuck you." (Id. ¶ 15.) At this point, Plaintiff was approached by Defendant Schemmer, another court officer. Schemmer had not seen what had transpired inside the courtroom, but nevertheless pushed Plaintiff against the wall, ordered him to leave the courthouse, and threatened to handcuff him if he did not leave voluntarily. (Id. ¶ 16.)

Ultimately, a higher ranking court officer countermanded Schemmer's order and Plaintiff was permitted to return to the courtroom and present his case to Judge Bruno. (Id. ¶ 17.) According to Plaintiff, Judge Bruno took no action to stop the other Defendants from mistreating him, (id. ¶ 13), and, when Plaintiff's case was re-called, Judge Bruno accused Plaintiff of causing the initial disturbance. (Id.)

Plaintiff filed his Complaint on October 9, 2009. He asserts a claim that Ready, Vetter and Schemmer violated his civil rights by depriving him of his right to appear in court to represent his client. He claims that Judge Bruno, by not objecting to the other Defendants' conduct, aided and abetted their violations. Plaintiff also asserts three causes of action under state law: (1) assault; (2) battery; and (3) intentional infliction of emotional distress.


For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's Complaint is DISMISSED in its entirety. As an initial matter, the Court notes that, Plaintiff is an attorney admitted to practice before this Court (Compl., Civil Cover Sheet at 2), so the Court is not bound to give his pleading the same liberal reading it would give a non-attorney's pleading. Maloney v. Cuomo, 470 F. Supp. 2d 205, 209 (E.D.N.Y. 2007), aff'd 554 F.3d 56 (2d Cir. 2009), vacated on other grounds, 561 U.S. __, 130 S. Ct. 3541, 2010 WL 2571878 (June 29, 2010).

I. Legal Standard On A Motion To Dismiss

To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a plaintiff must plead sufficient factual allegations in the complaint to "state a claim [for] relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 1974, 167 L. Ed. 2d 929, 949 (2007). The complaint does not need "detailed factual allegations[,]" but it demands "more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Id. at 555. In addition, the facts pleaded in the complaint "must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. Determining whether a plaintiff has met his burden is "a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009). ...

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