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Robert Takacs v. the City of New York

January 24, 2011

ROBERT TAKACS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE CITY OF NEW YORK, ET AL. DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sand, J.

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

Plaintiff Robert Takacs brings this action pursuant to sections 1983 and 1985 for false arrest, malicious prosecution, and related offenses arising out of his arrest on drug possession charges. Defendants the City of New York and police officers Louis Scala, Michael Servino, James Ryan, and Daniel Santiago (together the "Officers") move to dismiss the Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. For the following reasons, the motion is granted.

I.Background*fn1

On March 3, 2006, at approximately 11:45 p.m., the Officers came to the door of Plaintiff's apartment suspecting that illegal drug activity was taking place there. The Officers did not have a search warrant, and Plaintiff alleges that he did not give them permission to enter, an allegation Defendants dispute. Am. Compl. Exs. 1, 2. Nonetheless, Plaintiff stood to the side as the Officers entered the apartment, where they recovered cocaine that led to the arrests of Takacs and three other persons. According to Plaintiff, the contraband was "on or next to the futon that was located in a separate room rented out by the roommate." Plaintiff contends that he resided in a different area of the apartment and had no authority over his roommate's room or the contents therein. In a Decision & Order issued in the Supreme Court, New York County, the Honorable Judge Uviller described the set-up as a "living room . . . partially separated by a makeshift closet consisting of a pole, from which clothes were hanging . . . . No door separated the front and rear of this space, the rear portion being partially visible from the entrance."*fn2 Chen Decl. Ex. I at 5 (finding probable cause to arrest plaintiff). The Officers stated, and the court agreed, that the drugs were "in plain view."

At the station, Plaintiff provided a written statement giving permission "again for them to return to the apartment to perform a search." Am. Compl. Ex. 3. Plaintiff alleges he was "intimidated and coerced" into giving that statement because he was told that, if he gave a statement and provided permission for the Officers to return to the apartment, he would be free to leave. Am. Compl. ¶ 18. However, he was not released. Although Judge Uviller found "Takacs' permission for the officers to enter was voluntary," Plaintiff alleges the Officers lied about receiving consent.

Defendants returned to the apartment where they recovered a weapon and more narcotics in the room inhabited by Plaintiff's roommates. Plaintiff alleges Defendants then "filled out false police reports and provided false and misleading information to the court and Prosecution that implicated Plaintiff in the commission of a crime." Am. Compl. ¶ 18.

Plaintiff was charged with one felony count of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree, one felony count of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, one felony count of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, one misdemeanor count of criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree, two misdemeanor counts of criminally using drug paraphernalia in the second degree, and one misdemeanor count of criminal possession of marihuana in the fourth degree. He was indicted on March 9, 2006, together with two other co-defendants. See Chen Decl. Ex. G. Judge Uviller conducted an in camera review of the Grand Jury proceedings on September 13, 2006, finding sufficient evidence to support each count of the indictment. See Chen Decl. Ex. H.

On October 24, 2007, Judge Uviller dismissed the charges against Plaintiff, granting the People's motion to dismiss after the Assistant District Attorney stated that, "The People have concluded that there is reasonable doubt as to whether the Defendant exercised sufficient dominion or control over the drugs in the apartment to justify a possible guilty verdict, so at this point we are moving dismiss the indictment although we are going to proceed with the Co-Defendant." Am. Compl. Ex. 4.

While Plaintiff was incarcerated, he alleges he lost his rent-controlled apartment, where he had lived for over 30 years, was unable to work and earn income, missed scheduled medical procedures, and was denied medical attention for Hepatitis C-related issues.

Plaintiff filed the instant action on January 16, 2009. At oral argument held on March 24, 2010, this Court granted Plaintiff leave to amend the complaint to provide facts that would demonstrate that the actions taken by the arresting officers were known by them to be inappropriate or that the statements made by them were known to be false.

II.Standard of Review

On a motion to dismiss, a court reviewing a complaint will consider all material factual allegations as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Lee v. Bankers Trust Co., 166 F.3d 540, 543 (2d Cir. 1999). "To survive dismissal, the plaintiff must provide the grounds upon which his claim rests through factual allegations sufficient to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." ATSI Commc'ns Inc. v. Shaar Fund, Ltd., 493 F.3d 87, 93 (2d Cir. 2007) (internal quotation marks omitted). Ultimately, the plaintiff must allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 547 (2007). "[A] simple declaration that defendant's conduct violated the ultimate legal standard at issue . . . does not suffice." Gregory v. Daly, 243 F.3d 687, 692 (2d Cir. 2001).

On a motion to dismiss, a court is not limited to the four corners of the complaint, but may also consider "documents attached to the complaint as an exhibit or incorporated in it by reference, . . . matters of which judicial notice may be taken, or . . . documents either in plaintiffs' possession or of which plaintiffs had knowledge and relied ...


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