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Jonathan Michaels v. the City of New York

February 16, 2011

JONATHAN MICHAELS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE CITY OF NEW YORK, A MUNICIPAL ENTITY, NEW YORK CITY POLICE OFFICER YEOMAN CASTRO, SHIELD #04705, NEW YORK CITY POLICE OFFICERS "JOHN AND JANE DOES," 10TH AVENUE HOSPITALITY GROUP LLC, MELISSA PETTERS, JASON STRAUSS, NOAH TEPPERBERG, FORTE NETWORK INC., D/B/A FORTE SECURITY, FORTE SECURITY PERSONNEL "JOHN AND JANE DOES," CLUB MARQUEE PERSONNEL "JOHN AND JANE DOES," ALL OF THE IDENTIFIED AND NON IDENTIFIED PERSONS IN THEIR INDIVIDUAL AND IN THEIR OFFICIAL CAPACITIES, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sidney H. Stein, U.S. District Judge.

OPINION & ORDER

Jonathan Michaels brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. He also asserts various New York state law claims against the City of New York, police officer Yeoman Castro, 10th Avenue Hospitality Group LLC ("10th Avenue" or "Club Marquee"), Melissa Petters, Jason Strauss, Noah Tepperberg, Forte Network Inc. ("FNI"), and unidentified police officers, 10th Avenue employees, and FNI employees. Plaintiff's claims arise from his arrest at Club Marquee, a New York City nightclub. All defendants have now moved to dismiss the claims against them pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). Because the Court finds that plaintiff has failed to state a federal claim for relief against any defendant, defendants' motions to dismiss the complaint are granted.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are taken from the amended complaint and are assumed to be true for the purposes of these motions.

A. Parties

Plaintiff Jonathan Michaels is a citizen of the State of New York. (Am. Compl. ¶ 23.) Defendant Yeoman Castro is a New York City police officer employed by the defendant City of New York (Castro and the City of New York, along with the unidentified police officers, collectively, "City Defendants"). (Id. ¶¶ 24-26.)

Defendant 10th Avenue is a limited liability corporation which owns and operates Club Marquee. (Id. ¶¶ 28-29.) Defendants Jason Strauss and Noah Tepperberg are both members of 10th Avenue, and Tepperberg is also its president. (Id. ¶¶ 30-31.)

Forte Network Inc. is a private security company hired by Club Marquee to provide security services at the club. (Id. ¶ 34.) Melissa Petters is an FNI security guard. (Id. ¶ 33.)

B. Plaintiff's Detention and Arrest

On the night of July 15, 2008, Michaels, along with a group of friends, sought to enter Club Marquee. (Id. ¶ 70.) Michaels was stopped at the door by Petters, who requested that Michaels hold his hands out in front of him and, without his consent, proceeded to remove the contents of his pockets. (Id. ¶¶ 75, 78.) In his pockets she found three loose pills, which fell to the floor. (Id. ¶ 80.) Although Michaels asserted that the pills were his prescription medication, (id. ¶ 82), Petters believed they were the drug known as ecstasy, (id. ¶ 121). A chemical test later determined that the pills were in fact Klonopin-a legal prescription medication that Michaels had been prescribed, (id. ¶ 83).

Petters picked up the pills from the ground, (id. ¶ 87), and told Michaels to pick up an envelope lying by her feet, (id. ¶ 88). Michaels picked up the envelope, which contained cocaine. (Id. ¶¶ 90, 125.) The face of the complaint does not allege where the envelope had come from. In any event, Petters took plaintiff's driver's license and with the help of unidentified persons held him outside the club in a gated area while she called the police. (Id. ¶¶ 91-98.) About fifteen minutes later, police officer Castro and two other police officers arrived at Club Marquee. (Id. ¶¶ 98-104.) Michaels told the officers that the pills were his prescription medication, but the officers rejected his explanation, allegedly without inspecting the pills themselves. (Id. ¶¶ 105-111.)

The officers arrested plaintiff and took him first to the police station for processing, (id. ¶¶ 113-115), and then to Manhattan Central Booking, where he spent the night, (id. at 116). The following morning, he was arraigned on the charge of criminal possession of a controlled substance, and released. (Id. ¶ 119.) The criminal complaint includes confessions allegedly made by Michaels to Castro and Petters about his possession of illegal drugs that night. (Id. ¶¶ 119-124.) Following his arraignment, Michaels returned to court three times before the charge against him was dismissed approximately seven months later. (Id. ¶¶ 138-140.)

While he was in custody on the night of July 15, 2009, plaintiff asked an unidentified officer for his medication, which he uses to treat Crohn's disease, an inflammatory intestinal disorder. (Id. ¶ 129.) The officer told Michaels that in order to receive his medication that night he could be taken to the hospital in handcuffs and on a stretcher, but his arraignment would be delayed by four days as a result. (Id. ¶¶ 130-31.) Given this choice, Michaels opted not to receive his medication that night. (Id. ¶ 132.) Three days after his release, Michaels suffered a Crohn's disease attack, which he attributes to his earlier inability to take his prescription medication ...


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