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Jeffrey Thrall v. Cny Centro

February 18, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Neal P. McCurn, Senior District Judge

Memorandum, Decision and Order

I. Introduction

Presently before the court are motions to dismiss the complaint and motions for sanctions against plaintiff and his attorney. Plaintiff has opposed all four motions, and defendants have replied. Decision is rendered on the papers submitted,*fn1 without oral argument.

II. Procedural Background

This civil rights action was jointly removed to this court by defendants CNY Centro, Inc. ("Centro"), Charles Watson and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 580 ("the Union"). Plaintiff, Jeffrey Thrall ("Plaintiff"), originally commenced this action in state court on April 3, 2009, seeking compensatory and punitive damages for several causes of action related, in part, to his termination from employment and denial of disability pension benefits. According to plaintiff, all of the causes of action in his complaint are related to his discovery of documents that were fraudulently withheld by defendants, which would have called into question the results of a grievance review board decision relating to his application for disability pension benefits from Centro. Included in the complaint are purported claims under New York common law for breach of contract, wrongful termination, breach of the duty of fair representation, fraudulent concealment and abuse of process. In addition, plaintiff purports to set forth a civil rights claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 as a predicate for his claims that defendants violated his rights under the First, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

III. Legal Standard

When deciding a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the court must accept the factual allegations in the complaint as true, drawing all inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See Miller v. Wolpoff & Abramson, L.L.P., 321 F.3d 292, 300 (2d Cir.2003) (quoting Patel v. Contemporary Classics of Beverly Hills, 259 F.3d 123, 126 (2d Cir.2001)). The court is generally "required to look only to the allegations on the face of the complaint." Roth v. Jennings, 489 F.3d 499, 509 (2d Cir.2007). However, in addition to the complaint's factual allegations, the pleading includes any written instrument or exhibit attached to a complaint and incorporated by reference. See Chambers v. Time Warner, Inc., 282 F.3d 147, 152-53 (2d Cir.2002) (citing Int'l Audiotext Network, Inc. v. Am. Tel. & Tel. Co., 62 F.3d 69, 72 (2d Cir.1995)). Courts may also take judicial notice of state court decisions when deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. See Nemeth v. Village of Hancock, No. 3:10-CV-1161, 2011 WL 56063, at *1, n.2 (N.D.N.Y. Jan. 7, 2011) (citing Chambers, 282 F.3d at152-53; Brass v. American Film Tech., Inc., 987 F.2d 142, 150 (2d Cir.1993)).

In order to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a plaintiff must allege enough facts "to raise a right of relief above the speculative level." See Bell Atl. Corp. V. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1965 (2007). The complaint must contain sufficient factual allegations, accepted as true, to state a facially plausible claim. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, - U.S. -, -, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570, 127 S.Ct. at 1974). However, assessing whether a complaint states a facially plausible claim for relief is a "context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1950.

IV. Factual Background

The court will, as it must, accept as true the following factual allegations in plaintiff's complaint.

Plaintiff is a former employee of Centro and member of the Union. In January 2002, Centro notified Plaintiff that it was replacing him due to his absence from work. At no time did Centro state that it was terminating Plaintiff. The Union filed a grievance challenging the alleged termination of Plaintiff, but the grievance was never properly addressed by Centro or the Union and was never resolved.

Plaintiff timely applied for disability pension benefits. Centro denied Plaintiff's application based on its allegation that Plaintiff was not an employee at the time the application was submitted. Neither Centro nor the Union advised Plaintiff of his right and/or alleged obligation to apply for disability pension benefits while still an employee. At some point after Plaintiff's application for disability pension benefits was denied, Charles Watson withdrew Plaintiff's membership in the Union.

On April 18, 2003, Charles Watson filed a grievance challenging the denial of Plaintiff's application for disability pension benefits. The grievance was denied. On August 19, 2003, the grievance was submitted to a grievance review board ("GRB") under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement between Centro and the Union. The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service ("FMCS") made available Commissioner Edward Garrow to act as mediator.

The result and finality of the GRB proceedings was the subject of litigation in the New York Supreme Court, Onondaga County, before the Honorable William R. Roy, via an Article 78 proceeding to compel arbitration. On April 5, 2004, Judge Roy decided that the GRB reached a final decision, and dismissed Plaintiff's amended petition. On appeal, the New York State Appellate Division, Fourth ...

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