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Pablo Nieves Telana v. the City of Rochester

March 10, 2011

PABLO NIEVES TELANA NIEVES, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
THE CITY OF ROCHESTER, THE ROCHESTER FIRE DEPARTMENT, FLOYD A. MADISON, (FORMER) CHIEF OF THE ROCHESTER FIRE DEPARTMENT, JOHN CAUFIELD, (CURRENT) CHIEF, RALPH PRIVITERE, EXECUTIVE DEPUTY CHIEF OF THE ROCHESTER FIRE DEPARTMENT, IN THEIR INDIV IDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES, AND OTHER KNOWN OR UNKNOWN MEMBERS OF THE CITY OF ROCHESTER, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: David G. Larimer United States District Judge

DECISION AND ORDER

Plaintiff, Pablo Nieves ("Nieves") and his wife commenced this action against the City of Rochester (the "City"), the Rochester Fire Department ("RFD"), its former Chief Floyd A. Madison, current Chief John D. Caufield, and Executive Deputy Chief, Ralph Privitere (collectively, "defendants"). Nieves alleges that he was subjected to a hostile work environment, harassment and disparate treatment in violation of his civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and purports to assert state law claims for negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent hiring, training supervision and retention..

Defendants now move to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 12(b)(6) and(c). For the reasons set forth below, that motion (Dkt. #8) is granted, and the complaint is dismissed.

DISCUSSION

According to the complaint, Nieves, a City firefighter, was "singled out for unequal treatment" by the defendants based upon, inter alia, his race. (Dkt. #12-2 at ¶12). Stated summarily, Nieves claims that he was denied certain training and transfers, subjected to unfair medical certification requirements and disclosures of medical information, and that the defendants permitted other officers to harass him during and after Nieves was accused, tried and acquitted of rape charges. Nieves contends that the defendants' acts and omissions were motivated by race-based discriminatory animus.

The defendants have moved to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 12(b)(6) and (c). The applicable standard for determining motions to dismiss requires Nieves to set forth sufficient facts to render each of his claims plausible on their face. See Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007) and Ashcroft v. Iqubal, ____ U.S. ____, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009).

I. Individual Capacity Claims Against the Individual Defendants

Nieves lists Floyd Madison, John Caufield and Ralph Privitere as defendants: however, the complaint contains no factual allegations and asserts no claims concerning them. The only factual allegations made against Chief Privitere and Chief Caufield are that Privitere received a transfer request from Nieves on one occasion, and that Caufield communicated with Nieves' counselor and ordered Nieves to comply with the terms of his collective bargaining agreement and undergo an independent medical examination. Plaintiff makes several allegations concerning the final individual defendant, Chief Madison, relating to Madison's alleged failure to provide plaintiff with certain training and/or a transfer, and ordering him to attend an independent medical examination.

In order to hold the individual defendants personally liable for a constitutional violation pursuant to Section 1983, Nieves must allege facts establishing that each defendant was personally involved in the constitutional deprivation, as well facts sufficient to state a claim for that deprivation. See Back v. Hastings on Hudson Union Free Sch. Dist., 365 F.3d 107, 122 (2d Cir. 2004) ("in this Circuit personal involvement of defendants in alleged constitutional deprivations is a prerequisite to an award of damages under [Section] 1983") (internal quotation marks omitted).

Initially, other than generally referring to an unspecified denial of due process, Nieves does not identify the nature of the alleged constitutional deprivation to which he was subjected, or the right that was allegedly violated. Furthermore, Nieves makes no allegation, nor can one be read into the complaint, that any of the individual defendants acted personally to violate his constitutional rights, or that they did so with an impermissible motive. His claims against the individual defendants in their individual capacities are therefore dismissed.

II. Official Capacity Clams Against Individual Defendants

Nieves asserts claims against Caufield, Privitere and Madison in both their individual and official capacities, and requests awards of punitive damages against them. To the extent that his claims pertain to official capacity, they are treated as claims against the municipality -- the City of Rochester. See Coon v. Town of Springfield, 404 F.3d 683 , 687 (2d Cir. 2005), citing Brandon v. Holt, 469 U.S. 464, 471-73 (1985).

III. Claims Against the RFD

It is well settled that under New York law, departments that are mere arms of a municipality are not independently subject to suit, apart from the municipality. See Santiago v. City of New York, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56205 at 6 (S.D.N.Y. 2008); S.W. by J.W.. v. Warren, 528 F. Supp. 2d 282, 302 (S.D.N.Y. 2007). As plaintiff concedes in his complaint, the RFD is mandated and maintained by the City of Rochester. (Dkt. #12-2 at 3). Thus, it is merely an ...


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