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Michael Wims v. the New York City Police Department

July 20, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: P. Kevin Castel, District Judge:


Plaintiff Michael Wims, proceeding pro se, brings this action against the New York City Police Department ("NYPD"), the 52nd Precinct Bronx Narcotics Division ("PBND"), Detective David Roberts, Sergeant E. Beckel and Sergeant A, Capato pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging false arrest, malicious prosecution, excessive force and violations of his Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, arising out of his arrest on December 10, 2009. Defendants have moved to dismiss the Complaint, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), Fed. R. Civ. P., for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. For the reasons stated below, defendants' motion to dismiss is granted.


Plaintiff filed the Complaint on August 17, 2010. (Docket #1.) He alleges that at approximately 10:00 a.m. on December 10, 2009, he was leaving his residence at 1880 Valentine Avenue Bronx, New York, when he was confronted by several detectives. (Compl. ¶ 7.) According to the Complaint, the detectives physically and mentally "brutalized" him, "antagonize[d]" him and "[taunted] [him] with firearms and harsh yet vulgar language and racial slurs." (Id.) Plaintiff asserts that he was not shown a search warrant. (Compl. ¶ 7.) Plaintiff also claims that the detectives "physical[ly] brutalized [him] through harsh and racially motivated [g]estures and comments." (Id. at p. 4.) Lastly, plaintiff asserts that the detectives did not read him his Miranda rights. (Id. at 3.)

The detectives searched plaintiff's apartment and found in the apartment two loaded firearms and a controlled substance. (See Francolla Decl., "B.") Plaintiff was subsequently arrested and charged with Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree and Criminal Possession in the Fifth Degree With Intent to Sell. (Id.) On December 21, 2009, plaintiff entered a plea of guilty to Attempted Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree. (See Francolla Decl., "C.")


I. Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6)

A pro se complaint is reviewed under a more lenient standard than that applied to "formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972) (per curiam). A plaintiff's pro se pleadings "must be read liberally and should be interpreted 'to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest.'" Graham v. Henderson, 89 F.3d 75, 79 (2d Cir. 1996) (quoting Burgos v. Hopkins, 14 F.3d 787, 790 (2d Cir. 1994)).

Rule 8(a)(2), Fed. R. Civ. P., requires "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, in order to give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)) (ellipsis in original). To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), Fed. R. Civ. P., "a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'"

Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). "'Labels and conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do,'" rather, a plaintiff must plead "factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

The Supreme Court has described the motion to dismiss standard as encompassing a "two-pronged approach" that requires a court first to construe a complaint's allegations as true, while not bound to accept the veracity of a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation. Id. Second, a court must then consider whether the complaint "states a plausible claim for relief," which is "a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id. Although the Court is limited to facts as stated in the complaint, it may consider exhibits or documents incorporated by reference without converting the motion into one for summary judgment. See Int'l Audiotext Network, Inc. v. AT&T,62 F.3d 69, 72 (2d Cir. 1995). Additionally, "a district court may rely on matters of public record in deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6)," including arrest reports, criminal complaints, indictments and criminal disposition data. Vasquez v. City of New York, 99 Civ. 4606, 2000 WL 869492, at *1 n.1 (S.D.N.Y. June 29, 2000) (citations omitted); see Brass v. Am. Film Techs., Inc., 987 F.2d 142, 150 (2d Cir. 1993).

Defendants move to dismiss plaintiff's claims under Rule 12(b)(6), arguing that plaintiff's guilty plea precludes his claims for false arrest and malicious prosecution, that he has failed to state a claim for excessive force, that two of the defendants are non-suable entities and that the defendant officers are entitled to qualified immunity. (Def. Mem. 1-2.)

In opposition to defendant's motion, plaintiff has not submitted any legal arguments, but instead has set forth additional facts not alleged in the Complaint.*fn1 A court may not consider the contents of these documents without converting defendants' motion to dismiss into one for summary judgment. See, e.g., Friedl v. City of New York, 210 F.3d 79, 83-84 (2d Cir. 2000) ("a district court errs when it considers affidavits and exhibits submitted by defendants, or relies on factual allegations contained in legal briefs or memoranda in ruling on a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss.") (internal quotation marks, citations and alteration omitted). However, even if this Court were to ...

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