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Demetrius Hill v. Richard P. Donoghue

September 2, 2011

DEMETRIUS HILL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
RICHARD P. DONOGHUE, SARAH M. COYNE, AND THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, DEFENDANTS.
PLAINTIFF:



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Seybert, District Judge:

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff pro se Demetrius Hill ("Plaintiff") sued Defendants Richard Donoghue ("AUSA Donoghue"), Sarah Coyne ("AUSA Coyne"), the United States (collectively, the "Federal Defendants") and others for violations arising out of an alleged scheme to record Plaintiff's jailhouse telephone conversations. The Federal Defendants are the only remaining defendants in this action, and they now move for judgment on the pleadings. For the following reasons, this motion is GRANTED.

BACKGROUND

The facts and procedural history of this case are set forth in the Court's previous orders. Below, the Court only recites the facts necessary to put the analysis that follows into context. Briefly, Plaintiff alleges that AUSA Donoghue, an Assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of New York, directed officials at the Nassau County Correctional Center (the "NCCC") to intercept and record Plaintiff's jailhouse telephone calls. Plaintiff claims that the recordings were made without a warrant. (Compl. at 2.)

According to Plaintiff, AUSA Donoghue used the tapes to allege a sexual relationship between Plaintiff and Magdalena Sanchez, who was at the time a target of the Eastern District United States Attorney's Office.*fn1 (See id. 3.) Donoghue also used the tapes to influence Plaintiff's sentencing before the Honorable Denis Hurley, United States District Judge. (Id.) He also provided the tapes to AUSA Coyne, a fellow Assistant United States Attorney, who in turn used the tapes to indict Sanchez.

Plaintiff also alleges that "someone" from the United States Attorney's Office leaked to reporters that Plaintiff (1) was involved in an affair with Sanchez; (2) cooperated with prosecutors to secure Sanchez's indictment; and (3) had his sentence reduced as a result of the cooperation. (Id. at 4-5.)

DISCUSSION

Liberally construed, Plaintiff's Complaint appears to raise the following claims: (1) under both Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388; 91 S. Ct. 1999; 29 L. Ed. 2d 619 (1971), and Title III of the Ominbus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, as amended (the "Wiretap Act" or "Title III"), 18 U.S.C. §§ 2510 et seq., that AUSA Donoghue violated Plaintiff's rights by directing NCCC officials to intercept and tape Plaintiff's phone calls without a warrant; (2) under Bivens, that AUSAs Coyne and Donoghue used the improperly-obtained tapes of Plaintiff's conversations with Sanchez to secure Sanchez's indictment; (3) under Bivens, that AUSA Donoghue used the improperly-obtained tapes to influence Plaintiff's sentencing before Judge Hurley; (4) under common law, that AUSA Donoghue defamed Plaintiff by stating that Plaintiff and Sanchez were having an affair; and (5) under common law, that the United States defamed Plaintiff by telling the media that (a) Plaintiff and Sanchez were having an affair;

(b) Plaintiff was a cooperating witness against Sanchez; and (c) Plaintiff's sentence was reduced as a consequence of his cooperation. In his reply, Plaintiff also asserts a "stigma-plus" claim arising out of the same facts as his purported defamation claim against the United States. The Federal Defendants are entitled to judgment on the pleadings with respect to all of these claims.

I. Legal Standard

In resolving a Federal Rule 12(c) motion for judgment

on the pleadings, the Court uses the same standard that it applies to Rule 12(b)(6) motions for failure to state a claim. L-7 Designs, Inc. v. Old Navy, LLC, __ F.3d __, 2011 WL 2135734, at *8 (2d Cir. June 1, 2011). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a plaintiff must plead sufficient factual allegations in the complaint to "state a claim [for] relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 1974, 167 L. Ed. 2d 929, 949 (2007). The complaint does not need "detailed factual allegations," but it demands "more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Id. at 555. In addition, the facts pleaded in the complaint "must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. Determining whether a plaintiff has met his burden is "a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009). On a motion to dismiss, a plaintiff gets the benefit of all reasonable inferences, see, e.g., Litwin v. Blackstone Group, L.P., 634 F.3d 706, 711 n.5 (2d Cir. 2011), but "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, __ U.S. __, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L. Ed. 2d 868 (2009).

II. Analysis

The Court first addresses whether AUSAs ...


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