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David W. Robinson v. County of Yates

September 23, 2011


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



Plaintiff David W. Robinson ("plaintiff"), brings this action against the County of Yates (the "County"), the Yates County Sheriff's Department ("Sheriff's Department"), County Sheriff Ronald G. Spike, Senior Investigator Michael C. Christensen (collectively the "County defendants"), the Village of Penn Yan (the "Village") and Village Chief of Police Gene Mitchell (collectively the "Village defendants"). Plaintiff alleges, among other things, that the defendants searched and seized property from plaintiff without a warrant on August 16, 2004 and September 8, 2004, unlawfully arrested plaintiff on September 13, 2004, and absconded with monies he paid to the Village for the release of a motor vehicle, all in violation of plaintiff's constitutional rights as guaranteed by 42 U.S.C. §§1983 and 1985(3) and in furtherance of a conspiracy intended to deprive plaintiff of certain insurance proceeds following a fire loss.

Although the Court will not engage in a recitation of the long and tortured history of this case, familiarity with which is presumed, I note that this is yet another chapter in plaintiff's efforts to obtain compensation and insurance coverage for a fire that occurred in a barn on plaintiff's property. As this Court's prior decisions reflect, plaintiff has tried unsuccessfully, in multiple fora, to obtain insurance coverage.

Plaintiff initially asserted claims in this action against Allstate Insurance Company, the New York State Department of Insurance Fraud Bureau and its Director. Those claims were dismissed by two Decisions and Orders of this Court on November 6, 2008 (Dkt. #43) and March 30, 2010 (Dkt. #63), the contents of which are incorporated here by reference. Only the Village and County defendants now remain.

The County and Village defendants now separately move for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 56 to dismiss plaintiffs' claims, on the grounds that plaintiff has failed to state, and/or cannot establish, his claims. Plaintiff has cross moved for additional discovery (Dkt. #80, repeated at Dkt. #81). For the reasons set forth below, the motions by the County (Dkt. #74) and Village (Dkt. #72) are granted, plaintiff's motion for an extension of discovery (Dkt. #80) is denied, and the complaint is dismissed.


I. Summary Judgment

Summary judgment will be granted if the record demonstrates that "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). See also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986). "When the moving party has carried its burden under Rule 56(c), its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts. . . . Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no 'genuine issue for trial.'" Matsushita Elec. Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-587 (1986).

II. Plaintiff's First Cause of Action: Conspiracy Pursuant to Section 1985 Plaintiff's first cause of action alleges that the Village and County defendants collectively conspired to violate his right to equal protection pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1985(3).

In order to establish a claim under Section 1985, a plaintiff must plead and prove that the defendants engaged in: (1) a conspiracy; (2) for the purpose of depriving, directly or indirectly, a class of persons of equal protection, privileges and/or immunities under the law; (3) an act in furtherance of the conspiracy; and (4) injury to a person or deprivation of property or rights of a citizen of the United States. See United Bhd. of Carpenters, Local 610 v. Scott, 463 U.S. 825, 828-829 (1983); Britt v. Garcia, 457 F.3d 264, 269 n. 4 (2d Cir. 2005). The "conspiracy must also be motivated by some racial or perhaps otherwise class-based, invidious discriminatory animus behind the conspirators' action." Britt, 457 F.3d 269 n.4, quoting Thomas v. Roach, 165 F.3d 137, 146 (2d Cir. 1999).

Initially, as the Court has previously noted (Dkt. #43 at 6), to the extent that any of the defendants' complained-of actions occurred prior to August 31, 2004, plaintiff is time-barred from raising them now. See Okure v. Owens, 816 F.2d 45, 46 (2d Cir. 1987) (statute of limitations for a Section 1983 claim in New York is three years); Hunter v. Jewish Bd. of Family & Children Servs., Inc., 1991 U.S. LEXIS 12228 at *5-*6 (S.D.N.Y. 1991) (statute of limitations for a Section 1985 claim in New York is three years).

Moreover, to the extent that plaintiff alleges facts arising after August 31, 2004 in support of his conspiracy claim, he has failed to adduce any supporting evidence whatsoever, and/or to otherwise raise any material question of fact which would preclude summary judgment.

Plaintiff's timely factual allegations primarily consist of the following: (1) in September 2004, County police officers searched the property of plaintiff's sister without a warrant; (2) plaintiff was arrested by the County Sheriff's Department for running a business without a license and owning vehicles without VIN numbers, and later pled guilty in exchange for reduced charges; (3) in early 2005, defendant Mitchell refused to allow plaintiff to regain possession of a seized truck, and later, Mitchell ...

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