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Sophia Chinemerem Ihuoma Eze v. the City University of New York At Brooklyn College

December 27, 2011

SOPHIA CHINEMEREM IHUOMA EZE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK AT BROOKLYN COLLEGE, KAREN LEE GOULD, AS PRESIDENT OF THE CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK AT BROOKLYN COLLEGE, MILGA MORALES, AS DEAN OF STUDENT AFFAIRS OF BROOKLYN COLLEGE, BROOKLYN COLLEGE CAMPUS AND COMMUNITY SAFETY SERVICES (BCCSS), DONALD WENZ, DIRECTOR, URSULA G. CHASE, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, HARRY GOMEZ, LIEUTENANT, CYNTHIA HUNTER, LIEUTENANT, ROBERT SCOTT, LIAISON OFFICER/COORDINATOR OF HONORS ACADEMY, JAIME WEISS, ADVISOR, SALLY ROBLES, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, "JOHN DOE" SECURITY OFFICERS NOS.: 1-4 AND "JANE DOE" SECURITY OFFICERS NOS.: 1-4, WHOSE NAMES ARE UNKNOWN TO PLAINTIFF, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John Gleeson, United States District Judge:

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff Sophia Chinemerem Ihuoma Eze brings this action against the City University of New York at Brooklyn College ("Brooklyn College"), Brooklyn College Campus and Community Safety Services ("BCCCSS") and various employees of those entities (the "Individual Defendants").*fn1 Eze seeks damages and attorney's fees under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law arising from her detention at BCCCSS's office and her subsequent involuntary commitment at a psychiatric hospital. The defendants have moved to dismiss Eze's amended complaint, pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons below, the motion is denied with respect to Eze's § 1983 claims against Scott and Robles arising from Eze's alleged detention and transport to the hospital. In all other respects, the motion is granted.

BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

In 2008, Eze was enrolled in Brooklyn College as an international honors student from Nigeria. Am. Compl. ¶ 20, ECF No. 17.*fn2 From October 2008 until mid-January 2009, she lived in an off-campus apartment in Brooklyn with roommates. See id. ¶¶ 23--24. She had found this apartment through a listing maintained by Brooklyn College. Id. ¶ 23.

On December 2, 2008, Eze went to the BCCCSS office to seek advice from security personnel regarding potential criminal activity at her apartment. Id. ¶ 24. She suspected that her roommates were defaming her on the internet and that her landlord had installed a hidden camera in her bedroom. Id. Her suspicion regarding the hidden camera was later confirmed. Id.

After Eze voiced her suspicions to a BCCCSS security officer, the officer directed her to prepare a report. Id. ¶¶ 25--26. The officer then summoned to the office Robert Scott, a liaison officer and coordinator of Brooklyn College's Honors Academy, and Sally Robles, an assistant professor and school psychologist. See id. ¶¶ 15, 17, 26.

Without any justification or provocation by Eze, Robles asked Eze a series of personal questions, including whether she had suffered from any mental illness, ever heard voices, and ever thought of suicide or hurting herself. Id. ¶ 27. Eze answered all of Robles's questions in the negative. See id. ¶ 28. Eze then explained to both Robles and Scott that she had come to BCCCSS's office merely to seek advice regarding the problems she was having with her roommates and landlord. See id. ¶ 29.

Robles called an ambulance with the intention of transporting Eze to Kings County Psychiatric Hospital ("KCPH"). See id. ¶ 30. Eze said that she did not need to go to a hospital and that she wanted to leave the premises immediately. Id. ¶ 31. Despite her further requests to leave, Scott, Robles and the security officer prevented her from leaving by physically blocking the door. Id. ¶¶ 32--33. They then forcibly led Eze into an ambulance "by surrounding her and forcing her against her will to walk to, and into, the ambulance." Id. ¶ 34; see also id.

¶ 35. Scott rode with Eze in the ambulance to KCPH. Id. ¶ 36. After arriving at KCPH, Eze was involuntarily committed and was released approximately two weeks later. See id. ¶¶ 36--37.

The two-week commitment prevented Eze from completing her final examinations. See id. ¶ 39. When Eze tried to complete her examinations in January 2009, defendant Milga Morales, the dean of student affairs at Brooklyn College, prevented her from doing so "and thereby terminated [Eze's] enrollment at [Brooklyn College]." Id. ¶ 40.

B. Procedural Background

Eze previously filed a lawsuit in state court against the City of New York and other defendants relating to her involuntary commitment. See Banks Decl. Ex. B, ECF No. 23-2. That suit was discontinued in 2010 pursuant to a stipulation by the parties, which the defendants suggest may have been in connection with a monetary settlement. Id. Ex. C, ECF No. 23-3; Defs. Mem. of Law 5, ECF No. 24. In 2011, Eze filed a separate lawsuit in state court against the defendants in the present action. On May 12, 2011, the state court dismissed that lawsuit without prejudice to commencement of an action in federal court. Banks Decl. Ex. H, ECF No. 23-8.

On May 20, 2011, Eze filed her complaint in this Court. I held a conference in connection with the defendants' anticipated motion to dismiss the initial complaint on August 5, 2011. During that conference, I granted Eze leave to file an amended complaint. Eze filed her amended ...


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