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Brandon Mcfadden v. State of New York; Officer Jorge

December 28, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Roslynn R. Mauskopf, United States District Judge.


Plaintiff pro se brings this action for monetary relief against defendants New York Police Department ("NYPD") employees Officer Jorge Puga, Detective Richard Griffin, and Patrick Abdul ("defendants"), the State of New York, and Assistant District Attorney for Queens County Jacqueline Rizk, alleging violations of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983.*fn1 On February 19, 2010 this Court dismissed sua sponte pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 plaintiff's claims against the State of New York on Eleventh Amendment grounds, and against Rizk on grounds of prosecutorial immunity. (Mem. and Order (Doc. No. 7) at 5.) Presently before the Court is the motion to dismiss of the remaining defendants Puga, Griffin and Abdul. (Doc. No. 19.) For the reasons below, their motion is GRANTED.


The following facts, liberally construed, are taken from Plaintiff's complaint and his response to defendants' motion to dismiss, assumed to be true for purposes of deciding the instant motion. See, e.g., Arnold v. Westchester Cnty., No. 09-CV-3727 (JSR)(GWG), 2010 WL 3397375, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 16, 2010) (considering factual allegations contained in the various materials submitted by plaintiff pro se in connection with defendants' motion to dismiss). Where applicable, the Court takes judicial notice of state court and other filings, as matters of public record. See Pani v. Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, 152 F.3d 67, 75 (2d Cir. 1998); Liberty Mut. Ins. Co. v. Rotches Pork Packers, Inc., 969 F.2d 1384, 1388 (2d Cir. 1992).

On July 22, 2008, plaintiff alleges he and others were fishing in Far Rockaway, Queens, when defendants NYPD Officer Puga, NYPD Sergeant Abdul, and NYPD Detective Griffin confronted plaintiff. (Compl. (Doc. No. 4-4) ¶ II(D).) After questioning and searching plaintiff, defendants arrested plaintiff for sale of a controlled substance offense.*fn2 (Am. Compl. (Doc. Nos. 18, 23) ¶ IV; see Compl. ¶ IV(F).) Plaintiff alleges that, at some point after his arrest, "once the arresting officer became aware that [plaintiff] had prior sale convictions, he change[d] [plaintiff's] charge to a sale of illegal drugs." (Am. Compl. ¶ IV.) Plaintiff also alleges that at some point after the arrest, he was "attacked at the law library at AMKC C-95 while trying to prove [his] inorcents [sic]." (Compl. ¶ III.) Plaintiff makes no allegation as to the identity of his attacker, or who may have caused the attack.

Plaintiff was convicted in October 2009, after a jury trial in New York Supreme Court, Queens County. (Am. Compl. ¶ IV.) Although there is some confusion as to plaintiff's crime of conviction, it is clear, even by plaintiff's own complaint, that he currently stands convicted under state law of a controlled substance offense arising out of the arrest made by these defendants. *fn3 Id.In essence, plaintiff's false arrest and malicious prosecution claims are grounded in plaintiff's belief that he was maliciously charged with more serious crimes than he committed, and for which a jury found him guilty.

Plaintiff originally filed his complaint in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. (Am. Compl. ¶ II.) On December 21, 2009, the action was transferred to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b). (Transfer Order (Doc. No. 3).) Defendants filed their motion to dismiss on March 4, 2011. (Doc. No. 19.) In response, plaintiff submitted an amended complaint. (Doc. Nos. 18, 23.) Defendants' replied, alleging plaintiff's amended complaint should be dismissed as futile. (Doc. No. 24.)


A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) requires the court to examine the legal, rather than factual, sufficiency of a complaint. As required by Rule 8(a)(2), a pleading must contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." To withstand a motion to dismiss, "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) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)).

A court considering a motion to dismiss must "take[] factual allegations [in the complaint] to be true and draw[] all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor." Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 71 (2d Cir. 2009) (citation omitted). A complaint need not contain " 'detailed factual allegations,' " but it must contain "more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). In other words, "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Rather, the plaintiff's complaint must include "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). The determination of whether "a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will . . . be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id. at 1950 (citing Iqbal v. Hasty, 490 F.3d 143, 157--158 (2d Cir. 2007)).

While pro se plaintiffs must satisfy these pleading requirements, federal courts are "obligated to construe a pro se complaint liberally." See Harris, 572 F.3d at 71--72 (2d Cir. 2009) (citations omitted). In other words, trial courts hold pro se complaints to a less exacting standard than they apply to complaints drafted by attorneys. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520--21 (1972); Boykin v. KeyCorp, 521 F.3d 202, 213--14. Since pro se litigants "are entitled to a liberal construction of their pleadings, [their complaints] should be read to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest." Green v. United States, 260 F.3d 78, 83 (2d Cir. 2001) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). When a pro se plaintiff has altogether failed to satisfy a pleading requirement, however, the court should not hesitate to dismiss his claim. See Rodriguez v. Weprin, 116 F.3d 62, 65 (2d Cir. 1997); see also Johnson v. City of N.Y., 669 F. Supp. 2d 444, 448 (S.D.N.Y. 2009) ("[T]o survive a motion to dismiss, even a pro se plaintiff must plead enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." (citation and internal quotation marks omitted)).

As noted above, plaintiff submitted an amended complaint in response to defendants' motion to dismiss. Although the general rule is that "a complaint cannot be modified by a party's affidavit or by papers filed in response to a dispositive motion to dismiss," Brownstone Inv. Group, LLC. v. Levey, 468 F. Supp. 2d 654, 660 (S.D.N.Y. 2007), the Court will consider the factual allegations contained in plaintiff's amended complaint. See Arnold, 2010 WL 3397375, at *1 (considering "the relevant factual allegations contained in" pro se plaintiff's opposition to defendants' motion to dismiss); Woods v. Goord, No. 01-CV-3255 (SAS), 2002 WL 731691, at *1 n.2 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 23, 2002) (considering pro se prisoner's factual allegations in briefs as supplementing the complaint); Burgess v. Goord, No. 98-CV-2077 (SAS), 1999 WL 33458, at *1 n.1 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 26, 1999) ("In general, 'a court may not look outside the pleadings when reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. However, the mandate to read the papers of pro se litigants generously makes it appropriate to consider plaintiff's additional materials, such as his opposition memorandum.' " (quoting Gadson v. Goord, No. 96-CV-7544 (SS), 1997 WL 714878, at *1 n.2 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 17, 1997) (Sotomayor, J.))).

The Court notes that in adjudicating this motion, it is entitled to consider: "(1) facts alleged in the complaint and documents attached to it or incorporated in it by reference, (2) documents 'integral' to the complaint and relied upon in it, even if not attached or incorporated by reference, (3) documents or information contained in defendant's submissions if plaintiff has knowledge or possession of the material and relied on it in framing the complaint . . . and ([4]) facts of which judicial notice may properly be taken under Rule 201 of the Federal Rules of Evidence." In re Merrill Lynch & Co., 273 F. Supp. 2d 351, 356--57 (S.D.N.Y. 2003) (internal citations omitted); see Liberty Mut., 969 F.2d at 1388 ("A court may take judicial notice of a document filed in another court not for the truth of the matters asserted in the other litigation, but rather to establish the fact of such litigation and related filings.") (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Cortec Indus., Inc. v. Sum Holding L.P., 949 F.2d 42, 48 (2d Cir. 1991) ("[T]he district court . . . could have viewed [documents ...

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