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Bruce Flynn v. Debra A. James et al

January 24, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Thomas J. McAVOY Senior United States District Judge


Plaintiff Bruce Flynn commenced this action pro se pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, asserting claims of an illegal search and seizure of his home and property. Presently, before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss the Complaint pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6).

The Court also reviews the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.


The following facts are taken from Plaintiff's Complaint and, for purposes of the instant motion, are deemed to be true.

On October 8, 2009 at approximately 10:00 a.m., Plaintiff entered the residence of Debra James holding an item wrapped in a blanket. Plaintiff revealed the item showing that it was a rifle. Plaintiff pointed the rifle at Ms. James, forced her to kneel on the floor and to beg for her life. After approximately forty minutes, Plaintiff departed the residence without shooting Ms. James.

Ms. James reported the incident to the police. Defendants New York State Troopers Fowler and McCarty found Plaintiff driving a motor vehicle in Plattsburgh, New York. They stopped his vehicle and took him into custody. Plaintiff then invoked the right to counsel. Later on, however, Plaintiff gave the police consent to search his residence. Defendants New York State Investigators Dyer and Madore searched Plaintiff's home and found a .40 caliber rifle with ammunition.

On January 6, 2010, Plaintiff negotiated a plea agreement in exchange for a determinate ten year sentence. Plaintiff entered a plea of guilty to burglary in the second degree and criminal use of a firearm in the second degree.

On August 31, 2011, Plaintiff filed the instant Complaint asserting that Defendants violated his Constitutional rights. Plaintiff claims that Troopers Fowler and McCarty are liable under the Fourth Amendment for a false arrest, investigator Madore is liable under the Fifth Amendment for unlawfully obtaining Plaintiff's consent to search his home, and investigators Madore and Dyer are liable under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments for illegally searching Plaintiff's home and seizing his property. Lastly, Plaintiff seeks the return of his rifle and ammunition.


"Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only '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 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). "While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations. . . a plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Id. at 1964--65. "Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level. . . on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact)." Id. at 1965. " '[T]he pleading must contain something more. . . than. . . a statement of facts that merely creates a suspicion [of] a legally cognizable right of action.' " Id. at 1965 (quoting 5 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1216, pp. 235--236 (3d ed. 2004)). "To survive 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) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).

A complaint does not suffice "if it tenders naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement." Ashcroft, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. Legal conclusions must be supported by factual allegations. Id. at 1950. "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id. at 1949. "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." Id. "Where a complaint pleads facts that are 'merely consistent with' a defendant's liability, it stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief." Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. 557) (internal quotations omitted).

In reviewing the allegations in a complaint drafted by a pro se litigant, the Court construes the pleading liberally. See e.g. Boddie v. Schnieder, 105 F.3d 857, 860 (2d Cir. 1997).

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 1915A, the Court is required to review a prisoner's complaint in which redress is sought from a governmental entity or an officer or employee of a governmental entity, to identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint if the complaint fails to ...

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