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Octavio Rojas Rodriguez, A/K/A Ornegi Romales v. City of New York

January 24, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Paul A. Engelmayer, District Judge:


Plaintiff Octavio Rojas Rodriguez, a/k/a Ornegi Romales, brings this action, pro se,against defendants the City of New York, Jeffrey C. Bloom, and Police Officer ID No. 897210000 under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging false arrest and imprisonment and malicious prosecution in violation of his federal constitutional rights. Defendants filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c). For the reasons that follow, defendants' motion is granted, and this case is dismissed with prejudice.


Plaintiff's claims arise out of two distinct and apparently unrelated incidents. First, on September 25, 2006, plaintiff was arrested by a New York Police Department officer, whom plaintiff identified by his badge number, 897210000 ("the 2006 incident").*fn2 Plaintiff alleges that he was arrested solely for failing to provide the officer with identification when asked. The complaint in that case, which is a public record, indicates that he was arrested for putting his foot on a seat in a transit facility, in violation of N.Y. COMP. CODES R. & REGS. tit. 21, § 1050.7(j)(2) (2011). At his arraignment later that same day, plaintiff accepted an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal. However, because of an outstanding warrant for his arrest, plaintiff was transported following arraignment to Queens County, where he was charged with bail jumping and remanded to custody. On April 3, 2008, plaintiff was transferred into the custody of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and was held in a correctional facility in Texas.

The second incident that forms the basis for plaintiff's claim of false arrest and malicious prosecution is an arrest and charge for attempted murder in August 1999, which plaintiff alleges was prosecuted under docket number 92Q017557 ("the 1992/1999 incident"). Plaintiff alleges that his criminal defense attorney in that case, defendant Jeffrey C. Bloom, conspired with the prosecutor to elicit a guilty plea from plaintiff, although plaintiff had informed them that he was innocent. Plaintiff alleges that the goal of the conspiracy was to cover up the fact that Bloom and the prosecutor had earlier fraudulently induced plaintiff to plead guilty to another crime, of which he was also innocent. Plaintiff further alleges that all pending claims against him pertaining to this docket number were dismissed in April 2008.

The Court takes notice of the public records pertaining to docket number 92Q017557. These reflect that on May 21, 1992, an individual identified as Juan Martinez was charged with N.Y. PENAL LAW § 160.10, Robbery in the Second Degree, § 165.40, Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fifth Degree, and §§ 110/160.10, Attempted Robbery in the Second Degree.*fn3 On September 14, 1999, the defendant in that action pled guilty to attempted robbery in the second degree.

Plaintiff's complaint in this action arrived at the Pro Se Office of this Court on March 25, 2010; it was entered on the docket on June 3, 2010. (Dkt. 2.) Plaintiff filed an amended complaint, which is the operative complaint in the case, on July 30, 2010. (Dkt. 4.)

II. Legal Standard

A motion for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c) is governed by the same standard as a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). Ades & Berg Grp. Investors v. Breeden (In re Ades & Berg Grp. Investors), 550 F.3d 240, 243 n.4 (2d Cir. 2008) (citing Burnette v. Carothers, 192 F.3d 52, 56 (2d Cir. 1999)); see also United States Life Ins. Co. v. Blum, No. 09-cv-9416, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1531, at *10 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 3, 2011). Under that standard, the court must accept a plaintiff's factual allegations as true and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Gonzalez v. Caballero, 572 F. Supp. 2d 463, 466 (S.D.N.Y. 2008); see also Famous Horse Inc. v. 5th Ave. Photo Inc., 624 F.3d 106, 108 (2d Cir. 2010) ("We review the district court's grant of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss de novo, accepting all factual claims in the complaint as true, and drawing all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor.").

To survive a motion for judgment on the pleadings, the complaint must contain factual allegations amounting to "more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed me accusation," Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009), such that those allegations, when accepted as true, "state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face." S. Cherry St. LLC v. Hennessee Grp. LLC, 573 F.3d 98, 110 (2d Cir. 2009) (emphasis in original). Although extrinsic materials generally may not be considered on a motion for judgment on the pleadings, materials incorporated in the complaint by reference may be considered. See, e.g., Roth v. Jennings, 489 F.3d 499, 509 (2d Cir. 2007); Pani v. Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, 152 F.3d 67, 71 (2d Cir. 1998), cert. denied, 525 U.S. 1103 (1999). "[W]here public records that are integral to a . . . complaint are not attached to it, the court, in considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, is permitted to take judicial notice of those records." Roth, 489 F.3d at 509.

Because plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the Court must "construe liberally" his complaint and any further pleadings, and "interpret them to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest." Cold Stone Creamery, Inc. v. Gorman, 361 F. App'x 282, 286 (2d Cir. 2010) (summary order) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). However, even in pro se cases, "although a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint, that tenet is inapplicable to legal conclusions, and threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009).

III. Analysis

1. Plaintiff's false arrest claims must be dismissed for failure to state a claim because they are untimely.

Courts reviewing § 1983 claims "should borrow the state statute of limitations for personal injury actions." Owens v. Okure, 488 U.S. 235, 236 (1989). Where a state has one general, residual statute of limitations for personal injury actions sounding in tort, and different statutes of limitations for enumerated intentional torts, a court ...

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