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Michael A. Werking v. Michael andrews

July 13, 2012

MICHAEL A. WERKING, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL ANDREWS, WILLIAM WEISHAUPT, COUNTY OF ULSTER, NEW YORK AND THE ULSTER COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, DEFENDANTS.



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

DECISION and ORDER

Plaintiff Michael Werking commenced the instant action against Defendants Michael Andrews, William Weishaupt, the County of Ulster, and the Ulster County Sheriff's Department pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 arising out of his arrest and prosecution. Presently before the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 seeking dismissal of the Complaint in its entirety and Plaintiff's cross-motion for leave to file a third amended complaint.

I. FACTS

Shawn Moxham is the registered owner of a trailer. In 2008, Moxham decided he could no longer use the trailer. In approximately May of 2008, Moxham contacted Plaintiff to arrange to have the trailer leased and/or sold. According to Plaintiff, the trailer needed substantial repairs before it could be leased and/or sold. Plaintiff, therefore, claims to have made certain repairs to the trailer.*fn1 Pursuant to invoice number 09156 dated June 11, 2008 from Albany Avenue Truck & Trailer, Inc.,*fn2 Werking claimed an artisan's lien on the trailer in the amount of $5,228.23. In June 2008, Plaintiff leased the trailer to an individual, Ashton Smith, on behalf of Moxham.*fn3 Smith later opted not to continue using the trailer and returned it to Plaintiff in November 2008. When the payments on the lease ceased, Moxham sought the return of his trailer. These efforts were unsuccessful.

In May 2009, Moxham contacted Defendant William Weishaupt, an Assistant District Attorney with the County of Ulster, claiming that his trailer was being held illegally by Plaintiff. The matter was assigned to Defendant Michael Andrews, who was then a detective with the Ulster County Sheriff's Department assigned to the Ulster County District Attorney's Office. Defendants undertook to investigate the matter.

Defendants went to Albany Avenue Truck & Trailer to speak with Plaintiff and request documents. Defendants requested the invoice for the repairs claimed to have been performed on the trailer. Plaintiff initially was unable to produce the invoice, but provided it at a later date. The invoice was shown to Moxham who claimed to have never seen the invoice and to have not authorized any work to be performed on the trailer.*fn4 Apparently suspecting that the invoice was a fake, in June 2009 Defendants requested that Plaintiff provide a copy of invoice numbers 09155 and 09157, the invoices immediately preceding and following the subject invoice. Plaintiff did not supply copies of the requested invoices. Defendants also requested information concerning the location of the trailer so they could inspect it to see if the claimed work was completed. Plaintiff refused to disclose the location of the trailer. Defendants sought to obtain a handwriting analysis of the invoice and Moxham's signature, but, for various reasons, were unable to have a handwriting analysis performed. In August 2009, Andrews corresponded with Plaintiff setting forth Defendants' belief that Plaintiff was unlawfully holding the trailer and that it should be returned immediately in lieu of prosecution on charges of grand larceny. The trailer was not returned.

On August 24, 2009, Andrews prepared a felony complaint for one count of grand larceny in the third degree alleging that Plaintiff was wrongfully withholding the trailer under false pretenses and rights normally afforded under an artisan lien. The Town Justice for the Town of Ulster issued an arrest warrant on September 11, 2009. The arrest warrant was executed on October 13, 2009. On February 26, 2010, Weishaupt applied to the County Court for the County of Ulster to have the charges reduced to a misdemeanor charge of petit larceny to be prosecuted in the Town of Ulster Justice Court. The misdemeanor charge of petit larceny was ultimately dismissed by the Town Justice on consent by the Assistant District Attorney assigned to prosecute the matter.

Plaintiff then commenced the instant action against Defendants claiming violations of his rights as protected by the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Presently before the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 and Plaintiff's cross-motion for leave to file a third amended complaint.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Defendants move for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56. It is well settled that, on a motion for summary judgment, the Court must construe the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, see Tenenbaum v. Williams, 193 F.3d 581, 593 (2d Cir. 1999), and may grant summary judgment only where "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). An issue is genuine if the relevant evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A party seeking summary judgment bears the burden of informing the court of the basis for the motion and of identifying those portions of the record that the moving party believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact as to a dispositive issue. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). If the movant is able to establish a prima facie basis for summary judgment, the burden of production shifts to the party opposing summary judgment who must produce evidence establishing the existence of a factual dispute that a reasonable jury could resolve in his favor. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). A party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment may not rest upon "mere allegations or denials" asserted in his pleadings, Rexnord Holdings, Inc. v. Bidermann, 21 F.3d 522, 525-26 (2d Cir. 1994), or on conclusory allegations or unsubstantiated speculation. Scotto v. Almenas, 143 F.3d 105, 114 (2d Cir. 1998).

With these standards in mind, the Court will address the pending motions.

III. DISCUSSION*fn5

a. Malicious Prosecution

Plaintiff claims that he was maliciously prosecuted by Defendants. Defendants move to dismiss this claim on the ground that they acted with ...


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