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McGee v. Dunn

United States District Court, S.D. New York

April 16, 2013

JAMES P. McGEE, Plaintiff,
v.
JAMES DUNN, J. DUNN CONSTRUCTION CORP., ECTOR PEREZ GALINDO, TOWN OF CARMEL, TOWN OF CARMEL POLICE DEPARTMENT, TOWN OF CARMEL POLICE OFFICERS, CHRISTOPHER FOX, JOHN DOE (Fox's supervisor on the day of the arrest), DET. ROBERT BAGNAROL, LT. BRIAN KARST, SGT. JOHN (JACK) HARNEY, LT. MICHAEL CASSARI, CHIEF MICHAEL R. JOHNSON, PUTNAM COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, KEVIN WRIGHT, ESQ., then-Putnam County District Attorney and ROBERT A. NOAH, ESQ., Putnam County Assistant District Attorney, Defendants

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For James P McGee, Plaintiff: Vivian Shevitz, LEAD ATTORNEY, Vivian Shevitz, Attorney At Law, Forest Hills, NY; Lauren Beth Greenblatt, Law Office of Lauren G. Klein, Nantucket, MA.

For James Dunn, Defendant: Thomas John Minotti, Minotti Law Office, PLLC, Stormville, NY.

OPINION

FREDERICK P. STAMP, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

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MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR REARGUMENT, RELIEF FROM JUDGMENT OR, IN THE ALTERNATIVE, TO AMEND THE COMPLAINT

I. Background[1]

This action arose out of a longstanding dispute between the plaintiff, James P. McGee (" McGee" ), and one of the fifteen named defendants, James Dunn (" Dunn" ). In his complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, the plaintiff asserted that the defendants conspired to bring about his arrest and prosecution based on false and misleading evidence and to engage in a malicious abuse of process. The plaintiff brought his complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging due process violations that resulted from the defendants' conspiracy. According to the plaintiff, he is entitled to compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attorney's fees for the mental and emotional pain and suffering he has experienced as a result of the defendants' alleged conspiracy.

The defendants filed four separate motions to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

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After the parties briefed these motions, this Court entered a memorandum opinion and order (" original opinion" ), wherein it granted defendants' motions to dismiss as to all but one defendant, defendant Dunn. As to defendant Dunn, this Court stayed the action due to his Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition. The plaintiff then appealed this judgment to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. After filing an appeal with the Second Circuit, however, the plaintiff filed a motion for reargument, relief from judgment or, in the alternative, leave to amend the complaint (" pending motion" ).[2] Due to this motion, the Second Circuit entered a stay of appeal.

In the plaintiff's pending motion with this Court, he argues: (1) the court overlooked overwhelming support in both the case law and the existing record for the conclusion that statement of defendant Ector Galindo (" Galindo" ) could not have provided probable cause to arrest McGee; (2) since there are disputed issues of fact as to the existence of probable cause to arrest, the court erred in deciding that the police were entitled to qualified immunity; (3) because the complaint sufficiently alleges the absence of probable cause, there are factual issues that need to be resolved before any determination can be made as to whether Robert A. Noah, Esq. (" Noah" ) or Kevin Wright, Esq. (" Wright" ) are entitled to absolute immunity for their investigatory acts; (4) the court erroneously applied New York law in finding that Judge Spofford's decision was not a favorable termination for purposes of a malicious prosecution claim; (5) the court overlooked controlling case law in ruling that the complaint failed to state claims for false arrest and malicious prosecution against defendant Galindo; (6) the court should deny defendant Dunn's motion to dismiss as the complaint properly states § 1983 claims against him that are not barred by res judicata; and (7) alternatively, plaintiff seeks an order granting leave to file an amended complaint. The plaintiff, however, did not attach a proposed amended complaint to his motion.

Three separate responses were filed in opposition to the plaintiff's pending motion. Defendants Dunn and J. Dunn Construction Corporation, however, did not respond to the plaintiff's pending motion. First, defendant Galindo filed his response, wherein he argues: (1) plaintiff has not satisfied his burden of proving that the court overlooked any controlling facts or decisions that would reasonably alter the conclusions previously reached by the court; (2) plaintiff's motion to amend should be denied because the proposed additional allegations would not alter the prior conclusion of the court; (3) plaintiff's motion for reargument should be denied because he has failed to allege facts sufficient to support two of the required elements of his malicious prosecution claim; and (4) the false arrest claim as against Galindo must be dismissed because he never confined the plaintiff.

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The Putnam County District Attorney's Office, Kevin Wright, and Robert Noah (collectively the " PCDA defendants" ) were the next to file their response to the plaintiff's pending motion. These defendants argue: (1) the court did not overlook important matters or controlling decisions in dismissing the complaint against the PCDA defendants; and (2) the plaintiff's application to amend the complaint is improper and should be denied.

The Town of Carmel, the Carmel Police Department, and the Carmel Police Officers Christopher Fox, John Doe, Detective Robert Bagnarol, Lieutenant Brian Karst, Sergeant John Harney, Lieutenant Michael Cazzari, and Chief Michael R. Johnson (collectively " the Town of Carmel defendants" ) then filed their response to the plaintiff's motion. These defendants argue: (1) the court rightfully concluded that Galindo's civilian complaint provided probable cause for McGee's arrest; (2) the court did not err in deciding that the police were entitled to qualified immunity; (3) the court correctly applied New York law in finding that Judge Spofford's decision was not a favorable termination for purposes of a malicious prosecution claim; and (4) failure to attach a proposed amended complaint requires that the court deny the plaintiff's motion to amend.

After multiple extensions, the plaintiff filed a reply to the defendants' responses. In his reply, the plaintiff argues: (1) no reasonable officer could have understood the Galindo complaint as providing probable cause for arrest; (2) Noah and Wright are not entitled to absolute immunity; (3) whether the police had qualified immunity cannot be determined on the pleadings; (4) plaintiff's claims against Galindo should be reinstated; (5) the complaint and/or proposed amended complaint sufficiently allege supervisory liability on the part of defendants Johnson and Wright and municipal liability against the Town of Carmel and Putnam County; and (6) the court should grant leave to file the proposed amended complaint. The plaintiff attached a copy of his proposed amended complaint to his reply.

For the reasons set forth below, this Court denies, in its entirety, the plaintiff's motion for reargument, relief from judgment, or, in the ...


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