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Lienau v. Garcia

United States District Court, Second Circuit

December 19, 2013

P.O. ANGEL GARCIA, Individually, P.O. DONALD PETERS, Individually, DETECTIVE TIMOTHY TAUSZ, Individually, RACHEL WILLGOOS, Individually, and TOWN OF YORK TOWN, Defendants.


EDGARDO RAMOS, District Judge.

Plaintiff Raymond Lienau ("Plaintiff" or "Lienau") brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Officer Angel Garcia ("Garcia"), Officer Donald Peters ("Peters"), Detective Timothy Tausz ("Tausz"), and the Town of Yorktown ("Yorktown") (collectively, the "Municipal Defendants") and Rachel Willgoos ("Willgoos"), alleging unlawful arrest and malicious prosecution. Amended Complaint ("Am. Compl.") (Doc. 15). The Municipal Defendants have cross-claimed against Willgoos for indemnification and contribution. Doc. 17. Currently before the Court is Defendant Willgoos' motion to dismiss the Amended Complaint, as well as the Municipal Defendants' cross-claim. Doc. 18. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant Willgoos' motion to dismiss is GRANTED.

I. Factual Background

The following facts are taken from the allegations in the Amended Complaint, which the Court accepts as true for purposes of this motion.[1] Famous Horse Inc. v. 5th Ave. Photo Inc., 624 F.3d 106, 108 (2d Cir. 2010).

a. Background Allegations

Plaintiff and Willgoos were married in 2000 and had three children together. Am. Compl. ¶ 17. In 2005, they got divorced and agreed to joint custody of their children, although Plaintiff alleges that he had physical custody of the children the majority of the time. Id. ¶ 19. Plaintiff alleges that prior to the commencement of the divorce, Willgoos made numerous false allegations of abuse against him "in attempts to gain order[s] of protection so that [she] could obtain custody of the couple's children and obtain exclusive use of the marital residence." Id. ¶ 22.

On November 7, 2002, Willgoos commenced a proceeding in the Superior Court of Connecticut seeking an order of protection and immediate custody of the couple's children. Id. ¶ 23. Willgoos filed an Affidavit for Relief from Abuse ("November 7 Affidavit"), "in which she falsely stated that Plaintiff had for the last eight months engaged in a continually escalating pattern of behavior including verbal, mental and physical abuse." Id. Plaintiff alleges that the false allegations "were made with malice and [with] the specific intent to obtain an order which gave [Willgoos] custody of the children, " and that at the time that Willgoos filed the Affidavit, there was no evidence of any physical injury corroborating her allegations of abuse. Id. ¶¶ 24, 26. As a result of Willgoos' Affidavit, Plaintiff was ordered to surrender to the Norwalk Police Department and was issued a summons to report to the state court. Id. ¶ 28. Plaintiff alleges that officers from the Norwalk Police Department contacted his father, who was an active duty detective with the Yorktown Police Department at the time, to inform him of Willgoos' allegations against Plaintiff. Id. ¶¶ 27, 29. Plaintiff's father then informed his fellow Yorktown police officers that "his son's wife was making false allegation[s] of abuse" against Plaintiff. Id. ¶ 30.

Plaintiff alleges that as a result of Willgoos' November 7 Affidavit, the Connecticut state court awarded her an ex parte order of protection against Plaintiff. Id. ¶ 31. However, immediately prior to the hearing on the order, Willgoos withdrew her Affidavit and the proceeding was dismissed. Id. ¶ 32.

Approximately four months later, on March 20, 2003, Willgoos filed another Affidavit for Relief from Abuse ("March 20 Affidavit") in the Superior Court of Connecticut, "in which she falsely alleged that Plaintiff continuously hit her, poked her in the face, shoved her to the floor while she was holding a child and that said events occurred in front of the children." Id. ¶ 34. Plaintiff alleges that Willgoos made the allegations in the Affidavit with knowledge that they were false and "with malice and spite, so that she could again use the legal system as a tool to advantage herself and harm the Plaintiff." Id. ¶ 37. As a result of the March 20 Affidavit, the Connecticut state court awarded another order of protection to Willgoos. Id. ¶ 38. Plaintiff alleges that Willgoos again withdrew the March 20 Affidavit immediately prior to the hearing on the order of protection, and that the proceeding was therefore dismissed. Id. ¶ 39.

Plaintiff further claims that after his father's retirement from the Yorktown Police Department, [2] he remained in contact with various police officers and "made it known to the Yorktown Police officers that [Defendant] Willgoos had repeatedly made false allegations of abuse." Id. ¶ 41. Accordingly, Plaintiff alleges that the "lack of merit" of Willgoos' claims "were common knowledge among members of the Yorktown Police Department by virtue of the fact that Plaintiff's father had discussed the fabricated complaints with other officers" at the police department. Id. ¶ 42.

Plaintiff further alleges that on or about March 1, 2008, Willgoos attacked Plaintiff with a knife after Willgoos had become enraged that Plaintiff's mother had visited the children. Id. ¶ 44. Plaintiff reported the attack to Officer McGuinan at the Yorktown Police Department, however, Officer McGuinan refused to file a report or arrest Willgoos "despite obvious evidence of a knife wound to the Plaintiff's hand." Id. ¶ 45. Plaintiff alleges that the following day, Willgoos falsely claimed to the Yorktown Police Department that Plaintiff had assaulted her. Id. ¶ 46. Willgoos signed a supporting deposition in which she falsely stated that on March 1, 2008, Plaintiff punched her in the head and face, grabbed her and threw her on the bed and ripped off her shirt, and that that she sustained a bloody nose and bumps on her head. Id. ¶ 49. Plaintiff claims that although there was no physical evidence of the alleged assault, he was nevertheless arrested by members of the Yorktown Police Department and charged with assault in the third degree, and that Willgoos obtained an order of protection "based upon [the] fabricated allegations of abuse." Id. ¶¶ 48, 52.

On March 3, 2008, Willgoos filed a petition in family court requesting full custody of the children, falsely alleging, inter alia, that Plaintiff hit her in the head with a closed fist, causing pain in her jaw and a bloody nose, threatened to break her personal belongings, and then grabbed her and ripped her shirt. Id. ¶¶ 53-54; see also id. ¶¶ 56-57. Plaintiff alleges that the March 3, 2008 petition was withdrawn prior to the court conducting a hearing "because Willgoos knew the allegations contained therein were meritless and fabricated." Id. ¶ 59.

Plaintiff generally claims that prior to February 4, 2010, Willgoos had "perpetrated a pattern, scheme and modus operandi whereby... she attempted to gain leverage... in the custody litigation by making numerous baseless allegations of abuse against Plaintiff to various members of law enforcement[, ] including the Yorktown Police Department." Id. ¶ 60. Plaintiff further alleges that the Municipal Defendants were aware of Willgoos' pattern of ...

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