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Delaney v. City of Albany

United States District Court, N.D. New York

February 24, 2014

CITY OF ALBANY; ADAM MANTEI, individually and as City of Albany Police Officer; and POLICE OFFICER MAIORIELLO, individually and as City of Albany Police Officer, Defendants.


LAWRENCE E. KAHN, District Judge.


Before the Court is Defendants Police Officer Adam Mantei; Police Officer Maioriello (together, the "Individual Defendants"); and City of Albany's ("City") (collectively, "Defendants") Motion for failure to state a claim and for judgment on the pleadings and attached memorandum of law. Dkt. Nos. 23 ("Motion"); 23-11 ("Memorandum"). Plaintiff Clarence Delaney, Jr. ("Plaintiff") filed a Complaint-which he later amended-asserting causes of action for false arrest; excessive force; illegal search and seizure; failure to train and supervise officers; "loss of life, liberty, and property"; as well as common-law assault. Dkt. Nos. 1 ("Complaint"); 20 ("Amended Complaint"). Defendants filed an Answer and their Motion. Dkt. No. 21 ("Answer"); Mot. Plaintiff submitted a Response brief, and Defendants a Reply. Dkt. Nos. 32 ("Response"); 33 ("Reply"). For the following reasons, Defendants' Motion is granted in part.


In November 2011, Plaintiff was walking home on Clinton Avenue in Albany. Am. Compl. at 4. Plaintiff walked past the scene of a car accident and continued toward his home. Id . Defendant Mantei responded to the accident, saw Plaintiff about halfway down the block, and yelled to Plaintiff, "who was driving this car?" Id . Defendant Mantei then told Plaintiff to "come here now." Id . at 5. Plaintiff continued to walk away from Defendant Mantei, who chased Plaintiff and threw him to the ground. Id . Other police officers, including Defendant Maioriello, responded to the accident. Id . The Individual Defendants dragged Plaintiff on the sidewalk, removed Plaintiff's pants, and forced Plaintiff to remain on the sidewalk pantless for about thirty minutes. Id . Plaintiff sustained bruises to his knees and an injury to his already-disabled right arm. Id . The Individual Defendants refused Plaintiff's requests for medical treatment for his injuries. Id . At the police station "booking, " police searched Plaintiff's belongings and found a credit card and New York State benefits card, both of which had been previously reported stolen. See Dkt. No. 23-8 ("Police Reports").[2] Police added criminal possession of stolen property charges against Plaintiff, to which he later pled guilty, while charges related to the accident were not pursued. See Resp. at 7.


To survive a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), 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 , 556 U.S. 662, 663 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)); see also FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6). A court must accept as true the factual allegations contained in a complaint and draw all inferences in a plaintiff's favor. See Allaire Corp. v. Okumus , 433 F.3d 248, 249-50 (2d Cir. 2006). A complaint may be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) only where it appears that there are not "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Twombly , 550 U.S. at 570. Plausibility requires "enough fact[s] to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of [the alleged misconduct]." Id . at 556. The plausibility standard "asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly , 550 U.S. at 556). "[T]he pleading standard Rule 8 announces does not require detailed factual allegations, ' but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Id . (citing Twombly , 550 U.S. at 555). Where a court is unable to infer more than the mere possibility of the alleged misconduct based on the pleaded facts, the pleader has not demonstrated that she is entitled to relief and the action is subject to dismissal. See id. at 678-79.

A motion brought under Rule 12(c) is similar to a 12(b)(6) motion, except that it is brought after the close of the pleadings, implicating the pleadings as a whole. See 5 Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure, § 1367 (3d ed. 2013). The Rule 12(c) motion attempts to resolve claims based solely upon agreed-upon facts and issues of law, and includes judicially noticed materials. See In re Thelen , 736 F.3d 213, 218 (2d Cir. 2013).


Defendants make several arguments in support of the dismissal of Plaintiff's claims: (1) Plaintiff's guilty plea prevents him from now arguing that the Individual Defendants' seizure, search, and arrest of Plaintiff were unconstitutional; (2) Plaintiff pled only a de minimis use of force by the officers; (3) Plaintiffs' allegations, considered as a whole, do not meet the standard for municipal liability; (4) the Individual Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity; (5) Plaintiff's claim for common-law assault does not comply with state jurisdictional requirements.

A. False Arrest and Illegal Search and Seizure

A § 1983 plaintiff cannot bring a civil suit that "necessarily impl[ies] the invalidity of his conviction or sentence" until she has succeeded in overturning that conviction through direct appeal or a writ of habeas corpus. Heck v. Humphrey , 512 U.S. 477, 487 (1994). In general, a guilty plea is equivalent to a conviction on the underlying charge to which the criminal defendant pleads guilty. Saddler v. United States , 531 F.2d 83, 85 (2d Cir. 1976). A false arrest claim "derives from [the] Fourth Amendment right to remain free from unreasonable seizures." Jaegly v. Couch , 439 F.3d 149, 151 (2d Cir. 2006).

Heck rested upon the premise that "Congress has determined that habeas corpus is the appropriate remedy for state prisoners attacking the validity of the fact or length of their confinement, and that specific determination must override the general terms of § 1983." Heck , 512 U.S. at 482 (quoting Preiser v. Rodriguez , 411 U.S. 475, 490 (1973)). Heck bars all § 1983 actions that would necessarily implicate the validity of the plaintiff's conviction, regardless of the relief sought. Heck , 512 U.S. at 483. However, Heck test does not apply to all issues surrounding search, seizure, and arrest. See Mem. at 11. For example, the Supreme Court contemplated that an unlawful search and seizure could be challenged in a § 1983 action if the fruits of that search could have been lawfully discovered under the independent source and inevitable discovery doctrines. See Heck , 512 U.S. at 487 n.7.

The Court must determine whether the validity of Plaintiff's seizure and arrest necessarily implicates his guilty plea and resulting conviction. "In a case where the only evidence for conviction was obtained pursuant to an arrest, recovery in a civil case based on false arrest would necessarily impugn any conviction resulting from use of that evidence." Covington v. City of N.Y. , 171 F.3d 117, 123 (2d Cir. 1999). Here, Plaintiff pled guilty to criminal possession of a stolen credit card. Plaintiff states that this credit card was not discovered exactly at the time of his initial arrest. ...

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