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D.S. v. City of Peekskill

United States District Court, S.D. New York

February 27, 2014

D.S., Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF PEEKSKILL, EUGENE S. TUMOLO, WESTCHESTER COUNTY, and NEUFELD SCHECK & BRUSTIN, LLP, Defendants.

Steven M. Warshawsky, Esq., Law firm of Steven M. Warshawsky, New York, NY, Counsel for Plaintiff.

Kyle C. McGovern, Esq., Desmond C.B. Lyons, Esq., Lyons McGovern, LLP, White Plains, NY, Counsel for Defendant County of Westchester.

Peter A. Meisels, Esq., John M. Flannery, Esq., Lalit K. Loomba, Esq., Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker LLP, White Plains, NY, Counsel for Defendant, City of Peekskill.

OPINION AND ORDER

KENNETH M. KARAS, District Judge.

Plaintiff D.S. brings this § 1983 action against City of Peekskill, Eugene S. Tumolo, Westchester County, and Neufeld Scheck & Brustin, LLP (collectively, "Defendants") alleging disclosure of Plaintiff's sealed criminal record in violation of § 160.50 of the New York Criminal Procedure Law. Presently before this Court are motions to dismiss filed by Defendants City of Peekskill and Westchester County, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the reasons given below, Defendants' motions are granted and the case is dismissed without prejudice.

I. Background

A. Factual Background

Except where otherwise noted, the following facts are drawn from Plaintiff's Complaint and are taken as true for the purposes of resolving the instant Motion.

In September 1989, when Plaintiff was seventeen years old, he was arrested by the City of Peekskill Police Department and charged with the crime of rape in the first degree. (Compl. ¶ 10 (Dkt. No. 1).) Subsequent blood-type analysis and DNA testing exonerated Plaintiff, resulting in the dismissal of the indictment and the sealing of the related records pursuant to New York Criminal Procedure Law § 160.50 ("§ 160.50").[1] ( See id. ¶¶ 13-17.) These records remained sealed for the next twenty years, until the alleged disclosures giving rise to the instant Action. ( Id. ¶ 21.)

In December 2009, as part of discovery in the case of Jeffrey Deskovic v. City of Peekskill, [2] counsel for Deskovic sought production of documents related to investigations of sexual assaults in Peekskill from 1986 to 1992, including documents from the Peekskill police department. ( Id. ¶ 24.) The sealed police file in Plaintiff's case was produced along with other documents responsive to these requests. ( Id. ¶ 25.)

Plaintiff became aware that documents related to his arrest had been released when Deskovic's counsel contacted Plaintiff to inquire about possible similarities between the two cases. ( Id. ¶ 28.) Plaintiff refused to discuss his case, rebuffed Deskovic's counsel's request for authorization to obtain his sealed criminal records, and declined to waive attorney-client privilege over the Legal Aid Society of Westchester County's defense file. ( Id. ¶¶ 28-32.)

Deskovic's counsel successfully obtained the sealed crime-laboratory records (maintained in Westchester County) in Plaintiff's case without Plaintiff's consent. ( Id. ¶¶ 33-35.) Deskovic's counsel then used the disclosed information-including the existence of Plaintiff's record itself-to request in Westchester County Court that Plaintiff's criminal records be unsealed. ( Id. ¶ 36.) Both Plaintiff and the District Attorney's Office opposed the motion. ( Id. ¶ 41.) The Legal Aid Society and the Westchester County District Attorney's office submitted letters to the court denying responsibility for the disclosure of any sealed materials to Deskovic's counsel. ( Id. ¶¶ 39-40.) The court denied the motion to unseal all of Plaintiff's criminal records, ( id. ¶ 42), but Plaintiff nonetheless argues that the disclosure of his sealed criminal records to Deskovic's counsel has caused him "tremendous mental and emotional distress, harmed his relationship with his fianc'e, created difficulties with his employer, and forced [him] to incur considerable personal and financial burdens trying to undo the damage caused by the defendants' misconduct." (Pl.'s Mem. of Law in Opp'n to Defs.' Mots. To Dismiss at 1.)

B. Procedural History

Plaintiff filed a Complaint on June 5, 2012, asserting violations of his rights to procedural due process, substantive due process, and privacy, and requesting a protective order. (Compl.) The Complaint names as Defendants the City of Peekskill, Eugene S. Tumolo (Chief of Police of the City of Peekskill's police department), Westchester County, and Neufeld Scheck & Brustin. The Parties subsequently agreed to dismiss Defendants Eugene S. Tumolo and Neufeld Scheck & Brustin with prejudice. (Dkt. Nos. 27, 28.) Both remaining Defendants, the City of Peekskill and Westchester County, have filed motions to dismiss. (Dkt. Nos. 31, 34.) As part of his response to Defendants' Motions, Plaintiff stipulated to the voluntary dismissal of his substantive-due-process claim and his right-to-privacy claim. ( See (Pl.'s Mem. of Law in Opp'n to ...


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