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Horton v. Schneiderman

United States District Court, N.D. New York

April 24, 2014

BRIAN HORTON, Plaintiff,
ERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN, et ano., Defendants.

BRIAN HORTON, Plaintiff pro se

BRUCE J. BOIVIN, AAG, Attorney for Defendants


ANDREW T. BAXTER, Magistrate Judge.

This matter has been referred for Report and Recommendation, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Rules N.D.N.Y. 72.3(c), by the Honorable Gary L. Sharpe, Chief United States District Judge.

In this civil rights complaint, plaintiff alleges that he was denied due process in conjunction with his involuntary commitment to the Central New York Psychiatric Center ("CNYPC") as a sex offender requiring civil management, pursuant to Article 10 of the N.Y. Mental Hygiene Law ("MHL"). (Compl.) (Dkt. No. 1). Plaintiff also claims that the defendants violated a federal court preliminary and permanent injunction in confining him past his mandatory release date. Plaintiff seeks a substantial amount of money damages. (Compl. at CM/ECF p.10).[1]

Presently before the court is the defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim and for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) and (b)(6). (Dkt. No. 16). On December 17, 2013, defendants filed a document indicating that plaintiff did not oppose the motion to dismiss, only to alert the court that the motion was "fully submitted."[2] (Dkt. No. 18). For the following reasons, this court agrees with defendants and will recommend dismissal of the complaint.

I. Motion to Dismiss

To survive dismissal for failure to state a claim, the complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim that is "plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "[T]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, " do not suffice. Id. (citing Bell Atl. Corp., 550 U.S. at 555). Plaintiff's factual allegations must also be sufficient to give the defendant "fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Bell Atl. Corp., 550 U.S. at 555 (citation omitted).

When ruling on a motion to dismiss, the court must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint and draw all reasonable inferences in the non-movant's favor. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citations omitted); Int'l Audiotext Network, Inc. v. Am. Tel. & Tel. Co., 62 F.3d 69, 71 (2d Cir. 1995). The court must heed its particular obligation to treat pro se pleadings with liberality. Phillips v. Girdich, 408 F.3d 124, 128 (2d Cir. 2005); Tapia-Ortiz v. Doe, 171 F.3d 150, 152 (2d Cir. 1999) ( per curiam ).

In deciding a motion to dismiss, the court may review documents integral to the complaint upon which the plaintiff relied in drafting his pleadings, as well as any documents attached to the complaint as exhibits and any statements or documents incorporated into the complaint by reference. Rothman v. Gregor, 220 F.3d 81, 88 (2d Cir. 2000); Int'l Audiotext Network, Inc. v. Am. Tel. & Tel. Co., 62 F.3d at 72 (the court may take into consideration documents referenced in or attached to the complaint in deciding a motion to dismiss, without converting the proceeding to one for summary judgment). Finally, the court may consider matters of which judicial notice may be taken, such as public filings and administrative decisions. See Kavowras v. New York Times, Co., 328 F.3d 50, 57 (2d Cir. 2003) (citing inter alia County Vanlines, Inc. v. Experian Info. Solutions, Inc., 205 F.R.D. 148, 154 (S.D.N.Y. 2002) (taking judicial notice of NLRB decisions)). See also Combier-Kapel v. Biegelson, 242 F.Appx. 714, 715 (2d Cir. 2007) (taking judicial notice of the Impartial Hearing Officer's decision as well as certain other documents in the administrative record of an IDEA case); In re Howard's Exp., Inc., 151 F.Appx. 46, 48 (2d Cir. 2005) (taking judicial notice of Bankruptcy Court docket); Caro v. Fidelity Brokerage Services, LLC, No. 3:12-CV-1066, 2013 WL 3299708, at *6 (D. Conn. July 26, 2013) (taking judicial notice of record in prior litigation between the same parties).

II. Background of Relevant Caselaw

In order to better understand the plaintiff's claims, it is necessary to discuss the background of the specific cases he relies upon for his due process challenge. Effective on April 13, 2007, the New York Sex Offender Management and Treatment Act ("SOMTA"), codified in Article 10 of the MHL, authorizes the "civil management" of certain sex offenders after completion of their prison terms, parole terms, or other periods of state custody. Mental Hygiene Legal Service v. Cuomo ("MHLS-II" ), 785 F.Supp.2d 205, 209 (S.D.N.Y. 2011). This "civil management" is based upon the danger to society that is posed by recidivist sex offenders.[3] Id. "Civil management" can include placement and treatment in a secure facility, akin to incarceration as well as other "strict and intensive supervision." SOMTA provides for procedures to be followed when an individual who has been convicted of a sex offense is nearing the end of his sentence of incarceration or other state custody in order to determine whether civil commitment is necessary.

MHLS filed a "pre-enforcement" facial challenge to certain provisions of the SOMTA, only one of which is relevant to this case. Id. MHL Section 10.06(k) mandates involuntary civil detention, pending a commitment trial, based upon a finding at a probable cause hearing that the individual may have a mental abnormality, without a finding of current dangerousness. Id. In general, the MHL provides that when a convicted sex offender nears release from confinement or parole, a "multidisciplinary staff" provides a "preliminary review" to determine whether the individual should be referred for further evaluation. MHLS-II, 785 F.Supp.2d at 211 (citing MHL § 10.05(d)). If the staff determines that additional evaluation is necessary, a case review team ("CRT"), consisting of three individuals, at least two of whom are mental health professionals, must determine whether that person (the "respondent") requires additional civil management. Id. (citing MHL § 10.06(a)). The respondent is afforded notice of the referral. Id. (citing MHL § 10.05(e)).

The CRT determines whether the respondent suffers from a mental abnormality and is either a "dangerous sex offender requiring confinement, " or "a sex offender requiring strict and intensive supervision." Id. at 212 (citing MHL §§ 10.03(1), 10.03(q), 10.03(e), 10.03(r)). If it appears that the individual will be released prior to the time the CRT makes its determination, the Attorney General ("AG") is authorized to file a "securing ...

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