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Morales v. City of New York

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

May 16, 2014

PABLO MORALES, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
CITY OF NEW YORK, NEW YORK CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT, SPECIAL AGENT MICHAEL ARNETT, SGT. NEIL NAPPI, DETECTIVE JUAN ROMERO, DETECTIVE HAROLD SABATER, [*] Defendants-Appellees

Argued May 12, 2014

Page 235

Plaintiff Pablo Morales appeals from the District Court's dismissal of his Second Amended Complaint against the City of New York, the New York City Police Department, and individual State and Federal law enforcement officials. Morales brought this action under 42 U.S.C. § § 1981, 1983, 1985 and 1988 and State law, alleging, among other things, malicious prosecution, abuse of process, deprivation of Morales's right to a fair trial, and deprivation of, and conspiracy to deprive Morales of, his constitutional rights on account of his race and color. In particular, Morales claimed that a Federal agent presented false testimony to the grand jury that returned the indictment against him. We AFFIRM.

VIKRANT PAWAR, ESQ., New York, NY, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

CHRISTINE S. POSCABLO, Assistant United States Attorney (Emily E. Daughtry, Assistant United States Attorney, on the brief), for Preet Bharara, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, New York, NY, for Defendant-Appellee Special Agent Michael Arnett.

INGRID R. GUSTAFSON, New York City Law Department (Suzanne K. Colt and Pamela Seider Dolgow, on the brief), for Zachary W. Carter, Corporation Counsel of the City of New York, New York, NY, for Defendants-Appellees City of New York, New York City Police Department, Sgt. Neil Nappi, Detective Juan Romero, Detective Harold Sabater.

Before: KEARSE, LOHIER, and CARNEY, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 236

Per Curiam

Plaintiff Pablo Morales appeals from a judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Crotty, J.), dismissing his Second Amended Complaint against the City of New York, the New York City Police Department (" NYPD" ), and four individual State and Federal law enforcement officials. Morales brought this action against the individual defendants under 42 U.S.C. § § 1981, 1983, 1985 and 1988 and State law, alleging, among other things, malicious prosecution, abuse of process, deprivation of Morales's right to a fair trial, and deprivation of, and conspiracy to deprive Morales of, his constitutional rights on account of his race and color, and against the City and the NYPD, asserting that the individual defendants' acts resulted from a municipal policy, custom or practice, see Monell v. Department of Social Services of the City of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 98 S.Ct. 2018, 56 L.Ed.2d 611 (1978). In particular, Morales claimed that a Federal agent presented false testimony to the State grand jury that returned the indictment against him. For the reasons stated below, we AFFIRM.

BACKGROUND

The Second Amended Complaint alleges the following facts, which we assume to be true and construe in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Cruz v. FXDirectDealer, LLC, 720 F.3d 115, 118 (2d Cir. 2013). In 2007 Pablo Morales was arrested by Federal agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration (" DEA" ) and NYPD officers on the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force (" NYDETF" ). Morales remained in custody from the time of his arrest, through his indictment in State court for sale and possession of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana, and criminal use of drug paraphernalia, until the charges against him were dropped nearly three years later.

The series of events leading to his arrest and eventual release prompted Morales to sue the City of New York, the NYPD, and the four individual defendants, including DEA Special Agent Michael Arnett,[1] for violations of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, malicious prosecution, abuse of process, denial of the right to a fair trial, violation of and conspiracy to violate his constitutional rights on account of his race and color, and various common law torts under New York law.

As relevant here, Morales alleged that he worked for years prior to his arrest as a confidential source for the NYDETF on drug investigations. He claimed that the post-arrest indictment returned against him rested on Arnett's false grand jury testimony as well as, among other things, fabricated laboratory results showing that plants confiscated from his backyard were marijuana. The ...


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