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Hueber v. McCune

United States District Court, W.D. New York

May 19, 2014

ROGER L. HUEBER, Plaintiff,
v.
DETECTIVE PATRICIA McCUNE, Niagara Falls City Police Department; INVESTIGATOR JOHN WICK, Niagara County Sheriff's Department; INVESTIGATOR PAUL PERKINS, Niagara County Sheriff's Department; CITY OF NIAGARA FALLS; COUNTY OF NIAGARA, Defendants.

DECISION AND ORDER

RICHARD J. ARCARA, District Judge.

Plaintiff Roger L. Hueber alleges that members of the Niagara Falls City Police Department and the Niagara County Sheriff's Department entered his residence without a warrant on multiple occasions throughout May 2010. As a result of the defendants' entries into his home, Plaintiff, a registered sex offender, was charged with not residing at his registered address in violation of New York law. The state court judge in the underlying criminal case found that the defendants' entries into Plaintiff's apartment violated the Fourth Amendment and accordingly suppressed the resulting evidence at trial. However, Plaintiff was nevertheless convicted based on other evidence.

On January 21, 2014, Plaintiff filed this action against Detective Patricia McCune of the Niagara Falls City Police Department and Investigators John Wick and Paul Perkins, both of the Niagara County Sheriff's Department, as well as the City of Niagara Falls and the County of Niagara (collectively, "defendants"). Plaintiff's complaint alleges that the defendants violated 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, and 1986 and that the municipal defendants are liable for various state law torts.

Before the Court are the defendants' motions to dismiss the complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Plaintiff has responded to the defendants' motions and has also filed a motion for summary judgment and a statement of undisputed material facts. For the reasons stated herein, the Court dismisses Plaintiff's complaint as time-barred.

Background

Plaintiff is a registered sex offender who is required by New York State law to timely report changes in his address. See N.Y. Correct. Law § 168-f(4) (McKinney 2012). On December 24, 2009, Plaintiff signed a one-year lease for an apartment in Niagara Falls, New York. Dkt. No. 1 ¶ 10. After signing the lease, on January 19, 2010, Plaintiff reported his change of address to defendant McCune and signed a sex offender change of address form listing the address of his new apartment. Id. ¶ 11.

Several months later, on May 6, 2010, Plaintiff alleges that defendants McCune, Wick, and Perkins conducted a "home inspection" of the address Plaintiff listed on his sex offender change of address form. Id. ¶ 13. According to Plaintiff's complaint, the individual defendants "entered [Plaintiff's] residence and conducted a search without a warrant or consent. [Individual defendants] claimed that once inside they observed that the residence had no utilities, only a plastic chair, coffee table and clothing for a young child, and that [Plaintiff] was not present when the search was conducted." Id. Plaintiff then alleges that defendant McCune returned to Plaintiff's new address on three subsequent dates, May 11, 21, and 26, 2010, each time "entering without a warrant at various times of the day." Id. ¶ 14. According to Plaintiff, on each of her subsequent entries into Plaintiff's residence, defendant McCune "observed no change to the condition of the property, and [noted that] plaintiff was not present on any of these days." Id.

Shortly after the individual defendants' entries into Plaintiff's apartment, on May 27, 2010, a felony complaint was filed against Plaintiff in New York Supreme Court alleging that he did not reside at his registered address. See id. ¶15 and Exhibit E. Plaintiff was indicted and, on November 22, 2010, he moved to suppress evidence relating to the individual defendants' "warrantless nonconsensual search of [Plaintiff's] residence." Id. ¶ 17 and Exhibit H.

Just under one year later, on September 22, 2011, New York Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch, Sr. issued a Decision and Order holding that "[t]here was nothing precluding the police from obtaining a search warrant" before entering Plaintiff's residence and that, accordingly, "the People are precluded from offering testimony of the police observation inside [Plaintiff's] residence." Id. at Exhibit I ( People v. Hueber, No. 2010-280, slip op. at 1-2 (N.Y. Sup.Ct. Sept. 22, 2011) (Decision and Order)). However, Justice Kloch held that the prosecution could still "offer proof as to the observations outside [Plaintiff's residence]." Id. Thus, based on the allowable evidence, Justice Kloch found "beyond a reasonable doubt that [Plaintiff] was not residing at the registered address and failed to notify [New York Criminal Justice Services] of his actual address." Id. Plaintiff was found guilty. Id.

Approximately three years and nine months after Plaintiff alleges that the individual defendants first entered his residence, Plaintiff filed the complaint in this case against each of the individual defendants, as well as the City of Niagara Falls and the County of Niagara, alleging that the individual defendants had violated various of Plaintiff's constitutional rights in violation of 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, and 1986, and that the municipal defendants were liable under state tort law. The defendants filed motions to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) arguing that Plaintiff's claims were time-barred.[1] Plaintiff has responded to the defendants' motions to dismiss and has also filed a motion for summary judgment and a statement of what he claims to be undisputed material facts. See Dkt. No. 15. Defendants have not yet replied to Plaintiff's summary judgment motion.

I. The Standard for a Motion to Dismiss

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides that a party may move to dismiss a claim for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." When addressing a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court assumes all well-pleaded factual allegations in a complaint are true. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Further, "[a]lthough the statute of limitations is an affirmative defense, it can be raised through a 12(b)(6) motion if the factual bases for the defense appear on the face of the complaint." IKB Int'l S.A. v. Bank of Am. Corp., 12 Civ. 4036 (LAK)(HBP), 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46549, at *9-10 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 28, 2014).

II. Plaintiff's § 1983 Claim Alleging a Fourth Amendment Violation Is Not Timely

The crux of Plaintiff's complaint is ¶ 24, which alleges that the individual defendants entered his residence in violation of the Fourth Amendment and are accordingly liable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. However, for the reasons stated below, the Court finds that Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment claims raised ...


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