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Massie v. Metropolitan Museum of Art

United States District Court, S.D. New York

July 8, 2014



J. PAUL OETKEN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Richard Massie brings this action against his former employer, The Metropolitan Museum of Art ("The Met"); his former union, District Council 37 Local 1503 ("DC 37"); two hospitals at which he received medical care, Lennox Hill Hospital and Westchester Hospital ("the Hospitals, " collectively); and several of his former co-workers and supervisors. He alleges violations of 28 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1981; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621-634; the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12112-12117; the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA"), 29 U.S.C.A § 160, et. seq.; and the New York State and New York City Human Rights Laws ("NYSHL" and "NYCHL, " respectively), N.Y. Exec. Law §§ 290-97, N.Y. City Admin. Code § 8-101. Defendants have moved to dismiss the complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons that follow, Defendants' motion is granted, but Plaintiff is granted leave to amend his complaint for the purposes of establishing that his supervisor at the Met was acting under color of state law when he allegedly made racially derogatory claims about Plaintiff.

I. Background[1]

Plaintiff worked as a security guard at the Met from 1995 until his termination on or about July 30, 2010. From 2001 to 2002, Plaintiff took a leave of absence which became the subject of an earlier federal lawsuit, as well as several state- and federal-agency complaints. See Massie v. Metro. Museum of Art, No. 06-CV-12905, 2010 WL 3766943 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 27, 2010). Plaintiff was represented by DC 37 during a grievance proceeding relating to this leave of absence. By the third hearing in this proceeding, DC 37 had abandoned its representation. The grievance process ran its course without DC 37 and Plaintiff subsequently brought suit in federal court. Some of his claims were dismissed and the rest defeated on summary judgment. Id.

Between roughly 2006 and his termination in 2010, Plaintiff was subjected to taunts and harassment by his supervisors and coworkers. On July 22, 2010, an allegedly embarrassing and private video of Plaintiff was posted by one of his supervisors on YouTube. Throughout the relevant period, Plaintiff's supervisors were unkind to Plaintiff and sought to falsely accuse him of various kinds of misconduct, which misconduct ultimately resulted in his termination in 2010.

On July 21, 2010, one of Plaintiff's supervisors called him a "real black bastard child." (Dkt. No. 106, First Amended Complaint, at 6.) The following day-on the same day that the allegedly embarrassing YouTube video was posted-Defendant Ortega told Plaintiff to "kiss [his] ass lick [his] ass...." Id. On the previous Monday, the Museum President "premeditated... and probably was the one who originally called [Plaintiff] a[n] FSBB." Id. at 5. Elsewhere in the complaint, Plaintiff makes clear that "FSBB" stands for "fucking stupid black bastard." Id. at 9.

At some point during the relevant period, Plaintiff was treated at Westchester and Lennox Hill hospitals. The Hospitals revealed sensitive medical information to the Met and others. This sensitive information contributed to Plaintiff's termination from the Met in 2010. Plaintiff brought suit against the hospitals in New York State Supreme Court in April of 2012. He alleged a violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act ("HIPAA"), 42 U.S.C.A. § 1320d-2; slander; negligence or medical malpractice; misrepresentation; and "intentional harm." (Dkt. No. 156, Defendant Lennox Hill's Memorandum of Law, at 2.) His claims were dismissed on November 8, 2012.

II. Discussion

A. Claims against Lennox Hill and Westchester Hospitals

Plaintiff's claims against the Hospitals must be dismissed under the doctrine of res judicata, or claim preclusion. Where a prior decision is rendered by a New York State court, New York's res judicata doctrine will apply. See Kremer v. Chem. Constr. Corp., 456 U.S. 461, 466 (1982). Under New York's res judicata doctrine, "once a claim is brought to a final conclusion, all other claims arising out of the same transaction or series of transactions are barred, even if based upon different theories or if seeking a different remedy." Sosa v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, 33 A.D.3d 609, 611 (N.Y. A.D.2d Dep't 2006).

All of Plaintiff's instant claims against the Hospitals arise from their alleged disclosure of his private health information. Therefore, the claims all arise out of the same "transaction, " id., between Plaintiff and the Hospitals. The New York State Supreme Court has entered a final judgment on the merits with respect to Plaintiff's claims. See Massie v. Westchester Hospital, No. 102528/12 (N.Y. Supreme Ct. Nov. 8, 2012). Therefore they must be dismissed.

B. Claims against DC 37

Plaintiff alleges that DC 37 violated its duty of fair representation by terminating its representation during the grievance proceeding. "[T]he duty of fair representation is implied under the scheme of the National Labor Relations Act...." White v. White Rose Food, a Div. of DiGiorgio Corp., 128 F.3d 110, 113 (2d Cir. 1997). The statute of limitations for fairrepresentation claims is six months. DelCostello v. Int'l Brotherhood of Teamsters, 462 U.S. 151, 155 (1983). The statute runs from the time that the plaintiff knew or should have known of the union's alleged breach of duty. See White, 128 F.3d at 114.

The last date on which Plaintiff and DC 37 interacted is October 4, 2010. DC 37 claims that because it "did not provide Mr. Massie with any further representation" after that date, he "knew or should have known of the... alleged breach of duty by [that date]." (Dkt. No. 171, DC 37's Memorandum of Law, at 4.) Plaintiff filed his First ...

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