United States District Court, W.D. New York
CHARLES R. LIVECCHI, SR., Plaintiff.
THE CITY OF GENEVA, BRIAN KELLY, Individually and in his official capacity as Code Enforcement Officer for the City of Geneva, DAVID FOSTER, individually and in his official capacity as Attorney for the City of Geneva, ROBERT PETERSON, Individually and in his official capacity as Police Officer for the City of Geneva, and HONORABLE STEPHEN ARONSON, Individually and in his official capacity as Acting City Court Judge, Defendants.
DECISION AND ORDER
CHARLES J. SIRAGUSA, District Judge.
This is an action in which the pro se Plaintiff asserts several claims involving a rental property that he owns in the City of Geneva. Now before the Court is a motion by the Honorable Stephen Aronson ("Aronson"), Acting Geneva City Court Judge, to dismiss all claims against him. The application is granted.
Unless otherwise noted, the following facts are taken from the Complaint in this action and are presumed to be true for purposes of the instant motion. Plaintiff owns a five-unit apartment building in Geneva, located at 46 Hallenbeck Ave. ("the Property"). In August 2011, defendant Brian Kelly ("Kelly"), who was the Code Enforcement Officer for the City of Geneva, ordered that the Property be vacated. In September 2011, Kelly and other city employees entered the Property without Plaintiff's permission. On October 7, 2011, Kelly issued an order condemning the property. Plaintiff maintains that Kelly's condemnation order was unjustified, arbitrary and capricious. Plaintiff also apparently maintains that the issuance of such order violated his federal rights of due process, and violated the federal bankruptcy laws and the New York State law of eminent domain.
The condemnation order apparently required that Plaintiff make certain improvements at the property before it could be re-inhabited. In December 2011, Kelly re-inspected the property, and found that certain items of work were still not completed. Plaintiff disagreed with Kelly, whereupon Kelly yelled at Plaintiff and called the police.
Defendant Police Officer Robert Peters ("Peters") arrested Plaintiff and placed him, handcuffed, in a patrol car. Kelly also indicated that he was placing Plaintiff under a citizen's arrest. Plaintiff maintains that Peters used excessive force, which caused bruising to his back and wrists. Plaintiff was arraigned and released, and the charge against him was eventually dismissed.
The Complaint is confusing, but it appears that sometime later, the City of Geneva commenced an action against Plaintiff in City Court, concerning the rental property, which was initiated by service of a summons, to which no complaint was attached. Plaintiff appeared for a hearing on the matter, which was presided over by defendant Aronson, in his capacity as Acting City Court Judge. Plaintiff denied that there were code violations at the property, and Aronson, in an apparent attempt to resolve the dispute, suggested that the property be re-inspected by someone other than Kelly. Plaintiff agreed to having the property re-examined by a different inspector, but demanded that the City also provide him with an "administrative warrant, " listing the alleged code violations and the name of the new inspector. Aronson indicated that he was not aware of any such requirement, and stated that if Plaintiff did not agree to have the property re-inspected, the case against him would go forward. Plaintiff maintains that he declined the re-inspection since the City would not provide him with a warrant.
During the ensuing hearing, Plaintiff indicated that the action should be dismissed, since he "was under Bankruptcy protection" and the Property was part of the bankruptcy estate. However, Aronson denied that request and eventually ruled that the property had to be vacated. Subsequently, City employees entered the property and directed the tenants to leave. The City then took possession of the property and changed the locks. Bankruptcy Court subsequently granted the Trustee's request to abandon the property as part of the bankruptcy estate.
The City also imposed fines on the property, which were added to Plaintiff's property tax bills. The City began foreclosure proceedings, but told Plaintiff that it would discontinue the foreclosure if he agreed to turn over the property to the City. However, Plaintiff refused to do so.
Aronson eventually dismissed all proceedings involving the property, and Plaintiff attempted to re-open the property for renting. However, the City commenced new proceedings against the property. Plaintiff argued, though, that the new proceeding was invalid, because it used the same index number as the prior action that had been dismissed. Aronson disagreed with Plaintiff. Nevertheless, the City obtained a new index number and is continuing to pursue legal action against the property. Plaintiff contends, though, that the new proceeding is invalid because he was not served with papers bearing the new index number.
On June 13, 2014, Plaintiff commenced this action. The Complaint purports to assert the following claims: 1) "Damages" caused by vandalism to the property while it sat empty; 2) "Abuse of Power" by City employees; 3) "Abuse of Process"; 4) "Criminal Trespass"; 5) "Loss of Use"; 6) "Emotional Distress"; 7) "Malfeasance in Office"; 8) "Economic Tort & "Tortuous [sic] Interference"; 9) "False Imprisonment" and 10) "Retaliation." The Complaint demands $33.5 millon in damages. With regard to Aronson, the Complaint generally alleges that he lacked authority, allowed City officials to make false statements, allowed an improper action to proceed and acted in a manner that was unethical, irrational and biased.
On July 2, 2014, Aronson filed the subject motion [#2] to dismiss all claims against him. Aronson maintains that he is being sued for his actions as a judge, and that he is therefore entitled to absolute judicial immunity. On July 10, 2014, Plaintiff filed a response to the motion, in which he argues that a judge's "immunity is void" if he condones unethical behavior or participates in constitutional violations. The gist of Plaintiff's submission is that since Aronson allegedly engaged in wrongful conduct as a judge, he is not entitled to immunity. However, Plaintiff's submission fails to cite any legal authority for any of its arguments, except a vague and ...