United States District Court, E.D. New York
Judith Berger, Esq., Of Counsel, The Coalition of Landlords, Homeowners & Merchants, Inc., Babylon, NY, Attorneys for the Plaintiff.
Jay S. Hellman, Esq., Lon J. Seidman, Esq., Of Counsel. Silverman Acampora LLP, Jericho, NY, Attorneys for the Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER
ARTHUR D. SPATT, District Judge.
On November 14, 2013, the Plaintiff Jureli, LLC (the "Plaintiff") commenced this action against the Defendant Randy Schaefer, Esq., individually and in her capacity as receiver in the New York State Supreme Court (the "Defendant"). The gravamen of the Plaintiff's allegations is that due to lack of notice to the Plaintiff, the state court's appointment of the Defendant as receiver was invalid. Thus, according to the Plaintiff, the Defendant's conduct in that capacity violated certain constitutional rights.
In this regard, the Plaintiff asserts the following nine causes of action: (1) unreasonable search and seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment; (2) deprivation of property without just compensation and without due process of law in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments; (3) cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment; (4) invidious ethnic discrimination in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and 42 U.S.C. § 3617; (5) deprivation of property interests in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1982; (6) deprivation of rights secured by the Constitution and laws as a result of New York State custom in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (7) trespass in violation of New York State common law; (8) conversion in violation of New York State common law; and (9) tortious interference with a contract in violation of New York State common law.
On October 17, 2013, the Defendant removed this action to the Federal Court. Presently before the Court is a motion by the Defendant for a judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Fed. R. Civ. P.") 12(c). Specifically, the Defendant requests that the Court dismiss the Plaintiff's Complaint in its entirety with prejudice.
The Court pauses here to note that the Defendant's moving papers contain footnotes, which is contrary to this Court's Individual Rule II.A. Notwithstanding this infraction, the Court will consider the Defendant's papers in rendering its decision. However, the Court advises the Defendant's counsel that any future filings that contain footnotes will not be considered by this Court.
For the reasons that follow, the Court denies the Defendant's motion without prejudice; abstains from exercising subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to the Younger abstention doctrine; and remands this case to the state court.
A. Legal Standard for Considering Factual Allegations and Evidence Outside the Pleadings When Resolving a Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c) Motion
Before reciting the underlying factual allegations of this case, as an initial matter, the Court observes that evidence outside of the pleadings may not be considered by the Court when deciding a motion to dismiss brought pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). See, e.g., Hoose v. Monroe Cnty., 09-CV-6080T, 2012 WL 2450762, at *2 (W.D.N.Y. June 26, 2012) ("In considering a motion for judgment on the pleadings, the court may consider only the pleadings, and not additional evidence submitted by the parties."); Banks v. United States, 10 CIV. 6613 GBD GWG, 2011 WL 4100454, at *4 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 15, 2011), report and recommendation adopted by, 10 CIV. 6613 GBD GWG, 2011 WL 5454550 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 9, 2011) ("While the Court may refer to evidence outside the pleadings when determining a motion pursuant Rule 12(b)(1), the Court is limited to the pleadings when considering a motion made pursuant to Rules 12(b)(6) and 12(c).") (citation omitted). In this regard, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d), where matters outside the pleadings are presented in connection with a defendant's Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c) motion, "the court may, in its discretion, either consider the additional evidence and convert the defendant's motion to a motion for summary judgment (on notice to the plaintiff) or exclude the evidence and consider the motion as it is filed by the defendant." Hoose, 2012 WL 2450762, at *2.
In this case, the Plaintiff includes with its opposition to the Defendant's Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c) motion several exhibits that constitute evidence beyond the pleadings. These exhibits are as follows: (1) a letter, dated November 1, 2013, from the Defendant to the Plaintiff requesting the withdrawal of the Summons with Notice that had been filed by the Plaintiff; (2) a letter, dated November 6, 2013, from the Plaintiff in response to the Defendant's November 1, 2013; (3) multiple filings entered in the New York State District Court, Suffolk County, Third District, associated with the case entitled Randy J. Schaefer, Esq., as receiver of rents and profits of real properties known as and located at 8 Judith Drive, Greenlawn, New York vs. BE4, LLC, Bruce Engel, and Jureli, LLC (the "Second State Court Action"); (4) a letter, dated February 6, 2014, from the Defendant to this Court notifying the Court of the February 3, 2014 Order of the Honorable C. Stephen Hackeling ("Judge Hackeling") in the Second State Court Action; and (5) a June 21, 2013 Order entered by the Honorable Edward W. McCarthy, III of the Surrogate's Court of the State of New York, County of Nassau, in the case entitled Proceeding to Discover Property and Obtain Information In the Possession of the Coalition of Landlords, Homeowners & Merchants, Inc. in the Estate of HENRY BOGART SEAMAN, Deceased (the "Surrogate's Court Action").
Concerning the filings from the Second State Court Action, the Plaintiff includes the following documents with its opposition papers: (1) a November 25, 2013 Verified Petition for Contempt brought by the Defendant against the Plaintiff and two other respondents, BE4 LLC ("BE4") and Bruce Engel ("Engel"); (2) a December 5, 2013 Order to Show Cause signed by Judge Hackeling; (3) a January 22, 2014 Affirmation in Opposition submitted by the Plaintiff, BE4 and Engel, (4) a February 3, 2014 Decision and Order by Judge Hackeling finding the Plaintiff, BE4 and Engel in civil contempt and imposing a fine; and (5) a February 27, 2014 Order to Show Cause signed by Associate Justice Bruce E. Tolbert of the New York State Appellate Term, Second Department staying the February 3, 2014 Order by Judge Hackeling pending the Plaintiff's appeal.
Similarly, the Defendant also offers evidence outside of the pleadings in support of its motion, including (1) the August 15, 2012 Conditional Discharge Order by Judge Hackeling entered in the New York State District Court, Suffolk County, Third District, in the case entitled The People of the State of New York vs. Breen 1, LLC (the "First State Court Action"); (2) a June 30, 2010 Decision in the Surrogate's Court Action by Judge John B. Riordan of the Surrogate's Court; (3) the February 3, 2014 Decision by Judge Hackeling in the Second State Court Action; (4) a copy of the deed and tax transfer documents for the real property known as 8 Judith Drive, Greenlawn, New York (the "subject Premises") signed by Engel on behalf of the Plaintiff and on behalf of Breen 1 LLC ("Breen 1"); (5) a January 4, 2011 Notice of ...