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Mostafa v. City of New York

United States District Court, S.D. New York

September 2, 2014



PAUL A. ENGELMAYER, District Judge.

Omran Mostafa, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, sues the City of New York (the "City"), Detective Joseph Bey, Detective Michael Curley, and retired Detective Timothy Feehan (collectively, the "individual defendants"), alleging that his personal property was stolen in the course of his arrest and booking by the New York City Police Department (the "Police Department"). Defendants now move to dismiss. For the following reasons, the motion is granted, and the Complaint is dismissed as to all defendants.

I. Background

A. Factual Background[1]

On November 11, 2011, Mostafa was arrested and taken to the 102 Precinct in Jamaica, Queens. Compl. at 1-2. At approximately 8 p.m. on November 11, 2011, officers at the precinct took Mostafa's property and failed to issue a receipt. Id. at 2-3. These officers were later identified as Detective Joseph Bey, Detective Michael Curley, and now-retired Detective Timothy Feehan. See Dkt. 23, 35. The detectives told Mostafa that his property would be returned when he came back from court an hour later. Compl. at 3. The property taken from Mostafa included a black leather wallet containing $140 in cash, debit cards, credit cards, identification, and various documents; a gold wedding ring; two silver rings; three cell phones; a blue-tooth device; and a blue jacket. Id. at 8; Dkt. 2-1 at 2.

Following his arrest, Mostafa was detained at Riker's Island. Dkt. 2-1 at 2. On November 22, 2011, Mostafa completed a signed and notarized form authorizing the Police Department to release his property to his cousin, Wail Edahry. Id. The property was not released to Edahry. Compl. at 3. Further, the detectives made unauthorized use of Mostafa's debit and credit cards. Id. at 5. As of January 3, 2013, when Mostafa filed the Complaint, the property had yet to be returned. Id. at 3.

B. Procedural Background

On January 19, 2012, Mostafa filed a Notice of Claim with the City. Dkt. 52 ¶ 4. On January 20, 2012, the City acknowledged receipt of the form. Dkt. 2-1 at 1. On June 20, 2012, the City Comptroller sent Mostafa a claim-status letter. Dkt. 2 at 9. It informed Mostafa that his claim was still under investigation and that the Comptroller's Office was awaiting receipt of reports from the Police Department. Id. The letter further advised Mostafa that he could bring a lawsuit against the City within one year and 90 days of the November 11, 2011, incident. Id.

On January 3, 2013, Mostafa filed the Complaint. Dkt. 2. The Complaint does not identify a particular cause of action. It consists instead of a narrative describing the actions that the detectives took as to Mostafa's property and the injuries that Mostafa claims to have suffered. Liberally construed, [2] however, the Complaint can be read to allege a deprivation of property without due process of law in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment and actionable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Mostafa seeks the return of his property and $1 million in damages. Compl. at 5.

The Complaint originally named the Police Department, the 102 Precinct, "Officer Bay, " and "Officer Kali" as defendants. Id. at 1. On January 30, 2013, the claims against the Police Department and the 102 Precinct were dismissed, and the City was added as a defendant, on the ground that agencies cannot be sued in their own names. Dkt. 7. On January 13, 2014, the claims against non-existent Officers Bay and Kali were terminated, and Detectives Joseph Bey, Michael Curley, and Timothy Feehan were added as defendants. Dkt. 35.

Between March 3 and April 17, 2014, this action was stayed pending resolution of Mostafa's parallel criminal proceeding. Dkt. 38, 43. On April 17, 2014, the Court received notice that the criminal case had been resolved, and lifted the stay. Dkt. 43.

On May 9, 2014, defendants moved to dismiss, Dkt. 49, and filed an accompanying memorandum of law, Dkt. 50 ("Def. Br."), and declaration, Dkt. 52. Defendants argue there that the Complaint fails to state a claim for four reasons: (1) the allegations therein do not make out a constitutional violation because state law provides adequate post-deprivation remedies; (2) as to Feehan, the Complaint does not allege his personal involvement in the challenged conduct; (3) as to the City, the Complaint does not allege a policy, practice, or custom as required to hold a municipality liable for constitutional violations; and (4) as to all three individual defendants, they are shielded by qualified immunity under both federal and state law.

The same day, May 9, 2014, Mostafa filed a "notice of motion to oppose the defendant." Dkt. 53. On June 30, 2014, Mostafa filed an affirmation in support of his "motion for opposing defendant." Dkt. 66. The Court construes these documents as Mostafa's opposition to defendants' motion to dismiss. On July 7, 2014, ...

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