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Momot v. Derkowski

United States District Court, N.D. New York

September 16, 2014

JOHN MOMOT, Plaintiff,
v.
SUSAN DERKOWSKI; CAROLINE SACCONE; and PAULA NEGRI, Defendants.

JOHN MOMOT, pro se, Watervliet, NY.

FERRARA, FIORENZA, LARRISON, BARRETT & REITZ, P.C., CHARLES E. SYMONS, ESQ., Attorneys for Defendants, East Syracuse, NY.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION and ORDER

DAVID N. HURD, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

On August 15, 2013, plaintiff John Momot ("Momot" or "plaintiff"), proceeding pro se, commenced this action alleging unspecified violations of his constitutional rights. Plaintiff's claims, brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983, arise from his termination from the Licensed Practical Nursing ("LPN") program at the Board of Cooperative Educational Services ("BOCES") Health Careers and Services, a state education service, in Albany, New York.

Momot asserts his claims against defendants Susan Derkowski and Caroline Saccone, Nursing Instructors in the LPN program at BOCES ("Instructor Derkowski" and "Instructor Saccone") and Paula Negri, BOCES Principal ("Principal Negri") (collectively "defendants").

Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b) ("Rule __") or, alternatively, for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56.[1] The motion is fully briefed and was considered without oral argument.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The following facts, taken from the complaint, are assumed true for purposes of the motion to dismiss. See Chambers v. Time Warner, Inc. , 282 F.3d 147, 152 (2d Cir. 2002).

Although Momot brings claims of discrimination, he does not clearly allege his age, race, or national origin. He simply reports that he is "from Europe" and English is not his primary language. Compl. 3, ECF No. 1. In September 2011 he commenced study in the LPN program at BOCES. He began the clinical portion of the program in January 2012. Instructor Derkowski supervised his first clinical assignment at Ellis Hospital in Schenectady, New York. Instructor Derkowski allowed other students-but not plaintiff-to access patient information on the hospital computers. She also issued a citation against him for violating program rules concerning hygiene practices. When plaintiff attempted to discuss this citation with Principal Negri, she dismissed his explanation.

Instructor Saccone became Momot's clinical instructor on February 27, 2012. He had earned a "90%" during the first semester under Instructor Saccone, who once praised him in front of the class. Id . However, plaintiff disagreed with her subsequent assessments of his clinical performance, her method of instruction, and the overall quality of the clinical program. He also refused to sign some of the evaluations with which he disagreed. Plaintiff complained to Principal Negri and Assistant Principal Rick Rose ("Assistant Principal Rose"), who both deferred to the decisions and methods of Instructor Saccone. Plaintiff claims that, in retaliation for his complaints, Instructor Saccone gave him improper direction and instruction in an effort to cause him to fail the clinical program.

In March 2012, Momot provided Assistant Principal Rose with a doctor's note indicating he had a hernia restricting his lifting capabilities.[2] Further, plaintiff experienced flu-like symptoms throughout the winter. He requested, and was granted, time off to convalesce. Instructor Saccone learned of plaintiff's hernia and, initially, refused to allow him to return to his clinical assignment because of that condition. On April 2, 2012, plaintiff failed his clinical evaluation under Instructor Saccone and was thus removed from the LPN program.

Momot reportedly filed a complaint with the "NYS Professional Education" and the "NYS Office of Professional Discipline." Id . at 6. He also asserts that the "US Department of Education" suggested he file this federal civil action. Id . He seeks monetary compensation and reinstatement in the LPN program.

III. DISCUSSION

Liberally construing Momot's complaint, he asserts an equal protection claim and a retaliation claim.[3] Generally, he alleges that the instructors in the LPN program at BOCES treated him differently than other students, provided deficient instruction, and ultimately failed him based on improper evaluations and in retaliation for ...


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