United States District Court, S.D. New York
LAURA TAYLOR SWAIN, District Judge.
Plaintiff Gerard Corsini ("Plaintiff") filed this complaint on April 18, 2013, against defendants including former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, various state employees, and several private citizens. Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on February 11, 2014. This is the third lawsuit against substantially the same group of defendants asserting substantially similar claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 arising from an alleged conspiracy to, inter alia, violate Plaintiff's First Amendment right to document his neighbor's alleged zoning violations. Plaintiff also asserts causes of action for false arrest and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Defendants Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., Karen Friedman-Agnifilo, Nitin Savur, John Irwin, William Darrow, Lisa Delpizzo, and Daniel Garnaas-Holmes (collectively, the "DA Defendants") have moved pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) to dismiss the complaint. Defendants Elizabeth Morgan, Jonathan Cary, and Daniel J. McKay (collectively, the "Cary Defendants") also have moved pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) to dismiss the complaint and for sanctions pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11. Defendants Belkin Burden Wenig & Goldman, LLP, and Aaron Shmulewitz (collectively, the "Belkin Defendants" and, together with the DA Defendants and the Cary Defendants, "Defendants") have likewise moved pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) to dismiss the complaint and for sanctions pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11.
The Court has jurisdiction of this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1367.
The Court has reviewed the submissions of the parties carefully. For the following reasons, the motions to dismiss the Amended Complaint are granted in their entirety. The Cary Defendants' motion for Rule 11 sanctions is denied, and the Belkin Defendants' motion for Rule 11 sanctions is granted.
Plaintiff alleges that each of the various Defendants is a participant in a conspiracy, involving civilians, junior and senior members of the police department, lawyers and even the former mayor of New York City, to prevent Plaintiff from exposing his neighbor's alleged zoning violations. According to Plaintiff, this conspiracy has resulted in several false arrests and malicious prosecutions of Plaintiff. This is the third lawsuit alleging this conspiracy that Plaintiff has filed against many of Defendants. The first was filed in the New York State Supreme Court, see Corsini v. Morgan, et al., 2013 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 2662 (N.Y. Sup.Ct. Jun. 20, 2013), and the second in this court, see Corsini v. Bloomberg, et al., No. 12CV8058, 2014 WL 2029178 (S.D.N.Y. May 15, 2014). The following allegations are drawn from the Amended Complaint in this, the third action, unless otherwise noted.
Plaintiff alleges that the conspiracy began in November of 2010, with the objective of "tak[ing] all steps necessary to have plaintiff falsely arrested and evicted from his apartment." (Am. Compl. at ¶ 1(a)(ii).) Plaintiff also alleges that the Belkin Defendants "designed a common plan... [involving] advising, aiding and abetting and directing Morgan's and Cary's urging, causing, inducing and importuning plaintiff's false arrests and malicious prosecutions." (Am. Compl. at ¶ 16.) Plaintiff alleges that he first discovered the "complicity" of New York City and several of its agents (including former Mayor Bloomberg) after a "Saturday Night Live" film shoot at the Morgan/Cary residence on April 15, 2010, when Plaintiff found the police unresponsive to his requests that they inquire as to whether a permit had been obtained. (Am. Compl. at ¶¶ 18-21.) Plaintiff's allegations about the DA Defendants' involvement in the conspiracy are based on advice they allegedly gave to police regarding Plaintiff, "with the intent and for the purpose of depriving plaintiff of established rights secured under the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution of the United States." (Am. Compl. at ¶ 7.) Plaintiff posits a series of events in which a detective in the New York Police Department (the "NYPD") allegedly contacted a lawyer in the NYPD who then contacted the DA Defendants to determine whether probable cause existed to arrest Plaintiff in June of 2011. (Am. Compl. at ¶ 3.) Plaintiff also alleges that Mr. McKay, on June 11, 2011, after overhearing Plaintiff describing his fears regarding police ringing his doorbell, "shout[ed] NYC Police' into [Plaintiff's] intercom... for the outrageous purpose of intentionally causing plaintiff severe emotional distress." (Am. Compl. at ¶ (1)(b).)
Plaintiff further alleges the conspiracy led to his arrests on April 18, 2012, and July 25, 2012. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 1(a)(i), 1(a)(iii).) Plaintiff alleges that these arrests led to prosecutions that "terminated in plaintiff's favor, as to the [April 18, 2012 arrest's] prosecution... to one count in the complaint... [and] as to the [July 25, 2012 arrest's] prosecution... as to all counts in the complaint." (Am. Compl. at ¶ 1(a)(iv).) Plaintiff alleges that the conspiracy led to a three hour "siege" of Plaintiff's apartment on July 18, 2012, involving both the New York City Police Department and the Fire Department, during which several Defendants allegedly "attempt[ed] to cause plaintiff severe emotional stress and to put him at risk of a heart attack to have a pretext to break into his apartment to arrest him." (Am. Compl. at ¶ 1(a)(ii).)
When deciding a motion to dismiss a complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a court must determine whether a complaint "contain[s] sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544 (2007)). A court is not, however, required to accept "conclusory statements" made by the plaintiff as true, nor do "legal conclusion[s] couched as factual allegation[s]" merit such deference. Twombly , 550 U.S. at 555. To survive, the complaint must contain "more than an unadorned, thedefendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 678. The Belkin and Cary Defendants' Motions to Dismiss
The Belkin and Cary Defendants contend that Plaintiff's claims in this action are barred by res judicata, citing the dismissal of Plaintiff's first action, Corsini v. Morgan, in which the state court dismissed Plaintiff's amended complaint, which alleged a conspiracy substantially similar to that alleged in the instant complaint, noting that "[a]though plaintiff's claims against Morgan, and Cary, and even more so his claims against Shmulewitz and Belkin, are meritless, plaintiff's filing of the amended complaint does not, of itself, warrant the imposition of sanctions." 2013 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 2662, at *15 (N.Y. Sup.Ct. Jun. 20, 2013).
Although a court typically only reviews the complaint and does not consider affirmative defenses in making the Rule 12(b)(6) determination, "when all relevant facts are shown by the court's own records, of which the court takes notice, the defense [of res judicata] may be upheld on a 12(b)(6) motion." Day v. Moscow , 955 F.2d 807, 811 (2d Cir. 1992). In order for res judicata to apply, (1) the previous action must have involved an adjudication on the merits; (2) the previous action must have involved the parties or those in privity with them; and (3) the claims asserted in the subsequent action were, or could have been, raised in the prior action. See TechnoMarine SA v. Giftports, Inc. , 2014 WL 3408570 at *3 (2d Cir. July 15, 2014); see also Anaconda-Ericson Inc. v. Hessen (In re Teltronics Serv., Inc.) , 762 F.2d 185, 190 (2d Cir. 1985). This Court has already determined that the decision in Corsini v. Morgan was "on the merits" for res judicata purposes, ...