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Cornado v. City of New York

United States District Court, S.D. New York

September 24, 2014

FAMIAN CORNADO, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF NEW YORK, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM ORDER

LAURA TAYLOR SWAIN, District Judge.

Pro se plaintiff Famian Cornado ("Plaintiff" or "Cornado") brings this action against the New York City Police Department (the "NYPD") and individually-named defendants who are members of the NYPD (the "Officers, " and together with the NYPD, "Defendants").[1] Plaintiff alleges that Defendants deprived him of his civil rights when the Officers falsely arrested him on July 29, 2006, and used excessive force in the process.[2] Plaintiff further alleges that Defendants acted with deliberate indifference to his medical needs, denying him care, while he was in police custody on July 29, 2006. Defendants move to dismiss this action, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The Court has jurisdiction of this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and supplemental jurisdiction of Plaintiff's state law statutory claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367. The Court has thoroughly considered the parties' submissions and arguments and, for the following reasons, the Court grants Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiff's claims in their entirety.

BACKGROUND

In his complaint, Plaintiff describes a series of alleged brutal beatings and other actions, by both Defendants and unnamed third-parties, that allegedly left him with serious injuries.[3] Plaintiff alleges that, on the night of July 29, 2006, two undercover NYPD officers who were searching for him pursuant to outstanding warrants "brutally and continuously assaulted" him, "powerfully [striking him] from behind... knock[ing him] to the ground... kicking [him repeatedly] in the face, ribs, abdomen and groin areas." (Cornado Aff. ¶ 24; Am. Compl. ¶ 3.) In particular, Plaintiff contends that the Officers kicked him in the mouth during the arrest, shattering his dentures and causing pieces of them to become embedded in his gums. (Am. Compl. ¶ 3.) According to Plaintiff, the Officers' attack also caused broken ribs, numerous bruises, severe gashes, and the loss of multiple teeth, as well as ongoing loss of sight, back problems, headaches and severe testicular pains "leading to urinal and impotence difficulties." (Id.)

Plaintiff further alleges that, upon regaining consciousness at a hospital following the arrest, he was attacked again by the Officers.4 (Id. ¶ 4.) Plaintiff claims that the Officers "refused to let the [hospital's] medical staff attend to" him, but instead "brought [him] back to the [police] car, " took him to the Manhattan Detention Complex, and placed him in a cell where he "remained for many hours bleeding profusely and in extreme pain before [he] received any kind of medical treatment." (Id.) Plaintiff avers that he requested medical attention, but it was denied him. (Cornado Aff. ¶ 8.) Plaintiff alleges that he was brought to Presbyterian Hospital on the following day (id.) and that the Officers provided a false name and social security number for him at the hospital (id. ¶ 12).

Based on events that occurred during Plaintiff's arrest on July 29, 2006, Plaintiff was charged with Assault in the Second Degree and was convicted on June 26, 2007. (Cornado Aff. Exs. A, B, and D.) Plaintiff alleges that the prosecutor and his defense lawyer sealed the trial record without his permission. (Id. ¶¶ 32, 44.) Plaintiff's conviction was affirmed by the Appellate Division in 2009. See People v. Cornado , 874 N.Y.S.2d 463, 464 (N.Y.App.Div. 2009).

Defendants have moved to dismiss the Amended Complaint in its entirety, arguing that Plaintiff fails to state a legally cognizable claim of a civil rights violation under section 1983 of title 42 of the United States Code.

DISCUSSION

In deciding a motion to dismiss a complaint, the Court assumes Plaintiff's allegations to be true and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of Plaintiff, the non-moving party. See Miller v. Wolpoff & Abramson, L.L.P. , 321 F.3d 292, 300 (2d Cir. 2003). However, "[t]o survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain 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) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted). To be facially plausible, a plaintiff must plead "factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged... [and must show] more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id.

Allegations in a pro se complaint "are held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Hughes v. Rowe , 449 U.S. 5, 9 (1980) (per curiam) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted). "Pro se litigants generally are entitled to a liberal construction of their pleadings, which should be read to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest.'" Green v. United States , 260 F.3d 78, 83 (2d Cir. 2001) (quoting Graham v. Henderson , 89 F.3d 79, 75 (2d Cir. 1996)). In evaluating a motion to dismiss, a court may consider only the "facts stated in the complaint or documents attached to the complaint as exhibits or incorporated by reference." Nechis v. Oxford Health Plans, Inc. , 421 F.3d 96, 100 (2d Cir. 2005). The Court may, however, consider affidavits and other materials outside of a pro se plaintiff's complaint when deciding a motion to dismiss, to the extent these materials are consistent with the allegations in the complaint. See Tsai v. Rockefeller Univ. , 137 F.Supp.2d 276, 280 (2d Cir. 2001) (considering pro se plaintiff's papers filed in opposition to motion to dismiss). The Court therefore considers Plaintiff's sworn affirmation in support of the Amended Complaint and other documents filed in opposition to Defendants' motion to dismiss, to the extent that they are consistent with allegations in the Amended Complaint.

Timeliness of Section 1983 Claims

Plaintiff invokes section 1983, asserting that Defendants, acting under color of state law, violated rights guaranteed to him by the Constitution and laws of the United States. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendants argue, as a threshold matter, that Plaintiff's federal claims under section 1983 are time-barred because he did not file his claims within the applicable three-year statute of limitations period.

State law governs the statute of limitations for civil rights claims under section 1983, while federal law determines when a claim accrues. Eagleston v. Guido , 41 F.3d 865, 871 (2d Cir. 1994). The statute of limitations for claims under section 1983 in New York is three years. Lawson v. Rochester City Sch. Dist. , 446 F.Appx. 327, 328 (2d Cir. 2011).

Under federal law, a section 1983 claim generally accrues "when the plaintiff knows or has reason to know of the injury which is the basis of his action." Covington v. City of New York , 171 F.3d 117, 121 (2d Cir. 1999) (internal quotation marks omitted); accord Eagleston , 41 F.3d at 871 (holding that, in determining when the limitations period began, courts should look to "the time of the... act, not the point at which the consequences of the act become[ ] painful") (quoting Chardon v. Fernandez , 454 U.S. 6, 8 (1981)) (internal quotation marks omitted). A section 1983 claim for false arrest accrues at the time of the arrest, not after a subsequent adjudication demonstrates that defendant wrongfully arrested the plaintiff. Veal v. Geraci , 23 F.3d 722, 724 (2d Cir. 1994). An excessive force claim accrues "when the use of force occurred." Fairley v. Collins, No. 09 Civ. 6894 (PGG), 2011 WL 1002422, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 15, 2011); see also Perez v. Johnson, No. 07 Civ. 3761(NRB), 2008 WL 2876546, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. July 23, 2008) (holding that plaintiff's ...


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