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Russitano v. Oneida County

United States District Court, N.D. New York

September 29, 2014



LAWRENCE E. KALM, District Judge.


Pro se Plaintiff Garrett D. Russitano ("Plaintiff") alleges violations of his civil rights. Dkt. No. 1 ("Complaint"). By Memorandum-Decision and Order ("Order") dated September 9, 2013, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's claims against all Defendants except Defendant Oneida County ("Oneida County" or the "County"). See Dkt. No. 38 ("Order"). Presently before the Court is Oneida County's Motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c). Dkt. Nos. 44 ("Motion"); 44-1 ("Memorandum"). For the following reasons, the Motion is granted, and this case is dismissed.


The Court presumes the parties' familiarity with the facts and history of this action, and recites only those facts pertinent to the pending Motion. For a full discussion of the facts and history of this case, reference is made to the Court's September 2013 Order.

Construed liberally, see Sealed Plaintiff v. Sealed Defendant, 537 F.3d 185, 191 (2d Cir. 2008), the Complaint alleges violations of Plaintiff's constitutional rights to equal protection and free speech pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and violations of the New York Freedom of Information Law ("FOIL"). Compl. ¶¶ 3, 5, 25-26, 33-34, 38, 48, 51. Plaintiff has not named Oneida County in any of the allegations in his Complaint. See generally id. Rather, Plaintiff alleges only actions by non-parties Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara ("McNamara"), Oneida County Treasurer Anthony Carvelli ("Carvelli"), and Daniel Yerden ("Yerden"). See id. ¶¶ 3, 5, 25-26, 33-34, 38, 48, 51.

Specifically, Plaintiff appears to allege the following claims. McNamara denied Plaintiff equal protection by failing to prosecute individuals who used racial slurs against him, as well as city officials who executed an administrative search warrant at Plaintiff's place of business. Compl. ¶¶ 3, 5, 25-26, 33-34, 51. McNamara also denied Plaintiff his "right to free speech by not taking action against the person who threatened [Plaintiff]" on a website. Id . ¶ 5. Cavelli and Yerden violated Plaintiff's "right to attend a public county land auction." Id . ¶ 36. Finally, "[a]ll of the Defendants ignored [Plaintiff's] FOIL requests." Id . ¶ 35. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages. See id.


Rule 12(c) motions for judgment on the pleadings are decided under the same standard as Rule 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Hayden v. Paterson, 594 F.3d 150, 160 (2d Cir. 2010). Thus, "[t]o survive a Rule 12(c) motion, the complaint must contain sufficient factual matter to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face, '" Graziano v. Pataki, 689 F.3d 110, 114 (2d Cir. 2012) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)), when the complaint's factual allegations are taken as true and all reasonable inferences are drawn in a plaintiff's favor, Kirkendall v. Halliburton, Inc., 707 F.3d 173, 178 (2d Cir. 2013). This plausibility standard "is not akin to a probability requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id . (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). Facial plausibility exists "when the pleaded factual content allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id . Additionally, the "tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in an amended complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions." Id.


A. Federal Claims

To establish a municipality's liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must show that she "suffered a tort in violation of federal law committed by the municipal actors and, in addition, that their commission of the tort resulted from a custom or policy of the municipality." Askins v. Doe No. 1, No. 12-877-CV, 2013 WL 4488698, at *3 (2d Cir. Aug. 23, 2013) (citing Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 690-91 (1978)). Here, Plaintiff has not alleged that Oneida County, or any of the non-parties named above, were acting pursuant to an official policy or custom. See generally Compl. Rather, Plaintiff describes only specific, discrete acts by individuals. See id. ¶¶ 3, 5, 25-26, 33-34, 38, 48, 51. Accordingly, Plaintiff's claims against the County under § 1983 are dismissed.

B. State Law Claims

28 U.S.C. § 1367 vests federal district courts with supplemental jurisdiction over claims forming part of the same "case or controversy" as claims in the same action over which the district courts have original jurisdiction. Subsection (c)(3) grants federal district courts discretion to decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction if all claims arising under original jurisdiction have been dismissed. Plaintiff's § 1983 claims against the County have all been dismissed, and Plaintiff has alleged no other basis for the Court's original jurisdiction. The Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction ...

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