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Carter v. City of New York

United States District Court, S.D. New York

September 30, 2014

CITY OF NEW YORK, MS. REID, DEBORAH ROBERSON, MS. BALLARD, MS. ETIENE, RICH MILLER, JOHN DOE, JOHN DOE, and JANE DOE, in their individual and official capacities, Defendants.


RONNIE ABRAMS, District Judge.

Plaintiff Anderson Carter brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12131, et seq., against the City of New York and Bellevue Men's Shelter employees Yvonne Ballard, Jane Etienne, Eunice Reid, and an unidentified John Doe.[1] Before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss the Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. For the reasons stated below, the motion is granted.


In December 2011, Carter resided at the New York City Department of Homeless Services' Bellevue Men's Shelter ("Bellevue") in Manhattan. (Am. Compl. 2.)[2] Carter alleges that Defendant Eunice Reid denied him "access to mail and... the courts" and that "[t]he City of New York denied [him] basic liberties and [F]ourth [A]mendment violation on December 15-27." (Id.) He also alleges that on December 29, 2011, an employee at Bellevue, an unnamed John Doe Defendant, signed for a Federal Express ("FedEx") letter containing a $500 settlement check from a law group at New York Law School, which had been assisting him in an unrelated employment discrimination action. ( Id. 2-3.) Carter contends that Yvonne Ballard and Jane Etienne, employees at Bellevue, refused "to check to see who signed" for the letter, which caused him "great hardship and stress, " ultimately resulting in a "breakdown." (Id.) He further asserts that he suffers from Schizoaffective disorder and that he "explained to [Etienne] and [Ballard] that [he had] mental disabilities and... need[ed] help, and they refused and attempted to put [him] under further duress." ( Id. 3.)

In addition to these allegations, Carter claims that insects and rodents infested his living quarters at Bellevue during his stay there, in or about December 2011 and January 2012, when he was transferred to Renaissance Men's Shelter.[3] Carter seeks $750, 000 from the City and $500, 000 from Reid. He also requests that the Court ensure that "the Defendants... adhere to the [Fourteenth] Amendment." ( Id. 8-9.)


On November 30, 2012, Carter commenced this action in the Eastern District of New York, asserting claims against the City of New York; the Department of Homeless Services; Bellevue Men's Shelter and one of its employees; and Renaissance Men's Shelter, two of its employees, and an associated service provider (SCO Family Services) and security company (FJC Security Services) (collectively "Renaissance Defendants"). (Compl. 1.) On January 24, 2013, Judge Brian Cogan of the Eastern District of New York dismissed sua sponte Carter's § 1983 claims against the Renaissance Defendants on the ground that they are private actors not subject to liability under § 1983. He further dismissed Carter's § 1983 claims against the City, the Department of Homeless Services, and Bellevue Men's Shelter on the ground that Carter had failed to allege a policy or custom that led to any of the alleged violations. Lastly, he dismissed Carter's ADA claim on the ground that Carter had failed to allege that "he was denied the opportunity to participate in or benefit from defendants' services, or was discriminated against by defendants, because of his disabilities." Carter, 2013 WL 308685, at *3.

With leave of the Court, Carter amended his Complaint, raising similar claims against the City and employees of Bellevue, Renaissance, and FJC, and adding two new Bellevue employees (Yvonne Ballard and Jane Etienne), two John Does (an employee of Bellevue and an FJC guard), and a Jane Doe (an employee of Renaissance) as Defendants. (Am. Compl. 2-4.)

On March 18, 2014, Judge Cogan dismissed sua sponte Carter's claims against the remaining Renaissance Defendants and transferred the action to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391. (Dkt. 9.) On September 26, 2013, Defendants filed the instant motion to dismiss the Amended Complaint. (Dkt. 28.)


A. Applicable Legal Standard

"In considering a motion to dismiss... the court is to accept as true all facts alleged in the complaint.... [and] draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff." Kassner v. 2nd Ave. Delicatessen Inc. , 496 F.3d 229, 237 (2d Cir. 2007). "This rule applies with particular force where the plaintiff alleges civil rights violations or where the complaint is submitted pro se. " Thompson v. Carter , 284 F.3d 411, 416 (2d Cir. 2002) (quoting Chance v. Armstrong , 143 F.3d 698, 701 (2d Cir. 1998)). A pro se complaint "must be construed liberally with special solicitude and interpreted to raise the strongest claims that it suggests. Nonetheless, a pro se complaint must state a plausible claim for relief." Hogan v. Fischer , 738 F.3d 509, 515 (2d Cir. 2013) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

B. ADA Claim

Carter's ADA claim is based on his allegation that, even though he informed Etienne and Ballard of his Schizoeffective disorder, they refused to check who had signed for his FedEx letter and that he ...

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