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Turczyn v. City of Utica

United States District Court, N.D. New York

November 26, 2014

KYLIE ANN TURCZYN, Deceased, by and through BARBARA MCGREGOR, as Administratrix of the Estate of KYLIE ANN TURCZYN, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF UTICA et al., Defendants.

FRANK POLICELLI, ESQ., Office of Frank Policelli, Utica, NY, Plaintiff.

MARK C. CURLEY, ESQ., MERIMA SMAJIC, ESQ., ZACHARY C. OREN, ESQ., City of Utica - Corporation Counsel, Utica, NY, for the Defendants.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

GARY L. SHARPE, Chief District Judge.

I. Introduction

Plaintiff Kylie Ann Turczyn, deceased, by and through Barbara McGregor, as administratrix of the estate of Kylie Ann Turczyn, commenced this action against defendants City of Utica, City of Utica Police Dept., and Elizabeth Shanley alleging substantive due process claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and separate state law causes of action. (Am. Compl., Dkt. No. 12.) Pending is defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. (Dkt. No. 19.) For the reasons that follow, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.

II. Background

A. Facts[1]

Shanley, an Oneida County domestic violence investigator, was at all relevant times assigned by the Police Department to accomplish the goals of reducing "occurrence[s] of domestic violence by increasing reporting and by identifying and tracking repeat victims and/or offenders, " and "increas[ing] victims' access to supportive services by encouraging [them] to report their abuse, thereby increasing arrest rates for domestic offenders." (Am. Compl. ¶ 10.) On June 22, 2012, Thomas Anderson, Turczyn's former boyfriend and the father of her daughter, broke into Turczyn's home armed with a 9 mm rifle. ( Id. ¶ 11) Anderson repeatedly shot Turczyn, taking her life in view of their four-year-old daughter, G.T. ( Id. ) Anderson then dispatched himself. ( Id. )

In the twelve months preceding this horrific event, Turczyn made between five and ten complaints to Utica police officers, "including informing them of a specific threat by Anderson to kill her." ( Id. ¶ 12.) Turczyn specifically told Shanley "that Anderson was armed and had threatened to kill her." ( Id. ¶ 12(d).) Despite their knowledge of domestic violence between Turczyn and Anderson, neither Shanley, New York State Police, nor Utica Police took any steps to arrest Anderson, investigate Turczyn's complaints, or follow-up with Anderson "as is the policy and protocol of the domestic violence unit." ( Id. ¶ 14.)

On June 18, 2012, Shanley told Turczyn to seek an order of protection, which she attempted to do, but was told by an unknown person at the Oneida County Family Court to return the following day because the court was "too busy.'" ( Id. ¶¶ 15-16.) The following day, Turczyn left a voice message for Shanley, explaining that she was unable to obtain an order of protection and that Anderson had a gun and planned to kill her that week. ( Id. ¶¶ 16-18.) Despite her knowledge, "Shanley took no action." ( Id. ¶ 17.) Shanley also mistakenly believed that Turczyn's issues with Anderson were outside of the purview of Utica Police and should, instead, be dealt with by New York State Police; however, "she did not inform any other police agency or take any action herself." ( Id. ¶¶ 18, 19, 20.)

B. Procedural History

Turczyn commenced this action by filing a complaint on October 31, 2013. (Dkt. No. 1.) Defendants thereafter moved to dismiss, (Dkt. No. 10.) In response, Turczyn filed an amended complaint as of right, which is now the operative pleading. ( See generally Am. Compl.) In her amended complaint, Turczyn alleges the following causes of action: (1) a denial of substantive due process rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments due to deliberate indifference; (2) a Monell [2] claim against the City; (3) negligence; (4) a "derivative action" on behalf of G.T.; and (5) negligent infliction of emotional distress. ( Id. ¶¶ 37-74.) Defendants now move to dismiss the amended pleading pursuant to Rules 8(a)(2) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Dkt. No. 19.)

III. Standard of Review

The standard of review under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) is well settled and will not be repeated here. For a full discussion of the standard, the court refers the parties to its prior decision in Ellis v. Cohen & ...


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