United States District Court, Eastern District of New York
For the Plaintiff: CHRISTOPHER F. BELLISTRI, ESQ. Avallone & Bellistri, LLP
For the Defendant: SARAH B. EVANS, ESQ. New York City Law Department Office of Corporation Counsel
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
FREDERIC BLOCK SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Plaintiff Jean Rodriguez (“Rodriguez”) brings this action against the City of New York (the “City”), alleging discrimination on the basis of disability in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), New York State Executive Law (“NYSHRL”) § 296, and New York City Administrative Code (“NYCHRL”) § 8-107.Rodriguez alleges that the City unlawfully discriminated against him on the basis of a perceived disability. The City moves to dismiss Rodriguez’s complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). For the reasons that follow, the City’s motion is denied.
The following facts are taken from the complaint. Rodriguez became a police officer in the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”) on January 20, 2004. During his tenure with the NYPD, Rodriguez maintained an exemplary job performance record and was never disciplined. In 2008 and 2009, Rodriguez heard rumors that his supervisor made derogatory comments about his marital situation and wanted to modify his employment status. Rodriguez filed a complaint regarding these rumors with the NYPD EEO in September 2009.
In January 2010, Rodriguez was told to report to the NYPD Medical Division. At the NYPD Medical Division, Rodriguez met with Dr. Cecile Irvine, a psychologist. Dr. Irvine told Rodriguez that the NYPD believed his EEO Complaint was “baseless” and that he was “delusional.” Comp. ¶ 20. Dr. Irvine placed Rodriguez on Restricted Duty for “Delusional Disorder.” Id. Dr. Irvine’s conclusion was allegedly based on a “false perception and misdiagnosis.” Comp. ¶ 29.
Dr. Irvine advised Rodriguez to obtain a second opinion from an independent psychiatrist. On this advice, Rodriguez met with Dr. Michael Berzofsky between May and September 2010. Dr. Berzofsky wrote a letter to the NYPD Medical Division in which he opined that Rodriguez did not suffer from “Delusional Disorder.” However, Dr. Irvine told Rodriguez that the letter was unavailing.
In May 2011, the NYPD instructed Rodriguez to report to the Police Pension Fund Article II Medical Review Board (“Article II Board”) to determine whether he should be placed on Ordinary Disability Retirement. The Article II Board also advised Rodriguez to seek an independent opinion regarding his mental health status. From August 2011 to April 2012, Rodriguez met with Dr. Max Heinrich, a psychologist. Dr. Heinrich wrote a letter to the Article II Board in which he stated that Rodriguez was not disabled. However, the Article II Board told Rodriguez that the letter was insufficient because Dr. Heinrich is not a psychiatrist. In June 2012, Rodriguez met with Dr. Louis Belzie – a psychiatrist – who wrote a report in which he opined that Rodriguez was fit for duty. This report was also given to the Article II Board.
In January 2013, Rodriguez received an Article II Board decision – dated July 27, 2012 – diagnosing Rodriguez with “Delusional Disorder Persecutory Type” and “recommend[ing] approval” of the “Police Commissioner’s application for Ordinary Disability Retirement.” Comp. ¶ 26. The City’s Ordinary Disability Retirement application contained Dr. Irvine’s alleged misdiagnosis of Rodriguez. Rodriguez was retired from the NYPD on Ordinary Disability Retirement on August 1, 2014.
“To 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). On a motion to dismiss, the Court “take[s] the factual allegations of the complaint to be true and draw[s] all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff’s favor.” Warren v. Colvin, 744 F.3d 841, 843 (2d Cir. 2014).
A. ADA Claim
Rodriguez contends that the City discriminated against him on the basis of its false perception that he suffered from “Delusional Disorder.” To establish a claim of disability discrimination under the ADA, a claimant must allege that: (1) the defendant is covered by the ADA; (2) he suffers from or is regarded as suffering from a disability within the meaning of the ADA; (3) he was qualified to perform the essential functions of his job, with or without reasonable accommodation; and (4) he suffered an adverse ...