United States District Court, N.D. New York
MEMORANDUM-DECISION and ORDER
LAWRENCE E. KAHN, District Judge.
Pro se Plaintiff Jared King ("Plaintiff") commenced this action alleging various civil rights violations arising from the suspension of his driver's license. Dkt. Nos. 1; 6 ("Amended Complaint"). Presently before the Court are a pair of Motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim by Defendants Town of Bethlehem Clerk to the Justice Karen Creed ("Creed"), Officer Craig Sleurs ("Sleurs"), the Town of Bethlehem, and Town of Bethlehem Justice Ryan Donovan ("Judge Donovan") (together, the "Town Defendants"); and Barbara Fiala ("Fiala") and Albany County Judge Thomas Breslin ("Judge Breslin") (together, the "State Defendants") (collectively, "Defendants"). Dkt. Nos. 25 ("Town Motion"); 25-3 ("Town Memorandum"); 36 ("State Motion"); 36-1 ("State Memorandum"). For the following reasons, the Town Motion is granted in part and denied in part, and the State Motion is granted.
A. Driver's License Suspension and Arrest
In September 2008, Plaintiff received a speeding ticket from the Town of Bethlehem Police Department asserting a single violation of New York Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1180(d). Am. Compl. ¶ 4. Within two business days, Plaintiff answered the summons in person and entered a plea of not guilty. Id . ¶ 5. In April 2009, Plaintiff received a notice from the New York Department of Motor Vehicles ("DMV") stating that his license would be suspended on May 9, 2009, for "failure to answer summons." Id . ¶ 6. Judge Donovan subsequently advised Plaintiff that his mail-in plea could not be processed and that Plaintiff needed to contact the court within ten days to avoid suspension of his license. Id . ¶ 7. Plaintiff then appeared in person at the court clerk's office, where he was informed that he must complete a new plea because the clerk's office could not find the previous one. Id . ¶ 8.
Over the next six months, Judge Donovan compelled Plaintiff's attendance at several court dates. Id . ¶ 9. During this period, Plaintiff filed a motion to dismiss, which was denied by Judge Donovan. Id . ¶¶ 10-11. Plaintiff filed a second motion to dismiss with a request that the court correct "misrepresent[ed] facts on the record." Id . ¶¶ 11, 13. Judge Donovan denied this second motion orally before trial and subsequently in writing in March 2010. Id . ¶ 13. Plaintiff was convicted of the speeding charge by Judge Donovan in October 2009. Id . ¶¶ 12-14. Plaintiff filed a motion to vacate the conviction, which Judge Donovan denied. Id . ¶ 15. Plaintiff appealed the conviction. Id . ¶ 16. Judge Breslin denied Plaintiff's appeal for failure to properly serve the opposition. Id . ¶ 17.
Plaintiff received a letter signed by Creed and dated November 8, 2010, detailing the fine Plaintiff owed. Id . ¶ 18. Sometime in 2011, Plaintiff received another letter from Creed stating that his driver's license was suspended. Id . Plaintiff had not received a notice of suspension from the DMV. Id.
Sometime in March or April 2012, Plaintiff received a notice of driver's license suspension from the DMV for failure to answer the summons. Id . ¶ 19. Plaintiff responded to this notice by "re-notic[ing]" his application for a stay pending appeal in Albany County Court, and by bringing his case files to the DMV. Id . Plaintiff left his documents with the DMV, and an attorney for the DMV said she would look over his paperwork. Id . Plaintiff assumed that, because he had in fact answered the summons for the 2008 speeding ticket, the DMV would not go through with the proposed suspension. Id.
On September 25, 2013, Plaintiff was issued two tickets for operating a motor vehicle without a license and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the third degree. Id . ¶ 22. The ticketing officer, Sleurs, confiscated Plaintiff's driver's license. Id . ¶ 23.
On November 26, 2013, Sleurs arrested Plaintiff for driving without a license and aggravated driving without a license. Id . ¶ 24. Sleurs showed Plaintiff that his police computer indicated that Plaintiff's license was suspended, "now for the correct reason, failure to pay fine.'" Id . Following the arrest, Sleurs impounded Plaintiff's vehicle. Id.
Plaintiff later received a notice signed by Fiala, the DMV Commissioner, and dated November 18, 2013, indicating that Plaintiff's driver's license would be suspended indefinitely if he did not pay a Driver Responsibility Assessment ("Assessment") pursuant to New York Vehicle and Traffic Law §§ 503(4) and 1199. Id . ¶ 33.
B. Procedural History and Summary of Allegations
Plaintiff commenced this action on February 18, 2014, asserting various civil rights claims against Defendants pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and seeking monetary, injunctive, and declaratory relief. Dkt. No. 1. Plaintiff also previously moved for a preliminary injunction ordering Fiala to reinstate his driver's license pending the outcome of this action, which was denied in the Court's Order dated September 18, 2014. Dkt. Nos. 7; 45.
Plaintiff's Complaint contains fourteen causes of action. See generally Am. Compl. Liberally construed, Plaintiff alleges the following claims: (1) Creed unlawfully suspended Plaintiff's driver's license, and attempted to enforce a court judgement imposing the suspension, in violation of Plaintiff's due process and equal protection rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; (2) Creed misrepresented to the DMV that Plaintiff failed to answer the summons, knowing it to be false, in violation of Plaintiff's due process and equal protection rights; (3) Sleurs arrested Plaintiff without probable cause and seized his driver's license and automobile in violation of Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment rights; (4) general liability against the Town of Bethlehem pursuant to § 1983; (5) Fiala improperly suspended Plaintiff's driver's license for failure to answer the summons in violation of Plaintiff's due process rights; (6) Fiala lacked authority to require Plaintiff to pay the Assessment in violation of Plaintiff's due process and equal protection rights; (7) Judge Donovan misrepresented the case record pertaining to Plaintiff's trial for his speeding violation, improperly denied Plaintiff's motions, and therefore engaged in judicial misconduct, in violation of Plaintiff's due process and equal protection rights; and (8) Judge Breslin improperly denied Plaintiff's motions, and therefore violated New York's rules governing judicial conduct, in violation of Plaintiff's due process rights. See generally id.
In their respective Motions, Defendants move to dismiss all claims against them for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (12)(b)(6). Town Mot.; State Mot.
III. LEGAL STANDARD
To survive a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), 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, 663 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)); see also FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6). A court must accept as true the factual allegations contained in a complaint and draw all inferences in favor of a plaintiff. See Allaire Corp. v. Okumus, 433 F.3d 248, 249-50 (2d Cir. 2006). A complaint may be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) only where it appears that there are not "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. Plausibility requires "enough fact[s] to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of [the alleged misconduct]." Id. at 556. The plausibility standard "asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). "[T]he pleading standard Rule 8 announces does not require detailed factual allegations, ' but it demands more than an unadorned, ...