United States District Court, N.D. New York
HYMAN KURITZ, individually and on behalf of all persons similarly situated, ALVIN MAGID, individually and on behalf of all persons similarly situated, SARA A. KNAPP, individually and on behalf of all persons similarly situated, LAWRENCE S. WITTNER, individually and on behalf of all persons similarly situated, FREDERICK E. KOWAL, as President of the United University Professions, and UNITED UNIVERSITY PROFESSIONS, Plaintiffs,
THE STATE OF NEW YORK, ANDREW M. CUOMO, as Governor of the State of New York, NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF CIVIL SERVICE, PATRICIA A. HITE, as Acting President of the New York State Department of Civil Service and as Acting Commissioner of the New York State Department of civil Service, NEW YORK STATE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION, CAROLINE W. AHL and J. DENNIS HANRAHAN, as Commissioners of the New York State Civil Service Commission, NEW YORK STATE HEALTH INSURANCE PLAN, NEW YORK STATE DIVISION OF THE BUDGET, ROBERT L. MEGNA, as Director of the New York State Division of the Budget, NEW YORK STATE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE OF EMPLOYEE RELATIONS, GARY JOHNSON, as Director of the New York State Governor's Office of Employee Relations, THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI, as Comptroller of the State of New York, and GARY JOHNSON, individually and in his official capacity as Director of the New York State Governor's Office of Employee Relations, Defendants.
HAROLD EISENSTEIN, ESQ., ROBERT T. REILLY, JR., ESQ., NEW YORK STATE UNITED TEACHERS, Latham, New York, Attorneys for Plaintiffs.
HELENA LYNCH, AAG, JUSTIN L. ENGEL, AAG, RACHEL M. KISH, AAG, OFFICE OF THE NEW YORK STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL, Albany, New York, Attorneys for Defendants.
MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER
MAE A. D'AGOSTINO, District Judge.
In a complaint dated December 28, 2011, Plaintiffs allege that Defendants unilaterally increased the percentage of contributions that Plaintiffs, active and retired employees, are required to pay for health insurance benefits in retirement and, thereby, violated the Contracts and Due Process Clauses of the United States Constitution, impaired Plaintiffs' contractual rights under the terms of their Collective Bargaining Agreement, and violated state law. See Dkt. No. 1. On May 28, 2014, Defendants filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings, seeking the dismissal of all individual and official capacity claims against all Defendants except Defendants Hite and Megna. See Dkt. No. 41. In a July 25, 2014 Report-Recommendation and Order, Magistrate Judge Hummel recommended that the Court deny Defendants' motion in its entirety. See Dkt. No. 56.
Currently before the Court are Defendants' objections to Magistrate Judge Hummel's Report-Recommendation and Order.
A. Standard of review
In deciding a Rule 12(c) motion, the court "employ[s] the same standard applicable to dismissals pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).'" Hayden v. Paterson, 594 F.3d 150, 160 (2d Cir. 2010) (quoting Johnson v. Rowley, 569 F.3d 40, 43 (2d Cir. 2009)). A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure tests the legal sufficiency of the party's claim for relief. See Patane v. Clark, 508 F.3d 106, 111-12 (2d Cir. 2007). In considering the legal sufficiency, a court must accept as true all well-pleaded facts in the pleading and draw all reasonable inferences in the pleader's favor. See ATSI Commc'ns, Inc. v. Shaar Fund, Ltd., 493 F.3d 87, 98 (2d Cir. 2007) (citation omitted). This presumption of truth, however, does not extend to legal conclusions. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citation omitted). Although a court's review of a motion to dismiss is generally limited to the facts presented in the pleading, the court may consider documents that are "integral" to that pleading, even if they are neither physically attached to, nor incorporated by reference into, the pleading. See Mangiafico v. Blumenthal, 471 F.3d 391, 398 (2d Cir. 2006) (quoting Chambers v. Time Warner, Inc., 282 F.3d 147, 152-53 (2d Cir. 2002)).
To survive a motion to dismiss, a party need only plead "a short and plain statement of the claim, " see Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), with sufficient factual "heft to sho[w] that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 557 (2007) (quotation omitted). Under this standard, the pleading's "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right of relief above the speculative level, " see id. at 555 (citation omitted), and present claims that are "plausible on [their] face, " id. at 570. "The plausibility standard is not akin to a probability requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citation omitted). "Where a complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent with' a defendant's liability, it stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of "entitlement to relief."'" Id. (quoting [ Twombly, 550 U.S.] at 557, 127 S.Ct. 1955). Ultimately, "when the allegations in a complaint, however true, could not raise a claim of entitlement to relief, " Twombly, 550 U.S. at 558, or where a plaintiff has "not nudged [its] claims across the line from conceivable to plausible, the complaint must be dismissed[, ]" id. at 570.
When a party files specific objections to a magistrate judge's report-recommendation, the district court makes a " de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). However, when a party files "[g]eneral or conclusory objections or objections which merely recite the same arguments [that he presented] to the magistrate judge, " the court reviews those recommendations for clear error. O'Diah v. Mawhir, No. 9:08-CV-322, 2011 WL 933846, *1 (N.D.N.Y. Mar. 16, 2011) (citations and footnote omitted). After the appropriate review, "the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
B. Defendants' objections
In their objections, Defendants state that they object "to that portion of Magistrate Judge Hummel's July 25, 2014 Report and Recommendation... on Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings... finding that Plaintiffs adequately alleged that Defendants Cuomo, Ahl, Hanrahan, Johnson, and DiNapoli were personally involved in alleged constitutional violations and therefore may be liable for monetary damages in their individual capacities pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983." Dkt. No. 61-1 at 4. Defendants rely on this Court's decision in Brown v. New York, 975 F.Supp.2d 209, 229-31 (N.D.N.Y. 2013), a companion case, in which the Court dismissed claims against these Defendants in their individual capacities based on the plaintiffs' failure to plausibly allege their personal involvement. See Dkt. No. 61-1 at 5-8. Defendants contend that the allegations in the present matter are indistinguishable from the allegations in Brown. ...