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Roberts v. State

United States District Court, N.D. New York

March 20, 2015

LILLIAN ROBERTS as Executive Director of District Council 37, AFSCME, AFL-CIO, DISTRICT COUNCIL 37, AFSCME, AFL-CIO, DENNIS IFILL, as President of the Rent Regulation Services Unit Employees, Local 1359, District Council 37, AFSCME, AFL-CIO, THE RENT REGULATION SERVICES UNIT EMPLOYEES, LOCAL 1359, CLIFFORD KOPPELMAN, as President of the Court, County and Department of Probation Employees Unit, Local 1070, THE COURT, COUNTY, AND DEPARTMENT OF PROBATION EMPLOYEES UNIT, LOCAL 1070 and MILDRED BROWN, SHANOMAE WILTSHIRE, NORMA GALLOWAY, CHARMAINE HARDAWAY, MAURICE BOUYEA, STEVEN SCHWARTZ, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
THE STATE OF NEW YORK, ANDREW M. CUOMO, as Governor of the State of New York, NEW YORK STATE CIVIL SERVICE DEPARTMENT, PATRICIA A. HITE, as Acting Commissioner, New York State Civil Service Department, NEW YORK STATE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION, CAROLINE W. AHL and J. DENNIS HANRAHAN, as Commissioners of the New York State Civil Service Commission, ROBERT L. MEGNA, as Director of the New York State Division of the Budget, and THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI, as Comptroller of the State of New York, and NEW YORK STATE AND LOCAL RETIREMENT SYSTEM, Defendants.

ERICA C. GRAY-NELSON, ESQ., DISTRICT COUNCIL 37, New York, New York, Attorneys for Plaintiffs.

HELENA LYNCH, AAG, OFFICE OF THE NEW YORK, JUSTIN L. ENGEL, AAG, RACHEL M. KISH, AAG, STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL, The Capitol, Albany, New York, Attorneys for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

MAE A. D'AGOSTINO, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

In a complaint dated January 10, 2012, 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 March 28, 2014, Plaintiffs filed a motion to amend the complaint and on May 28, 2014 Defendants filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings. See Dkt. Nos. 43, 46. In a July 25, 2014 Report-Recommendation and Order, Magistrate Judge Hummel recommended that the Court deny both motions. See Dkt. No. 54.

Currently before the Court are the parties' objections to the Report-Recommendation and Order. See Dkt. Nos. 57-58.[1]

II. DISCUSSION

A. Standard of review

1. Motion to amend

Pursuant to Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, leave to amend a pleading shall be freely given when justice so requires. See Livingston v. Piskor, 215 F.R.D. 84, 85 (W.D.N.Y. 2003). "Absent evidence of undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, undue prejudice to the opposing party, or futility, Rule 15's mandate must be obeyed." Monahan v. New York City Dep't of Corrs., 214 F.3d 275, 283 (2d Cir. 2000) (citing Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182, 83 S.Ct. 227, 9 L.Ed.2d 222 (1962)).

2. Motion for judgment on the pleadings

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. ยง 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 ...


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