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Davis-Payne v. Galie

United States District Court, W.D. New York

May 11, 2015



MICHAEL A. TELESCA, District Judge.

I. Introduction

This action was instituted by pro se plaintiff Channika Davis-Payne ("Plaintiff") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on the basis that Defendants violated her constitutional rights by entering another person's apartment without a warrant in order to arrest her on March 6, 2007, in the City of Niagara Falls. Presently pending before the Court are two motions to dismiss the Amended Complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure ("F.R.C.P."). One motion is on behalf of the State of New York ("the State"), New York State Police Investigator Dorothy Jones ("Inv. Jones"), and New York State Assistant Attorney General Robert Lee ("AAG Lee") (hereinafter, collectively, "the State Defendants"). The State Defendants also move, in the alternative, for summary judgment pursuant to F.R.C.P. 56(a). The second motion to dismiss is on behalf of the Niagara Falls Police Department ("the NFPD"), John Galie, Thomas Fournier, Theodore Weed, John Faso, and Joseph Gianquinto (collectively, "the Police Defendants").

II. Factual Background and Procedural History

On March 6, 2007 Plaintiff was arrested at a residence which was not her own as a result of her February 21, 2007 sale of a controlled substance to an undercover New York State Police Investigator, Dorothy Jones. Plaintiff was charged with two felonies. These charges were dismissed as part of a plea bargain entered into by Plaintiff on an unrelated matter that was prosecuted by the New York State Attorney General's Organized Crime Task Force. Plaintiff then instituted this § 1983 action, alleging various constitutional violations in connection with the March 6, 2007 arrest and other incidents.

By Decision and Order (Dkt. #55) dated October 16, 2012, this Court dismissed Plaintiff's original Complaint in its entirety. Plaintiff appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which affirmed the judgment in part and reversed it in part. See Payne v. Galie, et al., No. 12-4743-cv (2d Cir. Sept. 10, 2014) (Dkt. #66). The Second Circuit vacated this Court's dismissal with prejudice of Plaintiff's warrantless entry claim based on the March 6, 2007 arrest, and sua sponte granted Plaintiff leave to amend her Complaint to plead facts showing she had a "reasonable expectation of privacy" in the apartment where the arrest took place. Id., pp. 3-4. The Second Circuit affirmed the Court's dismissal of Plaintiff's other claims. Thus, the only claim remaining for consideration on remand is the alleged violation of Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment rights based on the Niagara Falls Police officers' warrantless entry into another person's apartment to effectuate her arrest.

After Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint (Dkt #67), the State Defendants moved for dismissal for failure to state a claim, or, in the alternative, for summary judgment (Dkt #69). Plaintiff did not file any papers in opposition to the State Defendants' motion. The NFPD and the Police Defendants moved for dismissal for failure to state a claim (Dkt #68). Plaintiff did not file any papers in opposition to the NFPD's and the Police Defendants' motion. For the reasons discussed below, the State Defendants' motion is granted in its entirety. The NFPD's and the Police Defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part.

III. General Legal Principles

A. Motions to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim

Rule 12(b)(6) allows dismissal of complaints based upon the plaintiff's failure "to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6). In order "[t]o survive a motion to dismiss under [Rule 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, ___ U.S. ___, ___, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). In assessing a claim's plausibility, the district court must "assume [the] veracity" of all well-pleaded factual allegations contained in the complaint, Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1950, and draw every reasonable inference in favor of the plaintiff, Zinermon v. Burch, 494 U.S. 113, 118 (1990). However, the plaintiff's allegations must consist of more than mere labels or a "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action, " and bare legal conclusions are "not entitled to the assumption of truth." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949-50.

B. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c). Initially, the moving party must show that there is "an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). Once the moving party has carried its burden, the opposing party must set forth "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial[, ]" FED. R. CIV. P. 56(e), and must introduce evidence beyond the mere pleadings to show that there is an issue of material fact concerning "an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. If, "as to the issue on which summary judgment is sought, there is any evidence in the record from which a reasonable inference could be drawn in favor of the opposing party, summary judgment is improper." Security Ins. Co. of Hartford v. Old Dominion Freight Line Inc., 391 F.3d 77, 83 (2d Cir. 2004) (quotation omitted).

IV. The State Defendants' Motion

A. Allegations Involving the State of New York

In the Amended Complaint ("Am. Compl."), Plaintiff has attempted to name the State of New York ("the State") as a separate defendant. The State argues that it should be dismissed as a party on the basis of sovereign immunity.

The Constitution provides that the power of the federal judiciary "shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State." U.S. CONST., amend. XI. Thus, the Eleventh Amendment generally "bars suits that seek either money damages, or injunctive relief[, ]" McGinty v. New York, 251 F.3d 84, 91 (2d Cir. 2001) (internal and other citation omitted), "absent waiver by the State or valid congressional override, " Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 169 (1985) (citation omitted). Here, Plaintiff seeks only money damages against the State with regard to alleged violations of ...

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