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Walker v. City of New York

United States District Court, S.D. New York

July 14, 2015



EDGARDO RAMOS, District Judge.

Rylawn Walker ("Plaintiff") brings suit against The City of New York ("Defendant" or "the City") and various named and unnamed New York City Police Department Officers (collectively, "the Officers" or "Defendants") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff's claims of malicious prosecution, denial of the right to a fair trial, malicious abuse of process, and Monell liability against the City of New York under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Defs.' Mem. L. Supp. Mot. Dismiss, Doc. 62. For the reasons stated below, the Defendants' motion to dismiss is GRANTED.

I. Factual Background[1]

Plaintiff is an African American male and a resident of Richmond County (Staten Island), New York. Third Amended Complaint ("TAC") ¶ 6, Doc. 42. On February 16, 2012, when Plaintiff was nineteen years old, the Officers approached and arrested him as he was walking near his home. Id. ¶¶ 6, 21-23. Plaintiff maintains that he had committed no crime, nor was he in possession of any contraband or controlled substances at the time. Id. ¶ 22.

Plaintiff was taken to the 120th Precinct in Staten Island, where he was detained in a cell for over thirty hours and subjected to a search of his private parts by the Officers. Id. ¶¶ 23-25. Plaintiff alleges that the arresting officer, Daniel Pantaleo ("Pantaleo"), along with the other Officers, misrepresented facts concerning the circumstances of his arrest in the police report and "other documents." Id. ¶ 25. Specifically, he alleges that the police report falsely claimed that Plaintiff possessed marijuana and that he was at some point present inside an apartment at 225 Park Hill Road. Id. As a result, Plaintiff was charged with violations of New York Penal Laws §§ 221.05 and 221.10.[2] Id. ¶¶ 24-25. Pantaleo accused Plaintiff of committing these crimes before the Richmond County District Attorney's Office and the Criminal Court of the City of New York. Id. ¶ 26. Plaintiff claims that Defendants lied because they wanted to avoid punishment for abusing their authority and were also seeking to obtain overtime compensation and credit for an arrest. Id. ¶ 27. On February 17, 2012, Judge Alan Meyer of the New York City Criminal Court dropped the charges against Plaintiff. Id. ¶ 24. Plaintiff was released after his arraignment. Id. ¶ 29.

II. Procedural History

Plaintiff commenced this action on February 10, 2014 against John Doe and the City of New York claiming: (1) false arrest/unlawful imprisonment; (2) intentional infliction of mental and emotional distress; (3) negligent infliction of mental and emotional distress; (4) civil rights violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; and (5) a Monell violation.[3] Doc. 1.

On October 18, 2014, Plaintiff amended his complaint for a third and final time, listing Officer Pantaleo, Officer Torres, Officer Cataldo, Sergeant Conca, Captain Molinari, Officer White, Officer Herbert, Sergeant Chernyavsky, Officer Vaccarino, Officer Howard, and Lieutenant Sweeney as Defendants, while also including Officers John Doe 1-5.[4] TAC, Doc. 42. Plaintiff modified his causes of action from the previous complaints by eliminating his claims for intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress and asserting the following claims: (1) a deprivation of rights under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983; (2) false arrest/unlawful imprisonment (3) malicious prosecution; (4) abuse of process; (5) a violation of right to a fair trial; (6) failure to intervene; and (7) supervisory liability. Id. On November 14, 2014, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiff's malicious prosecution, denial of the right to a fair trial, malicious abuse of process, and Monell claims. Defendants do not address Plaintiff's other claims for false arrest/unlawful imprisonment, failure to intervene, and supervisory liability.[5]

III. 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss Standard

When ruling on a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the court must accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Nielsen v. Rabin, 746 F.3d 58, 62 (2d Cir. 2014). The court is not required to credit "mere conclusory statements" or "threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)); see also id. at 681 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 551). "To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter... to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Id. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). A claim is facially plausible "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). More specifically, the plaintiff must allege sufficient facts to show "more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id. If the plaintiff has not "nudged [his] claims across the line from conceivable to plausible, [the] complaint must be dismissed." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570; Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 680.

The question in a Rule 12 motion to dismiss "is not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims.'" Sikhs for Justice v. Nath, 893 F.Supp.2d 598, 615 (S.D.N.Y. 2012) (quoting Villager Pond, Inc. v. Town of Darien, 56 F.3d 375, 278 (2d Cir. 1995)). "[T]he purpose of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) is to test, in a streamlined fashion, the formal sufficiency of the plaintiff's statement of a claim for relief without resolving a contest regarding its substantive merits, '" and without regard for the weight of the evidence that might be offered in support of Plaintiff's claims. Halebian v. Berv, 644 F.3d 122, 130 (2d Cir. 2011) (quoting Global Network Commc'ns, Inc. v. City of New York, 458 F.3d 150, 155 (2d Cir. 2006)).

IV. Discussion

In order to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege that: (1) defendants were state actors or were acting under color of state law at the time of the alleged wrongful action; and (2) the action deprived plaintiff of a right secured by the Constitution or federal law. Am. Mfrs. Mut. Ins. Co. v. Sullivan, 526 U.S. 40, 49-50 (1999). "Section 1983 is only a grant of a right of action; the substantive right giving rise to the action must come from another source." Singer v. Fulton Cnty. Sheriff, 63 F.3d 110, 119 (2d Cir. 1995). Thus, a civil rights action brought under § 1983 will stand only insofar as a plaintiff can prove an actual violation of his rights under the Constitution or federal law. Id. (citing Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 150 (1970)). The parties do not dispute that Defendants were acting under the color of state law. Therefore, the Court need only address whether Plaintiff was deprived of a constitutional right, based on the alleged facts.

In his opposition papers, Plaintiff states "[t]he moving defendants do not seek the dismissal of the First, Second, Sixth, and Seventh Causes of Action." Pl.'s Mem. L. Opp., Doc. 63 at 4. However, nowhere in his opposition does he provide arguments in support of his third claim for malicious prosecution, fourth claim for malicious abuse of process, or fifth claim for deprivation of the right to a fair trial-all of which Defendants also move to dismiss. Defendants state that since the claims are not mentioned in Plaintiff's opposition, they have been abandoned and should be dismissed by the Court. Defs.' Reply Mem. L. Supp. Mot. Dismiss, Doc. 64 at 2. "[A] court may, and generally will, deem a claim abandoned when a plaintiff fails to respond to a defendant's arguments that the claim should be dismissed." See Lipton v. Cnty. of Orange, N.Y., 315 F.Supp.2d 434, 446 (S.D.N.Y. 2004) (citing Jessamy v. City of New Rochelle, New York, 292 F.Supp.2d 498, 515 (S.D.N.Y. 2003)). Indeed, of the claims that Defendants move to dismiss, Plaintiff's eighth claim for Monell liability is the only one that he defends in his opposition papers. Accordingly, the Court ...

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