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Daley v. Town of Orchard Park

United States District Court, W.D. New York

January 30, 2017

TOWN OF ORCHARD PARK, VIA Police Officer Robert Simmons, POLICE OFFICER ROBERT SIMMONS, TWIN CITY AMBULANCE CORP., TOWN OF TONAWANDA, VIA These Police Officers Frank Bartolotta, Badge #001, Dave Humphrey, Badge #121, Dave Gennuso, Badge #086, FRANK BARLOTTA, Police Officer Badge #001, DAVE HUMPHREY, Badge #121, DAVE GENNUSO, Badge #086, ERIE COUNTY, NY, VIA Mark Poloncarz, Erie County Executive, ERIE COUNTY MEDICAL CENTER CORPORATION, VIA It's Medical Facility and Psychiatric Ward & Park, Won Hoon, MD, Ruggieri, Matthew, MD, Brooks, Victora, MD, PARK, WON HOON, MD, RUGGIERI, MATTHEW, MD, and U.P.P., INC., VIA Employees Ruggieri, Matthew, MD and Park, Won Hoon, MD, Defendants.


          Elizabeth A. Wolford, United States District Judge


         Plaintiff John Kevin Daley ("Plaintiff) filed this action on April 27, 2016, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming violations of his constitutional rights. (Dkt. 1). Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on May 26, 2016. (Dkt. 4). Each of the above-named Defendants ("Defendants") has filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint. (See Dkt. 15; Dkt. 21; Dkt. 26; Dkt. 27; Dkt. 35; Dkt. 48; Dkt. 51). Plaintiff filed two motions for more definite statements (Dkt. 59; Dkt. 69) as to Defendants' motions to dismiss. Additionally, Plaintiff filed motions to opt out of alternative dispute resolution ("ADR") (Dkt. 53); for injunctive relief (Dkt. 9); for a Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI") investigation (id); and for an extension of time (Dkt. 10). Plaintiff also requests an order of the Court appointing a special prosecutor. (See Dkt. 100 at ¶23). Finally, Defendants Dr. Won Hoon Park and Erie County, New York filed motions for injunctive relief. (Dkt. 82; Dkt. 92).

         For the reasons set forth below, the amended complaint is dismissed without prejudice for failure to comply with Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). Plaintiff will have the opportunity to amend his complaint one final time.

         Further, for the reasons stated below, Plaintiff's motions for more definite statements are denied; his motion to opt out of ADR is granted; his motion for injunctive relief is denied; his motion for an FBI investigation is denied; and his motion for an extension of time is denied as moot. To the extent that Plaintiff requests an order of the Court appointing a special prosecutor, such request is denied.

         Finally, Defendants Dr. Won Hoon Park and Erie County, New York's motions for injunctive relief are denied without prejudice.


         Plaintiff claims violations of his constitutional rights by Defendants in connection with his involuntary hospitalization. (Dkt. 4). Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, is a self-described "Born Again Christian." (Id. at ¶ 2). A vast majority of his voluminous amended complaint-which is 175 pages in length including attachments-and other motion papers recite biblical passages, state that opposing parties and Court officials worship Satan, and express Plaintiff's devotion to his religious beliefs, with little or no relevance to Plaintiff's claims in this suit. (See, for example, Dkt. 4).

         The amended complaint is nearly devoid of factual information regarding Plaintiff's claims. His claims seem to arise from a psychiatric hospitalization that occurred in early 2015. (See Id. at ¶25). Plaintiff alleges that he was hospitalized because he had sent a letter to residents of Orchard Park, New York. (See Id. at ¶ 28(b)). Plaintiff asserts that each Defendant conspired to harass Plaintiff, to unreasonably search and seize Plaintiff, and to have Won Hoon Park, M.D. ("Dr. Park"), torture Plaintiff while he was hospitalized. (See generally id.). Plaintiff contends that each Defendant failed to act with reasonable cause and due care, and violated Plaintiff's First, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. (See Id. at ¶¶ 30(4), 47, 50, 55, 65).

         Plaintiff's first claim alleges that Defendant Town of Orchard Park ("Town of Orchard Park"), through Police Officer Robert Simmons ("Simmons"), harassed Plaintiff with "the same series of questions, over and over again." (See Id. at ¶¶ 25-27, 30(4)).

         Plaintiff's second claim alleges that Simmons unreasonably searched and seized Plaintiff without reasonable cause because Plaintiff had mailed the aforementioned letters to a "Ms. S" and to Simmons himself. (See Id. at ¶¶ 31-33).

         Plaintiff's third claim alleges that Defendant Twin City Ambulance Corp. ("Twin City") "[r]ecklessly performed malice, oppression, retaliation, harassment and Persecution toward Plaintiff." (Id. at ¶37). A female employee in the Twin City ambulance tasked with transporting Plaintiff to Defendant Erie County Medical Center ("ECMC") allegedly told Plaintiff he would be held at ECMC "for quite a length of time." (Id. at ¶ 38). Plaintiff further claims that the same employee told Plaintiff to watch what he did and said when he got out of the ambulance, and during his time at ECMC. (Id.).

         Plaintiff's fourth claim alleges that Defendant Town of Tonawanda ("Town of Tonawanda")-through Defendant Police Officers Frank Bartolotta ("Bartolotta"), Dave Humphrey ("Humphrey"), and Dave Gennuso ("Gennuso")-acted in cooperation with the other named Defendants to harass Plaintiff with repeated questioning, again in retaliation for the letters Plaintiff sent to "Ms. S" and Simmons. (See Id. at ¶¶ 43-44). Plaintiff alleges the same violations against Bartolotta in claim five. (See Id. at ¶¶ 49-50).

         Plaintiff's sixth claim alleges that Defendant Erie County, New York ("Erie County")-through Executive Mark C. Poloncarz ("Poloncarz") and ECMC-harassed Plaintiff "with the same series of questions, over and over again, " in retaliation for Plaintiff's letters to "Ms. S" and Simmons. (Id. at ¶¶ 55-56).

         Plaintiff's seventh claim alleges that ECMC, acting through its employees in the psychiatric department, harassed Plaintiff and did not act with reasonable cause or due care. (Id. at ¶¶ 61-63).

         Plaintiff's eighth claim alleges that Defendant U.P.P., Inc. ("UPP")-through its employees Dr. Park and Defendant Matthew Ruggieri, M.D. ("Dr. Ruggieri")- "[r]ecklessly performed malice, oppression, retaliation, harassment and Persecution toward Plaintiff." (Id. at ¶ 67). Plaintiff provides no further factual information in his eighth claim, or in his ninth claim against Dr. Ruggieri. (See Id. at ¶¶ 67-76).

         Throughout Plaintiff's claims, he alleges that Dr. Park attempted to torture Plaintiff between January 27, 2015, and February 2, 2015, presumably the dates of Plaintiff's hospitalization. (See Dkt. 4). Plaintiff's tenth cause of action alleges that Dr. Park tortured Plaintiff, but provides no further factual information. (See Id. at ¶¶ 77-81).

         Plaintiff attaches numerous documents to his complaint. Many are seemingly irrelevant to the claims Plaintiff raises. However, Plaintiff includes: a copy of his letter to "Ms. S" (Dkt. 4-4 at 5-10); letters from Plaintiff to Simmons (id. at 10-21); Plaintiff's "response" to an invoice from Twin City (id. at 25); Plaintiff's "response" to an invoice from UPP (Dkt. 4-5 at 1-3); and Plaintiff's "Patient Health Summary" dated February 4, 2015, from ECMC (id. at 4-10).

         Plaintiff prays for general damages, special and exemplary damages, attorneys' fees, and seeks preliminary and permanent injunctions against the Defendants, restraining them from "interfering with Plaintiff's lawful speech, lawful Faith (Religious) Expressions, Subjecting him to malicious, oppressive, retaliating, and harassing, Persecution via Searches, Seizures, Arrest, IMPRISONMENT, and Violation of [Plaintiff's] Personhood under similar circumstances while doing Street Preaching. . . ." (Dkt. 4 at ¶ 30(3)). Plaintiff also seeks meetings with Defendants so that Defendants can apologize to Plaintiff for the way he was treated. (See Id. at ¶¶ 30, 60, 76).


         I-Defendants' Motions to Dismiss

          A. Standard of Review

         "A motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of the party's claim for relief." Zucco v. Auto Zone, Inc., 800 F.Supp.2d 473, 475 (W.D.N.Y. 2011). A court should consider the motion "accepting all factual allegations in the complaint and drawing all reasonable inferences in the Plaintiff's favor." Ruotolo v. City of N.Y, 514 F.3d 184, 188 (2d Cir. 2008) (quoting ATSI Commc'ns, Inc. v. Shaar Fund, Ltd., 493 F.3d 87, 98 (2d Cir. 2007)). To withstand dismissal, a plaintiff must set forth "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).

         "While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a Plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Id. at 555 (citations omitted). Thus, "at a bare minimum, the operative standard requires the plaintiff to provide the grounds upon which his claim rests through factual allegations sufficient to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Goldstein v. Pataki, 516 F.3d 50, 56-57 (2d Cir. 2008) (citations omitted).

         In addition, "[i]t is well settled that pro se litigants generally are entitled to a liberal construction of their pleadings, which should be read to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest." Green v. United States, 260 F.3d 78, 83 (2d Cir. 2001) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         B. Plaintiff Has Not Established the Need for More Definite Statements

         Plaintiff has filed two motions for more definite statements regarding Defendants' motions to dismiss. (See Dkt. 59; Dkt. 69). One refers to ECMC, Dr. Park, and Erie County, plus "ALL OTHER OF THE TEN (10) TOTAL DEFENDANTS." (Dkt. 59). The other motion refers only to the Town of Orchard Park and Simmons. (Dkt. 69). Fed.R.Civ.P. 12 allows a party to move "for a more definite statement of a pleading to which a responsive pleading is allowed but which is so vague or ambiguous that the party cannot reasonably prepare a response." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(e). Such a motion "must point out the defects complained of and the details desired." Id.

         Plaintiff's motions fail for two reasons. First, a motion to dismiss is not a "pleading" under the Federal Rules. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 7(a). Rule 12(e) allows a motion for a more definite statement "of a pleading. . . ." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(e). Therefore, according to the plain language of the Federal Rules, Plaintiff cannot move for a more definite statement of Defendants' motions to dismiss. See 5C C. Wright, A. Miller, et al., Federal Practice & Procedure § 1376 (3d ed. 2016) [hereinafter Federal Practice] ("[A] Rule 12(e) motion . . . can be addressed only to a pleading to which a responsive pleading is permitted; it has no application to other pleadings or motions.") (internal citation omitted).

         Second, even if Plaintiff could so move, Plaintiff's voluminous motion papers fail to specify a single vague or ambiguous statement in any of Defendants' motions to dismiss. (See Dkt. 59; Dkt. 60; Dkt. 61; Dkt. 69; Dkt. 70; Dkt. 71). Plaintiff's motions for more definite statements thereby fail to comply with the requirements of Rule 12(e).

         Thus, Plaintiff's motions for more definite statements (Dkt. 59; Dkt. 69) are denied.

         C. Plaintiff Timely Amended the Complaint

         Before addressing the merits of Defendants' motions to dismiss, the Court must first determine the proper pleading to which those motions are addressed. Defendants ECMC, UPP, Dr. Ruggieri, and Dr. Park argue that Plaintiff's filing of an amended complaint violated Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a). (Dkt. 15-2 at 3-4; Dkt. 26-3 at 4-5; Dkt. 27-7 at 3). Rule 15(a)(1) allows a party to file an amended pleading, without consent of the opposing party or leave of court, within 21 days of its service, or within 21 days after the service of a responsive pleading or Rule 12(b), (e), or (f) motion. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1). All other amendments require opposing party consent or leave of court. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2).

         Defendants argue that Plaintiff never served the original complaint, and, because no service issued, Plaintiff was not allowed to file an amendment as of right under Rule 15(a)(1). Rule 15(a) is intended to allow a party to include matters in an amended pleading where those matters were initially overlooked or unknown. 6 Federal Practice § 1473. "The purpose of the amendment-as-of-right provision is to avoid judicial involvement in the pleading process when there is little reason for doing so." 6 Federal Practice § 1480. Further, "[i]t is the rule in this circuit that, 'after the filing of (an initial) complaint, the action remains pending in an inchoate state until service is completed.'" Int'l Controls Corp. v. Vesco, 556 F.2d 665, 665 (2d Cir. 1997) (citation omitted).

         Here, although Plaintiff did not serve the original complaint before filing the amended complaint-leaving the amended complaint outside of the technical language of Rule 15(a)(1)-this Court finds that Plaintiff's amendment is valid without consent or leave of the Court. This action was in an inchoate state until the complaint was served. Amending a complaint before service avoids judicial involvement in the pleading process. There is no logical reason for the Rules to allow an amendment as-of-right after service has occurred, while simultaneously disallowing such an amendment before service. Perhaps repeated amendments before service would run afoul of the Federal Rules, but that is not the case here. ...

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