United States District Court, S.D. New York
Michael A. Lynch et al., Plaintiffs,
Sreelekha Amoruso, et al., Defendants.
J. NATHAN, District Judge.
Michael Lynch and Lisa Scarola, acting pro se, have
filed a complaint alleging that various defendants engaged in
a RICO conspiracy to swindle Carlton Lynch - Michael's
father and Lisa's uncle - out of his home and other
property. They also assert that the defendants violated
Carlton Lynch's civil rights. Before the Court are two
motions to dismiss, one brought by Defendants Sreelekha
Chakrabarty Amoruso and Amoruso & Amoruso, LLP, and
another brought by Defendants DeMille Halliburton, Camille
Halliburton Huang, and Marshall Posner. Dkt Nos. 50, 58. For
the following reasons, the Court grants the motions to
following facts are taken from the amended complaint and are
assumed to be true for purposes of this motion.
allegations in this case surround the disposition of property
owned by a man named Carlton Lynch. Carlton was the father of
Plaintiff Michael Lynch and the uncle of Plaintiff Lisa
Scarola. See Amend. Compl. at 2, 7 (Dkt No. 42).
Carlton was married to Camille Lynch, Michael's
stepmother. See Amend. Compl. at 2, 4. Prior to his
death in 2015, Carlton's assets consisted of a home
located in New York and personal property equaling
approximately $200, 000. See Amend. Compl. at 2, 7.
defendants in this case are either relatives of Carlton or
attorneys involved in the disposition of Carlton's
property. Defendants Halliburton and Huang are Camille's
children and Carlton's stepchildren. Amend. Compl. at
3-8; Ex. A (Dkt No. 42-1). Defendant Amoruso is an attorney
at Defendant Amoruso & Amoruso, LLP, the law firm that
helped Carlton convey his home to his wife before his death.
Amend. Compl. at 2-3. Defendant Michael Posner is an estate
attorney who represented the Halliburton children during the
execution of Carlton's will. Amend. Compl. at 8.
allege that these defendants took a variety of actions to
"defraud" Carlton out of his property. Amend.
Compl. at 2. Many of the allegations in the complaint
surround Carlton's home in New York. At some point before
he died, Carlton conveyed this home to his wife, Camille.
Amend. Compl. at 2-3. The Amoruso Defendants helped
facilitate this transfer, including by suggesting the
conveyance in the first place and notarizing the deed. Amend.
Compl. at 2-3. According to Plaintiffs' allegations,
Carlton Lynch did not actually want to convey his home.
Amend. Compl. at 4; Opp. at 2 (Dkt No. 56). Rather, the
defendants allegedly took advantage of Carlton's
"severe Alzheimer's" by "illegally
notarizing" the deed to Carlton's house and then
"mailing the illegally notarized deed" to an
address not specified in the complaint. Amend. Compl. at 2-3.
Defendant Huang allegedly furthered the conspiracy to
illegally convey Carlton's home purportedly by making
"numerous . . . false statements" in order to hide
the forged transfer. Amend. Compl. at 6. The amended
complaint alleges that, as of February 2013, Michael
"had full rights to his father's property in the
event that Carlton Lynch's wife died." Amend. Compl.
at 2. In other words, the amended complaint alleges that if
the illegal conveyance had not occurred, Michael would have
received Carlton's home.
amended complaint further alleges that the defendants stole
additional property from Carlton. Taking advantage of
Carlton's "severe Alzheimer's" and
Camille's "dementia, " Defendants purportedly
stole "all of Carlton Lynch's money." Amend.
Compl. at 2-3. According to the allegations, Defendants
Halliburton and Huang stole the money, and the Amoruso
Defendants then hid it by creating "various
trusts." Amend. Compl. at 3. The amended complaint does
not elucidate how much was stolen or who ultimately received
the stolen funds. The amended complaint does allege, however,
that in order to avoid getting caught, Halliburton and Huang
kidnapped Carlton and held him hostage in Arizona. Amend.
Compl. at 5-6.
amended complaint alleges that Carlton died, but it does not
identify when. See Amend. Compl. at 8. Camille died at
some unspecified point prior to Carlton. See Amend.
Compl. at 4-5. Carlton's home was not part of the estate,
as it had been previously transferred to Camille. Amend.
Compl. at 3, 6. The validity of Carlton's will and the
division of his assets was approved by the Westchester County
Surrogate's Court. Amoruso Ex. D (Dkt No. 51-4).
February 18, 2016, Plaintiffs filed a pro se
complaint. Dkt No. 1. The defendants moved to dismiss
Plaintiffs' complaint. Dkt Nos. 24, 30. The Court then
sua sponte provided Plaintiffs with leave to amend
their complaint in response to the motions. Dkt No. 36. On
May 22, 2016, Plaintiffs filed a first amended complaint. Dkt
No. 42. Defendants renewed their motions to dismiss, with the
Amoruso Defendants filing their motion to dismiss on June 10,
2016, see Dkt No. 50, and Defendants Halliburton,
Huang, and Posner filing their motion to dismiss on June 22,
2016, Dkt No. 58. The Court now resolves both of these
motions to dismiss.
survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a plaintiff
must plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that
is plausible on its face." Bell Ail. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). 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."
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
evaluating a motion under Rule 12(b)(6) must "accept all
allegations in the complaint as true and draw all inferences
in the non-moving party's favor." LaFaro v.
N.Y.Cardiothoracic Grp., PLLC, 570 F.3d 471, 475 (2d
Cir. 2009) (citations omitted). This tenet, however, does not
apply to "legal conclusions" in a complaint, and
"mere conclusory statements" do not satisfy the
pleading standards. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Even
when a plaintiff provides substantial factual detail,
dismissal is appropriate if "the allegations in a
complaint, however true, could not raise a claim of
entitlement to relief." Twombly, 550 U.S. at
as here, the complaint was filed pro se, it must be
construed liberally to raise the strongest arguments it
suggests." Walker v. Schult, 717 F.3d 119, 124
(2d Cir. 2013) (citations, quotation marks, and brackets
omitted). "Nonetheless, a pro se complaint must
state a plausible claim for relief." Id. A
court may dismiss a pro se complaint if it is clear
that the plaintiffs cannot demonstrate a set of facts that
would entitle them to relief. Weixel v. Bd. of
Educ., 287 F.3d 138, 145 (2d Cir. 2002).
pro se amended complaint fails to clearly assert any
particular causes of action. Reading the amended complaint
liberally, the Court infers that Plaintiffs are attempting to
bring a civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations
Act ("RICO") cause of action and a § 1983
constitutional claim. See Amend. Compl. at 1. As
explained below, the Court concludes that the amended
complaint fails to state any claim upon which relief can be
granted, and the Court accordingly grants both motions to
dismiss. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).
Plaintiffs Have Not ...