United States District Court, N.D. New York
LUIBRAND LAW FIRM, PLLC KEVIN A. LUIBRAND, ESQ. Attorneys for
LEMIRE, JOHNSON LAW FIRM GREG T. JOHNSON, ESQ. APRIL J. LAWS,
ESQ. Attorneys for Defendants
MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER
D'Agostino, U.S. District Judge
April 7, 2016, Kevin Mullahey ("Plaintiff")
commenced the present civil rights action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985 against Michael Zurlo,
Spencer Hellwig, III, the County of Saratoga, and John Does
("Defendants"). Plaintiff allege violations of his
Due Process Rights, "Stigma-Plus" defamation,
Conspiracy, and Municipal Liability. See Dkt. No. 1.
before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss
pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. See Dkt. No. 27-5.
was employed by Defendants for approximately thirty-six (36)
years. See Dkt. No. 1 at ¶ 18. On January 1,
2014, Plaintiff was promoted from the position of
Investigator to Undersheriff. See Id. at ¶ 19.
Under Saratoga County and New York State Civil Service Law,
the position of Undersheriff is an exempt and/or management
position. See Id. at ¶ 20. As Undersheriff,
Plaintiff was an at-will employee who could be discharged
with or without reason. See Id. at ¶ 21.
held the position of Undersheriff from January 1, 2014
through February 12, 2016. See id at ¶¶
19, 36; Dkt. No. 27-5 at 7. In January 2016, Defendant Zurlo
implied to Plaintiff that Plaintiff had allegedly compromised
an investigation. See Dkt. No. 1 at ¶ 24.
Plaintiff responded that he did not act improperly in the
course of his work and to prove this, Plaintiff requested to
be interviewed by Defendants and offered to take a polygraph
test. See Id. at ¶¶ 25-26. Defendants,
however, refused to interview Plaintiff and did not have him
submit to a polygraph test. See Id. at ¶ 27.
February 9, 2016, Plaintiff met with Defendants' agents
who presented a document titled "Settlement
Agreement." See Id. at ¶¶ 30-31. The
"Settlement Agreement" was presigned by Defendants
Hellwig and Zurlo and which, if signed by Plaintiff, would
have, by its terms, stated that Plaintiff was resigning his
employment and surrendering any rights to file claims against
Defendants. See Id. at ¶ 31. Ultimately,
Plaintiff did not sign the "Settlement Agreement."
that same February 9, 2016 meeting, Defendants'
representatives allegedly told Plaintiff that if he did not
resign by February 12, 2016, he would be fired without a
pre-termination hearing and would not be permitted to
challenge the termination. See Id. at ¶ 32. If
terminated, Plaintiff and his family would have lost their
county-paid health insurance. See Id. at ¶ 33.
On February 12, 2016, Plaintiff resigned in what he asserts
was a coerced resignation or constructive discharge. See
Id. at ¶¶ 34-35. That same day, Defendants
accepted Plaintiff's resignation. See Id. at
after February 12, 2016, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants
(and/or "JOHN DOES the Defendants knew") told the
media in the County of Saratoga and the greater Capital
Region that Plaintiff's resignation was due to his
improper and/or illegal conduct as Undersheriff. See
Id. at ¶¶ 38-39. In particular, the following
statements were made:
(a) To the Albany Times Union newspaper on February 13, 2016:
(i) "The departure of Kevin P. Mullahey, who Sheriff
Michael Zurlo elevated to undersheriff in 2014, came as
questions surfaced about whether a person close to Mullahey
may have intervened in a StatePolice undercover criminal
(b) To the Albany Times Union newspaper on February 15, 2016:
(i) "The Saratoga County undersheriff was forced to
retire from his job last week after the department accused
him of interfering in a drug investigation in which the State
Police said the identity of an undercover informant was
(c) To television station WNYT between February 12-14, 2016:
(i) "Undersheriff Mullahey interfered in a drug
investigation to protect his son"
(d) To the Saratogian newspaper on February 16, 2016:
(i) "Published reports say he was accused of allegedly
interfering with [sic] in a state police undercover
(e) To the Post Star newspaper on February 14, 2016:
(i) "From what we have heard from inside and outside the
Sheriff's Office, allegations were raised about the leak
of confidential ...