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Lorick v. City of Beacon

United States District Court, S.D. New York

March 1, 2017



          Vincent L. Briccetti United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Derrick Lorick, Jr., brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against defendants The City of Beacon (the “City”) and police detective Richard Sassi, Jr., asserting claims for malicious prosecution.

         Before the Court are defendants' motions to dismiss the amended complaint under Rule 12(b)(6). (Docs. ##31, 34).

         For the following reasons, the City's motion is GRANTED, and Sassi's motion is DENIED.

         The Court has subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.


         In deciding the pending motion, the Court accepts as true all well-pleaded factual allegations in the amended complaint and draws all reasonable inferences in plaintiff's favor.

         Plaintiff alleges on September 24, 2011, Sassi and “other” City of Beacon police officers arrested him. (Am. Compl. ¶ 12). Plaintiff alleges Sassi said he had a warrant for plaintiff's arrest, but that was untrue. Shortly thereafter, plaintiff was arraigned on felony charges of Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree, and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree. (Id. ¶ 14).

         At the time, plaintiff was on parole related to a previous offense. He alleges Sassi knew this and knew arresting plaintiff would “caus[e] [him] to be deprived of his liberty for a long period.” (Am. Compl. ¶ 76).

         Plaintiff's case was presented to a grand jury, which indicted plaintiff. Plaintiff alleges his prosecution before the grand jury was “solely based upon . . . Sassi's testimony.” (Am. Compl. ¶ 42). Plaintiff further alleges Sassi testified before the grand jury that he observed plaintiff sell drugs to a confidential informant. Plaintiff alleges this was untrue and that he did not possess or sell drugs to anyone. Plaintiff alleges Sassi was having an affair with the confidential informant to whom plaintiff allegedly sold drugs.

         On May 23, 2013, the Dutchess County District Attorney's office moved to dismiss the indictment because it determined Sassi was not a credible witness. In particular, Sassi was suspended with pay in October 2012 (and later convicted of a misdemeanor offense) for falsely reporting an incident in an unrelated case.

         On June 25, 2013, the judge presiding over plaintiff's criminal case granted the motion to dismiss “in the interest of justice.” (Raimondi Dec'l at Ex. G).[1]


         I. Legal Standard

         In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court evaluates the sufficiency of the operative complaint under the “two-pronged approach” articulated by the Supreme Court in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). First, plaintiff's legal conclusions and “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, ” are not entitled to the assumption of truth and are thus not sufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss. Id. at 678. Second, “[w]hen there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Id. at 679.

         To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the allegations in the complaint must meet a standard of “plausibility.” Id. at 678. 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. “The plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id.

         II. Malicious Prosecution

         Defendants argue plaintiff has failed to state a claim for malicious prosecution.[2]

         The Court disagrees.

         To prevail on a claim for malicious prosecution under Section 1983, “a plaintiff must show a Fourth Amendment violation and establish the elements of a malicious prosecution claim under state law.” Roberts v. Babkiewicz, 582 F.3d 418, 420 (2d Cir. 2009) (quoting Fulton v. Robinson, 289 F.3d 188, 195 (2d Cir. 2002)). To state a viable claim for malicious prosecution under New York law, plaintiff must show (1) initiation and continuation of criminal process against plaintiff; (2) termination of the proceeding in plaintiff's favor; (3) lack of probable cause; and (4) actual malice as a motivation for defendants' actions. Jocks v. Tavernier, 316 F.3d 128, 136 (2d Cir. 2003).

         Only the second, third, and fourth elements are in dispute here. The Court will consider each in turn.

         A. Termination of Proceeding in ...

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