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Raymond v. City of New York

United States District Court, S.D. New York

March 6, 2017

EDREWEENE RAYMOND, ADHYL POLANCO, PEDRO SERRANO, SANDY GONZALEZ, RITCHIE BAEZ, JULIO DIAZ, FELICIA WHITELY, ROMAN GORIS, DERICK WALLER, KAREEM ABDULLAH, OLAYOKUN OLAGOKE, and WIDMARC PIERRE, individually and on behalf of a class of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
THE CITY OF NEW YORK, MAYOR OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK BILL DE BLASIO, in his individual and official capacity, FORMER POLICE COMMISSIONER WILLIAM J. BRATTON, in his individual capacity, POLICE COMMISSIONER JAMES P. O'NEILL, in his individual and official capacity, NYPD CHIEF OF DEPARTMENT CARLOS GOMEZ, in his individual and official capacity, and BUREAU CHIEF NYPD COMMANDING OFFICER OF PATROL SERVICES TERENCE MONAHAN, in his official capacity, [1]Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          LAURA TAYLOR SWAIN United States District Judge.

         Plaintiffs Edreweene Raymond (“Raymond”), Adhyl Polanco (“Polanco”), Pedro Serrano (“Serrano”), Sandy Gonzalez (“Gonzalez”), Ritchie Baez (“Baez”), Julio Diaz (“Diaz”), Felicia Whitely (“Whitely”), Roman Goris (“Goris”), Derick Waller (“Waller”), Kareem Abdullah (“Abdullah”), Olayokun Olagoke (“Olagoke”), and Widmarc Pierre (“Pierre”), (collectively, "Plaintiffs") bring this civil rights action, individually and on behalf of a class of all others similarly situated, pursuant to New York Labor Law § 215-a; 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983, 1985, and 1986; New York Executive Law §§ 290, 296; New York City Local Law 59 of 1986 as amended by Local Rule 39 of 1991, § 8-207; and New York State Constitution Article 1, § 8, against Defendants the City of New York ("the City"), Mayor of the City of New York Bill de Blasio ("Mayor de Blasio"), Former Police Commissioner William J. Bratton (“Former Commissioner Bratton”), Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill ("Commissioner O'Neill"), NYPD Chief of Department Carlos M. Gomez ("Chief Gomez"), and Bureau Chief NYPD Commanding Officer of Patrol Services Terence Monahan ("Chief Monahan"), (Mayor de Blasio, Former Commissioner Bratton, Commissioner O'Neill, Chief Gomez, and Chief Monahan are, together, referred to herein as the “Individual Defendants”) (collectively, "Defendants"). In a 17-count Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs claim that the NYPD maintains illegal arrest and citation quotas that are focused disproportionately on areas in which minorities reside, that minority officers are pressured to meet the quotas, and that minority officers suffer adverse and retaliatory employment actions when they refuse to enforce or complain about the quotas as discriminatory. (Docket Entry No. 31.) Defendants now move, pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6), to dismiss all of Plaintiffs' claims against them. (Docket Entry Nos. 32 and 48.)

         The Court has jurisdiction of this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1343, and 1367.

         The Court has considered the parties' submissions carefully. For the following reasons, Defendants' motion is granted and the Amended Complaint is dismissed. Plaintiffs may make a motion for leave to replead the claims and requests for relief asserted in their Second, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, Tenth, Twelfth, Fourteenth, and Seventeenth Causes of Action. Any such motion must be filed by March 27, 2017, and must be accompanied by a proposed Second Amended Complaint and a memorandum of law. Failure to make such a timely motion, or denial of the motion as futile, may result in dismissal of the Amended Complaint in its entirety, without further advance notice.

         Background

         The following facts are alleged in the Amended Complaint or drawn from documents annexed thereto. Plaintiffs are Latino and African-American police officers employed by the NYPD[2] who allege that, as a result of the imposition of illegal quotas and illegal penalties by Defendants that have had disparate effects on Latino and African-American police officers, they have been subject to negative employment actions including negative evaluations; lost compensation, overtime, and vacation days earned; punitive postings and punitive transfers; denial of upgrades, promotions, overtime, and accrued time earned; and discrimination in their employment on the basis of race and national origin. (Am. Compl. ¶ 2.) Plaintiffs and the prospective class members allege they “are disproportionately affected by the imposition of illegal quotas and the punitive consequences of the failure to meet the quotas, as opposed to white police officers, because” Plaintiffs, as “minorities working in neighborhoods dominated by minority residents, are unwilling to perform racially discriminatory and unwarranted enforcement actions against the minority community, ” leading to a “racially unfair and unreasonable performance evaluation system and unfair and unwarranted disciplinary actions and penalties to which the [P]laintiffs are subjected and to which white police officers are not subjected.” (Id. at ¶ 23.)

         The City is a municipal corporation and is the employer of the named Plaintiffs and the prospective class members, as well as the individually named Defendants. (Id. at ¶ 42.) In his capacity as mayor since January 2014, Defendant Mayor de Blasio "routinely met with the Police Commissioner[, ] Deputy Police Commissioners[, ] and other high-ranking members of the NYPD to set policy and make recommendations relating to the policies, administration, practices, customs[, ] and procedure[s] of the NYPD and relating to the disciplinary system and implementation of penalties within the NYPD." (Id. at ¶ 44.) In his capacity as Commissioner, Bratton was the “principal administrator” of the NYPD, “responsible for the application of the NYPD's enforcement and administrative polic[i]es[, ] including its internal investigatory and disciplinary process.” (See id. at ¶ 45.)[3] As Chief of Department, O'Neill was “the highest ranking non-civilian . . . uniformed police officer” and “in charge of all NYPD operations answering only to the Police Commissioner and the Mayor.”[4] (See id. at ¶ 46.) As Chief of Patrol, Gomez was the “NYPD's commanding officer of patrol services, ” including the precincts, and “exercised supervisory control over the plaintiffs at all relevant times and participated in making and executing the policy and practices complained of herein.”[5] (See id. at ¶ 47.) The Amended Complaint alleges that the Individual Defendants knew or should have known of the customs, practices, and policies described in the Amended Complaint, including but not limited to the maintenance of the illegal quota system by the NYPD and its racially discriminatory effect on the minority community and minority officers including the Plaintiffs and "condoned, ratified and/or authorized” such practices, policies, and conduct. (See id. at ¶ ¶ 44-47.)

         Plaintiffs allege that, “[o]ver the past decade” and through the present, “the NYPD has pursued an unofficial policy of directing, instructing, compelling and mandating its employees to perform a mandatory number of arrests, issue a mandatory number of summons or write a mandatory number of tickets, " or quotas, "over a defined period of time, " as a “performance standard” for employees, despite official statements that the NYPD does not maintain such quotas. Id. at ¶ 3. Promotion or job security in the NYPD is alleged to depend on “the number of arrests made or tickets issued” and, "[a]lthough the NYPD has continuously denied the existence of quotas and asserts that it relies only on a set of 'productivity goals, ' or 'performance goals, ' those phrases are [alleged to be] mere euphemisms for a quota system." Id. at ¶ 4. Plaintiffs allege that the performance evaluation system “is not evenly applied to all precin[c]ts depending on the location of the precin[c]t, ” and despite the system's being “neutral on its face, ” it “is un[]evenly applied in that minority officers are more likely to be charged, investigated and receive more punishment[] than their white counterparts for the same alleged offenses.” Id. at ¶ ¶ 25-26.

         First Amendment retaliation claims are asserted on behalf of certain of the individual Plaintiffs, who allege that they filed numerous formal and informal complaints and have spoken publicly about the alleged imposition of illegal quotas. In some instances, Plaintiffs identify years or settings in which they complained about the alleged illegal quotas internally or to the public, or testified in litigations regarding “stop-and-frisks, ” but Plaintiffs are not specific about the allegedly retaliatory acts that occurred or when they occurred in relation to the Plaintiffs' alleged complaints. (See e.g., id. at ¶ ¶ 48-51 (alleging that Raymond “complained to his superiors about” the quota “after seven months on the job, ” after joining the force in 2008, was transferred out of a certain unit in 2012, and has been, at unspecified times, “penalized by punitive postings, low performance evaluations, denial of upgrades and promotions, denial of overtime, and denial of time off”).)

         Discussion

         Defendants move, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), to dismiss Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint in its entirety for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. (See Docket Entry Nos. 32, 48.) In determining whether a plaintiff has set forth the "short and plain statement of the claim showing that [she is] entitled to relief" required by the Federal Rules (see Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)), the Court looks to whether the allegations in the complaint establish the "facial plausibility" of the plaintiff's claims. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007)). Such a showing "must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, " requiring "more than labels and conclusions, [or] a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (internal quotation marks omitted). In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court assumes the truth of the facts asserted in the complaint and draws all reasonable inferences from those facts in favor of the plaintiff. See Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 71 (2d Cir. 2009).

         “In adjudicating a motion to dismiss, a court may consider only the complaint, any written instrument attached to the complaint as an exhibit, any statements or documents incorporated in it by reference, and any document upon which the complaint heavily relies.” Geron v. Seyfarth Shaw LLP (In re Thelen LLP), 736 F.3d 213, 219 (2d Cir. 2013) (citing Chambers v. Time Warner, Inc., 282 F.3d 147, 153-54 (2d Cir. 2002)).

         New York Labor Law § 215-a (First and Sixteenth Causes of Action)

         Plaintiffs seek damages and declaratory relief for Defendants' alleged maintenance of quotas, and imposition of discipline for violating such quotas, in violation of New York Labor Law § 215-a. (Am. Compl. ¶ ¶ 92-96.) Defendants seek dismissal of this claim, asserting that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction because Plaintiffs failed to exhaust their administrative remedies, and that there is no private right of action under the statute.

         New York Labor Law § 215-a(1) provides, in relevant part:

No employer or his or her duly authorized agent shall transfer or in any other manner penalize or threaten, expressly or impliedly, an employee who is a police officer as to his or her employment in a manner, including, but not limited to, a reassignment, a scheduling change, an adverse evaluation, a constructive dismissal, the denial of a promotion, or the denial of overtime based in whole or in part on such employee's failure to meet a quota, established by his or her employer or his or her duly authorized agent, of (a) tickets or summonses issued within a specified period of time of provisions of law for which a ticket or summons is authorized by any general, special or local law; or (b) arrests made within a specified period of time for violations of provisions of law for which such arrest is authorized by any general, special or local law; or (c) stops of individuals suspected of criminal activity within a specified period of time. Any employee so transferred or otherwise penalized may ...

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