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Lanning v. The City of Glens Falls

United States District Court, N.D. New York

March 8, 2017

DAVID LANNING, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
THE CITY OF GLENS FALLS, THE GLENS FALLS POLICE DEPARTMENT, THE COUNTY OF WARREN, THE WARREN COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, THE WARREN COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, RYAN ASHE, in his official and individual capacities, and KEVIN CONINE, JR., in his official and individual capacities, Defendants.

          LAW OFFICE OF JAMES E. GROSS Attorneys for Plaintiff

          CARTER, CONBOY, CASE, BLACKMORE, MALONEY & LAIRD, P.C. Attorneys for Defendants the City of Glens Falls, the Glens Falls Police Department, and Ryan Ashe

          LEMIRE, JOHNSON & HIGGINS, LLC Attorneys for Defendants the County of Warren, the Warren County Sheriff's Department, the Warren County District Attorney's Office, and Kevin Conine, Jr.

          JAMES E. GROSS, ESQ. MARGARET C. VIJAYAN, ESQ.

          JAMES A. RESILA, ESQ. WILLIAM C. FIRTH, ESQ.

          BRADLEY J. STEVENS, ESQ. GREGG T. JOHNSON, ESQ.

          MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

          Mae A. D'Agostino, U.S. District Judge:

         I. INTRODUCTION

         On February 4, 2016, Plaintiff commenced this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the City of Glens Falls, the Glens Falls Police Department, and Ryan Ashe (collectively, the "City Defendants"), and the County of Warren, the Warren County Sheriff's Department, the Warren County District Attorney's Office, and Kevin Conine, Jr. (collectively, the "County Defendants"), alleging malicious prosecution in violation of the Fourth Amendment and denial of the right to equal protection in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

         Currently before the Court are Defendants' motions for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Dkt. No. 43-7; Dkt. No. 50-3. On September 1, 2016, Plaintiff filed a memorandum of law in opposition to the County Defendants' motion. See Dkt. No. 47. On September 9, 2016, the County Defendants filed a reply memorandum of law in further support of their motion. See Dkt. No. 49. On October 17, 2016, Plaintiff filed a memorandum of law in opposition to the City Defendants' motion. See Dkt. No. 54. On November 1, 2016, the City Defendants filed a reply memorandum of law in further support of their motion. See Dkt. No. 57-2.

         II. BACKGROUND

         In 2012, Plaintiff was in the midst of a divorce and custody battle with his estranged wife, Jamie Lanning, for custody of his daughter. See Dkt. No. 1 at ¶ 13. In February of 2012, Ms. Lanning began dating Ryan Ashe, a police officer with the Glens Falls Police Department. See Id. at ¶ 16. At that time, Defendant Ashe's former partner Kevin Conine, Jr., worked for the Warren County Sheriff's Department. See Id. at ¶ 18.

         Plaintiff alleges that Ms. Lanning misused Defendant Conine's friendship with Defendant Ashe to harm Plaintiff. See Id. at ¶ 19. Specifically, Plaintiff contends that early in the morning of May 24, 2012 Defendant Ashe brought Ms. Lanning to the Warren County Sheriff's Department where she falsely reported to Defendant Conine that Plaintiff had threatened over the phone to kill her. See Id. at ¶¶ 20-23. Ms. Lanning's report also noted that Plaintiff was at that time subject to an order of protection. See Dkt. No. 43-3. At approximately 3 a.m. that day, Defendant Conine arrested Plaintiff at Plaintiff's home based upon Ms. Lanning's report. See Dkt. No. 1 at ¶ 24. Plaintiff was arraigned later that morning in Queensbury Town Court. See Id. at ¶ 44. Defendant Conine charged Plaintiff with Criminal Contempt in the First Degree and Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree for violation of the pre-existing order of protection. See Id. at ¶¶ 45, 122. As a result of the arrest and charges, a "no contact" order of protection was granted against Plaintiff in favor of Ms. Lanning. See Id. at ¶ 49.

         On September 18, 2012, Plaintiff went to his daughter's grandmother's home for a prearranged third party custodial pick up. See Id. at ¶ 64. Plaintiff alleges that Ms. Lanning and Defendant Ashe, who was off duty at the time, were present at the grandmother's home during the pick up in violation of the custody arrangement. See Id. at ¶¶ 64-67. Plaintiff alleges that after he departed for dinner with his daughter, Ms. Lanning and Defendant Ashe gave false statements to the Glens Falls Police Department claiming that Plaintiff had stared at them in a threatening manner. See Id. at ¶ 75. Upon his return, Plaintiff noted that Ms. Lanning and Defendant Ashe were sitting in Ashe's personal vehicle across the street from the drop off point. See Id. at ¶ 70. Five Glens Falls police officers then arrested Plaintiff for allegedly violating the "no contact" order of protection. See Id. at ¶¶ 72-74. That same night, Plaintiff was arraigned and charged with Criminal Contempt in the First Degree. See Id. at ¶¶ 83-84.

         The May 24, 2012 and September 18, 2012 charges were merged, and on September 21, 2012, the Warren County District Attorney's Office secured an indictment against Plaintiff on three counts of Criminal Contempt in the First Degree and one count of Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree based upon Ms. Lanning's testimony. See Id. at ¶¶ 88-89.

         On March 6, 2013, the Warren County District Attorney's Office transferred the charges back to Queensbury Town Court and the Glens Falls City Court to be prosecuted separately as misdemeanors. See Id. at ¶ 98. On April 9, 2013, Plaintiff was arraigned in Glens Falls City Court on two counts of Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree related to the September 18, 2012 events. See Id. at ¶ 100. Those charges were dismissed on November 7, 2014 in the interest of justice pursuant to section 170.40 of the New York Criminal Procedure Law. See Id. at ¶ 102; see also Dkt. No. 57-1 at 3-4. On May 24, 2013, Plaintiff was arraigned in Queensbury Town Court on one count of Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree and one count of Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree related to the May 24, 2012 events. See Dkt. No. 1 at ¶ 103. Those charges were dismissed on May 7, 2014 following a jury trial. See Id. at ¶¶ 104, 129.

         On May 1, 2013, Defendant Ashe issued traffic tickets against Plaintiff and charged Plaintiff with Aggravated Unlicensed Operation of a Motor Vehicle in the Third Degree, a misdemeanor. See Id. at ¶¶ 106-07. The charge gave rise to a proceeding, which was dismissed. See Id. at ¶ 155.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. ...


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