United States District Court, N.D. New York
OF JOHN W. SHARONJOHN W. SHARON, ESQ. Attorneys for
OF FRANK W. MILLERFRANK W. MILLER, ESQ. CHARLES C. SPAGNOLI,
ESQ. Attorneys for the Village Defendants.
MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER
D'Agostino, U.S. District Judge.
February 19, 2015, Plaintiff Lance LaPoint ("Plaintiff)
commenced this action pro se pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 against Sergeant Peter Vasiloff
("Vasiloff'), the East Syracuse Police Department,
the Village of East Syracuse ("Village"), Onondaga
County ("County"), unidentified "John
Doe" Defendants, and Officer Dale Barhite, asserting
that Defendants violated his constitutional rights by using
excessive force and assaulting, beating and battering him,
and that Onondaga County and its officers failed to provide
adequate medical care for his resulting injuries.
See Dkt. No. 1 at 3-4; Dkt. No. 53.
March 9, 2016, the Court granted the Village and County's
motion for judgment on the pleadings. See Dkt. No.
56. Defendants Vasiloff and Barhite, who are the only
remaining Defendants, have moved to dismiss the complaint.
See Dkt. No. 74. Plaintiff, who is now represented
by counsel, has responded in opposition.
incident giving rise to Plaintiffs claims occurred on or
about February 25, 2012, when Plaintiff "hopped a
train" at a train yard in Syracuse. See Dkt.
No. 1 at 3. After the conductor told Plaintiff to exit the
train, Plaintiff passed through the engine area, blew the
train whistle, and noticed flashing lights coming toward him.
See Id. According to Plaintiff, he then opened the
door to the engine area to allow police officers to come
through, and "immediately put [his] hands up to show
[he] was cooperating." Id. At this point,
Plaintiff claims that "[w]hile one officer was still
shining his flashlight directly in [his] face . . ., [he] was
suddenly struck in the face with something very hard."
Id. Plaintiff fell to the floor and alleges that the
officers repeatedly struck him "in and about the head
and face." Id. Thereafter, Plaintiff was
handcuffed, picked up, pushed down the train ladder, and
dragged to the police car. See Id. Plaintiff alleges
that he was "in a lot of pain" and bleeding from
his mouth and face. See Id. At this point, Plaintiff
was taken to the Onondaga County Justice Center, where he was
placed in a cell. See id.
their motion to dismiss, Defendants contend that Plaintiffs
state-law claims fail because Plaintiff did not serve a
timely notice of claim and they are barred by the applicable
statute of limitations. See Dkt. No. 74-3 at 4-6. As
to the section 1983 excessive force claim, Defendants argue
that the complaint fails to provide any specific allegations
that they engaged in this conduct. See Id. at 7-9.
Rather, Defendants contend that the complaint merely
indicates that they were "present" and, therefore,
"responsible" for the alleged use of excessive
force. See Id. at 7-8.
Standard of Review for Motion to Dismiss
motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to
Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure tests
the legal sufficiency of the party's claim for relief.
See Patane v. Clark, 508 F.3d 106, 111-12 (2d Cir.
2007). In considering the legal sufficiency, a court must
accept as true all well-pleaded facts in the pleading and
draw all reasonable inferences in the pleader's favor.
See ATSICommc'ns, Inc. v. Shaar Fund, Ltd., 493
F.3d 87, 98 (2d Cir. 2007) (citation omitted). This
presumption of truth, however, does not extend to legal
conclusions. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (citation omitted). Although a court's review
of a motion to dismiss is generally limited to the facts
presented in the pleading, the court may consider documents
that are "integral" to that pleading, even if they
are neither physically attached to, nor incorporated by
reference into, the pleading. See Mangiafico v.
Blumenthal, 471 F.3d 391, 398 (2d Cir. 2006) (quoting
Chambers v. Time Warner, Inc., 282 F.3d 147, 152-53
(2d Cir. 2002)).
survive a motion to dismiss, a party need only plead "a
short and plain statement of the claim, " see
Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2), with sufficient factual "heft
to 'sho[w] that the pleader is entitled to
relief.'" BellAtl. Corp. v. Twombty, 550
U.S. 544, 557 (2007) (quotation omitted). Under this
standard, the pleading's "[f]actual allegations must
be enough to raise a right of relief above the speculative
level, " see Id. at 555 (citation omitted), and
present claims that are "plausible on [their] face,
" id. at 570. "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." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678
(citation omitted). "Where a complaint pleads facts that
are 'merely consistent with' a defendant's
liability, it 'stops short of the line between
possibility and plausibility of "entitlement to
relief...... Id. (quoting [Twombty, 550
U.S.] at 557, 127 S.Ct. 1955). Ultimately, "when the
allegations in a complaint, however true, could not raise a
claim of entitlement to relief, " Twombly, 550
U.S. at 558, or where a plaintiff has "not nudged [its]
claims across the line from conceivable to plausible, the
complaint must be dismissed[, ]" id. at 570.
this recent tightening of the standard for pleading a claim,
complaints by pro se parties continue to be accorded
more deference than those filed by attorneys. See
Erickson v. Pardus,551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quotation
omitted). As such, Twombly and Iqbal
notwithstanding, this Court must continue to
'"construe [a complaint] broadly, and interpret [it]
to raise the strongest arguments that [it]
suggests.'" Weixel v. Bd. of Educ, 287 F.3d