United States District Court, E.D. New York
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
NICHOLAS G. GARAUFIS United States District Judge
action, Plaintiff Kelvin Gomez alleges that Defendants, the
City of New York (the "City"), Police Officer
Thomas Farley and Detective Kironde Eberhardt (the
"Officer Defendants"), and five unknown police
officers (the "John Doe Defendants"), violated
Plaintiffs state and federal rights in connection with his
arrest and prosecution on state assault charges. (Compl.
(Dkt. 1).) Before the court is Defendants' Motion for
Judgment on the Pleadings under Rule 12(c) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure (the "Motion").
(Defs.' Mot. for J. on the Pleadings ("Defs.
Mot.") (Dkt. 19).) For the reasons stated below,
Defendants' Motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.
The Underlying Assault
following account is drawn from Plaintiffs New York State
criminal court complaint (the "NYS Criminal
Complaint"). (See NYS Crim. Compl (Dkt. 16-3).) Arthur
DeSouza (the "Complainant") was assaulted on
January 14, 2013, between 7:50 and 7:55pm (the
"Assault"). As the Complainant was leaving the
Skyview Center mall in Flushing, New York, the assailant
followed him into an elevator, out of the mall, and across
the street. The assailant then struck the Complainant from
behind with a sharp object and fled the location. The
Complainant suffered a laceration from his right eye to his
Plaintiff s Allegations
16, 2013, Plaintiff was arrested by Defendant Farley and
other unnamed officers from the New York City Police
Department ("NYPD"). (Compl. ¶¶ 12-13.)
Plaintiff was charged with multiple state counts in
connection with the Assault. (Id. ¶ 17.) He
maintains his innocence (id. ¶ 18), and alleges that his
arrest arose out of improper practices by the Officer
Defendants. Plaintiff first discusses a photo array conducted
by the Officer Defendants. (Id. ¶ 16.) The
Complainant allegedly pointed to two photographs, neither of
which was of Plaintiff, and said he "was undecided
between those photographs." (Id.) Officer
Farley "refused to accept this and told [the
Complainant] to think about it some more. Officer Farley then
improperly pointed out [Plaintiffs photo] and suggested
non-verbally ... that [the Complainant] should go with [that
photo]." (Id.) The Complainant selected the
photo of Plaintiff. (Id.)
also alleges that the Officer Defendants
"facilitate[d]" Plaintiffs arrest by falsely
claiming that Plaintiff was known to be a gang member who
carried a bladed weapon. (Id. ¶ 15.) The
Officer Defendants then "forwarded [these] false
allegations to the Queens County District Attorney" (the
"State Prosecutors") "in order to justify the
arrests and to persuade the [State Prosecutors] to commence
[Plaintiffs] criminal prosecution." (Id. ¶
23.) For a period of two and a half years, Plaintiff
"was caused to appear in criminal court multiple times
to defend himself against these charges. (Id. ¶
18.) On July 20, 2015, the charges were dismissed.
asserts that the City, "as a matter of policy and
practice, has with deliberate indifference failed to sanction
or discipline police officers" who violated individual
rights, and has also failed to properly supervise NYPD
officers, "thereby causing and encouraging police
officers including defendants in this case, to engage in
unlawful conduct." (Id. ¶¶ 31-34.)
initiated this action on March 15, 2016, asserting claims
against all individual Defendants under 28 U.S.C. § 1983
and New York State law for false arrest,  malicious
prosecution, and unlawful search, and under Section 1983
alone for denial of the right to a fair trial and failure to
intervene; and asserting claims against the City of New York
for derivative liability under New York State law and
municipal liability under Section 1983 pursuant to Monell
v. Department of Social Services. 436 U.S. 658 (1978V
(Compl. ¶¶ 43-110.) On November 3, 2016, Defendants
moved for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c). (Defs.
Mot.) Both parties have attached numerous evidentiary
exhibits to their filings on Defendants' Motion,
requiring the court to assess the propriety of extrinsic
evidence submitted on a 12(c) motion.
Judgment on the Pleadings
the pleadings are closed[, ]... a party may move for judgment
on the pleadings." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). When assessing
motions under Rule 12(c), courts "employ the same
standard applicable to dismissals" under Rule 12(b)(6).
In re Arab Bank. PLC Alien Tort Statute Litis., 808
F.3d 144, 151 (2d Cir. 2015), as amended (Dec. 17,
2015) (alterations omitted) (quoting Johnson v.
Rowley, 569 F.3d 40, 43 (2d Cir. 2009)). The court must
therefore "accept as true factual allegations made in
the complaint, and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of
the plaintiffs." Id. (alterations omitted)
(quoting Town of Babylon v. Fed. Hous. Fin. Agency,
699 F.3d 221, 227 (2d Cir. 2012)). This leniency, however, is
"inapplicable to legal conclusions" or
"[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements."
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
survive a motion to dismiss, "a complaint must plead
specific facts sufficient to support a plausible inference
that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.
While 'the plausibility standard is not akin to a
probability requirement, it asks for more than a sheer
possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.'"
Doe v. Columbia Univ., 831 F.3d 46, 54 (2d Cir.
2016) (internal citations and alterations omitted) (quoting
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678).
Consideration of Extrinsic Evidence
general rule, courts "do not consider matters outside
the pleadings in deciding a motion to dismiss for failure to
state a claim." Nakahata v. N.Y.-Presbyterian
Healthcare Sys., Inc., 723 F.3d 192, 202 (2d Cir. 2013)
(citation omitted). "Rather, where matter outside the
pleadings is offered and not excluded by the trial court, the
motion to dismiss should be converted to a motion for summary
judgment." Id. at 202-03 (citing Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(d)). "[I]n some cases, " however, "a
document not expressly incorporated by reference in the
complaint is nevertheless 'integral' to the complaint
and, accordingly, a fair object of consideration on a motion
to dismiss. A document is integral to the complaint
'where the complaint relies heavily upon its terms and
effect.'" Goel v. Bunge. Ltd., 820 F.3d
554, 559 (2d Cir. 2016) (quoting Chambers v. Time Warner.
Inc., 282 F.3d 147, 153 (2d Cir. 2002)).
have moved for judgment on the pleadings as to all claims.
(Defs. Mot.; see also Defs.' Mem. in Supp. of
Mot. ("Defs. Mem.") (Dkt. 16-10) at 1-2.)
Plaintiffs opposition papers withdraw "any possible
claims against John Doe defendants" and concede the
"non-viability" of his claims of malicious
prosecution and unlawful search as against all Defendants.
(PL's Opp'n to Defs. Mot. ("PL Opp'n")
(Dkt. 16-19) at 2, 4.) The court therefore dismisses these
claims with prejudice.
to Plaintiffs remaining claims against Defendants Farley and
Eberhardt, the court finds that Plaintiff has adequately
pleaded claims of false arrest (under Section 1983 and New
York law), denial of a fair trial (under Section 1983), and
failure to intervene (under Section 1983) as against both
Officer Defendants in their individual
capacities. Plaintiffs Monell claim against
the City of New York, however, must be dismissed.
Defendants' Motion does not address Plaintiffs claim that
the City is "vicariously liable for the defendant
officer[s'] acts" under the New York State
Constitution (see Compl. ¶ 93), and so that claim
survives the Motion.
False Arrest (Section 1983 and State Law)
asserts a claim of false arrest under Section 1983 and New
York law on the grounds that his arrest was unsupported by
probable cause. (Compl. ¶¶ 44-48.) Defendants
assert that probable cause existed (Defs. Mem. at 5-8), and
further argue that the Officer Defendants are entitled to
qualified immunity (id at 8-10). The parties have submitted
multiple evidentiary exhibits to support their allegations
regarding this claim. The court finds, however, that the
submitted documents are neither appropriate for consideration
on a Rule 12(c) motion, nor adequate to support converting
the Motion into a motion for summary judgment. Based solely
on the factual allegations in the Complaint, the court finds
that Plaintiffs false arrest claim is sufficiently pleaded
against both Officer Defendants.
for false arrest under Section 1983 "are analyzed
pursuant to the same standards as the applicable state
law's false arrest tort." Nzegwu v.
Friedman, 605 F.App'x 27, 29 (2d Cir. 2015) (summary
order) (citing Jocks v. Tavernier, 316 F.3d 128, 134
(2d Cir. 2003)). To prevail on a false arrest claim under New
York law, "a plaintiff must show that (1) the defendant
intended to confine him, (2) the plaintiff was conscious of
the confinement, (3) the plaintiff did not consent to the
confinement and (4) the confinement was not otherwise
privileged." Id. (quoting Jocks, 316
F.3d at 134-35).
existence of probable cause to arrest constitutes
justification and is a complete defense to an action for
false arrest." Gonzalez v. City of Schenectady,
728 F.3d 149, 155 (2d Cir. 2013) (quoting Wevant v.
Okst, 101 F.3d 845, 852 (2d Cir. 1996)). "Probable
cause to arrest exists when the authorities have knowledge or
reasonably trustworthy information sufficient to warrant a
person of reasonable caution in the belief that an offense
has been committed by the person to be arrested."
Schwartz v. Marcantonatos, 567 F.App'x 20, 22
(2d Cir. 2014) (summary order) (quoting Lennon v.
Miller, 66 F.3d 416, 424 (2d Cir. 1995)).
federal law, "[a] police officer is entitled to
qualified immunity where (1) his conduct does not violate
clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of
which a reasonable person would have known, or (2) it was
objectively reasonable for him to believe that his actions
were lawful at the time of the challenged act."
Schwartz, 567 F.App'x at 22 (alteration omitted)
(quoting Jenkins v. City of New York, 478 F.3d 76,
87 (2d Cir. 2007)). Similarly, "under New York law,
qualified immunity in the context of a claim of false arrest
depends on whether it was objectively reasonable for the
police to believe that they had probable cause to
arrest." Jones v. Parmley, 465 F.3d 46, 64 (2d
Cir. 2006) (citing Simnkin v. City of Troy, 638
N.Y.S.2d 231, 232 (N.Y.App.Div. 1996Y): see also
Jenkins, 478 F.3d at 86-87.
is no doubt that the right to be free from arrest without
probable cause was clearly established at the time of
[Plaintiffs] arrest." Schwartz, 567 F.App'x
at 22-23 (quoting Jenkins, 478 F.3d at 87).
Plaintiffs federal and state "false arrest claim[s]
therefore turn[ ] on whether the officers' probable cause
determination was objectively reasonable. 'An
officer's determination is objectively reasonable if
there was arguable probable cause at the time of the
arrest-that is, if officers of reasonable competence could
disagree on whether the probable cause test was met."
Gonzalez, 728 F.3d at 157 (quoting Jenkins,
478 F.3d at 86-87).
Extrinsic Evidence Submitted by the Parties
parties have submitted evidentiary exhibits that appear to be
material to the issue of probable cause. The court declines
to consider the evidence at this time, however, because none
of it is "integral to the complaint."
Goel, 820 F.3d at 559 (internal quotation marks and
citation omitted). The court also declines to convert
Defendants' Motion into a summary judgment motion under
Rule 12(d) because the available evidence, standing alone,
does not establish a comprehensive record. The court
therefore deems it appropriate to defer a summary judgment
ruling until the parties complete discovery.
Records from the ...