Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Bentz v. City of New York

United States District Court, E.D. New York

April 6, 2017

DANA BENTZ, Individually and as Executor of the Estate of ARTHUR MONDELLA, Deceased, DOMINIQUE MONDELLA, Individually, Plaintiffs,
v.
THE CITY OF NEW YORK, THE NEW YORK CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT, and JOHN DOE LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS 1-100, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          I. Leo Glasser Senior United States District Judge

         INTRODUCTION

         This case stems from the untimely death of Arthur Mondella, the owner of Dell's Maraschino Cherries Company, Inc., who committed suicide during the execution of a search warrant at that company's facility on February 24, 2015. Mr. Mondella's daughters, Dominique Mondella and Dana Bentz, individually and as Executrix of his estate, bring this action against the City of New York, The New York City Police Department, and John Doe Law Enforcement Officers 1-100 pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law claims for recklessness and negligence.

         This action comes before the Court on (1) Defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), and (2) Plaintiffs' cross motion for leave to amend the Complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 15. For the reasons stated herein, Defendants' motion to dismiss is GRANTED, and Plaintiffs' motion for leave to amend is DENIED.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         The following facts are drawn from the Complaint, ECF 1 (“Compl.”), unless otherwise noted. Arthur Mondella was the owner of Dell's Maraschino Cherries Company, Inc. (“Dell's”). At all times relevant herein, Dell's offices and processing facility occupied three addresses located at 81 - 97 Ferris Street in Brooklyn. Id. ¶¶ 2, 3; ECF 11 Exh. B. On February 23, 2015, Defendants sought and obtained search warrants for the Dell's facility to investigate alleged improper wastewater discharge from the premises. Compl. ¶ 24; ECF 11 Exhs. B, C, D (the “environmental warrants”). The affidavits in support of the search warrants made no reference to the presence of drugs or drug activity on the premises to be searched. Id. ¶¶ 29, 33, 34-38.

         On February 24, 2015, officers of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Division of Law Enforcement (“DEC”), the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), and the Kings County District Attorney arrived to execute the environmental warrants at the Dell's facility. Id. ¶ 2. Pursuant to the warrants' authority, officers had broad permissions to inspect piping, electronic devices, and other equipment used to store, monitor or treat wastewater at the facility. ECF 11 Exhs. B, C, D. During the search, the officers moved, touched, searched, altered and removed fixtures, furniture and shelving. Compl. ¶ 40. Mr. Mondella's person was not searched, nor did the warrants authorize it. Id. ¶ 55; ECF 11 Exhs. B, C, D. Assuming the facts alleged in the Complaint to be true, as Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) requires, Mr. Mondella, present in a room not yet searched, became “agitated, stressed, upset and nervous.” Id. ¶¶ 2, 4, 52. The search team neither knew nor had reason to inquire whether Mr. Mondella was carrying a gun with which he committed suicide while the search was in progress. Id. ¶¶ 2, 4, 5, 54-57.

         Evidence recovered in the course of the search revealed that Mr. Mondella was in the business of dealing in marijuana as well as in maraschino cherries. ECF 11 Exhs. E, F. Criminal charges were subsequently filed against Dell's for Criminal Possession of Marihauna in the First Degree in violation of N.Y. Penal Law § 221.30, and criminal negligence in discharging publicly owned treatment works without complying with toxic effluent standards, in violation of New York State Environmental Conservation Law (“N.Y. E.C.L.”) §§ 71-1933(3)(a)(i) and 17-0825. Dell's pled guilty to those charges pursuant to a plea agreement. Id.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         In deciding a Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, and accepting the facts pleaded to be true, Plaintiffs must state a claim that is plausible on its face from which the Court can draw the reasonable inference that the claim has merit. “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citation omitted).

         DISCUSSION

         Pending before the Court is the Defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Plaintiffs' memorandum opposing the Defendants' motion seeks leave to amend the Complaint, without substantively responding to the Defendants' arguments to dismiss it. To the extent that Plaintiffs address the motion to dismiss at all, they cite to no authority whatsoever. ECF 14 at 14-15. For the reasons that follow, the motion to dismiss is GRANTED.

         I. Claims Brought Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 [1]

         Plaintiffs allege that the Defendants' conduct in executing the warrants and failing to prevent Mr. Mondella's suicide violated his constitutional rights. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.