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Brightman v. NYC Police Officer Zuel Clement

United States District Court, S.D. New York

April 20, 2017

EZRA BRIGHTMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
NYC POLICE OFFICER ZUEL CLEMENT, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          LORNA G. SCHOFIELD, District Judge

         Plaintiff Ezra Brightman brings this action against Police Officer Zuel Clement, Police Officer John Doe and the City of New York, asserting claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, reckless investigation, prolonged detention and inadequate training and supervision of police officers. Defendants Clement and the City of New York (“Defendants”) move to dismiss Plaintiffs Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c). For the following reasons, Defendants' motion is granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Except as otherwise noted, the following facts are based on Brightman's Amended Complaint, and are accepted as true solely for the purpose of evaluating this motion. See Mantena v. Johnson, 809 F.3d 721, 727-28 (2d Cir. 2015).

         On July 2, 2011, Brightman was arrested by Clement for a robbery that allegedly occurred at approximately 8:30 that evening. The perpetrators of the robbery had their faces completely covered, and witnesses initially stated that no robbery had occurred at all. At the time she arrested Brightman, Clement and another New York City police officer were aware that no one had identified Brightman as a perpetrator of the crime. In fact, Brightman had committed no crime at all.

         According to the Criminal Court Complaint against Brightman, of which the Court is entitled to take judicial notice, Brightman was arraigned on July 3, 2011, on charges of Robbery in the First Degree, Robbery in the Second Degree, Burglary in the Second Degree and Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree. See Apotex Inc. v. Acorda Therapeutics, Inc., 823 F.3d 51, 60 (2d Cir. 2016) (at motion to dismiss stage, court may take judicial notice of documents that are publicly available and whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned); In re WorldCom, Inc., 708 F.3d 327, 339 n.63 (2d Cir. 2013) (taking judicial notice of court records). Following his arraignment, on or about July 4, 2011, Brightman was remitted to the custody of the New York City Department of Corrections as a detainee. While he was detained in relation to his July 2, 2011, arrest, Brightman was injured after being attacked by other inmates.

         According to the grand jury indictment against Brightman, of which the Court takes judicial notice, on July 8, 2011, the grand jury returned a true bill indicting Brightman on charges of Burglary in the First Degree and Robbery in the Second Degree. On April 5, 2013, the criminal prosecution against Brightman was dismissed on the merits.

         II. STANDARD

         Rule 12(c) permits a party to move for judgment on the pleadings “[a]fter the pleadings are closed -- but early enough not to delay trial.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). Motions brought under Rule 12(c) are evaluated using the same standard as a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). See Mantena, 809 F.3d at 727-28. “[T]he only facts to be considered are those alleged in the complaint, and the court must accept them, drawing all reasonable inferences in the plaintiffs favor, in deciding whether the complaint alleges sufficient facts to survive.” Doe v. Columbia Univ., 831 F.3d 46, 48 (2d Cir. 2016). To withstand dismissal, a pleading “must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id. (citation omitted).

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. False Imprisonment

         The Amended Complaint first alleges that Plaintiff was falsely imprisoned by virtue of his July 2, 2011, arrest. In New York, a claim for false imprisonment under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 must be brought within three years of the date on which a plaintiff was arraigned. See Hogan v. Fischer, 738 F.3d 509, 517 (2d Cir. 2013) (Section 1983 claims filed in New York are subject to three-year statute of limitations); Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 389 (2007) (statute of limitations on false imprisonment claim begins to run once alleged victim is arraigned or otherwise held pursuant to legal process). As Plaintiff was arraigned on July 3, 2011, the statute of limitations for his false imprisonment claim expired in July 2014. Plaintiff did not bring this action until April 2016, and did not assert the false imprisonment claim until September 2016. Even if the claim relates back to the filing of the original complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(c)(1)(B) (relation back for “a claim . . . that arose out of the conduct, transaction, or occurrence set out -- or attempted to be set out -- in the original pleading”), the claim is untimely and therefore dismissed.

         B. Malicious Prosecution

         The Amended Complaint next alleges that Defendants maliciously prosecuted Plaintiff in violation of the Fourth Amendment. To succeed on a malicious prosecution claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must demonstrate (1) “the commencement or continuation of a criminal proceeding against [him], ” (2) “the termination of the proceeding in [his] favor, ” (3) “that there was no probable cause for the proceeding, ” (4) “that the proceeding was instituted with malice, ” and (5) “a seizure or other perversion of proper legal procedures implicating the claimant's personal liberty and privacy interests under the Fourth Amendment.” Mitchell v. City of New York, 841 F.3d 72, 79 (2d Cir. 2016) (citations omitted). “The existence of probable cause is a complete defense to a claim of malicious prosecution in New York.” Manganiello v. City of New York, 612 F.3d 149, 161-62 (2d Cir. 2010) (citation omitted). A grand jury indictment ...


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