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Fixter v. County of Livingston

United States District Court, W.D. New York

April 27, 2017

JANE FIXTER, Plaintiff,
v.
COUNTY OF LIVINGSTON, et al., Defendants.

          DECISION AND ORDER

          HON. FRANK P. GERACI, JR. Chief Judge

         INTRODUCTION

         Jane Fixter (“Plaintiff”) brought this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against New York State employees Amy Saeva and Laura Welch (the “State Defendants”), Livingston County, and Livingston County employees Lynne Mignemi, Karen Weidman, Elizabeth Laney, and Debra Mack (the “County Defendants”) (collectively “Defendants”). ECF No. 1. Plaintiff's allegations arise from a state court finding that she violated the terms of her probation by consuming alcohol. Id. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants fabricated incriminating and destroyed exculpatory evidence, entered her home without a warrant, consent, or probable cause, denied her procedural due process, and unlawfully imprisoned her. Id. at ¶¶ 49-68, 77-82. Plaintiff also alleges that that Livingston County was negligent in hiring, retaining, supervising, and controlling its employees and was deliberately indifferent to her serious medical needs. Id. at ¶¶ 72-76, 83-85.

         Defendants have moved to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint. ECF Nos. 4, 8. First, Defendants argue that Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), bars Plaintiff's claims challenging the constitutionality of her incarceration. ECF No. 4-2 at 6-12; ECF No. 10 at 6-9.

         Second, the County Defendants argue that Plaintiff's claims against Livingston County must be dismissed because Plaintiff failed to allege that a county policy or custom deprived her of her rights. ECF No. 10 at 13-15. For the reasons stated below, Defendants' Motions to Dismiss (ECF Nos. 4, 8) are granted and Plaintiff's Complaint is dismissed.

         BACKGROUND

         The terms of Plaintiff's probation required her to participate in Livingston County Drug Treatment Court. ECF No. 1. At ¶ 19. Plaintiff's participation in Treatment Court required her to submit to a urine screen, which tested her urine for alcohol, on April 17, 2013. Id. After Plaintiff submitted to that urine screen, Defendant Saeva, a state employee and Livingston County Treatment Court liaison, informed Plaintiff that her urine tested positive for alcohol. Id. at ¶ 20. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Saeva destroyed her urine sample and replaced it with a different sample. Id. at ¶¶ 19, 25.

         On April 18, 2013, Plaintiff was required to attend a Treatment Court hearing. Id. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Saeva and Defendant Mack falsely testified at the hearing. Id. at ¶23. Plaintiff also alleges that Defendant Welch, a Livingston County court reporter, altered the transcript of the hearing. Id. ¶¶ 22, 26, 42-43.

         After the hearing on April 18, 2013, Plaintiff was incarcerated for five days. Id. at ¶ 23. Upon her release, Plaintiff was placed on electronic home monitoring. Id. On two occasions, the home monitoring device reported that Plaintiff had consumed alcohol. Id. at ¶¶ 34-35. Plaintiff alleges that these reports were false-positives. Id. ¶¶ 34-35.

         On June 10, 2013, Plaintiff was informed that she was violating the terms of her probation. Id. at ¶¶ 36. Two days later, Plaintiff was Plaintiff was arrested. Id. at ¶¶ 29-30.

         Plaintiff pled guilty to a probation violation and was sentenced to 1-3 years in prison. She served approximately 18 months. Id. at ¶ 45.

         While incarcerated, Plaintiff alleges that she suffered from serious dental pain resulting from abscesses in her mouth. Id. at ¶ 41. Plaintiff alleges that she requested treatment, but her requests were denied. Id. On September 3, 2013, Plaintiff was transferred to a New York State Department of Corrections and Community Services facility. Id. After she was transferred, Plaintiff was prescribed antibiotics and her teeth were removed. Id.

         DISCUSSION

         To succeed on a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the defendant must show that the complaint contains insufficient facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007). Plausibility “is not akin to a probability requirement.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quotation marks omitted). Rather, plausibility requires “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. “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. A pleading that consists of “labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the ...


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