United States District Court, S.D. New York
The Alphas Company of New York Inc. et al., Plaintiffs
The Hunts Point Terminal Produce Cooperative, Inc. et al., Defendants.
L. CARTER, JR., United States District Judge.
action arises out of a wholesale food distribution business
formerly operated by the Alphas Company of New York, Inc.
(the "Alphas Company" or "Company") at
the Hunts Point Terminal Produce Market (the
"Market"). Plaintiff Peter Alphas, on behalf of the
Company and himself, brings this action against the
cooperative who operates the Market, the union who provides
employees to the cooperative members, and various attorneys
employed by the cooperative and union, who engaged in
litigation against Alphas and the Company. Alphas alleges two
federal causes of action, a violation of the Racketeer
Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO")
and conspiracy to violate RICO, and eight state law claims.
can be divided into five groups. The "Union
Defendants" are the Local 202 of the International
Brotherhood of Teamsters and five union representatives.
Fifth Am. Compl. ¶¶ 29-34. The "Hunts Point
Defendants" are the Hunts Point Terminal Produce
Cooperative Association, Inc. ("Hunts Point
Co-op"), which operates the Market, and its board
members, officers, and agents. Id. ¶¶ 11
-28, 36, 40-41. The "Attorney Defendants" are
Michael Shapiro, general counsel to Hunts Point Co-op; Julian
S. Kaufman, counsel to Hunts Point Co-op; and the Law Offices
of Rogers, Wughalter, and Kaufman, a law firm retained by
Hunts Point Co-op. Id. ¶¶ 35, 37-38. The
final Defendant is Thomas J. Bia ("Bia"), a New
York City Marshal. Id. ¶ 39.
Defendants have asserted a variety of grounds in support of
the dismissal of the amended complaint. On March 31, 2017,
this Court granted all of the Defendants' motions to
dismiss. The Court now sets forth the reasons why.
following facts are drawn from Plaintiffs Amended Complaint,
as well as documents of which the Court may take judicial
Alphas is the sole shareholder of the Alphas Company of New
York Inc., a domestic corporation that conducts wholesale
food packing and distribution around New York City. The
Alphas Company is currently in bankruptcy and under the
control of a trustee for the United States Bankruptcy Court.
Id. ¶ 9. In 2001, Hunts Point Co-op and the
Alphas Company entered into a lease for the Alphas
Company's use and occupancy. Id. ¶ 47. The
Alphas Company was a success until Alphas had to hire union
employees due to the harassment by the Union Defendants.
Thereafter in 2005, Alphas terminated the employment of all
but one union member from the Alphas Company, and the Union
Defendants responded by pressuring Alphas into hiring more
union employees or selling the Alphas Company's leased
units to a "crony of Defendant[']s at an undervalued
amount." Id. ¶ 53. Alphas had to seek
additional capital to keep the Company afloat but was unable
to procure any financing due to statements made by one or
more of the Defendants about the creditworthiness,
competence, and character of Alphas. Consequently, Alphas had
to invest his own personal funds to keep the Alphas Company
while, the Alphas Company was engaged in litigation with
Hunts Point and Union Defendants and non-parties related to
the eviction of Alphas Company from the Market, its failure
to make payments into the union's "Pension &
Health Fund, " and its improper withdrawal from the
union. Id. ¶¶ 59, 61, 63, 72, 73, 85, 76.
In the midst of the litigation pertaining to the eviction of
the Alphas Company, around May 6, 2013, certain of the Hunts
Point and Union Defendants dumped all inventory and personal
property from the leased units into the trash and blocked
Alphas and the Company employees from accessing the leased
units. Id. ¶ 78. Defendant Bia was
"induced by the" other Defendants into taking
Alphas' or the Alphas Company's property.
Id. ¶ 100. The Defendants'
actions-allegedly illegal eviction of Plaintiff, barring
access to the Company's leased properties, dumping of
property, litigation against Alphas and the Company, and
discouragement and prevention of customers, suppliers, and
potential financiers from doing business with Alphas and the
Company-were all done to pressure Alphas to sell his leased
units in the cooperative or run a union shop.
March 4, 2014, the Alphas Company commenced a proceeding
under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code. See in re The
Alphas Company of New York, Inc., 1:14-bk-10510 (Bankr.
S.D.N.Y.) ECF No. 1. The Alphas Company later sought to
convert and did convert the bankruptcy proceeding to one
under Chapter 7. Id. ECF Nos. 22, 29. On June 5,
2014, the Trustee, John Pereira, was appointed to take charge
of the Alphas Company's affairs. Id. ECF No. 30.
and the Company commenced this action on January 9, 2014.
Alphas subsequently discharged his attorneys and began
representing himself pro se. Alphas has amended the
complaint multiple times and all Defendants have moved to
dismiss the complaints multiple times. In addition, there
have been multiple joint stipulations of dismissal with or
without prejudice between John S. Pereira, as Chapter 7
trustee for the Alphas Company, and certain defendants.
See ECF Nos. 161, 239, 241. After the last
stipulation that was filed on August 18, 2016, ECF No. 241,
the Court requested the parties amend the pleadings, motions
papers, opposition papers, and reply papers as necessary to
reflect the status of the case, while terminating all pending
motions. ECF No. 242.
Alphas filed the Fifth Amended Complaint ("FAC"),
which was identical to the Fourth Amended Complaint, and all
the Defendants renewed their motions to dismiss pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), 12(b)(6), and to the extent applicable
to certain defendants, 12(b)(5).
survive a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a
claim 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 Ail. Corp. v. Twombly,550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim has facial plausibility
"when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows
the Court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant
is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 678. The plaintiff must allege sufficient facts
to show "more than a sheer possibility that a defendant
has acted unlawfully." Id. For the purposes of
a motion to dismiss, the court must accept all factual
allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable
inferences in the plaintiffs favor. McCarthy v. Dun &
Bradstreet Corp.,482 F.3d 184, 191 (2d Cir. 2007).
However, the court need not credit "mere conclusory
statements" or "threadbare recitals of the elements
of a cause of action." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678,
681 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). The complaint
must provide factual allegations ...