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Guerrero v. City of New York

United States District Court, S.D. New York

May 23, 2017

SANTOS GUERRERO, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF NEW YORK, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          J. PAUL OETKEN, District Judge.

         Santos Guerrero brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants the City of New York, Chris Goubeaud, James Roche, Andrew Freeman, Edward McDonough, and Does 1-10, alleging that he was falsely arrested in early 2014. (Dkt. No. 19 (“Compl.”).) Defendants move to dismiss several of Guerrero's claims. For the reasons that follow, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.

         I. Background

         The following facts are taken from the operative complaint and are presumed true for the purposes of this motion.

         On the night of March 31, 2014, Guerrero visited a friend at 350 East 143rd Street in the Bronx, New York. (Compl. ¶ 12.) Guerrero was approached by Defendants Roche and McDonough, who placed him in handcuffs, held him for ten to fifteen minutes, and released him. (Id. ¶¶ 13-15.) Around 12:30 a.m. on April 1, 2014, as Guerrero was leaving the building, he was approached by Defendants Roche, Goubeaud, and Freeman, who arrested him for trespassing. (Id. ¶¶ 17-18.) Guerrero was transported in a police van to a police precinct where he was held until his arraignment later that day. (Id. ¶¶ 19-20.) Guerrero alleges that Defendants manufactured false evidence that was used against him in legal proceedings following his arrest. (Id. ¶ 22.) All charges against Guerrero were dismissed on October 28, 2014. (Id. ¶ 23.)

         Guerrero initiated this lawsuit on January 22, 2016, and filed the operative complaint on August 15, 2016. (Dkt. No. 1; Compl.) He brings seven causes of action: false arrest, malicious prosecution, violation of the right to a fair trial, malicious abuse of process, failure to intervene, supervisory liability, and municipal liability. (Compl. ¶¶ 35-69.) Defendants move to dismiss in part. (Dkt. No. 32.)

         II. Legal Standard

         In considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the Court accepts as true all allegations in the complaint and draws all reasonable inferences in Plaintiff's favor. Cleveland v. Caplaw Enters., 448 F.3d 518, 521 (2d Cir. 2006). To survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint must plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. 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.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

         III. Discussion

         Defendants move to dismiss Guerrero's claims for malicious abuse of process, failure to intervene, supervisory liability, and municipal liability.[1] (Dkt. No. 33 at 1.) Defendants do not (at this stage) challenge Guerrero's claims for false arrest and malicious prosecution. (Id. at 1 n.1.)

         As a threshold matter, Guerrero voluntarily withdraws his claims for malicious abuse of process and supervisory liability. (Dkt. No. 39 at 1 n.1.) Accordingly, the Court addresses only Guerrero's claims for municipal liability and failure to intervene.

         A. Municipal Liability

         “It is axiomatic that municipalities cannot be held liable pursuant to § 1983 on a respondeat superior theory.” Betts v. Shearman, No. 12 Civ. 3195, 2013 WL 311124, at *15 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 24, 2013) (citing Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 690 (1978)). “[T]o hold a city liable under [Section] 1983 for the unconstitutional actions of its employees, a plaintiff is required to plead and prove three elements: (1) an official policy or custom that (2) causes the plaintiff to be subjected to (3) a denial of a constitutional right.” Betts v. Rodriquez, No. 15 Civ. 3836, 2016 WL 7192088, at *5 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 12, 2016) (alteration in original) (quoting Wray v. City of N.Y., 490 F.3d 189, 195 (2d Cir. 2009)); see also Monell, 436 U.S. at 690-91 (“[A]lthough the touchstone of the § 1983 action against a government body is an allegation that official policy is responsible for a deprivation of rights protected by the Constitution, local governments . . . may be sued for constitutional deprivations visited pursuant to governmental ‘custom' even though such a custom has not received formal approval through the body's official decisionmaking channels.”).

         “[A] municipality can be liable for failing to train its employees where it acts with deliberate indifference in disregarding the risk that its employees will unconstitutionally apply its policies without more training.” Amnesty Am. v. Town of W. Hartford, 361 F.3d 113, 129 (2d Cir. 2004) (citing City of Canton v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 387-90 (1989)). To allege liability under a failure-to-train theory, a plaintiff must “establish not only that the officials' purported failure to train occurred under circumstances that could constitute deliberate indifference, but also that plaintiffs identify a specific deficiency in the city's training program and establish that that ...


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