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DeRaffele v. City of New Rochelle

United States District Court, S.D. New York

June 13, 2017

JOHN DeRAFFELE, Plaintiff,

          John DeRaffele New Rochelle, NY Pro Se Plaintiff

          Steven C. Stern, Esq. David A. Gold, Esq. Sokoloff Stern LLP Carle Place, NY Counsel for Defendant

          OPINION & ORDER

          KENNETH M. KARAS, District Judge

         John DeRaffele (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se, filed this Action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the City of New Rochelle (the “City” or “Defendant”) violated his rights under the First, Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. (See Am. Compl. (Dkt. No. 56).) Before the Court is Defendant's Motion To Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (the “Motion”). (See Dkt. No. 60.) For the reasons to follow, Defendant's Motion is granted.[1]

         I. Background

         A. Factual Background

         Plaintiff's Amended Complaint contains an abbreviated factual background as compared to Plaintiff's initial Complaint in this Action. (Compare Am. Compl. ¶¶ 4-23, with Compl. 5- 14.)[2] The following allegations are taken from Plaintiff's Amended Complaint and are assumed true for the purpose of resolving the instant Motion.

         In December 1982, Plaintiff purchased the property at 867 Weaver Street, New Rochelle, New York (“867 Weaver Street”) as “a pre-existing non-conforming home as dictated by the 1955 zoning ordinance.” (Am. Compl. ¶ 2.) Plaintiff avers that “[f]rom 1955 to present, no Certificate of Occupancy has ever been issued for . . . 867 Weaver Street.” (Id. ¶ 7.) In 2007, the property adjacent to 867 Weaver Street “consist[ed] ¶ 16 acres, two single-family homes, [a] barn, [a] garage[, ] . . . [a] commercial building[, ] and [a] golf range.” (Id. ¶ 8.) This land was sold to a developer to build a “26 single family home sub[]division.” (Id.) Access to this adjacent property was through Plaintiff's driveway and “Plaintiff believed an easement was in effect at the time of his purchase and ended upon the sale of [the] adjacent property in 2007.” (Id.) Plaintiff “agreed to [a] limited use [by] the developer . . . until [the developer] could put in his own entrance.” (Id.)

         When the work on the adjacent property's driveway was completed, the developer “refused to stop using Plaintiff's driveway as a construction road.” (Id. ¶ 9.) Plaintiff thus complained to the City Building Inspector, Paul Vacca (“Vacca”), who “refused to take any action against the developer, ” and therefore “cause[d] the continuation of trespassing of heavy duty trucks and equipment through Plaintiff's property.” (Id.) Due to the inaction, Plaintiff approached City Manager Charles Strome and Mayor Noam Bramson about the developer's use of his driveway. (See id.)

         On November 12, 2010, one of Plaintiff's tenants “called the fire department when their carbon monoxide alarm went off.” (Id. ¶ 10.) Plaintiff contends “[i]t was a simple alarm” to which “one fire truck responded and within minutes the problem was corrected.” (Id.) However, Plaintiff's tenants were precluded from reentering the home for approximately two hours. (See id.) Vacca then arrived on the scene and “went through . . . Plaintiff's house without a search warrant or permission.” (Id. ¶ 11.) Vacca instructed Plaintiff to come to his office on November 16, 2010. (See id.) The following day, Vacca sent an inspector to “inspect the outside of . . . Plaintiff's house and talk to the tenants on the third floor, ” which Plaintiff contends resulted in “additional tickets under code 111-8.” (Id. ¶ 12.)

         At the November 16, 2010 meeting, Vacca told Plaintiff that “he [could not] find any files for 867 Weaver Street, ” but that he was “issuing five tickets based on a building card in the City's files.” (Id. ¶ 13 (internal quotation marks omitted).) Plaintiff continued to seek files pertaining to his property, (see Id. ¶¶ 13-14), but was ultimately told to file a freedom of information law (“FOIL”) request, (see Id. ¶ 15). On January 15, 2011, Plaintiff met with City Clerk Benny Giles (“Giles”) for approximately two hours to review files, after which both Plaintiff and Giles concluded that “no files for 867 Weaver Street existed.” (Id. ¶ 16.) On February 15, 2011, Plaintiff was informed that files were in fact located and the next day, Plaintiff was given “a brand new folder with several pieces of paper in it.” (Id. ¶ 18.) Plaintiff ultimately determined that the files were “bogus, ” that he had already inspected them, and that Giles “should be ashamed of himself.” (Id.)

         The prosecution against Plaintiff for the housing violations proceeded to trial before Judge Kettner in the City Court of New Rochelle (the “City Court”) in May 2012. (See id. ¶ 21.) Plaintiff asserts that the trial lasted approximately two years and resulted in a $12, 900 fine against Plaintiff. (See Id. ¶ 22.) Plaintiff paid the fine and immediately appealed the decision. (See Id. ¶ 23.)

         Plaintiff seeks an “order . . . [d]eclaring that Plaintiff's rights were violated under the First, Fourth, Eighth[, ] and Fourteenth Amendment[s], ” as well as monetary damages in the amount of five million dollars, and punitive damages. (Id. at 21-22.)

         B. Procedural History

         Plaintiff commenced the instant Action on January 15, 2015. (See Dkt. No. 1.) Pursuant to a Scheduling Order adopted by the Court on April 15, 2015, (see Dkt. No. 27), the City and former defendants filed two motions to dismiss, which were fully briefed on July 13, 2015, (see Dkt. Nos. 32-37, 40, 42, 44-45). In an Opinion & Order (“Opinion”) dated March 30, 2016, the Court granted the motions and granted Plaintiff leave to file an Amended Complaint. (See Dkt. No. 46.) Plaintiff filed his Amended Complaint on July 15, 2016, asserting claims only against the City. (See Dkt. No. 56.) On September 9, 2016, the City filed the instant Motion To Dismiss and accompanying papers, (see Dkt. Nos. 60-63), and on September 22, 2016, Plaintiff filed his opposition, (see Dkt. No. 64).

         On September 30, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Submit Supplemental Information Requested by the Court, attaching the decision of the Appellate Division in People v. DeRaffele, 43 N.Y.S.3d 667 (App. Div. 2016), issued September 20, 2016. (See Dkt. No. 65.) In the decision, the Appellate Division reversed the June 19, 2014 judgment of Judge Kettner, “remit[ed] the matter to the City Court for a new trial before a different judge, ” and remitted the $12, 900 fine. DeRaffele, 43 N.Y.S.3d at 671. On November 7, 2016, Defendant filed its papers in reply. (See Dkt. Nos. 69-70.) On November 17, 2016, without prior permission of the Court, Plaintiff filed sur-reply papers. (See Dkt. Nos. 76-77.) Plaintiff additionally filed a document on February 15, 2017, entitled “Supplemental Information to Court, ” attaching over 100 pages of exhibits. (See Dkt. No. 78.)

         II. ...

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