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Escoffier v. City of New York

United States District Court, S.D. New York

July 27, 2017

DANA ESCOFFIER, Plaintiff,
v.
THE CITY OF NEW YORK, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          J. PAUL OETKEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On January 4, 2017-after this Court issued an Amended Order of Reference (Dkt. No. 139)-Magistrate Judge Freeman issued a Report and Recommendation that the claims against the John and Jane Doe defendants in this action be dismissed as time-barred. (Dkt. No. 140 (“Report”).)

         Mr. Escoffier filed timely objections to the Report. The Court has reviewed the Report and Mr. Escoffier's objections. For the reasons that follow, the Court adopts Magistrate Judge Freeman's Report and Recommendation and dismisses Mr. Escoffier's claims against the John and Jane Doe defendants.

         I. Background

         Familiarity with the relevant background, as detailed in the Report, is presumed.

         Mr. Escoffier, proceeding pro se, filed his second amended complaint in this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action on February 24, 2014. (Dkt. No. 11 (“SAC”).) On February 11, 2016, this Court granted Defendants' motion to dismiss with respect to claims based on the police's failure to make an arrest in response to Mr. Escoffier's complaints, claims for excessive force and conspiracy, and claims based on the First Amendment and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but this Court denied Defendants' motion to dismiss with respect to claims based on possible violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and the Fourth Amendment. (Dkt. No. 94.)

         As to the John and Jane Doe defendants, Plaintiff claims that, “about April, 2013, ” those unnamed members of the New York City Police Department violated the ADA when they “ridiculed, mimicked and treated [him] with hostility” and referred to him as “mentally unstable, crazy, and EDP (emotionally disturbed person).” (SAC at 6.) Based on the April 2013 timeframe, the three-year statute of limitations period ended in April of 2016.

         As Magistrate Judge Freeman held, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(c)(1)(C) allows a party to proceed with an otherwise time-barred claim if (1) “the amendment changes the party or the naming of the party against whom a claim is asserted, ” (2) the proposed claim arises out of the “conduct, transaction, or occurrence” detailed in the original pleading, and (3) the defendants who will be brought in by amendment either received notice of the action or “knew or should have known that the action would have been brought against it, but for a mistake concerning the proper party's identity.” (Report at 4-5 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(c)(1)(C)).) Magistrate Judge Freeman concluded that Mr. Escoffier could not demonstrate any circumstances under which the unnamed defendants “knew or should have known that the action would have been brought against [them], but for a mistake concerning [their] identit[ies]” (Report at 5 (alteration in original)), and therefore dismissed the action as to the John and Jane Doe defendants (Report at 9-10).

         In particular, Magistrate Judge Freeman concluded that Mr. Escoffier failed to demonstrate the he “exercise[d] due diligence, prior to the running of the statute of limitations, to identify” the John and Jane Doe defendants or “describe[d] the John Doe party in such form as will fairly apprise the party that [he] is the intended defendant.” (Report at 9 (alterations in original) (quoting Hogan v. Fischer, 738 F.3d 509, 519 (2d Cir. 2013)).)

         Mr. Escoffier filed timely objection to the Report on February 28, 2017. (Dkt. No. 145 (the “Objection”).)

         II. Standard of Review

         In reviewing Magistrate Judge Freeman's Report, this Court “may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). Where no objection is made, the Court reviews the Report strictly for clear error; however, the Court will make a de novo determination regarding those parts of the Report to which objections have been made. McDonaugh v. Astrue, 672 F.Supp.2d 542, 547 (S.D.N.Y. 2009) (citation omitted).

However, objections that are merely perfunctory responses argued in an attempt to engage the district court in a rehashing of the same arguments set forth in the original petition will not suffice to invoke de novo review of the magistrate's recommendations. Further, the objections must be specific and clearly aimed at particular findings in the magistrate judge's proposal.

Feliciano v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., No. 10 Civ. 3151, 2011 WL 6399512, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Dec.20, 2011) (quoting McDonaugh, 672 F.Supp.2d at 547). When a party makes only conclusory or general objections, or simply reiterates the original arguments, the Court will review the Report strictly for clear error. Crowell v. Astrue, No. 08 Civ. 8019, 2011 WL 4863537, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 12, 2011) (citing P ...


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