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Treistman v. Greene

United States District Court, N.D. New York

November 9, 2017

BEN GARY TREISTMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
AMY GREENE et al., Defendants.

          FOR THE PLAINTIFF: Ben Gary Treistman Pro Se

          FOR THE DEFENDANTS: Amy Greene, Kelly Whittaker, Denise Woltman, Charlene Boswell, Mary Ellen Schneider, Joseph Bennett, Karin Hubbs, and Pamela Joern, Esq.

          ERIC M. KURTZ, ESQ., ROBERT D. COOK, ESQ.

          MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

          GARY L. SHARPE U.S. DISRTICT JUDGE.

         I. Introduction

         On January 4, 2016, plaintiff pro se Ben Gary Treistman filed a second amended complaint against defendants Amy Greene, Kelly Whittaker, Denise Woltman, Charlene Boswell, Mary Ellen Schneider, Joseph Bennett, Karin Hubbs, and Pamela Joern, Esq., which consisted of eighteen counts from his original complaint, (Compl., Dkt. No. 1), and ten supplemental counts pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985 and New York common law, (2d Am. Compl., Dkt. No. 98). The court previously disposed of both parties' motions for summary judgment, (Dkt. Nos. 90, 94), and ordered them to file supplemental briefs after identifying alternative grounds for summary judgment, (Dkt. No. 115).

         Specifically, the court directed the parties to brief whether qualified immunity applies and the viability of state law claims. (Dkt. No. 115 at 24.) Additionally, the court gave each party an opportunity to supplement their original filings in light of the subsequent addition of Hubbs and Joern as parties. (Dkt. No. 115 at 18, n.8.)

         After considering the parties' supplemental papers, (Dkt. Nos. 116, 117, 120), and for the reasons that follow, the court grants summary judgment in favor of defendants and dismisses all remaining claims.

         II. Background

         A. Facts

         The court presumes a basic familiarity with the undisputed material facts of this case from the court's previous summary judgment decision, [1](Dkt. No. 115 at 3-9), which guide the present analysis.

         B. Procedural History

         Likewise, the procedural posture of this case has been fully outlined in the court's previous summary judgment decision, (id. at 10-12), wherein the court granted Valerie Lynn Wacks Esq.'s motion to dismiss, (Dkt. No. 109), and defendants' motion for summary judgment, (Dkt. No. 90), with respect to Krisjanis, Jackson, and Sorkin in their individual capacities and all defendants in their official capacities, [2] and denied plaintiff's cross motion for summary judgment, (Dkt. No. 94; Dkt. No. 115 at 26). As such, the remaining defendants are state child care workers, Greene, Whittaker, Woltman, Boswell, Schneider, Bennett, and Hubbs, and an attorney for the Ulster County Department of Social Services, Joern.[3] The parties' supplemental briefs are now before the court for consideration. (Dkt. Nos. 116, 117, 120.)

         III. Standard of Review

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(f), district courts have discretion to grant summary judgment sua sponte “[a]fter giving [parties] notice and a reasonable time to respond” and “after identifying for the parties material facts that may not be genuinely in dispute.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(f), (f)(3); see, e.g., Swatch Grp. Mgmt. Servs. Ltd. v. Bloomberg L.P., 756 F.3d 73, 80 (2d Cir. 2014).

         The standard of review pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 is well established and will not be repeated here. For a full discussion of the standard, the court refers the parties to its decision in Wagner v. Swarts, 827 F.Supp.2d 85, 92 (N.D.N.Y. 2011), aff'd sub nom. Wagner v. Sprague, 489 F. App'x 500 (2d Cir. 2012).

         IV. Discussion

         A. Qualified Immunity

         Qualified immunity is intended to “strike a fair balance between (1) the need to provide a realistic avenue for vindication of constitutional guarantees, and (2) the need to protect public officials who are required to exercise their discretion and the related public interest in encouraging the vigorous exercise of official authority.” Jemmott v. Coughlin, 85 F.3d 61, 66 (2d Cir.1996) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

“[T]o submit all officials, the innocent as well as the guilty, to the burden of a trial and to the inevitable danger of its outcome, would dampen the ardor of all but the most resolute, or the most irresponsible, in the unflinching discharge of their duties. Again and again the public ...

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