United States District Court, S.D. New York
OPINION AND ORDER
GREGORY H. WOODS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Kelly Blount was arrested and indicted in 2012 for robbery
and other related crimes. Three years later, the charges
against him were dismissed. Plaintiff filed this action
against several members of the New York City Police
Department (the “NYPD Defendants”), members of
the Bronx District Attorney's Office (the “D.A.
Defendants”), and the City of New York, alleging
violations of his constitutional rights in connection with
the prosecution of the criminal charges against him. In his
second amended complaint, Plaintiff expressly pleads a claim
for malicious prosecution under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
(“section 1983”). The Court also construes the
second amended complaint to suggest a due process claim under
section 1983, Monell liability, and claims for
intentional infliction of emotional distress and
respondeat superior liability under New York state
moved to dismiss the second amended complaint for failure to
state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6). Because the D.A.
Defendants are entitled to absolute immunity, the claims
against them are dismissed. Plaintiff's federal claims
against the other defendants are also dismissed, and the
Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over
Plaintiff's state law claims. Defendants' motion to
dismiss is therefore GRANTED.
The July 31, 2012 Armed Robbery
after midnight in the morning hours of August 1, 2012,
Plaintiff's brother, Jesse Blount, was arrested in
connection with the armed robbery of two victims that had
occurred just hours before on July 31, 2012. Plaintiff's
Opp. to Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 66 (“Pl.'s
Opp.”), Ex. 1. Jesse was carrying Plaintiff's
identification at the time. Pl.'s Supp. Opp. to Mot. to
Dismiss, ECF No. 78 (“Pl.'s Supp. Opp.”) at
Jesse was taken to the 47th Precinct, where Officer Jason
Korpolinski was assigned to process his arrest. Pl.'s
Opp., Ex. 1.
robbery victims positively identified Jesse during a show-up
identification. Id. Several pieces of jewelry that
were identified as stolen items by one of the victims were
recovered from the front yard of 3327 Barker Avenue-the same
area where Jesse's arresting officer first saw him.
Id. A semi-automatic handgun was also recovered from
nearby. Id. According to the report prepared by
Captain Stewart A. Lieber, the duty captain responsible for
investigating the robbery, the following NYPD members
“were present”: Sergeants Gee, Quiles,
O'Rourke, and Laliberte; Detectives Regnier, Higgins, and
Cacce; Lieutenants Bhoj and Valentin; and Officers Martinez
and Moccia. Id. Captain Lieber recommended that the
matter be “followed up by the 47th Precinct Detective
same day, Detective Mark Moccia of the 47th Precinct
Detective Squad requested that a “Deputy
Commissioner's Subpoena” be issued to T-Mobile USA,
Inc. in connection with a stolen cell phone. Pl.'s Opp.,
Ex. 2. The request noted that one of the robbery victim's
cell phone was stolen on July 31, 2012, and that the cell
phone records were “required to determine if the cell
phone was used after it was stolen and to aid in locating the
perpetrator.” Id. The request for the subpoena
was approved weeks later by the Commanding Officer of the
47th Precinct Detective Squad. Id.
Plaintiff's Arrest and Indictment
August 8, 2012, at approximately 6:00 a.m., Detectives
William Puskas and Mark Moccia,  accompanied by other
plain-clothed detectives, knocked and banged on
Plaintiff's windows and doors. Second Amended Complaint,
ECF No. 41 (“SAC”) at 3. When Plaintiff answered
the door, Detectives Puskas and Moccia knocked him to the
floor and “[s]eized” him “because of an
alleged robbery that occurred the night of July 31,
2012” (the “robbery”). Id. A
little over an hour later, Plaintiff was transported to the
“Detective Bureau” located at 1086 Simpson Street
in the Bronx. Id. Plaintiff was neither interrogated
nor asked to provide any handwritten or oral statements in
connection with the robbery. Id.
following day, Plaintiff was arraigned in the Bronx County
Criminal Court, and an “[e]xcessive [b]ail” was
set. SAC at 4. Plaintiff was then taken to the Vernon C. Bain
Center (“V.C.B.C.”) in the Bronx, where he was
detained for six days. Id.
August 14, 2012, at approximately 6:00 p.m., Plaintiff
testified before a grand jury and was questioned by Assistant
District Attorney (“ADA”) Sean Marynes about the
robbery. Id. The “complainant witness did not
implicate Plaintiff in the robbery.” Pl.'s Supp.
Opp. at 4. That same evening, Plaintiff was released home.
SAC at 4. At some point between August 30, 2012 and September
10, 2012, Plaintiff was indicted on various robbery and other
related charges. Id.Among other things, the indictment
charged Plaintiff and his brother with committing various
counts of robbery by “acting in concert with each other
and another, and each aiding the others actually
present.” Declaration of Melissa Kim in Supp. of
Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 59 (“Kim
Decl.”), Ex. B.
Plaintiff's Criminal Proceedings
was initially represented by attorney David Barnhard in
connection with the criminal charges. SAC at 4. At some
point, Plaintiff's brother provided “Exculpatory
Materials” to Mr. Barnhard, after the receipt of which
Mr. Barnhard withdrew as counsel to Plaintiff out of concern
that he would be called upon as a potential witness.
Id. Attorney Victor Schurr then assumed
Plaintiff's representation. Id. Mr. Barnhard
provided Mr. Schurr with Plaintiff's file, including the
“BRADT [sic] Materials.” Id.
March 6, 2014, ADA Jessica Groppe issued a subpoena duces
tecum to Mr. Schurr, commanding that Mr. Schurr produce
“[a]udio calls, letters and notes from Jesse Blount to
former attorney for Kelly Blount (David Barnhard) regarding
Indictment 2726/2012 (People v. Jesse Blount & Kelly
Blount)” on March 7, 2014. Pl.'s Opp., Ex. 3. Mr.
Schurr provided the “Brady Materials” to ADA
Groppe. SAC at 4. Plaintiff alleges that, despite ADA
Groppe's receipt of the exculpatory materials, she
“never investigated correctly or stated any of these
materials to the Judge.” Id. ADA Groppe then
“stepped off” Plaintiff's case. Id.
Plaintiff's Charges Are Dismissed
letter dated January 27, 2015, Plaintiff's brother Jesse
acknowledged that he decided to “be a big man”
and “to tell the truth about July 31st.”
Pl.'s Opp., Ex. 4. The letter describes the robbery and
states that, after stealing jewelry and a cell phone from his
victims, Jesse ran to Plaintiff's house “and asked
him for car fair [sic] so [he] could pawn the jewlery
[sic].” Id. The letter affirms that Plaintiff
“never knew what happend [sic].”
August 7, 2015, after “an extensive 1, 072 days,
” the charges against Plaintiff were dismissed. SAC at
alleges that Defendants maliciously prosecuted him by
arresting him while knowing that the real suspect was already
in custody, suppressing exculpatory evidence, and violating
New York's speedy trial laws. SAC at 4. Plaintiff claims
that, as a result, he has endured “cruel and unusual
pain, mental anguish, emotional distress, a divorce, and pain
to [his] daughter.” SAC at 5. Plaintiff seeks damages
in the amount of fourteen million dollars. Id.
filed this action pro se on June 15, 2016, naming as
defendants various members of the New York City Police
Department (“NYPD”), former Bronx County District
Attorney Robert T. Johnson, ADA Sean Marynes, the Bronx
County 47th Precinct, and the City of New York. ECF No. 1.
The case was initially assigned to Chief Judge McMahon.
Plaintiff was granted leave to proceed in forma
pauperis on October 24, 2016. ECF No. 6.
November 10, 2016, Chief Judge McMahon issued an order
sua sponte granting Plaintiff leave to amend his
complaint to address the timeliness of his claims arising out
of his August 2012 arrest. ECF No. 7. Chief Judge McMahon
also granted Plaintiff leave to plead whether all of
the charges brought against him in connection with his arrest
were dismissed. Id. On December 20, 2016, Plaintiff
filed an amended complaint, naming in large part the same
defendants as the original complaint. ECF No. 9.
January 31, 2017, the case was reassigned to this Court. On
February 1, 2017, the Court dismissed as time-barred
Plaintiff's claims for false arrest, excessive force, and
false imprisonment, noting that Plaintiff failed to address
the timeliness of these claims in his amended complaint. ECF
No. 12. On April 5, 2017, the Court granted Plaintiff leave
to file a second amended complaint, which Plaintiff filed on
April 17, 2017. ECF Nos. 39, 41. The second amended complaint
again names as defendants various NYPD members, Bronx County
District Attorney defendants, and the City of New York. ECF
filed a motion to dismiss the second amended complaint for
failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6) on June 16, 2017. ECF No.
56. Plaintiff filed his opposition to
Defendants' motion on July 17, 2017. ECF No. 66.
Defendants filed a reply on August 22, 2017, and Plaintiff
filed a supplemental opposition on September 12, 2017. ECF
Nos. 74, 78.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a complaint must
contain “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Rule 8
“does not require detailed factual allegations, but it
demands more than an unadorned,
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). To
survive a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a
complaint “must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 678 (2009) (quoting 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.”
Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
“To survive dismissal, the plaintiff must provide the
grounds upon which his claim rests through factual
allegations sufficient ‘to raise a right to relief
above the speculative level.'” ATSI
Commc'ns, Inc. v. Shaar Fund, Ltd., 493 F.3d 87, 98
(2d Cir. 2007) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
whether a complaint states a plausible claim is a
“context-specific task that requires the reviewing
court to draw on its judicial experience and common
sense.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. The court must
accept all facts alleged in the complaint as true and draw
all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor.
Burch v. Pioneer Credit Recovery, Inc., 551 F.3d
122, 124 (2d Cir. 2008) (per curiam). However, a complaint
that offers “labels and conclusions” or
“naked assertion[s]” without “further
factual enhancement” will not survive a motion to
dismiss. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557).
considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim
pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a district court may consider the
facts alleged in the complaint, documents attached to the
complaint as exhibits, and documents incorporated by
reference in the complaint.” DiFolco v. MSNBC Cable
L.L.C., 622 F.3d 104, 111 (2d Cir. 2010) (citations
omitted). “Where a document is not incorporated by
reference, the court may never[the]less consider it where the
complaint ‘relies heavily upon its terms and effect,
' thereby rendering the document ‘integral' to
the complaint.” Id. (quoting Mangiafico v.
Blumenthal, 471 F.3d 391, 398 (2d Cir. 2006)). Finally,
the Court may also consider “matters of which judicial
notice may be taken.” Goel v. Bunge, Ltd., 820
F.3d 554, 559 (2d Cir. 2016) (citation omitted).
he is proceeding pro se, the Court must liberally
construe Plaintiff's submissions and interpret them
“to raise the strongest arguments that they
suggest.” Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of
Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 474 (2d Cir. 2006) (quoting
Pabon v. Wright, 459 F.3d 241, 248 (2d Cir. 2006));
see also, e.g., Erickson v. Pardus, 551
U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (“A document filed pro se
is ‘to be liberally construed' . . . .”
(citation omitted)); Nielsen v. Rabin, 746 F.3d 58,
63 (2d Cir. 2014) (“Where . . . the complaint was filed
pro se, it must be construed liberally to raise the
strongest claims it suggests.” (quoting Walker v.
Schult, 717 F.3d 119, 124 (2d Cir. 2013))). This mandate
“applies with particular force when a plaintiff's
civil rights are at issue.” Bell v. Jendell,
980 F.Supp.2d 555, 558 (S.D.N.Y. 2013) (quoting Maisonet
v. Metro. Hosp. & Health Hosp. Corp., 640 F.Supp.2d
345, 348 (S.D.N.Y. 2009)). However, “the liberal
treatment afforded to pro se litigants does not exempt a pro
se party from compliance with relevant rules of procedural
and substantive law.” Id. at 559 (internal
quotation marks and citation omitted); see also Rahman v.
Schriro, 22 F.Supp.3d 305, 310 (S.D.N.Y. 2014)
(“[D]ismissal of a pro se complaint is
nevertheless appropriate where a plaintiff has clearly failed
to meet minimum pleading requirements.” (citing
Rodriguez v. Weprin, 116 F.3d 62, 65 (2d Cir.
Plaintiff specifically frames his allegations as bringing a
claim under section 1983 for malicious prosecution, he also
asserts that Defendants violated his constitutional rights
secured by the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth
Amendments. SAC at 4. Defendants move to dismiss only
Plaintiff's malicious prosecution claim. However, to the
extent that Plaintiff's second amended complaint can be
read to raise other claims, the Court also addresses those
Claims Against the District Attorney Defendants
claims that former Bronx County D.A. Johnson and ADAs Marynes
and Groppe (the “D.A. Defendants”) violated his
constitutional rights by (1) delaying his prosecution in
violation of his speedy trial rights under New York law, (2)
withholding exculpatory evidence, and (3) proceeding with his
prosecution despite the exculpatory evidence. To the extent
Plaintiff seeks damages from these defendants in their
official capacities, the Eleventh Amendment bars
Plaintiff's claims. Rodriguez v. Weprin, 116
F.3d 62, 66 (2d Cir. 1997); see Hafer v. Melo, 502
U.S. 21, 30 (1991) (“[T]he Eleventh Amendment bars
suits in federal courts by private parties seeking to impose
a liability which must be paid from public funds in the state
treasury.” (internal quotation marks and citation
extent that Plaintiff seeks damages from the D.A. Defendants
in their individual capacities, these defendants enjoy
absolute immunity. “Absolute immunity bars a civil suit
against a prosecutor for advocatory conduct that is
‘intimately associated with the judicial phase of the
criminal process.'” Giraldo v. Kessler,
694 F.3d 161, 165 (2d Cir. 2012) (quoting Imbler v.
Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409, 430 (1976)). “This
immunity attaches to conduct in court, as well as conduct
‘preliminary to the initiation of a prosecution and
actions apart from the courtroom.'” Id.
(quoting Imbler, 424 U.S. at 431 n.33).
determine whether an official enjoys absolute immunity,
” courts are to “take a ‘functional
approach, ' examining ‘the nature of the function
performed, not the identity of the actor who performed
it.'” Simon v. City of New York, 727 F.3d
167, 171 (2d Cir. 2013) (quoting Buckley v.
Fitzsimmons, 509 U.S. 259, 269 (1993)).
“Prosecutorial immunity from § 1983 liability is
broadly defined, covering virtually all acts, regardless of
motivation, associated with [the prosecutor's] function
as an advocate.” Giraldo, 694 F.3d at 165
(quoting Hill v. City of New York, 45 F.3d 653, 660
(2d Cir. 1995) (internal quotation marks omitted)).
“These functions include deciding whether to bring
charges and presenting a case to a grand jury or a court,
along with the tasks generally considered adjunct to those
functions, such as witness preparation, witness selection,
and issuing subpoenas.” Simon, 727 F.3d at 171
(citing Imbler, 424 U.S. at 431 n.33). More
specifically, the “Supreme Court has explained that a
prosecutor's functions preliminary to the initiation of
proceedings include ...