Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Anania v. United States

United States District Court, E.D. New York

January 12, 2018

JOSEPH ANANIA, JAMES ANNING, WILLIAM BUSCHMANN, MICHAEL FISHER, NANCY HASKELL, GERODETTE MACWHINNIE, KEITH MARRAN, MICHAEL MCPHERSON, ROLAND MICHELY, GARY SACKS, ROBERTA TERAZO and SARA WIDDICOMBE, Plaintiffs,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, UNITED STATES ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, COLONEL DAVID A. CALDWELL, COUNTY OF SUFFOLK and GILBERT ANDERSON, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          SANDRA J. FEUERSTEIN U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiffs, Joseph Anania, James Anning, William Buschmann, Michael Fisher, Nancy Haskell, Gerodette MacWhinnie, Keith Marran, Michael McPherson, Roland Michely, Gary Sacks, Roberta Terazo and Sara Widdicombe (collectively, the “Plaintiffs”) bring the instant action, arising under the First, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), 28 U.S.C. § 2201, and the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. § 701 et seq., against Defendants United States of America (the “United States”), United States Army Corps of Engineers (the “USACE”), Colonel David A. Caldwell (“Colonel Caldwell”) (collectively, the “Federal Defendants”), County of Suffolk (the “County”) and Gilbert Anderson (“Anderson”) (collectively, the “Defendants”) seeking damages, declaratory and injunctive relief stemming from the alleged “takings of Plaintiffs' property rights, in connection with the design and implementation of the so-called Fire Island Inlet to Moriches Inlet Fire Island Stabilization Beach Restoration Project (the “FIMI Project”), by the [USACE], in concert with the County of Suffolk, New York and the State of New York.” See generally Amended Complaint (“Am. Compl.”). Presently before the Court is Judge Lindsay's Report and Recommendation concerning the County's Rules 12(c) motion [DE 40] as well as the Federal Defendants' motion pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), 12(b)(6) and 12(c) [DE 56] seeking to dismiss the Amended Complaint in its entirety. See DE 64 (“the R&R”). Judge Lindsay recommends that these motions “should be converted into motions for summary judgment and . . . that the motions be denied, at this time, in order to give plaintiffs a reasonable opportunity to present material pertinent to the converted motions.” R&R at 1. For the reasons that follow, Judge Lindsay's R&R is adopted to the extent set forth in this Memorandum and Order.

         II. Background

         A. Judge Lindsay's Report and Recommendation

         Judge Lindsay's recommendation, that both of Defendants' motions be converted to “motions for summary judgment, ” see R&R at 6, is premised upon the “enormity of the record that has been placed before the Court, the federal defendants' request, albeit it [sic] in the alternative, that the motion be decided pursuant to Rule 56, and the plaintiffs' own attempt to supplement the record with an expert declaration. . . .” Id. at 6. Judge Lindsay noted that “the County has submitted a large portion of the FIMI Project Main Report, issued by the USACE in June 2014 (the “HSLRR”), ” “several appendices to the HSLRR, ” “environmental review documents [contained in the USACE website], ” “materials that were circulated in advance of or were made part of the Eminent Domain hearing record” and “samples of easement forms as well as several documents that were mailed to property owners in an attempt to provide an explanation of the key provisions of the easements.” Id. at 4. Judge Lindsay further noted that the “federal defendants have also asked the Court to consider the entire HSLRR and its appendices . . . the Project Partnership Agreement dated August 25, 2014 and the and the Local Partnership Agreement dated August 5, 2015, referred to in the amended complaint” and opined that “although the plaintiffs have failed to provide citations to many of the facts set forth in their opposing memoranda, they too have made numerous references to the documents described above” while also “rely[ing] on an affidavit submitted by their coastal expert scientist, Dr. Mark Byrnes, Ph.D., that was submitted in support of their preliminary injunction motion.” Id. at 4-5.

         Notwithstanding that all parties expressly or impliedly requested consideration of various documents that purportedly exist outside of the Amended Complaint and the County's argument that “conversion is unnecessary given the plaintiffs' repeated reference to many of documents in their amended complaint” as well as the fact that “the documents at issue were available to the plaintiffs when they framed their allegations, ” id. at 4-5, Judge Lindsay stated that it is “within a district court's discretion to convert a motion to dismiss or a motion for judgment on the pleadings to a motion for summary judgment when the parties have presented matters outside the pleadings, provided that the parties are given reasonable notice and an opportunity to present pertinent material before such a motion is converted, ” id. at 5 (citing cases), and that prior to “converting the motions, all parties must be given notice, as well as a reasonable opportunity to submit all material made pertinent to such motion by Rule 56.” Id. at 6 (citing cases). Thus, in light of the broad discretion afforded to a district court in determining whether a motion to dismiss or for judgment on the pleadings should be converted into one for summary judgment and “given the enormity of the record that has been placed before the Court, the federal defendants' request, albeit in the alternative, that the motion be decided pursuant to Rule 56, [1] and the plaintiffs' own attempt to supplement the record with an expert declaration, ” Judge Lindsay determined that “the better course is to convert the pending motions to motions for summary judgment.” Id. at 6.

         Based upon this determination, Judge Lindsay has recommended that Defendants' motions “be denied, at this time, in order to give the plaintiffs a reasonable opportunity to present material pertinent to the converted motions.” Id. at 7. However, Judge Lindsay qualified this recommendation by stating that “[a]lthough the Court believes that the materials offered by the parties in connection with the preliminary injunction motion would be helpful in its determination [of the instant motions], given the defendants' grounds for dismissal, the undersigned does not believe that additional discovery is necessary at this time.” Id. n. 1.

         B. The County Defendant's Response

         The County asserts that it “does not object to the conversion of the County's motion for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c) to a motion for summary judgment” and also “agrees with the statement by [Judge Lindsay] that no discovery is required.” Response and Objections of the County of Suffolk to Magistrate's Report and Recommendation (“Cty. Defs.' Response”) at 1-2. The County states that it “believes that the voluminous papers filed already with the Court provide everything needed to decide whether to grant summary judgment” and that upon conversion of the motion “the Court consider all papers submitted by all parties in connection with the following: (1) The County's 2/17/17 Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c); (2) The Federal Defendants' 6/23/17 Motion to Dismiss; (3) Plaintiffs' 6/28/16 Motion for a Preliminary Injunction; and (4) Plaintiffs' 10/2/17 Application for a Temporary Restraining Order.” Id. at 2. Therefore, the County requests “that a short period be allowed for further submissions. . . .” Id.

         C. The Federal Defendants' Response

         The Federal Defendants take issue with Judge Lindsay's recommendation, asserting that “it is not appropriate to convert the Federal Defendants' motion to dismiss to a motion for summary judgment in this case. Rather, the Court should decide the motion on the basis of the submissions before the Court.” Federal Defendants' Memorandum of Law in Support of Objections to Report and Recommendation on Federal Defendants' Motion to Dismiss the [Amended] Complaint Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), 12(b)(6), and 12(c), or, Alternatively, as to Count VI only, for Summary Judgment (“Fed. Defs.' Response”) at 4. Specifically, according to the Federal Defendants, their “motion to dismiss Counts I-III[2] may not be converted to summary judgment because this portion of the motion to dismiss presents purely legal questions that can be determined on the pleadings” coupled with the fact that no “party [has] presented . . . any ‘matters outside the pleadings' [ ] in support of or opposition to the Federal Defendants' motion to dismiss Counts I-III.” Id. at 5. Likewise, the Federal Defendants assert that conversion is unwarranted with respect to Counts IV-VII[3] since: (1) “the Federal Defendants did not rely upon or ask the Court to consider the Project Partnership Agreement and the Local Partnership Agreement as a basis to grant their motion to dismiss” but rather submitted these documents “as part of the factual background in [the Federal Defendants'] initial brief;” (2) “the HSLRR and all of its attachments constitute the administrative record” and therefore these materials “are not only properly before the Court, but are . . . the only materials that may be considered upon plaintiffs' claims in Counts IV-VII that seek review of, inter alia, the USACE's action under the APA;” (3) “regardless of the procedural vehicle chosen to move to dismiss an APA claim challenging agency action, matters outside the administrative record may not be considered except in very narrow circumstances not present . . . here;” and (4) “Counts IV-VII . . . depend on the baseless contention that Cherry Grove has been excluded from the FIMI project because its dune will not be reconstructed to pre-Sandy condition.” Id. at 5-10.

         D. Plaintiffs' Response

         Plaintiffs state that they have “no objection to the central recommendation contained within Magistrate Judge Lindsay's Report-that is, converting both the County and Federal Defendants' motions to dismiss to motions for summary judgment and allowing the Plaintiffs a reasonable amount of time to present pertinent materials in support of their position.” Plaintiffs' Response to Magistrate's Report (“Pls.' Response”) at 1. Plaintiffs nevertheless request that they be permitted the “opportunity to submit legal memoranda addressing the import of such ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.