United States District Court, S.D. New York
OPINION AND ORDER
GREGORY H. WOODS, DISTRICT JUDGE
Juel Roundtree was walking with friends late one night on
Ninth Avenue in Manhattan. Several New York City Police
Department (“NYPD”) officers approached and
accused Mr. Roundtree and his friends of drinking in public.
Suddenly, and without provocation, the officers assaulted and
arrested Mr. Roundtree. Although a criminal prosecution of
Mr. Roundtree ensued, the charges against him were ultimately
Roundtree brings this pro se action under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 and New York state law, alleging, among other
things, that Defendants falsely arrested him, used excessive
force during his arrest, falsely imprisoned him, maliciously
prosecuted him, and denied his right to a fair trial.
Defendants City of New York (“City”), Lieutenant
Christopher Cheng, and Officer Stephen Malone move pursuant
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) for partial judgment
on the pleadings with respect to all of Mr. Roundtree's
claims except his federal claim for malicious prosecution.
For the reasons stated below, the motion is granted in part
and denied in part.
after midnight on February 27, 2012, Mr. Roundtree was
walking in Manhattan with his common-law wife and a few
friends. Third Amended Complaint (ECF No. 44), ¶ 12
(“TAC.”). They were not engaged in any criminal
activity. Id. ¶ 12. Suddenly, several police
officers approached the group, including Lieutenant Cheng,
who had his hand on his weapon. Id. ¶ 14.
Lieutenant Cheng “walked a few feet away, picked up a
container out of the gutter, and falsely accused the entire
group of drinking in public.” Id. After
Lieutenant Cheng demanded identification, Mr. Roundtree
produced his New York State “F.D.N.Y. Fireguard
License.” Id. ¶ 15. Lieutenant
Christopher Cheng said he “didn't like” that
form of identification and asked Mr. Roundtree to produce a
different one. Id. As Mr. Roundtree was producing
another form of identification, Lieutenant Cheng yelled,
“lock this fat n****r, the f**k up!!”
Id. Lieutenant Cheng then ordered “4
rookies” to arrest Mr. Roundtree. Id.
“rookies” threw Mr. Roundtree against a vehicle
and handcuffed him tightly. TAC ¶ 16. The officers
struck Mr. Roundtree in the back, attempted to trip him to
the ground, and slammed him into the side of a van.
Id. ¶ 19. None of the officers tried to
intervene. Id. ¶ 23. Finally, the officers
drove Mr. Roundtree to the Midtown South precinct where he
was strip-searched and left in a holding cell without food or
water for fourteen hours. Id. ¶¶ 19-21.
Thereafter, Mr. Roundtree alleges that the officers gave
false statements about the incident that resulted in the
criminal prosecution of Mr. Roundtree. Id. ¶
August 28, 2012, while the criminal charges were still
pending, Mr. Roundtree was struck by a speeding taxi.
Pl.'s Opp'n (ECF No. 83) (“Pl.'s
Opp'n”), at 2. As a result, he suffered “an
impact stroke” during which he “flatlined”
twice, causing “traumatic brain injury, loss of memory,
[and] various cognitive defects and deficiencies.”
Id. Thereafter, he experienced “a melancholy
state of mind” during which “basic life
activities became desultorally [sic] disorganized.”
Id. Mr. Roundtree also alleges that he suffered
“partial paralysis, loss of income, [and] mental
disorientation, ” causing “limited
psychosis” and homelessness following the accident.
criminal charges against Mr. Roundtree were dismissed on
March 19, 2013. TAC ¶¶ 47, 54. According to Mr.
Roundtree, he received proof of the favorable resolution of
the case approximately 90 days later. Pl.'s Opp'n at
2. Thereafter, he contacted several attorneys about filing a
civil action against the City. Id. One attorney
agreed to represent Mr. Roundtree, but approximately three or
four months later informed Mr. Roundtree that he would not
take the case. Id. At some point during those three
or four months, Mr. Roundtree was arrested and detained in
connection with an unrelated incident. Id. While
detained, he experienced frequent delays in receiving his
mail, and also received damaged mail. Id.
Roundtree commenced this action pro se on August 19,
2015, ECF No. 2, and filed the TAC on April 17, 2017. ECF No.
44. The City filed this motion on June 19, 2017, before the
individual defendants were served. ECF No. 60. On July 24 and
August 1, 2017, respectively, the Court deemed the City's
partial motion for judgment on the pleadings as Lieutenant
Cheng and Officer Malone's responses to the TAC. ECF Nos.
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) provides that “[a]fter
the pleadings are closed-but early enough not to delay
trial-a party may move for judgment on the pleadings.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). In deciding a motion for judgment on the
pleadings under Rule 12(c), the Court employs the same
standards as those applicable to a motion to dismiss under
Rule 12(b)(6). Hayden v. Paterson, 594 F.3d 150, 160
(2d Cir. 2010). Thus, the Court “will accept all
factual allegations in the complaint as true and draw all
reasonable inferences in [plaintiff's] favor.”
Id. (quoting Johnson v. Rowley, 569 F.3d
40, 43 (2d Cir. 2009)).
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)). For a claim to be plausible, the plaintiff must
“plead[ ] factual content that allows the court to draw
the reasonable inference that the defendant[s] [are] liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Id. A complaint
that offers “labels and conclusions” or
“naked assertion[s]” without “further
factual enhancement” will not survive a motion to
dismiss. Id. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555).
a 12(c) motion, the court considers ‘the complaint, the
answer, any written documents attached to them, and any
matter of which the court can take judicial notice for the
factual background of the case.'” L-7 Designs,
Inc. v. Old Navy, LLC, 647 F.3d 419, 422 (2d Cir. 2011)
(quoting Roberts v. Babkiewicz, 582 F.3d 418, 419
(2d Cir. 2009)).
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) (quoting Walker v. Schult, 717
F.3d 119, 124 (2d Cir. 2013)) (“Where . . . the
complaint was filed pro se, it must be construed
liberally to raise the strongest claims it suggests.”).
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.
Without Application of Equitable Tolling, Plaintiff's
Federal False Arrest, Excessive Force, and Failure to
Intervene Claims are Time-Barred
statute of limitations for Section 1983 claims is found in
the “general or residual [state] statute [of
limitations] for personal injury actions.” Pearl v.
City of Long Beach, 296 F.3d 76, 79 (2d Cir. 2002)
(quoting Owens v. Okure, 488 U.S. 235, 249-50 (1989)
(alterations in original)). In New York, that period is three
years. See N.Y. C.P.L.R. § 214(5). “[T]he
accrual date of a § 1983 cause of action is a question
of federal law that is not resolved by reference to state
law.” Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 388
(2007); accord Pearl, 296 F.3d at 80. Section 1983
claims generally accrue when a plaintiff knows or has reason
to know of the injury that is the basis of the claim.
Hogan v. Fischer, 738 F.3d 509, 518 (2d Cir. 2013).
“The reference to knowledge of the injury does not
suggest that the statute does not begin to run until the
claimant has received judicial verification that the
defendants' acts were wrongful. Rather, the claim accrues
when the alleged conduct has caused the claimant harm and the
claimant knows or has reason to know of the allegedly
impermissible conduct and the resulting harm.” Veal
v. Geraci, 23 F.3d 722, 724 (2d Cir. 1994) (internal
alterations, quotation marks, and citations omitted).
Roundtree's false arrest, excessive force, and failure to
intervene claims each accrued when they occurred on February
27, 2012. See Dancy v. McGinley, 843 F.3d 93, 111
(2d Cir. 2016) (quoting Jaegly v. Couch, 439 F.3d
149, 154 (2d Cir. 2006)) (“A cause of action for false
arrest accrues at the time of detention.”) (internal
citation omitted); Jennings v. Municipality of Suffolk
Cty., No. 11-cv-00911-JFB-ARL, 2013 WL 587892, at *4
(E.D.N.Y. Feb. 13, 2013) (quoting Fairley v.
Collins, No. 09-cv-6894-PGG, 2011 WL 1002422, at *3
(S.D.N.Y. Mar. 15, 2011)) (“In the context of an
excessive force claim, the clock starts running ‘when
the use of force occurred.'”).
absent tolling, the statute of limitations on Mr.
Roundtree's false arrest, excessive force, and failure to
intervene claims expired on February 27, 2015.
Plaintiff's initial complaint was filed on August 19,