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Cater v. State

United States District Court, S.D. New York

June 21, 2018

LISA MARIE CATER, Plaintiff,
v.
THE STATE OF NEW YORK, THE EMPIRE STATE DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO In His Individual Capacity and WILLIAM BALLARD HOYT a/k/a SAMUEL B. HOYT, III In His Individual Capacity, Defendants.

          Attorneys for Plaintiff Derek Smith Law Group PLLC By: Paul Liggieri, Esq.

          Attorneys for Defendants State of New York and Governor Andrew Cuomo Office of N.Y.S. Attorney General By: John M. Schwartz, Esq.

          OPINION

          ROBERT W. SWEET U.S.D.J.

         Defendants State of New York (the "State") and Governor Andrew Cuomo (the "Governor") (collectively, the "Defendants") have moved pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b) (1) and 12(b) (6) to dismiss, as against them, the amended complaint ("AC") of Plaintiff Lisa Marie Cater ("Cater" or the "Plaintiff"). Based on the conclusions set forth below, the motion is granted, and the AC against the Defendants is dismissed.

         Prior Proceedings

         The Plaintiff filed her initial complaint alleging sexual harassment by defendant William Ballard Hoyt, a former regional president of defendant Empire State Development Corporation ("ESDC"), between October of 2015 and October 2017. She alleged that, despite her complaints regarding Hoyt's actions, the State and the Governor, solely in his individual capacity, failed to prevent or investigate Hoyt's alleged unlawful conduct on November 18, 2017. She filed the AC on December 5, 2017 alleging eleven causes of action as follows:

First Cause of Action Violation of Rights Secured by 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Against all Defendants (AC ¶¶ 149-155)
Second Cause of Action (Individual Supervisory Liability - 42 U.S.C. § 1983) (AC ¶¶ 156-164)
Third Cause of Action (Equal Protections - 42 U.S.C. § 1983) (AC ¶¶ 165-174)
Fourth Cause of Action (Equal Protections - 42 U.S.C. § 1983) (AC ¶¶ 175-178)
Fifth Cause of Action (Monell Claim - 42 U.S.C. - Against Empire State Corporation/Region of Buffalo) (AC ¶¶ 179-190)
Sixth Cause of Action (Violation of Rights Secured by 42 U.S.C. § 1985) (Against All Defendants) (AC ¶¶ 191-194)
Seventh Cause of Action Violation of Rights Secured by 42 U.S.C. § 1986) (Against All Defendants) (AC ¶¶ 195-198)
As an Eighth Cause of Action for Discrimination Under State Law (Not Against Individual Defendants) (AC ¶¶ 199-201)
As a Ninth Cause of Action for Discrimination Under State Law (As Against Individual Defendants) (AC ¶¶ 202-204)
As a Tenth Cause of Action for Discrimination Under State Law (As Against Individual Defendants) (AC ¶¶ 205-207)
As an Eleventh Cause of Action for Assault and Battery (As Against Individual Defendant Hoyt) (AC ¶¶ 208-214)

         Five of the eleven causes of action (the First, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth) appear to be asserted against the State, among others, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985 and 1986 and N.Y. Executive Law § 296. The claims against the Governor (the First, Second, Third, Sixth, Seventh, Ninth and Tenth Causes of Action) appear to be based on his supervisory position.

         The AC alleges that Hoyt sexually harassed and assaulted her between October 2015 and October 2017, AC ¶ 29-30, 43-53, 57, 60-68, 85-87, after she emailed ESDC seeking assistance in finding affordable housing in October 2015, that Hoyt responded by email, asked to meet with her, and offered to find her a job in New York State. Id. ¶¶ 38-39. According to Plaintiff, Hoyt then "coerced" Plaintiff into telling him where she lived (id. ¶ 43), and then repeatedly: (a) appeared uninvited at her home (id. ¶¶ 43-44, 48-49, 65, 67), (b) "forcefully asserted himself against [her]" (id. at 44, 49, 87), (c) "unlawfully groped" and "kissed" her (id.), and (d) sent her "sexually harassing calls, texts and emails, at least one of which included a nude photo of himself." Id. at 46, 47, 52, 60, 63, 65.

         The AC further alleges that in or around February 2016, Hoyt "called in a political favor" and secured a position for Plaintiff as a "Management Confidential" secretary at the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles ("DMV"), id. at 54, that Hoyt repeatedly harassed her when she was at her DMV job (id. at 61, 63-65), and threatened to have her fired if she did not do as he wished (id. at 68), and that Hoyt forced her to sign a settlement agreement. Id. at 94-102.

         The AC also alleges that she communicated with officials at certain New York State agencies about her complaints regarding Hoyt's conduct, but that she was dissatisfied with their responses, Id. at 113, 120, 123, 132, and that she made a number of complaints to the Office of the Governor, Id. at 176-80, 104, 107-109, and was referred to various state agencies. Id. at 110, 123.

         The AC further alleges that after receiving psychological counseling, the Plaintiff spoke to the media, Hoyt resigned, and that the emotional distress caused by the Defendants ...


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