United States District Court, N.D. New York
RUBENSTEIN & RYNECKI ATTORNEY FOR PLAINTIFF
OF THE NEW YORK STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL ATTORNEY FOR
E. RYNECKI, ESQ. AIMEE M. COWAN, AAG
MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER
D'Agostino, U.S. District Judge
September 19, 2017, Plaintiff Thomas Ozzborn
("Plaintiff"), a former inmate housed at the Auburn
Correctional Facility ("Auburn CF"), filed a
complaint in the Northern District of New York, pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 28 U.S.C. § 1367, against
Defendants Corrections Officer Matthew Cornell, the New York
State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision
("DOCCS"), and the State of New York (collectively,
"Defendants"). See Dkt. No. 1. Currently
before the Court are Defendants' motion to dismiss all
claims against the State of New York and DOCCS (collectively,
the "State Defendants"), see Dkt. No. 11,
and Defendants' motion to dismiss all state law claims
against Defendant Cornell, see Dkt. No. 17, both
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1). For the
following reasons, Defendants' motion to dismiss all
claims against the State Defendants is granted and
Defendants' motion to dismiss all state law claims
against Defendant Cornell is granted in part and denied in
7, 2015, Plaintiff had a dispute with Defendant Cornell.
See Dkt. No. 1 at ¶ 10. After the dispute,
Defendant Cornell threatened Plaintiff, stating
"I'll see you later." Id. On May 9,
2015, Defendant Cornell singled out Plaintiff for a
"random" pat frisk. See Id. at ¶ 12.
Prior to conducting the frisk, Defendant Cornell claimed that
Plaintiff said there was a weapon in his right shoe. See
Id. at ¶ 13. Defendant Cornell then claimed that he
found a 3 ½ inch sharpened tweezer prong in
Plaintiff's right shoe and that Plaintiff admitted the
weapon was his. See Id. at ¶¶ 13-14.
Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Cornell lied about the
admission and placed the weapon in his shoe. See id.
account of the weapon, Plaintiff was sent to solitary
confinement for thirty days. See Id. at ¶ 15.
DOCCS held a disciplinary hearing on May 14, 2015, and May
28, 2015. See Id. at ¶ 16. Although Plaintiff
maintained his innocence throughout the hearing, he was found
guilty solely on the basis of Defendant Cornell's
allegations and transferred to the Cayuga County Correctional
Facility Special Housing Unit ("SHU") where he
spent seven additional months in solitary confinement.
See Id. at ¶¶ 16-17.
January 27, 2016, Plaintiff was released from solitary
confinement and was set to be released on parole for his
underlying conviction. See id. at ¶ 19.
However, before he had the opportunity to exit the prison, he
was arrested on a charge stemming from the May 9, 2015
incident and transferred to the Cayuga County Jail to await
trial. See Id. at ¶¶ 19-20. Faced with a
possible sentence of fifteen years to life, Plaintiff pleaded
guilty and was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of
two-to-four years. See Id. at ¶¶ 21-23. On
August 12, 2016, Plaintiff appealed his conviction. See
Id. at ¶ 24.
December 2016, the Inspector General for DOCCS raided Auburn
CF and uncovered multiple items of contraband in the
possession of prison guards. See Id. at ¶ 26.
Defendant Cornell allegedly admitted to the Cayuga County
District Attorney that he had planted at least one weapon on
an inmate. See Id. at ¶ 27. The District
Attorney provided this information to Plaintiff's counsel
and the judge presiding over Plaintiff's appeal, stating
that he had "recently learned of an infirmity regarding
the credibility" of Defendant Cornell and that "his
office would not oppose any motion . . . to vacate the
previously entered plea and sentence." Id. at
receiving this letter, Plaintiff filed a motion to dismiss
his conviction and indictment. See Id. at ¶ 30.
On January 18, 2017, Justice Thomas G. Leone vacated
Plaintiff's conviction. See Id. at ¶ 31.
Plaintiff was released from DOCCS's custody on February
9, 2017. See id.
September 19, 2017, Plaintiff filed this complaint asserting
seven causes of action for violations of state law and
constitutional rights: (1) false arrest and false
imprisonment pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against
Defendant Cornell, see Id. at ¶¶ 33-48;
(2) false arrest and false imprisonment under New York State
law against all Defendants, see Id. at ¶¶
48-54; (3) denial of the right to a fair trial pursuant 42
U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendant Cornell, see
Id. at ¶¶ 55-60; (4) common law assault
against all Defendants, see Id. at ¶¶
61-64; (5) common law battery against all Defendants, see
Id. at ¶¶ 65-69; (6) municipal liability
against the State Defendants, see Id. at
¶¶ 70-74; and (7) negligent hiring, retention,
training, and supervision against the State Defendants,
see Id. at ¶¶ 75-79. On November 6, 2017,
Defendants filed a motion to dismiss all claims against the
State Defendants for lack of subject matter jurisdiction
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) (the
"State Defendants' Motion"). See Dkt.
No. 11. On December 11, 2017, Defendant Cornell filed a
second motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction. See Dkt. No. 17. Defendant
Cornell's motion argues that the Court does not have
subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff's state law
claims against him. See Id. at 5. On January 11,
2018, Plaintiff filed a response agreeing that the State
Defendants must be dismissed, but arguing that the state law
claims against Defendant Cornell should be permitted to
proceed in part. See Dkt. No. 18 at 1.