United States District Court, S.D. New York
CALVIN B. BROOKS, Plaintiff,
CITY OF NEW YORK and CORRECTIONAL OFFICER JOHNSON, Shield No. 18735, Defendants.,
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
G. Koeltl United States District Judge
plaintiff, Calvin B. Brooks, proceeding .pro se, brings this
action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that he
was deprived of property without due process in violation of
the Fourteenth Amendment. The plaintiff alleges that
Correctional Officer MacArthur Johnson and the City of New
York (the "City") are liable for intentionally
sending his driver's license and house keys to another
person while the plaintiff was incarcerated at the Anna M.
Kross Center (the "AMKC").
City now moves for judgment on the pleadings dismissing the
Amended Complaint pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure. The City argues that plaintiff's
claims fail as a matter of law because the plaintiff was
provided with an adequate post-deprivation remedy and there
can be no municipal liability without an underlying
constitutional deprivation. The City further argues that the
plaintiff insufficiently pleaded his claim for municipal
liability because the plaintiff has failed to plead an
existing City policy or custom that caused the deprivation of
his property.. For the reasons explained below, the
City's motion is granted, and the
plaintiff s claims are dismissed.
motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 12(c), courts apply the same standards as
those applied to a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 12(b) (6) . Cleveland v. Capiaw
Enters., 448 F.3d 518, 521 (2d Cir. 2006). "Thus,
[a court] will accept all factual allegations in the
complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in [the]
plaintiff [']s [ ] favor. To survive a Rule 12(c) motion,
[the] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face." Hayden v. Peterson, 594
F.3d 150, 160 (2d Cir. 2010); see also Romero v. DHL
Express (U.S.A), Inc., No. 15-cv-4844, 2016 WL 6584484,
at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 7, 2016).
pleadings and allegations of a pro se plaintiff must be
construed liberally for the purposes of deciding motions
pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). See McKithen v. Brown,
481 F.3d 89, 96 (2d Cir. 2007); Weixel v. Bd. of Educ. of
City of New York, 287 F.3d 138, 145-46 (2d Cir. 2002).
The submissions of a pro se litigant should be interpreted to
"raise the strongest arguments that they suggest."
Pabon v. Wright, 459 F.3d 241, 248 (2d Cir. 2006)
(quoting Burgos v. Hopkins, 14 F.3d 787, 790 (2d
Cir. 1994)); see also Burke v. Metropolitian Transp.
Auth., No. 09-cv-3291, 2009 WL 4279538, at *2
(S.D.N.Y. Dec. 1, 2009).
following allegations, set forth in the Amended Complaint,
are accepted as true for the purposes of this
February and March 2016, the plaintiff was incarcerated at
the AMKC. At some point between February and March 2016,
Officer Johnson sent the plaintiff's keys and
driver's license, presumably by mail, to another person.
Compl. 2. On March 27, 2016, the plaintiff filed a Grievance
concerning the loss of his property by the' property room
of the AMKC. Compl. 3. On August 12, 2016, the Grievance
Department forwarded the Grievance to the warden of the AMKC,
but the warden refused to respond. Id. The plaintiff
then appealed to the Board of the New York City Department of
Correction (the "DOC"). Id. In September
2016, a representative from the DOC visited the plaintiff and
told the plaintiff that the DOC was investigating the matter.
Compl. 3. On or about September 20, 2016, a representative
from the DOC again visited the plaintiff and told the
plaintiff they were unable to recover his property. Compl. 4.
On or about September 22, 2016, representatives from AMKC
visited the plaintiff and told the plaintiff that his
property had been sent to a sex offender. Id.
April 27, 2017, the plaintiff filed a complaint in the
current action against the AMKC and the DOC. Dkt. No. 1. On
July 31, 2017, the Court dismissed plaintiff's claims
against the AMKC and the DOC and the City of New York was
added as a defendant. Dkt. No. 8. On October 24, 2017, the
City answered the complaint. Dkt. No. 16. On December 12,
2017, the plaintiff amended the Complaint to name Officer
Johnson as a defendant in the action. Dkt. No. 30. On
February 8, 2018, the City moved to dismiss the Amended
Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c).
Dkt. No. 38. On February 16, 2018, the plaintiff
requested an extension of time to file his response to the
City's motion for judgment on the pleadings, which was
granted on February 22, 2018. Dkt. Nos. 45, 46. The Court
extended the time for the plaintiff to file papers in
opposition to the motion to May 22, 2018, noting that
"if the plaintiff [did] not respond to the motion by May
22, 2018, the Court [would] consider the motion fully briefed
and decide the motion on the papers already submitted."
Dkt. No. 56. On May 15, 2018, the plaintiff filed a letter
requesting to settle the case. Dkt. No. 57. By June 22, 2018,
the plaintiff had not filed a response to the motion for
judgement on the pleadings.
plaintiff alleges that his driver's license and keys were
intentionally sent to another person in violation of the Due
Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. However,
"[t]he Due Process Clause does not protect against all
deprivations of constitutionally protected interests in life,
liberty, or property, ''only against deprivations
without due process of law.'" Rivera-Powell v.
New York City Bd. of Elections, 470 F.3d 458, 464-65 (2d
Cir. 2006} (quoting Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527,
537 (1981), overruled in part on other grounds by,
Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327, 330-31 (1986)).
"When reviewing alleged procedural due process
violations, the Supreme Court has distinguished between (a)
claims based on established state procedures and (b) claims
based on random, unauthorized acts by state employees."
Hellenic Am. Neighborhood Action Comm. v. City of New
York, 101 F.3d 877, 880 (2d Cir. 1996) (citing
Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 532 (1984)). Where a
claim is based on random, unauthorized acts by state
employees, the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment
is not violated "so long as the state provides a
meaningful post-deprivation remedy." Hellenic,
101 F.3d at 880 (citing Hudson, 468, U.S. at 531,
Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has explained that
"New York in fact affords an adequate post-deprivation
remedy in the form of, inter alia, a Court of Claims
action." Jackson v. Burke, 256 F.3d 93, 96 (2d
Cir. 2001). Thus, federal courts routinely dismiss actions by
New York State inmates alleging deprivation of property when,
as in this case, the act complained of was random and
unauthorized. Byrd v. City of New York, No.
17-cv-2166, 2018 WL 259316, at *11 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 2,
2018)(holding that because deprivation of property was
"effected through random and unauthorized conduct of a
state employee -- as opposed to ...