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Salem v. City of New York

United States District Court, S.D. New York

August 1, 2018



          John G. Koeltl United States District Judge.

         The plaintiff, Aitabedellah Salem, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1978), alleging that his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated while he was held in pretrial detention by the New York City Department of Correction (the "DOC") at the Anna M. Kross Center (the "AMKC") at Rikers Island and when he was strip-searched upon exiting and entering the facility on his way to and from court appearances. Salem has named as defendants the City of New York, Joseph Ponte, the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction, and four John Doe defendants -- a Warden, Assistant Warden, Tour Commander, and Captain -- in their individual and official capacities. Salem alleges claims of false imprisonment, unreasonable searches, denials of substantive and procedural due process, respondeat superior, failure to train, and municipal liability.

         Currently pending before the Court is the defendants' motion to dismiss Salem's Amended Complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the following reasons, the motion to dismiss is granted. However, because this is the first motion to dismiss, Salem's claims are dismissed without prejudice to Salem's filing any amended complaint.


         In deciding a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the allegations in the complaint are accepted as true, and all reasonable inferences must be drawn in the plaintiff's favor. McCarthy v. Dun & Bradstreet Corp., 482 F.3d 184, 191 (2d Cir. 2007). The Court's function on a motion to dismiss is "not to weigh the evidence that might be presented at a trial but merely to determine whether the complaint itself is legally sufficient." Goldman v. Belden, 754 F.2d 1059, 1067 (2d Cir. 1985). The Court should not dismiss the complaint if the plaintiff has stated "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). While the Court should construe the factual allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, "the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in the complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions." Id.

         A court may also consider documents incorporated by reference in the complaint as well as documents the plaintiff either had in the plaintiff's possession or had knowledge of and upon which the plaintiff relied in bringing suit. See Cortec Indus., Inc. v. Sum Holding L.P., 949 F.2d 42, 48 (2d Cir. 1991). "A court may [also] take judicial notice of the records of state administrative procedures, as these are public records, without converting a motion to dismiss to one for summary judgment." Evans v. N.Y. Botanical Garden, No. 02-cv-3591, 2002 WL 31002814, at *4 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 4, 2002); see also Zapotocky v. CIT Bank, N.A., No. 17-cv-6377, 2018 WL 3104090, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. June 22, 2018).


         The following facts are taken from Salem's Amended Complaint and are assumed to be true for the purposes of this motion to dismiss.

         On November 21, 2014, Salem was arrested for stealing a coat. The following day, on November 22, 2014, Salem was arraigned in New York Criminal Court and charged with Assault in the Second Degree and Petit Larceny, under docket number 2014NY088542. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 46-49. At the arraignment, the court also addressed two additional cases with charges pending against Salem under docket numbers 2014NY088543 and 2014NY017648. The court set bail at $25, 000 each on docket numbers 2014NY088542 and 2014NY088543 for a total of $50, 000. Am. Compl. ¶ 50.[1] The cases with docket numbers 2014NY088542 and 2014NY088543 were adjourned to November 26, 2014, and the court sentenced Salem to time served for the case with docket number 2014NY017648. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 51-52. Following the arraignment, Salem was transferred to the AMKC at Rikers Island for pretrial detention. Am. Compl. ¶ 48.

         On November 26, 2014, Judge Gilbert Hong reduced Salem's bail under docket number 2014NY088542 to $1.00 and adjourned the case to February 11, 2015. Judge Hong also adjourned Salem's case under docket number 2014NY088543 to November 28, 2014. Salem was not produced in court on November 26, 2014, and neither his defense attorney nor employees of the DOC informed him that his bail had been reduced. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 53-55.

         On November 28, 2014, Judge Melissa Crane presided over the adjourned proceeding under docket number 2014NY088543. Judge Crane ordered Salem's immediate release on his own recognizance on the 2014NY088543 case because the district attorney's office failed to convene a grand jury within one hundred and forty four hours, as required by New York Criminal Procedure Law § 180.80. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 56-59. Salem was not produced in court on November 28, 2014, and his attorney waived Salem's appearance without Salem's knowledge or consent. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 56, 60. The case under docket number 2014NY088543 was adjourned to February 11, 2015, which was the same as the date set for the next hearing in the 2014NY088542 case. Am. Compl. ¶ 62.

         The DOC received notice of Judge Crane's order to release Salem under docket number 2014NY088543 by fax on November 28, 2014. Am. Compl. ¶ 65. The DOC has enacted procedures that its officers must follow to process court orders, as outlined in its General Office Manual. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 109, 92-93. However, Salem remained in custody because his $1.00 bail in 2014NY088542 had not been paid. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 65-67.

         On January 15, 2015, Judge Felicia A. Menin ordered that Salem be produced for a conference in New York Criminal Court on January 21, 2015, regarding the 2014NY088543 case. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 68-69; Am. Compl. Ex. E. Although the DOC received this order and marked it "Satisfied," Salem was not produced in New York Criminal Court on January 21, 2015. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 69-70; Am. Compl. Ex. E. Rather, on January 21, 2015, Salem's attorney - Stephen Pokart of the Legal Aid Society - appeared in court, again waiving Salem's appearance without Salem's knowledge. Am. Compl. ¶ 74.

         On February 11, 2015, Judge Lisa Sokoloff presided over a hearing in the case under docket number 2014NY088542. That day, Salem was brought from Rikers Island to the Criminal Court but held in the court's "holding pen," rather than being produced in front of Judge Sokoloff. Pokart appeared on Salem's behalf and, again, waived his appearance. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 75-79; Am. Compl. Ex. G, at 2. Judge Sokoloff adjourned the 2014NY088542 case to May 28, 2015, and continued the $1.00 bail condition. Am. Compl. ¶ 81. Salem returned to Rikers Island, where he was subject to a strip search. Am. Compl. ¶ 78. Salem was subject to a strip search each time he left Rikers Island to attend court and when he returned to Rikers Island after court. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 222-24.

         During his detention at the AMKC, Salem requested information from corrections officers and defense attorneys as to the status of his cases. None informed him of the reduction in bail in the 2014NY088542 case or the order of release in the 2014NY088543 case. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 82-85.

         On April 15, 2015 at 12:00 p.m., Salem's $1.00 bail under docket number 2014NY088542 was paid. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 86, 191. Salem was released from custody at 4:11 p.m. that same day. Am. Compl. ¶ 191.

         On August 9, 2016, Salem was convicted of Assault in the Second Degree and Petit Larceny in the 2014NY088542 case following a trial. Salem was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of five years followed by a period of five years' post-release supervision. Noble Decl. Ex. 3. In calculating Salem's sentence, the DOC credited him the time he spent in pretrial detention from November 22, 2014, through April 15, 2015, when his $1.00 bail was paid. Noble Decl. Ex. 4, at 2-3. Salem has not challenged the validity of his convictions in the 2014NY088542 case.

         Salem contends that the defendants willfully ignored multiple court orders and failed to ensure DOC employees properly followed the procedures required to comply with court orders, resulting in his alleged unlawful detention in violation of his constitutional rights. Am. Compl. ¶ 91.



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