United States District Court, S.D. New York
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M.FURMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case, familiarity with which is presumed, Plaintiff Courtney
Buckley brings First Amendment retaliation claims against the
City of New York (the “City”), the New York City
Police Department (“NYPD”), and the New York City
Department of Correction (“DOC”), alleging that
he was denied employment because he had previously sued the
NYPD. In a Memorandum Opinion and Order entered on January 2,
2018, the Court dismissed Buckley's first complaint,
finding that his conclusory allegations that he had been
denied employment based on the prior lawsuit were
contradicted by letters from the NYPD and DOC, incorporated
by reference in the complaint, that spelled out the
“multitude” of reasons for Buckley's
rejections. See Buckley v. City of New York, 2018 WL
264114, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 2, 2018) (Docket No. 25). The
Court acknowledged that a psychological report cited by the
DOC made “passing reference” to Buckley's
lawsuit against the NYPD, but ultimately concluded that,
“[r]ead as a whole, the Report makes clear that
Buckley's lawsuit against the NYPD was neither the
motivation nor a substantial cause of the DOC's decision
not to hire him as a correction officer. Put differently,
when viewed in context, the passing reference to
Buckley's lawsuit simply does not bear the weight that
Buckley places on it.” Id. The Court expressed
skepticism that Buckley “could ever state a plausible
claim of First Amendment retaliation” in view of the
letters from the NYPD and DOC, but, out of an abundance of
caution, granted him “one chance to amend his Complaint
to allege any other facts he might have to establish
causation.” Id. at *3. He did so, (Docket No.
26 (“Am. Compl.”)), and Defendants now move again
to dismiss, (Docket No. 27).
motion is granted because, once again, Buckley fails to
allege sufficient facts to support an inference of causation.
That is plainly true with respect to the claims against the
NYPD, as Buckley's Amended Complaint makes no allegations
of causation whatsoever. There is no claim - not even a
conclusory one - that the NYPD declined to hire Buckley in
retaliation for his prior lawsuit against the Department.
Instead, the Amended Complaint states only that “the
New York City Police Department sent a letter to Mr. Buckley
stating that he was disqualified from serving as a police
officer because he was ‘not psychologically suited to
the unique demands and stresses of employment as a Police
Officer'” and that “[t]he primary basis for
the disqualification was lack of integrity.” (Am.
Compl. ¶¶ 29-30). While Buckley's original
complaint had alleged in conclusory fashion that “[t]he
NYPD determined that he was not fit to be a police officer
because he had previously filed a lawsuit against them,
” (Docket No. 2, ¶ 24), that allegation is
conspicuously absent from his Amended
Complaint. Thus, Buckley's claims against the
NYPD must be and are dismissed.
amendments do not cure the defects with respect to his DOC
claims either. Notably, Buckley alleges no new facts
that would support an inference that his prior lawsuit was a
substantial motivating factor in his rejection. Instead, he
merely offers arguments for why the myriad reasons
cited by the DOC should not have been disqualifying. (Docket
No. 29 (“Buckley Mem.”), at 10-11). For instance,
Buckley denies that he cheated at an earlier job and claims
that he did not contest his termination on that basis because
“it was only a part time job”; asserts that a
prior grand larceny charge was dismissed because Buckley
“was the victim of a criminal scheme”; and
contends that two disorderly conduct violations “were
so minor that he merely paid fines and did not recall the
details.” (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 40, 42, 44). He
alleges that the DOC did not investigate the circumstances of
these incidents and that that “strongly suggests
th[ese] w[ere] not major issue[s]” in the denial of his
application. (Id. ¶¶ 41, 43, 45). He also
alleges that a social worker, Raquel Jones, subsequently
investigated his records and found that “there was no
concrete basis for Courtney Buckley's
disqualification.” (Id. ¶ 47). But
Buckley makes no allegation that he provided these mitigating
explanations to the DOC during hiring process. (In fact, the
DOC's Pre-Employment Psychological Evaluation Report
notes that Buckley was “consistently and highly
defensive and evasive in the interview.” (Docket No.
20-1, at 6).) Given that, his new “allegations”
are merely post hoc arguments for why the DOC
should not have cared about the prior incidents.
They do nothing to suggest that the DOC did not care
about the incidents. And they certainly do not support an
inference, plausible or otherwise, that the DOC's actions
were motivated or substantially caused by Buckley's prior
lawsuit - which is fatal to Buckley's DOC
Buckley himself all but concedes that he cannot allege facts
that would support a plausible inference of causation.
“With reference to the alleged ‘conclusory'
nature of the new reasons set forth by plaintiff, ” he
writes, “it is respectfully submitted that plaintiff
cannot properly and fully challenge the defendants'
purported reasons for disqualification without being
permitted to obtain the investigative file and depose the
investigators and personnel that made these decisions.”
(Buckley Mem. 5). That may or may not be true. Unfortunately
for Buckley, however, the Supreme Court has made clear that a
plaintiff must show “more than a sheer possibility that
a defendant has acted unlawfully” in order to
“unlock the doors of discovery.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009). Buckley's
Amended Complaint and opposition to Defendants' motion
make plain that he cannot make that showing. Accordingly,
Defendants' motion to dismiss must be and is GRANTED, and
Plaintiffs Amended Complaint is dismissed without leave to
amend. See, e.g., Ruffolo v. Oppenheimer & Co.,
987 F.2d 129, 131 (2d Cir. 1993) (per curiam) (“Where
it appears that granting leave to amend is unlikely to be
productive . . . it is not an abuse of discretion to deny
leave to amend.”); Transeo S.A.R.L. v. Bessemer
Venture Partners VI L.P., 936 F.Supp.2d 376, 415
(S.D.N.Y. 2013) (noting that a plaintiffs “failure to
fix deficiencies in [his] previous pleadings is alone
sufficient ground to deny leave to amend sua
Clerk of Court is directed to terminate Docket No. 26 and to
close the case.
 There were two sets of paragraphs
numbered 22 through 26 in Buckley's original Complaint.
The paragraph cited herein refers to the paragraph 24 on page
six of the Complaint.
 As the Court noted in its prior
Opinion, in the absence of claims against either the NYPD or
the DOC, Buckley has no valid municipal liability claim
against the City either. See, e.g., Schultz v.
Inc. Vill. of Bellport, 479 ...