United States District Court, N.D. New York
OFFICES OF BONNER & BONNER A. CABRAL BONNER, ESQ.,
CHARLES A. BONNER, ESQ. Attorneys for Plaintiff
HANCOCK ESTABROOK, LLP JOHN G. POWERS, ESQ. Attorneys for
MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER
N. HURD UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Maurice Crawley ("plaintiff" or
"Crawley") filed this civil rights action seeking
compensatory and punitive damages, as well as declaratory
relief for injuries he sustained on July 28, 2016, when a
Syracuse police officer forcibly arrested him.
Plaintiff's operative complaint asserts claims against
Syracuse Police Officer Vallon Smith ("Officer
Smith"), Syracuse Chief of Police Frank Fowler
("Chief Fowler"), as well as the City of Syracuse
("the City"), and Does 1-200 (collectively
"defendants") alleging federal and state law
violations of his civil rights. Crawley asserts 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 claims for excessive force, false arrest, false
imprisonment, and assault and battery against the individual
defendants, as well as a claim pursuant to Monell v.
Dep't of Soc. Servs. of City of New York, 436 U.S.
658 (1978) against the City. Plaintiff also asserts state law
claims for false imprisonment and assault.
moved to dismiss several of plaintiffs claims under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 12(b)(6) for
failure to state a claim. They also moved for a more definite
statement or, in the alternative, to strike part of
plaintiff's complaint under Rule 12(e) and (f),
respectively. Finally defendants move to bifurcate and stay
discovery on plaintiff's Monell claim. Plaintiff
opposed the motions and defendants replied. The motions were
fully briefed and oral argument was held on July 31, 2018 in
Utica, New York. Decision was reserved.
following facts are drawn from the nine count complaint. For
purposes of the motion to dismiss, plaintiff's facts are
taken as true. The incident giving rise to this claim was
captured on video; the internet link to the video is included
in the complaint. On July 28, 2016, Officer Smith conducted a
traffic stop in Syracuse. At the time, Crawley was sitting on
his bicycle across the street from the stop and recorded the
incident. Officer Smith yelled to plaintiff "say one
word and your ass is going to jail, just so you know."
Plaintiff responded that he could not hear him. Officer Smith
approached Crawley and yelled "come here!"
Plaintiff replied, "what are you doing officer? I
didn't hear you." Defendant then demanded "give
me your hand-turn around!" He then pulled Crawley off
his bicycle, slammed him to the ground, and struck him on
both sides of his head, face, and body. Officer Smith then
said "don't fucking move, you understand me? I am
going to fuck you up!" He continued to hit plaintiff in
the face. Crawley yelled "I've got a
defibrillator!" to which Smith replied "I don't
give a fuck what you got! I told you to stop fucking coming
around here." Officer Smith then hit plaintiff six or
seven more times.
was arrested as a result of the incident. He was charged with
Obstructing Governmental Administration in the Second Degree
and Resisting Arrest. He was arraigned the following day, on
July 29, 2016. He was ultimately convicted, on June 27, 2017,
after a trial, of Harassment in the Second Degree.
survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the '[f]actual
allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above
the speculative level.'" Ginsburg v. City of
Ithaca, 839 F.Supp.2d 537, 540 (N.D.N.Y. 2012) (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555,
(2007)). "Although a complaint need only contain 'a
short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief,' Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(A)(2),
more than mere conclusions are required." Id.
"Indeed, '[w]hile legal conclusions can provide the
framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual
allegations.'" Id. (quoting Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009)). "Dismissal is
appropriate only where plaintiff has failed to provide some
basis for the allegations that support the elements of his
claims." Id.; see also Twombly, 550
U.S. at 570 (requiring "only enough facts to state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face").
ruling on a motion to dismiss, the court must accept as true
all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint and
draw all reasonable inferences in the non-movant's
favor." Morris v. N.Y. State Police, 268
F.Supp.3d 342, 359 (N.D.N.Y. 2017) (quoting Faiaz v.
Colgate Univ., 64 F.Supp.3d 336, 344 (N.D.N.Y. 2014)).
"In making this determination, a court generally
confines itself to the 'facts stated on the face of the
complaint, . . . documents appended to the complaint or
incorporated in the complaint by reference, and . . . matters
of which judicial notice may be taken.'"
Id. (quoting Goel v. Bunge, Ltd., 820 F.3d
554, 559 (2d Cir. 2016)).
move to dismiss all of Crawley's claims, except the
§ 1983 excessive force claim against Officer Smith, and
the Monell claim against the City. They further request that
plaintiff be required to replead ...