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Kramer v. Vitti

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

March 17, 2016

ANTONIO VITTI, et al., Defendants.



On August 17, 2015, the plaintiff, Edward Kramer, filed a complaint against the defendants, Antonio Vitti, Stephen Staurovsky, and Peter Fearon, alleging claims under both state and federal law. (doc. 1) Specifically, Kramer alleged that over the course of his arrest on September 13, 2011 and a prosecution that resolved in favor of Kramer on April 10, 2013, the defendants, two officers in the Milford, Connecticut police department and an inspector with the Office of the State‘s Attorney in Connecticut, subjected him to: (1) false arrest; (2) unlawful search and seizure; (3) defamation; (4) intentional infliction of emotional distress ("IIED"); and (5) malicious prosecution.

On December 4, 2015, Vitti and Staurovsky ("the officer-defendants") moved to dismiss the first four claims against them as time-barred. (doc. 17) On December 29, 2015, Fearon also moved to dismiss the first four claims against him as time-barred, and further moved to dismiss the malicious prosecution claim for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.[1](doc. 22)

For the following reasons, I grant the officer-defendants‘ motion to dismiss and grant Fearon‘s motion to dismiss.

I. Standard of Review

A. Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim Upon Which Relief May Be Granted

A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) is designed "merely to assess the legal feasibility of a complaint, not to assay the weight of evidence which might be offered in support thereof." Ryder Energy Distribution Corp. v. Merrill Lynch Commodities, Inc., 748 F.2d 774, 779 (2d Cir. 1984) (quoting Geisler v. Petrocelli, 616 F.2d 636, 639 (2d Cir. 1980)).

When deciding a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the court must accept the material facts alleged in the complaint as true, draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiffs, and decide whether it is plausible that plaintiffs have a valid claim for relief. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007); Leeds v. Meltz, 85 F.3d 51, 53 (2d Cir. 1996).

Under Twombly, "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, " and assert a cause of action with enough heft to show entitlement to relief and "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." 550 U.S. at 555, 570; see also Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 ("While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations."). The plausibility standard set forth in Twombly and Iqbal obligates the plaintiff to "provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief" through more than "labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (quotation marks omitted). Plausibility at the pleading stage is nonetheless distinct from probability, and "a well-pleaded complaint may proceed even if it strikes a savvy judge that actual proof of [the claims] is improbable, and . . . recovery is very remote and unlikely." Id. at 556 (quotation marks omitted).

II. Background

The following facts are alleged in the complaint. On September 13, 2011, Vitti, a Detective Sergeant in the Milford police department received a phone call from Fearon, an Inspector in the Office of the State‘s Attorney. Compl. at ¶ 8. On that call, Fearon stated that he had been contacted by Daniel Porter, a District Attorney in Georgia. Id. Fearon stated that Porter had informed him that Kramer was in a hotel room in Milford and instructed Fearon to have Vitti call Porter for more information. Id. at ¶¶ 9-10.

Vitti called Porter. Id. at ¶ 11. Porter informed Vitti that Kramer was in a hotel room with a minor, and was thereby violating the conditions of his pretrial release. Id. at ¶¶ 9, 14, 20. Kramer alleges that information was false or misleading, and that Porter‘s statements explicitly relied on a string of unverified sources. Id. at ¶¶ 14-19. He also alleges that Porter‘s alert was contradicted by other information available to Vitti and Staurovsky at the time indicating that the minor was fine and was properly in Kramer‘s care. Id. at ¶¶ 20-25. Vitti and Staurovsky then arrested Kramer for Risk of Injury to Children, Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53-21, using "numerous, heavily armed and armored members of the Milford, Connecticut Police Department" to do so. Id. at ¶¶ 28-29.

The officer-defendants then applied for a search and seizure warrant to search Kramer‘s electronics for child pornography. Id. at ¶ 36. Kramer alleges that the warrant application deliberately omitted key information that he and the minor‘s guardian provided to the defendants. Id. at ¶¶ 44-45. The warrant was also granted on September 13, 2011, and was provided to Kramer on the same day. Officer-Defs.‘ Br., Ex. A; Fearon Br., Ex. A.

Kramer was subsequently prosecuted, but the charges were dropped pursuant to the state court‘s entry of a nolle prosequi on ...

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