United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON MOTION TO DISMISS
Charles S. Haight, Jr. Senior United States District Judge.
initially brought this action in Connecticut Superior Court
on August 6, 2015, alleging that Defendants-the Hamden Police
Department ("HPD"), one of its detectives, and one
of its sergeants-engaged in tortious and unconstitutional
activity related to Plaintiff's arrest in July 2013.
Defendants removed the action to this Court on August 21,
2015, on the basis that this Court has subject matter
jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Section 1331
provides that federal "district courts shall have
original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States."
In removing this action, Defendants asserted that Plaintiff
alleged violations of rights secured to him by the United
States Constitution, and that he was thereby bringing claims
pursuant to §§ 1983 and 1988 of Title 42 of the
United States Code.
asserts nine separate claims in his complaint. Although the
proffered causes of action are not identified with clarity,
it is clear that Counts I, II, IV, V, VII, and VIII are
purely state law causes of action with no reference to any
federal authority. The remaining counts, however, do refer to
federal law. Specifically, Counts III, VI, and IX against
Defendants Stewart, Kearns, and HPD, respectively, each
allege as follows:
In carrying out the acts and omissions described above, the
Defendant . . . knew or should have known that said acts and
omissions would cause the Plaintiff to suffer great and
severe mental and emotional distress, pain and anguish.
The acts and omission of the Defendant . . . described above
are outrageous and shocking to the conscience.
In the manner described herein, the Defendant deprived the
Plaintiff of his right to be free from unreasonable arrest,
unreasonable search and seizure and the deprivation of the
due process of law. All these rights are secured to the
Plaintiff by the provisions of the Fourth and Fourteenth
Amendments to the United States Constitution and by Title 42,
United States Code, Sec. 1983 and 1988.
at 5, 8, 10-11.
December 23, 2015, Defendants moved for partial dismissal of
the action. Doc. 17. In so doing, Defendants made efforts to
describe the causes of action that they thought
"plaintiff's complaint appears to allege." Doc.
17-1, at 2. It was Defendants' view, reasonable enough
given the language I have quoted, that Plaintiff's Counts
III, VI, and IX each brought three separate causes of action:
(i) intentional infliction of emotional distress; (ii)
unlawful arrest and/or malicious prosecution in violation of
the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; and (iii)
violation of the due process clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
in opposition to the motion to dismiss, Plaintiff makes clear
what those Counts are, and, more importantly, what they are
not. He identifies them as causes of action exclusively for
intentional infliction of emotional distress under state tort
law. Doc. 22-1, at 1-2; see also Id. at 5
("Regardless of the defendant's characterization,
Counts three and six assert emotional distress claims against
Stewart and Kearns"). Plaintiff then states as follows:
While the plaintiff's Constitutional rights are averred
in addition to the facts upon which the claim is based, as
well as the elements of the claim, in paragraph 19 of each of
Counts three and six, it is done so by way of
illustration, rather than the basis upon which the plaintiff
asserts his claim versus each respective defendant.
22-1, at 5-6 (emphasis added). Plaintiff therefore makes
clear that Counts III and VI are not brought under any source
of federal law. Nor can Count IX be construed to contain an
actionable reference to federal law. This is because
Plaintiff offered no substantive rebuttal to Defendants'
argument that Count IX should be dismissed in light of the
fact that suits may not be instituted against municipal
police departments. Nor could he have.
Plaintiff presses no federal cause of action. Therefore, as
Plaintiff's counsel explicitly acknowledges, this case
does not "aris[e] under the Constitution, laws, or
treaties of the United States, " as required where 28
U.S.C. § 1331 serves as a jurisdictional source.
Moreover, Defendants do not identify any other basis upon
which this Court might have subject matter jurisdiction.
Therefore, this Court is required to dismiss this purely
state law case.
light of the foregoing, Defendants' partial motion to
dismiss is GRANTED IN PART, only as to Count IX, and is
otherwise DENIED AS MOOT in light of the Court's lack of
subject matter jurisdiction over this action. Counts I-VIII
of Plaintiff's complaint are thereby DISMISSED WITHOUT
PREJUDICE to being reasserted in an appropriate ...