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Amory v. Katz

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

December 19, 2016

DAVID AMORY, Plaintiff,
v.
JOETTE KATZ, ET AL., Defendants.

          RULING ON MOTIONS TO DISMISS

          VICTOR A. BOLDEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff, David Amory, alleges a number of federal and state claims against the following Defendants: Joette Katz, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (“DCF”); Michael Damici, social worker for DCF; the Town of New Milford; Shawn Boyne, Police Chief of the New Milford Police Department (“NMPD”); Peter DeLouis, NMPD Detective; and James Mullin, NMPD Detective.[1] Mr. Amory's claims arise out of the Defendants' participation in the investigation of alleged child sexual abuse on the part of Mr. Amory. Defendants removed the case to this Court in October 2015, and Mr. Amory filed his Amended Complaint in May of 2016.[2] Am. Compl., ECF No. 45. Defendants Joette Katz, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (“DCF”), and Michael Damici, DCF social worker (together “State Defendants”) have moved to dismiss Mr. Amory's claims under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Defendants Town of New Milford, New Milford Police Chief Shawn Boyne and Detectives Peter DeLouis and James Mullin (together “Town Defendants”) have also filed a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6).

         For the reasons discussed below, Defendants' motions are GRANTED.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         David Amory formerly owned Top Flight Sports Center (“Top Flight”), a business that provided sports instruction to children. Am. Compl. ¶ 11. Several years after the business opened, Top Flight began offering a childcare program. Id. In an effort to keep payroll costs low, Mr. Amory began working directly with the childcare program. Id. at ¶¶ 11-12.

         A. August 2011 Allegation of Abuse and Initial Investigation

         In August 2011, the New Milford Police Department (“NMPD”) received a report accusing Mr. Amory of inappropriately touching A.L., a seven-year-old girl who attended the Top Flight childcare program. Id. at ¶ 13. A.L.'s parents contacted NMPD, and NMPD in turn contacted the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (“DCF”). Id. at ¶ 17. Less than a week after receiving the report, DCF representatives arrived at Top Flight along with representatives of the Connecticut Department of Public Health (“DPH”) to investigate the allegation of sexual abuse. Id. at ¶ 18. DCF interviewed six staff members during that visit, including Mr. Amory, as well as several children who participated in the program. Id. A DCF Child Abuse Investigation Team (“CAIT”) subsequently conducted a forensic interview of A.L. Id. at ¶ 21. Two months later, in November 2011, the NMPD interviewed Mr. Amory about the alleged abuse. Id. at ¶ 24. That same month, DCF sent Top Flight a written notice of substantiation of abuse. Id.

         In December 2011, DPH informed Top Flight that its childcare license had been violated and offered Mr. Amory an opportunity for a compliance meeting to discuss the violations further.

         Id. at ¶ 26. Mr. Amory attended the compliance meeting in January 2012 along with his attorney, Amy Klein. Id. at ¶¶ 27-28. Ms. Klein declined DPH's offer to hold a formal hearing and instead drafted a licensing corrective action plan for DPH's review. Id. at ¶¶ 28-29. Mr. Amory and DPH ultimately agreed to a licensing corrective action plan that removed Mr. Amory from several responsibilities and restricted him to performing only administrative duties. Id. at ¶ 29.

         In March 2012, DPH conducted a follow-up inspection of Top Flight's records on site. Id. at ¶ 31. That same week, during a meeting with Mr. Amory, DCF formally reversed its previous substantiation of abuse, concluding that there was ultimately not enough evidence to establish that the alleged abuse took place, and they closed the case. Id. at ¶ 33. Shortly thereafter, the NMPD case was also closed. Id.

         B. June 2012 Allegation of Abuse and Second Investigation

         In the following months, Mr. Amory contacted DPH several times to inquire about the status of his childcare license. Id. at ¶¶ 38-39. In June 2012, before a final decision had been issued regarding his license, Mr. Amory agreed to help supervise a group of children while they watched a movie as part of the Top Flight summer camp. Id. at ¶ 42. During that time, M.M., a seven-year-old girl who participated in the program, climbed on Mr. Amory's leg while the movie was playing. Id. at ¶ 43. Later that day, M.M. told her stepfather that Mr. Amory had touched her inappropriately, and M.M.'s parents subsequently made a report to the NMPD. Id. at ¶¶ 46, 65. Top Flight reported the incident to DCF. Id. at ¶ 48. A licensed professional counselor selected by the DCF child abuse investigation team conducted a forensic interview of M.M., during which the child confirmed the allegations against Mr. Amory. Id. at ¶ 57.

         After the incident was reported to the police and to DCF, DPH contacted Mr. Amory and told him that the State would be pursuing the revocation of his childcare license. Id. at ¶ 55. Mr. Amory signed a voluntary revocation of license, which was posted on the DPH website, and Top Flight closed its summer camp that same week. Id. The program's closure was featured in several news programs and newspaper articles. Id. at ¶¶ 67-71.

         C. August 2012 Allegation of Abuse and Third Investigation

         On August 01, 2012, within two months of Top Flight's closure, the NMPD received a third report of alleged child sexual abuse on the part of Mr. Armory. Id. at ¶ 72. According to Mr. Amory, in the wake of the program's closure, the parents of S.B., another child who had participated in Top Flight's program, repeatedly asked their daughter whether anything inappropriate had happened during the program. Id. at ¶¶ 72-73. After initially denying that anything had taken place, S.B. eventually told them that Mr. Amory had touched her inappropriately on several occasions. Id. S.B. was eight years old at the time of the alleged contact. Id. NMPD Detective Mullin conducted various interviews in connection with S.B.'s allegations, including interviews of S.B.'s immediate family and Top Flight staff. Id. at ¶ 77. During the same time frame, DCF posted a substantiation of abuse and neglect as to the allegations regarding M.M. Id. at ¶ 78.

         Later that month, the DCF child abuse investigation team conducted a forensic interview of S.B., which Mr. Amory claims did not incorporate DCF “best practices” and proper interview protocols in the use of drawings and anatomical dolls. Id. at ¶¶ 79, 81, 93-94. During the interview, S.B. confirmed her previous allegations against Mr. Amory. Id. at ¶ 94. On August 28, 2012, Detective DeLouis completed an affidavit for an arrest warrant application in connection with the alleged sexual assault of both M.M. and S.B., and the arrest warrant was signed by a magistrate judge on October 2, 2012. Id. at ¶¶ 96, 101. On September 27, 2012, DCF posted a final notice of substantiation as to S.B.'s allegations, signed by DCF social worker Damici. Id. at ¶ 100.

         D. Criminal Prosecution of Mr. Amory

         The arrest warrant was executed, and two separate criminal sexual assault charges were brought against Mr. Amory. Id. at ¶ 109. The case went to trial before a jury in Connecticut Superior Court in May of 2015. Id. The trial lasted almost two weeks, and the jury ultimately returned a verdict of Not Guilty. Id. at ¶ 113. In light of the jury's verdict, all charges against Mr. Amory were dismissed in July of 2015. Id. at ¶ 135.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         In order to survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). “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.” Id. In determining whether a complaint states a plausible entitlement to legal relief, the Court must accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences from those allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Nechis v. Oxford Health Plans, Inc., 421 F.3d 96, 100 (2d Cir. 2005).

         This “plausibility standard” is guided by “[t]wo working principles.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. First, the requirement that a court accept as true the allegations in a complaint “‘is inapplicable to legal conclusions, ' and ‘[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.'” Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). Second, to survive a motion to dismiss, the claim for relief alleged in the complaint must be plausible. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Determining whether a ...


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