United States District Court, D. Connecticut
SCOTT T. LEWIS, Plaintiff,
CITY OF NEW HAVEN, et al, Defendants.
RULING AND ORDER
R. Underhill United States District Judge
August 15, 2016, the plaintiff, Scott Lewis, filed a
complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging, inter
alia, that unconstitutional policies implemented by the
defendants, the City of New Haven and Nicholas Pastore acting
in his official capacity as the Chief of New Haven's
Police Department during the relevant period (collectively,
"the City"),  permitted Lewis to be wrongfully
prosecuted, convicted, and incarcerated in violation of his
constitutional rights, (doc. 1) The complaint also seeks
indemnification and direct-action claims against the City for
the related alleged misconduct of its employees, see
Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 7-465 and 52-571. On November
15, 2016, the City filed a motion to dismiss, in whole or in
part, all of the claims against it. (doc. 39)
following reasons, the City's motion is denied in
Standard of Review
Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim Upon Which
Relief May Be Granted
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)).
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 Ail. Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007); Leeds v.
Meltz, 85 F.3d 51, 53 (2d Cir. 1996).
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).
following allegations asserted in the complaint are taken as
true for the purposes of the motion to dismiss, (doc. 1)
Lewis primarily alleges that he was framed for two murders by
Vincent Raucci, a Detective for the New Haven Police
Department ("NHPD"), acting at the behest of Frank
Parise, an organized-crime figure and drug dealer. See
Id. at ¶¶ 39-43. Lewis was initially arrested
on April 15, 1991, id. at¶ 102; re-arrested on
September 12, 1994, id. at¶ 106; and found
guilty of the murders on May 10, 1995, id. at ¶
115. After a key witness recanted his statements and another
NHPD officer testified about misconduct during the
investigation, however, Lewis's habeas petition for
release was granted on December 16, 2013, and he was released
from custody on February 26, 2014. See Id. at
¶¶ 169-75; see also Lewis v. Comm 'r of
Corr., 975 F.Supp.2d 169 (D. Conn. 2013), aff'd
by Lewis v. Comm 'r of Corr., 790 F.3d 109 (2d Cir.
2015). On August 5, 2015, all charges against Lewis were
formally dismissed. Compl. at ¶177.
alleges that his arrest, conviction, and incarceration were
obtained by Raucci through a concerted campaign to fabricate
or coerce witness statements, see Id. at
¶¶ 45-58, 71-80, 81-88, and to suppress an
alternative credible lead, see Id. at ¶¶
89-98. He alleges that several other NHPD officers were
either actively involved in or witnessed Raucci's
misconduct. See Id. at ¶¶ 48, 59-70,
76-78, 84. One of those officers informed his supervisor
about the misconduct in 1991, before Lewis was convicted, but
the supervisor did not intervene. See Id. at
and other supervising officers were aware of Raucci's
misconduct in the investigation before Lewis was convicted,
but failed to intervene. See Id. at ¶ 163
(alleging that Pastore admitted to Lewis that he knew Lewis
was innocent and that Raucci was corrupt); see also
Id. at ¶ 69 (alleging that another supervisory
officer knew at the time of the investigation that Raucci was
"troublesome"). Pastore and other supervising
officers were also aware that Raucci had engaged in other
misconduct before, during, and after Lewis's conviction.
See Id. at ¶¶ 136-49. Other officers had
witnessed Raucci attempt to plant drugs on a suspect in the
late 1980s, id. at ¶ 136, and interact with
Parise without any legitimate police purpose, id. at
¶ 138. One officer informed Pastore on multiple
occasions that Raucci was corrupt. Id. at ¶
139. In 1995, prior to Lewis's conviction, an internal
investigation determined that Raucci had hit a suspect in the
face with a gun and lied about the incident. Id. at
¶ 144. Pastore was also aware that Raucci had engaged in
a similar pattern of coercing witness statements in murder
investigations before and shortly after Lewis was convicted.
Id. at ¶¶ 139-142. And prior to
Lewis's conviction, Pastore was aware that Raucci was
using illegal drugs. Id. at ¶¶ 145-47.
Pastore took no steps to discipline Raucci for any of that
conduct, nor did he intervene in the investigation.
1996, Raucci was suspended and eventually resigned after an
NHPD internal investigation determined that he had accepted
overtime pay for work he did not perform. Id. at
¶ 148. The City failed to investigate Raucci's prior
work for years after he was disciplined and resigned from the
Department. An independent FBI investigation into Raucci
indicated that Raucci had ties to Parise, an ongoing drug
problem, and that other officers had repeatedly witnessed him
engaging in misconduct. Id. at ¶ 159. In
addition, the FBI obtained statements from key witnesses in
Lewis's case indicating that Raucci had coerced their
incriminating testimony. Id. at ¶ 160-61. On
the basis of the FBI report, on May 12, 1999-four years after
Lewis was convicted-John DeStefano, Jr., then-Mayor of New
Haven, formally requested that the investigation into the
murders for which Lewis was convicted be reopened.
Id. at ¶ 167. The NHPD declined to do so.
Id. at ¶ 168.
addition to alleging knowledge of Raucci's ongoing
misconduct, including with respect to Lewis, the complaint
alleges that the City failed to adequately supervise or
discipline numerous other officers engaged in misconduct
throughout the 1980s and 90s. See Id. at
¶¶ 120- 30. It identifies two instances when a jury
found that an NHPD officer knowingly filed a false report,
id. at ¶¶ 120, 122; one instance of an
NHPD officer admitting that he omitted and misquoted witness
statements, id. at ¶ 121; two instances of
witnesses testifying that other NHPD officers had subjected
them to the same coercive interrogation techniques used by
Raucci to frame Lewis, id. at ¶¶ 123, 124;
an officer subject to fourteen complaints between 1986 and
1993 without discipline, id. at ¶ 129; an
officer arrested for charges related to the suppression of
evidence and hindering an investigation, id. at
¶ 130, and one instance when an officer found by
internal investigations to have fabricated evidence and made
racially-charged threats of violence in the 1980s was not
seriously disciplined, and was in fact promoted by Pastore in
the 1990s, id. at ¶ 126. In the latter case,
the officer was eventually arrested for and convicted of
corruption-related charges in the mid-2000s. Id.
complaint also alleges that NHPD had a "long-standing
pattern of concealing exculpatory information."
Id. at ¶ 131. It identifies at least eight
cases between 1984 and 1992 in which a state court found that
the NHPD ...