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Fragola v. Plainville Police Department

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

February 22, 2017

DEAN FRAGOLA, Plaintiff,


          Jeffrey Alker Meyer United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff has filed this civil rights suit against a police department, police officers, and prosecutors arising from events that led to his conviction in Connecticut state court. Three of the five defendants have moved to dismiss, and plaintiff has failed to file a response. Because I conclude that plaintiff has failed to state a claim against any of the defendants, I will dismiss this action.


         According to his complaint, plaintiff Dean Fragola responded to an advertisement on the internet placed by a woman that was trying to “break into the porn business.” Doc. #1 at ¶ 5. Plaintiff offered to assist the woman in her pursuit of an adult film career, reaching out to her by text, e-mail, and a voice message, and creating posters of her photographs and posting her pictures on his twitter account. Id. at ¶¶ 5-7. The woman then “decided to lie to police and tell them that he had hacked into her accounts.” Id. at ¶ 9. Police conducted a search of plaintiff's residence, id. at ¶13, and seized items of his personal property. Id. at ¶19. Plaintiff was charged in Connecticut state court and ultimately pled guilty to misdemeanor charges of second-degree harassment, criminal impersonation, and second-degree stalking. He was sentenced to up to one year of incarceration, execution suspended, and a conditional discharge for 2 years. Id. at ¶¶ 14, 18; see also Doc. #40-3 at 2 (conviction case detail from judicial branch website, indicating suspension of jail time and 2 years of conditional discharge).

         Plaintiff now brings this civil rights action against defendants Plainville Police Department, Sergeant (now Lieutenant) Nicholas Mullins, Detective David Posadas, and prosecuting attorneys David Lee and Paul Rotiroti pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. His complaint alleges three claims: (1) false arrest and false imprisonment in violation of the Fourth Amendment; (2) a “takings” of his property under the Fifth Amendment; and (3) a civil conspiracy to violate his civil rights.


         On November 4, 2016, defendants Mullins, Posadas, and the Plainville Police Department (the “Plainville defendants”) filed a motion to dismiss plaintiff's claims for failure to state a claim. Plaintiff never filed a response to the motion to dismiss or any motion for extension of time.[1] For this reason and because, as discussed below, the pleadings do not provide sufficient grounds to deny the motion, the motion to dismiss is granted pursuant to D. Conn. L. Civ. R. 7(a)(2).

         In addition, I have also considered the merits of defendants' motion to dismiss and conclude that the complaint fails to state a claim for substantially the reasons set forth in their supporting memorandum of law. First, as to plaintiff's claim under the Fourth Amendment, plaintiff's claim necessarily calls into question the validity of his convictions, and therefore his claim is foreclosed by the Supreme Court's decision in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994). Moreover, the fact of his convictions negates his ability to make the requisite showing that there was no probable cause for his arrest and imprisonment. See Davis v. Rodriguez, 364 F.3d 424, 433 (2d Cir. 2004). Second, as to plaintiff's takings claim, plaintiff has not exhausted state remedies. See Williamson Cnty. Reg'l Planning Comm'n v. Hamilton Bank of Johnson City, 473 U.S. 172, 194-95 (1985); Komondy v. Gioco, 59 F.Supp.3d 469, 476-78 (D. Conn. 2014). Lastly, plaintiff's conspiracy claim fails for lack of an actionable constitutional claim of misconduct.

         Plaintiff's claims against the defendant prosecutors are also subject to sua sponte dismissal on the same grounds pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). In addition, prosecutors have absolute immunity from suits for money damages arising from the exercise of their traditional prosecution functions. See Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 429, 430-31 (1976); Giraldo v. Kessler, 694 F.3d 161, 165-67 (2d Cir. 2012).


         For the foregoing reasons, the Plainville defendants' motion to dismiss (Doc. #40) is GRANTED. This case is otherwise dismissed as to the prosecutor defendants pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). This dismissal is with prejudice for lack of any indication that the deficiencies in the complaint could be cured by amendment. The Clerk of Court shall close this case.

         It is so ordered.


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