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Goodwin v. City of New Haven

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

April 6, 2017

JEFFREY GOODWIN, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF NEW HAVEN and DEAN ESSERMAN, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OF DECISION ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS

          WARREN W. EGINTON SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The Court initially dismissed plaintiff's claims after defendants moved to dismiss and plaintiff failed to respond. Aside from plaintiff's neglect, plaintiff's original complaint failed to raise a right to relief above the speculative level. After the Court's order dismissing the case was entered, plaintiff moved for reconsideration based on his unintentional failure to file responses, and the Court granted plaintiff permission to amend his complaint to address its deficiencies.

         Defendants have now moved to dismiss plaintiff's amended complaint in its entirety, referencing and repeating arguments proffered in their original motions. Indeed, plaintiff's amended complaint is substantially similar to his original - the most notable difference being the removal of certain allegations that undercut the theory of his case.

         Plaintiff's amended complaint includes claims of gender discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act (Counts I and II); municipal liability (Count III); violation of constitutional rights to equal protection, due process, and freedom of speech against Chief Esserman in his individual capacity (Count IV); and intentional infliction of emotional distress against Chief Esserman in his individual capacity (Count V).

         DISCUSSION

         The function of a motion to dismiss is "merely to assess the legal feasibility of the complaint, not to assay the weight of the evidence which might be offered in support thereof." Ryder Energy Distribution v. Merrill Lynch Commodities, Inc., 748 F.2d 774, 779 (2d Cir. 1984). When deciding a motion to dismiss, the Court must accept all well-pleaded allegations as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the pleader. Hishon v. King, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984). The complaint must contain the grounds upon which the claim rests through factual allegations sufficient “to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007). A plaintiff is obliged to amplify a claim with some factual allegations in those contexts where such amplification is needed to render the claim plausible. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

         Stripped of its labels, conclusions, and formulaic recitations of elements of causes of action, plaintiff's amended complaint offers few facts.

         On July 21, 2010, the New Haven Police Department issued a dress code policy for the Investigative Services Unit, of which plaintiff was a member. Plaintiff alleges that the policy “was more strict regarding male officers [as compared to] similarly situated female officers, ” but plaintiff does not specify any differences in policy other than to say that female detectives are permitted to dress in a manner appropriate for the weather while male counterparts are not. Plaintiff communicated his concerns about perceived gender bias on many occasions, but defendants did nothing to change the policy.

         On July 1, 2012, plaintiff authored a “Memorandum and Petition” seeking a revision of the dress code, asserting that such revision would “allow male detectives to perform their job functions more effectively[, ] safely, and beneficially ... particularly in very hot or inclement weather.” On July 8, 2012, plaintiff provided a copy of the memo to his union, which forwarded a copy to Assistant Chief Archie Generoso, who responded with anger at the following morning's lineup.

         On July 9, 2012, plaintiff received a letter from Chief Esserman, ordering him to report the next day for discipline. Esserman issued plaintiff a letter of reprimand.

         On December 20, 2012, Esserman again called plaintiff into his office for the purpose of imposing discipline. Plaintiff provides no details of this meeting.

         Plaintiff alleges that supervisors told him to lay low because he was being targeted by the Department.

         On July 7, 2013, a particularly hot day, a sergeant told plaintiff to go home and change his outfit to conform with the dress code. A female detective who was also violating policy was not forced to change outfits. Plaintiff left work that day because he was not feeling well.

         On September 19, 2013, Esserman ordered plaintiff to his office for the purpose of imposing discipline but then ordered ...


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