United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON PENDING MOTIONS [DOC. ##95, 96,
SARAH A. L. MERRIAM UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
before the Court are two motions by self-represented
plaintiff Zewee Mpala (“plaintiff”), the first to
reopen the case and file an amended complaint [Doc. #95], and
the second for sanctions against defendants Joseph Funaro,
Martin Pitoniak and Eric Rapuano (collectively the
“defendants”) [Doc. #96]. Defendants have filed
timely objections to these motions, [Doc. ##103, 105], to
which plaintiff has filed replies [Doc. ##108, 109, 110].
Also pending before the Court is defendants' motion for
reconsideration of the Court's order terminating the
appearance of plaintiff's former attorney Thomas Lengyel.
[Doc. #104]. For the reasons articulated below, the
plaintiff's motion for permission to reopen and refile
complaint [Doc. #95] is DENIED; plaintiff's motion for
sanctions [Doc. #96] is DENIED, as moot; and defendants'
motion for reconsideration [Doc. #104] is GRANTED, but upon
reconsideration, the Court adheres to its prior order.
plaintiff brought this action against defendants asserting
claims of malicious prosecution and false
arrest.Plaintiff was arrested by the defendants,
all officers of the Yale Police Department, in the Yale Law
School building on March 6, 2010. See Doc. #57 at 2.
Plaintiff was charged with two offenses under Connecticut
law: criminal trespass in the second degree, in violation of
Connecticut General Statutes §53a-108, and interfering
with an officer, in violation of Connecticut General Statutes
§53a-167a. See Doc. #1, Complaint at ¶10. These
charges were heard in Connecticut Superior Court on April 6,
2011, together with a separate charge of trespassing arising
out of plaintiff's arrest on Yale property in September
2010. See Doc. #58-2.
April 6, 2011, hearing, the State agreed to “enter
nolles on both files.” Doc. #58-2, Tr. 2:23-2. Attorney
Michael Richards, who was the attorney representing
plaintiff, moved for the cases to be dismissed with prejudice
rather than nolled. See Id. at Tr. 2:27-3:1. The
State agreed, on the condition that plaintiff stipulate to
the presence of probable cause for the arrests. See
Id. at Tr. 3:2-4. After some discussion amongst
counsel and the Court, all parties agreed that such a
stipulation could be entered on plaintiff's behalf by his
attorney without plaintiff's physical presence. See
Id. Tr. 3:5-10. The stipulation was entered, and the
cases were dismissed with prejudice. See id.
February 25, 2013, plaintiff filed the instant action
alleging claims under 42 U.S.C. §§1983 and 1988 for
malicious prosecution and false arrest. See generally Doc.
#1, Complaint. The defendants filed a Motion for Summary
Judgment on May 21, 2015. [Doc. #56]. New counsel, Thomas J.
Lengyel, appeared for plaintiff on July 31, 2015, and oral
argument on the motion for summary judgment was conducted
before the Court on October 30, 2015. [Doc. ##63, 64].
Court granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment
on two grounds. First, the Court found that the stipulation
of probable cause made by Attorney Richards in the state
court criminal case is valid and binding on plaintiff, and
because the absence of probable cause is a necessary element
of both a false arrest and a malicious prosecution claim,
plaintiff could not prevail on either of his claims. See Doc.
#74 at 7-16. Second, the Court found that even if there had
been no stipulation, there was no genuine issue of material
fact as to the presence of probable cause for both arrests,
and summary judgment in favor of the defendants would be
appropriate on that basis as well. See Id. at 16-19.
January 31, 2017, by summary order, the Second Circuit Court
of Appeals affirmed the undersigned's ruling granting
defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. See Impala
v. Funaro, No. 16-351 (2d Cir. Jan. 31, 2017). The
mandate issued on March 2, 2017. [Doc. #102].
February 17, 2017, plaintiff filed a pro se appearance, along
with a motion for permission to reopen and refile complaint
[Doc. #95] and a motion for sanctions [Doc. #96]. Defendants
have timely objected to these motions.
Motion to Reopen [Doc. #95]
has filed a motion to reopen the judgment entered in this
matter and for leave to file an amended complaint on the
grounds that (1) defendants and plaintiff's prior
attorney John Williams entered into a “tacit Conspiracy
to Fraudulent Concealed evidence from the Plaintiff &
this Court” (sic) and (2) that Yale, a non-party to
this action, failed to preserve the surveillance video of his
arrest. Doc. #95 at 1. Defendants generally argue in
opposition that plaintiff's claims are procedurally
barred, and in any event, entirely without merit. See
generally Doc. #103 at 22.
Court construes plaintiff's motion as being made pursuant
to Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which
establishes the standards by which a Court considers a motion
for relief from final judgment. Rule 60(b) “should be
broadly construed to do substantial justice, yet final
judgments should not be lightly reopened.” Nemaizer
v. Baker, 793 F.2d 58, 61 (2d Cir. 1986) (internal
citations and quotation marks omitted). “Since 60(b)
allows extraordinary judicial relief, it is invoked only upon
a showing of exceptional circumstances. A motion seeking such
relief is addressed to the sound discretion of the district
court with appellate review limited to determining whether
that discretion has been abused.” Id. at 61-62
(internal citations omitted).
pertinent part, Rule 60(b) provides for relief from judgment
on the following grounds: “(1) mistake, inadvertence,
surprise, or excusable neglect; (2) newly discovered evidence
that, with reasonable diligence, could not have been
discovered in time to move for a new trial under Rule 59(b);
[and] (3) fraud (whether previously called intrinsic or
extrinsic), misrepresentation, or misconduct by an opposing
party[.]” Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(1)-(3). A motion seeking
relief under these subsections must be made “no more
than a year after the entry of the judgment[.]”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(c)(1). The filing of an appeal does not toll
this one-year limitation. See King v. First Am.
Investigations, Inc.,287 F.3d 91, 94 (2d Cir. 2002)
(collecting cases). Here, judgment entered in favor of the
defendants on November 20, 2015. [Doc. #76]. Plaintiff did