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Ortiz v. Bridgeport Police Department

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

June 29, 2017

MONDAY J. ORTIZ, Plaintiff,


          CHARLES S. HAIGHT, JR., Senior United States District Judge

         This action, seeking relief for alleged civil rights violations by a State actor pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, arises from the arrest of Plaintiff Monday J. Ortiz ("Ortiz" or "Plaintiff") by Officer M. Mazzacco of the Bridgeport Police Department on the evening of October 3, 2014. Plaintiff brought this action pro se, and following a number of procedural delays and inattentions, on the part of both parties, [1] Defendant Bridgeport Police Department ("B.P.D." or "Defendant") has filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (Doc. 25), pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. This Ruling decides that Motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The following recitation of events and references to paragraph numbers are derived from Plaintiff's Complaint (Doc. 1) and its exhibit, the Connecticut Uniform Police Accident Report form ("Accident Report") completed by Officer Mazzacco. In considering this motion, the Court accepts all well-pleaded material facts in the Complaint as true and admitted, and construes them in the light most favorable to the pro se Plaintiff.

         On October 3, 2014, Plaintiff was, through no fault of his own, involved in a sideswipe motor vehicle collision near the intersection of Park and Fairfield Avenues, in Bridgeport, Connecticut. ¶¶ 2-3; Accident Report. Officer Mazzacco conducted a traffic stop of Plaintiff's vehicle, and subsequently arrested and handcuffed Plaintiff, at or near Plaintiff's Bridgeport residence, 651 State Street. ¶¶ 5-6; Accident Report. Plaintiff was instructed to sit in the back of Mazzacco's patrol car. ¶ 5; Accident Report. Plaintiff asked Mazzacco why he was being treated in this manner, and Mazzacco told Plaintiff it was because of Plaintiff's nationality, skin color, who Plaintiff was, and who Plaintiff associated with.[2] ¶ 5. Plaintiff was issued a Misdemeanor Summons for Evading Responsibility (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 14-244(b)), Misuse of Plate (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 14-147(a)), and No Insurance (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 14-213b). ¶ 5(a); Accident Report. As Plaintiff left the patrol car, Mazzacco "clearly stated" that he did not like the Plaintiff, and wished that the Plaintiff would leave Connecticut all together. ¶ 5(b). Plaintiff reports that Mazzacco told him, "If I don't leave [Connecticut] this is just the beginning of my end they will take my life." ¶ 5(b). Plaintiff was thereby put in fear for his and his family's lives. ¶ 6. Plaintiff is followed by patrol cars everywhere he goes, he is unable to identify which officers are inside these patrol cars, and he is unable to go about his daily business. ¶ 6. Having been warned to leave Bridgeport and Connecticut by Mazzacco and unspecified "others, " Plaintiff believes his life to be in danger. ¶ 6.

         The Complaint names, as sole defendant, the B.P.D. On September 20, 2016, Defendant filed an Answer (Doc. 24), asserting, as an affirmative defense, that the Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, a defense reiterated in the instant Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (Doc. 25).


         In general, "the standard for addressing a Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings is the same as that for a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim." Cleveland v. Caplaw Enters., 448 F.3d 518, 521 (2d Cir. 2006). Under the now well-established Twombly/Iqbal standard, a complaint should be dismissed only if it does not contain enough allegations of fact to state a claim for relief that is "plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, (2007).

         The Second Circuit has explained that, after Twombly and Iqbal, the Court's inquiry under Rule 12(b)(6) is guided by two principles:

First, although a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint, that tenet is inapplicable to legal conclusions, and threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice. Second, only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss and determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.

Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir.2009) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 663-64, 678) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). Thus, "[w]hen there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and . . . determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement of relief." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 664.

         In considering a motion to dismiss, this Court accepts as true the factual allegations set forth in the complaint and draws all reasonable inferences in the Plaintiff's favor. See Zinermon v. Burch, 494 U.S. 113, 118, (1990); In re NYSE Specialists Secs. Litig., 503 F.3d 89, 91 (2d Cir.2007). When evaluating a 12(c) motion, the well-pleaded material facts of the complaint are taken as admitted by the moving party. Shapiro v. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc., 495 F.2d 228, 231(2d Cir. 1974); Gumer v. Shearson, Hammill & Co., Inc., 516 F.2d 283, 286 (2d Cir. 1974); Lo Sacco v. City of Middletown, 745 F.Supp. 812, 814 (D. Conn. 1990) (Nevas, J.).

         The defense raised by Defendant's instant Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings - failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted - is most often asserted through a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, prior to the closure of the pleadings. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). However, where, as here, the pleadings have closed and a 12(b)(6) motion would be untimely, such a defense is properly considered on a 12(c) motion. See Gumer, 516 F.2d at 286; Doe v. City of Bridgeport, No. 3:04-CV-1197 (WWE), 2005 WL 1377912, at *1 (D. Conn. June 1, 2005) (Eginton, J.) ("However, even though the 12(b)(6) motion is asserted through the procedural device of a 12(c) motion, the standards employed in determining the motion will be the same as if the defense had been raised prior to the closing of the pleadings."); Lo Sacco, 745 F.Supp. at 814; Shapiro v. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc., 353 F.Supp. 264, 268 (S.D.N.Y. 1972) (Tenney, J.), aff'd, 495 F.2d 228; see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(2)(B) ("Failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted . . . may be raised . . . by a motion under Rule 12(c)").


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