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Fleurizard v. City of New Haven

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

September 25, 2017

MICHAEL FLEURIZARD, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF NEW HAVEN, et al., Defendant.

          RULING RE: MOTION TO DISMISS (DOC. NO. 29)

          Janet C. Hall, United States District Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         The plaintiff, Michael Fleurizard, filed a Second Amended Complaint on October 26, 2016. See Second Amended Complaint (“Second Am. Compl.”) (Doc. No. 15). Fleurizard brought claims under section 1983 of title 42 of the United States Code, for violations of his Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights against a number of defendants.[1] Id. After the court's Order Affirming, Adopting, and Ratifying the Recommended Ruling Regarding the Second Amended Complaint on December 27, 2017, dismissed some of the defendants, claims remained against four defendants: the City of New Haven and individual defendants, Police Officers Dean D. Reynolds, Ben Hines, and M. Foster in their individual capacities. See Recommended Ruling re: Second Amended Complaint (“Rec'd Ruling 3”) (Doc. No. 17); Order Affirming, Adopting, and Ratifying Recommended Ruling 3 (“Order Adopting Rec'd Ruling 3”) (Doc. No. 18).

         Defendants Reynolds, Hines, and Foster now move to dismiss all counts against them. See Motion to Dismiss (“Mot. to Dismiss”) (Doc. No. 29).

         For the reasons below, the court grants the Motion to Dismiss on all counts.

         II. PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         The procedural history of this case provides context for the court's current dismissal. On July 18, 2016, Fleurizard filed an initial Complaint, which was dated July 14, 2016, and moved to proceed in forma pauperis. See Complaint (“Compl.”); Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (Doc. No. 2). The Complaint raised claims pursuant to section 1983 against the City of New Haven, the New Haven Police Department, and individual defendants, Police Officers Reynolds, Hines, and Foster. See id. The counts in the Complaint alleged violations of Fleurizard's right to be free from false arrest and malicious prosecution, his Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment, his Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection, and his Fourteenth Amendment right of due process. See id.

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), Magistrate Judge Merriam issued a Recommended Ruling dismissing the Complaint. See Recommended Ruling (“Rec'd Ruling 1) (Doc. No. 7). Specifically, the Recommended Ruling dismissed with prejudice all claims against the New Haven Police Department, all claims against the individual defendants in their official capacities, any claim of false arrest and malicious prosecution, and any substantive due process claim. See id. at 16. The Recommended Ruling dismissed all other claims without prejudice, granting Fleurizard leave to replead. See id. The court adopted the Recommended Ruling on August 17, 2016. Order Affirming, Adopting, and Ratifying Recommended Ruling 1 (Doc. No. 8); see also Order re: Objection to Recommended Ruling (Doc. No. 11).

         Fleurizard filed an Amended Complaint on September 22, 2016. See Amended Complaint (“Am. Compl.”) (Doc. No. 13). The Amended Complaint named all of the defendants in the original complaint, including the New Haven Police Department against which the Complaint was previously dismissed with prejudice, and added four additional defendants in their individual capacity: Robert Fairwheather, Tierra Garrett, Jane Doe, and Jane Doe 1. See id. With some added factual allegations, the Amended Complaint repeated substantially the same claims as the original Complaint, again including those already dismissed with prejudice. See id. at ¶ 10. It also added facts asserting the use of excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment. See id. at ¶ 7. However, the Amended Complaint failed to cure the majority of the shortcomings identified in the first Recommended Ruling. Accordingly, Magistrate Judge Merriam issued, and the court adopted, another Recommended Ruling pursuant to section 1915(e)(2)(B). See Recommended Ruling (“Rec'd Ruling 2”) (Doc. No. 14); Order Affirming, Adopting, and Ratifying Recommended Ruling 2 (Doc. No. 16). In it, the court reaffirmed its prior dismissals with prejudice, dismissed with prejudice any claims against the four new defendants, and dismissed without prejudice all other claims except the excessive force claim against defendants Hines and Reynolds in their individual capacities. See Rec'd Ruling 2 at 15-16.

         On October 26, 2016, Fleurizard filed a Second Amended Complaint, now the current operative complaint in the case. See Second Amended Complaint. The Second Amended Complaint names all of the same defendants and raises all of the same claims as the Amended Complaint, again including those dismissed with prejudice. See id. Magistrate Judge Merriam issued, and the court adopted, a third Recommended Ruling pursuant to section 1915(e)(2)(B). See Rec'd Ruling 3; Order Adopting Rec'd Ruling 3. The Recommended Ruling again reaffirmed its prior dismissals with prejudice. See Rec'd Ruling 3 at 15-16. Accordingly, the only claims that were permitted to proceed to service, and that now appear before the court, are those of (1) excessive force, (2) racial discrimination and violation of equal protection, (3) cruel and unusual punishment, and (4) violation of procedural due process against the City of New Haven and defendants Hines, Reynolds, and Foster in their individual capacities. See id.

         Regarding these remaining counts, the relevant facts alleged in the Second Amended Complaint are as follows.[2] Fleurizard alleges that, on July 12, 2013, he called the police after being assaulted and threatened by Robert Fairwheather. See Second Am. Compl. at ¶ 8. After the police officers arrived, Fleurizard claims that an unnamed officer initially told him that he would not be arrested, but then proceeded to arrest him after the officer spoke with defendant Police Officer Hines. See id. Hines handcuffed Fleurizard, “squeezed the handcuffs tighter” on his wrists, and did not loosen them despite Fleurizard's requests. See id. Hines behaved in a manner that was “boisterous and belligerent, ” “used racial epithets, ” and “was loud and disrespectful in the plaintiff's residence.” See id. Fleurizard also alleges that defendants Reynolds and Foster were the other officers on duty at the time with Hines. See id.

         After his arrest, Fleurizard was placed in a transportation van to be brought to the Union Avenue jail. See id. He “explained that he was hurt and in pain, ” so the transportation sheriff brought him to the hospital, where Fleurizard was seen by a doctor before being transported to the jail. See id. Fleurizard alleges that his injuries worsened because he did not subsequently receive medical treatment at the correctional facility. See id. He further claims that unreasonable bail led him to lose his job and forced him to plead guilty. See id. Finally, Fleurizard alleges that the City of New Haven had a policy of allowing police to address domestic violence cases without proper training and of allowing the same police officers who arrested individuals to set bail bonds that those individuals could not post. See id.

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) requires a complaint to plead “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). Under Rule 12(b)(6), to survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, that plain statement must allege facts sufficient to state a plausible claim for relief. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 557 (2007). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). While this plausibility standard does not require probability, it is not satisfied by “a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully” or by facts that are “merely consistent with a defendant's liability.” Id. (internal citations omitted).

         In deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court must accept all material factual allegations of the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Hemi Grp., LLC v. City of New York, 559 U.S. 1, 5 (2010); Jaghory v. N.Y. State Dep't Educ., 131 F.3d 326, 329 (2d Cir. 1997). However, the court is not required to accept as true a “legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.” Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986). In those instances, “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. ...


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