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Melillo v. Brais

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

December 21, 2017

ALICE MELILLO AND ALLEN NORDEN, Plaintiffs,
v.
RYAN BRAIS, Defendant.

          RULING ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

          VICTOR A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Alice Melillo (“Ms. Melillo”) and Allen Norden (“Mr. Norden”) (together, “Plaintiffs”) initially filed this lawsuit with the Small Claims Session of the Connecticut Superior Court, alleging harassment, emotional distress, and a violation of their civil rights, against Ryan Brais (“Mr. Brais” or “Defendant”). Small Claims Compl., Pls. Motion to Remand Ex. 1, ECF No. 13-1. They alleged that Mr. Brais, a zoning official in Plainfield, Connecticut, violated their Fourth Amendment rights by repeatedly and unnecessarily performing inspections in their garage; opening a closet door and taking photographs of its contents; and taking several objects from the closet. Id.

         Defendant transferred the case from Small Claims Court to Connecticut Superior Court, and then removed to this Court. Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1. Plaintiffs moved to remand the case to state court, and this Court denied the motion. ECF Nos. 13, 26.

         Defendant now moves to dismiss, arguing that Plaintiffs have failed to allege that they have standing to bring their Fourth Amendment claims against him. Mot. Dismiss, ECF No. 40. Plaintiffs have also moved to amend their Complaint. Mot. Amend, ECF No. 44.

         For the reasons discussed below, Defendant's motion to dismiss is GRANTED, and Plaintiffs' motion to amend is also GRANTED.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Allegations

         Plaintiffs allege that Defendant, a zoning official for the Town of Plainfield acting in his official capacity, violated their Fourth Amendment rights to privacy while he performed numerous inspections at their home. Revised Compl. ¶¶ 1, 4, 6, Notice of Removal Ex. A, ECF No. 1-1. They allege that Defendant parked his car on the road outside of their house and looked into the second floor of their detached garage to determine whether there was a kitchen facility inside. Id. ¶ 4. They allege that he also drove up the driveway, climbed a set of stairs leading to the garage, and looked through the window. Id. ¶ 5.

         Plaintiffs claim that Defendant performed numerous, unnecessary inspections of the same area of their garage, “looking for the same thing each time.” Id. ¶ 6. During one inspection, Defendant allegedly looked through a closed clothing wardrobe. Id. ¶ 7. After that, Plaintiffs noticed that several items were missing from the closet, including a bag that contained jewelry, two collector coins, and miscellaneous World War II memorabilia. Id. ¶ 18. Plaintiffs claim that Defendant has admitted that he looked through the closet. Id. ¶ 19.

         Plaintiffs also allege that Defendant violated their right to privacy when he demanded that Ms. Melillo “sign a document which would allow the Defendant to inspect any and all of the property, including [the] house and out-buildings at any time with just a 24 hour notice.” Id. ¶ 8. Plaintiffs claim that Defendant “caused the Plaintiffs severe emotional distress, stress, and worry by threatening the Plaintiffs with future inspections of their entire property with only a 24 hour notice.” Id. ¶ 12. Plaintiffs allege that their severe emotional distress was partly caused by Defendant's actions that “prevented the Plaintiff from visiting his sister with end stage Alzheimers Disease before her mental capacity for recognizing him ended, ” and that he was “unable to say his goodbyes and have closure.” Id. ¶ 13.

         One day, Defendant arrived for an inspection with a police officer who had a “German [Shepherd] attack dog, ” which Plaintiffs claim caused them severe emotional distress. Id. ¶ 14. Plaintiffs also allege that Defendant required them to destroy and demolish a toilet and sink in the detached garage-even though those fixtures had been approved by the Northeast District Department of Health-and that the removal cost over $2, 000 and significant labor. Id. ¶ 15.

         Ultimately, Plaintiffs allege, Defendant's conduct forced them to sell their home, and at a significant financial loss. Id. ¶ 16.

         Plaintiffs seek “punitive damages in the amount of $50, 000, plus 18% interest for the violation of the Plaintiffs' civil liberties, harassment, emotional, and financial distress.” Id. at p. 6. In addition, they seek attorney's fees and costs related to the litigation. Id.

         B. ...


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