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Rizvi v. Urstadt Biddle Prop Inc.

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

January 17, 2018




         Nusrat and Eileen Rizvi (“Plaintiffs”) filed this lawsuit on August 21, 2017. Compl., ECF No. 1. Defendant Antonio Robaina (“Mr. Robaina”) seeks dismissal from the lawsuit. Based on the reasons stated below, the motion will be GRANTED.


         A. Factual Background

         Plaintiffs filed the initial complaint on August 21, 2017. Compl., ECF No. 1.[1] They alleged that Defendants Urstadt Biddle Properties (“UBP”) and Andrew Stephanou conspired to reduce the sale price of the Lanphier Spa. Id. ¶ 15. Plaintiffs owned the spa from 1992 until 2012, UBP owned the property since 1998 and leased the property to the Plaintiffs, and Stephanou had managed the spa and began discussing purchasing the business from Plaintiffs in 2010. Id. ¶ 19, 24. Plaintiffs alleged that, as they sought to extend their lease, UBP would state additional restrictions on the renewal of the lease, and Stefanou would lower his offering price. Id. ¶ 33-36. Plaintiffs alleged that they confronted Stefanou and terminated his employment as a result, but UBP refused to negotiate further and rented the facility to Stefanou instead. Id. ¶¶ 37, 39-41.

         This lawsuit arises from Plaintiff's allegations that the parties forged their signature on a settlement agreement: they claim they only signed part of a Stipulated Judgment, but that it did not contain a “General Release” section. Id. ¶¶ 58-60. The initial complaint in this matter alleged that UBP and Stefanou, aided by the various law firms and lawyers who had participated in the state court matters the agreement stemmed from, violated federal mail fraud statutes and state forgery laws.

         Plaintiff initially alleged that they filed a complaint in state court in 2014 for a Pure Bill of Discovery. Id. ¶¶ 63-64. Judge Antonio Robaina, presided over the matter and examined the allegedly forged agreements in camera and denied discovery, “stating the documents were identical except for a handwritten note on the upper right hand of the first page and the name of the County as Fairfield in faded ink . . . .” Id. Plaintiff's alleged that:

Defendant Robaina is liable for being corrupted or influenced by a consortium of other Defendants to not perform his judicial function of impartially assessing the validity of the alleged "General Release" which was done in camera without involvement of Plaintiffs' attorney. Thus, not adjudging impartially the authenticity of purportedly forged documents and issuing the JDNO Notice finding it was authentic, undermined the integrity of the Court.

Id. ¶¶ 72-73.

         Plaintiffs then filed an amended complaint on October 25, 2017.[2] Amend. Compl., ECF No. 22. The amended complaint added claims under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corruption Act (“RICO”) and False Claims Act, and maintained similar claims to their first complaint. Amend. Compl. ¶¶ 4-13. While the amended complaint continues to address the actions of the other defendants, Defendant Robaina is only mentioned briefly. The amended complaint also no longer included a charge of “fraud on the court.”

         Mr. Robaina moved to dismiss the amended complaint. See Robaina Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 41. He argues that the amended complaint fails to state a claim and should therefore be dismissed under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Alternatively, he argues that the amended complaint should be dismissed under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) based on the doctrine of judicial immunity, or under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(5) for insufficient service of process.


         In evaluating a motion under Rule 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, the Court “must accept as true all material factual allegations in the complaint but need not draw inferences favorable to the party asserting jurisdiction.” Shipping Fin. Servs. Corp. v. Drakos, 140 F.3d 129, 131 (2d Cir. 1998). The plaintiff bears the burden of showing that subject matter jurisdiction is proper based on facts existing at the time he or she filed the complaint. Scelsa v. City Univ. of New York, 76 F.3d 37, 40 (2d Cir. 1996) (citations omitted).

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(5), a party may file a motion to dismiss due to “insufficient service of process.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(5). A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(5) may be granted “if the plaintiff fails to serve a copy of the summons and complaint on the defendants pursuant to Rule 4 of the Federal Rules, which sets forth the federal requirements for service.” Rzayeva v. United States, 492 F.Supp.2d 60, 74 (D. Conn. 2007). “Once validity of service has been challenged, it becomes the ...

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