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Ely v. Marino

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

January 23, 2018

AMANDA ELY, Plaintiffs,
v.
BRIAN MARINO and STEPHEN ANDERSON, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OF DECISION ON MOTION TO DISMISS OR FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS

          WARREN W. EGINTON, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         In this consolidated civil rights action, plaintiff asserts that defendants Connecticut State Trooper Brian Marino and Shelton Police Officer Stephen Anderson violated the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

         Defendant Anderson has moved to dismiss this action and defendant Marino has moved for judgment on the pleadings.[1] For the following reasons, defendant Anderson's motion to dismiss will be granted, and defendant Marino's motion for judgment on the pleadings will be denied.

         BACKGROUND

         The following background is taken from the allegations of plaintiffs' complaint, which are accepted as true for purposes of this decision.

         On June 11, 2014, Officer Anderson contacted defendant Marino and “falsely and maliciously” reported that plaintiff was illegally growing marijuana in an apartment, which he claimed plaintiff occupied in Derby. Defendant Marino sought and obtained a warrant to search plaintiff's apartment in Derby based on this allegedly false information, and police officers then searched plaintiff's apartment.

         The Court takes judicial notice that plaintiff was arrested, prosecuted and convicted for felony conspiracy to commit possession of hallucinogenic substances or greater than four ounces of marijuana in violation of state law.

         DISCUSSION

         The function of a motion to dismiss is “merely to assess the legal feasibility of the complaint, not to assay the weight of the evidence which might be offered in support thereof.” Ryder Energy Distrib. v. Merrill Lynch Commodities, Inc., 748 F.2d 774, 779 (2d Cir. 1984). “Judgment on the pleadings is appropriate where material facts are undisputed and where a judgment on the merits is possible merely by considering the contents of the pleadings.” Sellers v. M.C. Floor Crafters, Inc., 842 F.2d 639, 642 (2d Cir. 1988). In deciding a Rule 12(c) motion, a court employs the same standard applicable to dismissals pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). L-7 Designs, Inc. v. Old Navy, LLC, 647 F.3d 419, 429 (2d Cir. 2011). Accordingly, the Court must accept all well-pleaded allegations as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the pleader. Hishon v. King, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984). The complaint must contain the grounds upon which the claim rests through factual allegations sufficient “to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007). A plaintiff is obliged to amplify a claim with some factual allegations in those contexts where such amplification is needed to render the claim plausible. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

         Plaintiff has alleged that the search warrant violates the Fourth Amendment because it was not supported by probable cause.

         Defendant Anderson

         Anderson asserts that plaintiff's claim against him is not cognizable because he was not personally involved in obtaining the warrant or conducting the alleged unreasonable search. Personal involvement of a defendant in the alleged constitutional deprivation is a prerequisite to a claim for damages under Section 1983. Wright v. Smith, 21 F.3d 496, 501 (2d Cir. 1994).

         Plaintiff argues that her allegations against Anderson are similar to a Fourth Amendment violation based on malicious prosecution, which requires that (1) the defendant initiated or procured the institution of criminal proceedings against plaintiff; (2) the criminal proceedings terminated in favor of the plaintiff; (3) the defendant acted without probable cause; and (4) the defendant acted with malice, primarily for a purpose other than that of bringing an offender to justice. Moreno v. City of New Haven Dep. Of Police Serv., 604 F.Supp.2d 364, 374 (D. Conn. 2009). However, plaintiff has not pleaded the elements of a malicious prosecution case. Further, plaintiff cannot plead such a malicious prosecution claim under Section 1983 unless the criminal proceedings terminated in her favor. The Court has taken judicial notice of plaintiff's conviction stemming from the search that resulted from Anderson's conduct.

         The Court agrees that plaintiff has failed to allege that defendant Anderson participated in the alleged unreasonable search. The complaint contains no allegation that Anderson acted to obtain the warrant or to search the apartment. Accordingly, the Court ...


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