United States District Court, D. Connecticut
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION ON MOTION TO DISMISS [DKT.
Vanessa L. Bryant, United States District Judge
action is based on the employment termination of Plaintiff
Curtis Ray (“Plaintiff” or “Ray”) by
the City of New Haven (“Defendant” or
“City”). Ray initially filed this case in state
court and alleges the City's notice and hearing prior to
his termination violated his Fourteenth Amendment due process
rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The City removed
the action to federal court under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a) as
there is valid original jurisdiction as set forth under 28
U.S.C. § 1331. Before the Court is the City's motion
to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief may
be granted. For the foregoing reasons, the motion is GRANTED.
I. Background The following facts are taken from the
Complaint and information relied upon by Plaintiff in
bringing this suit. They are assumed to be true for the
purposes of this motion. Plaintiff Curtis Ray
(“Ray” or “Plaintiff”) was hired as a
police officer by the New Haven Department of Police Service
in 2009. [Dkt. 1 (Compl.) ¶ 1]. The City of New Haven
(“City” or “Defendant”) is a
municipality organized under the State of Connecticut and is
governed by a charter that establishes the Board of Police
Commissioners (“Board”). Id.
September 29, 2014, Ray was served with charges of certain
departmental violations, and this charge sheet informed him
of his termination hearing that would be held the next day.
Id. ¶ 6a. Specifically, the charges listed are
for violations of requirements:
• “not [to] engage in any conduct that would cause
to discredit, lower or injure the morale” of the
department or any individual in the department, R. 15 art. 5;
• “not [to] consort with hoodlums, criminals or
other unsavory characters” unless such actions are
required in policy duty, R. 15 art. 19;
• to “report immediately to . . . superior
officers any information” regarding a law or ordinance
violation “or any matter that should properly come to
the attention of the department, ” R. 15 art. 33;
• not to “commit any act contrary to good order
and discipline” including neglect of duty, R. 15 art.
• not to “engage in any act which would constitute
conduct unbecoming an officer, ” R. 15 art. 38.
Id. ¶ 4(a)-(e). The violations stemmed from a
telephone conversation between Ray and his barber, Richard
Aquino, intercepted by wire on October 20, 2011 at
approximately 9:50 PM. Id. ¶ 4. During the
conversation, Mr. Aquino was informed of an “ATF2
raid” at his house and Ray responded that “he
would have 2 “ATF” likely refers to the Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. According to the ATF's
website, the ATF focuses on issues involving firearms,
explosives, arson, as well as alcohol and tobacco. See
Mission Areas, ATF, available at
https://www.atf.gov/about/mission-areas. informed him if he
had known about the raid.” Id. Aquino and Ray
met in 2006 when they worked at Home Depot and became
friends, and subsequently Ray saw Aquino every two to three
weeks because Aquino is his barber. Id. ¶ 5. The
investigation and subsequent charges became public before the
investigation was concluded. Id. ¶ 6(g).
hearing was conducted over two days on September 30 and
October 14 of 2014. See Id. ¶¶ 4, 6a;
[Dkt. 24-1 at 1:3-16]. The pre-termination hearing commenced
the day after Ray received the charge sheet. [Dkt. 1 (Compl.)
¶¶¶ 4, 6a.] Ray's attorney was given a
copy of the charge sheet upon entering the building for the
hearing. Id. ¶ 6a. The Complaint does not
allege from whom Ray's attorney received the charge sheet
nor does it allege that Ray was forbidden from providing his
attorney a copy of the charge sheet in advance of the
hearing. The Board admitted evidence of previous charges
against Ray from the State of New Jersey after which Ray was
acquitted, the charges were expunged, and the New Jersey
allegations did not appear on the charge sheet. Id.
¶ 6b. The Board also admitted evidence of a different
telephone conversation involving Ray, which did not appear on
the charge sheet. Id. ¶ 6c. Ray was denied time
to prepare responses to the charges not contained in the
charge sheet, which were considered by the Board.
Id. ¶ 6d. During the hearing, Chief of Police
Dean Esserman, who was a witness during the hearing, coached
another witness, Police Lieutenant Anthony Duffy.
Id. ¶ 6e. Lieutenant Duffy also testified from
notes without providing copies to Ray or his counsel.
Id. ¶ 6f. When Ray's counsel cross-examined
Chief of Police Esserman, he refused to answer questions.
Id. ¶ 6i. Ray was also prevented from
questioning a witness in comparable circumstances about his
treatment by the Board. Id. ¶ 6j.
hearing resumed on October 14, 2014. On behalf of the City,
Lieutenant Anthony Duff testified on redirect examination,
see [Dkt. 24-1 at 1:3-16, 4:2-6:26], and then Chief
of Police Esserman testified for which Plaintiff's
counsel had the opportunity to cross-examine him, see
Id. at 7:2-15:13. Plaintiff then presented his own
evidence in the form of witness testimony from Officer
Leonardo Soto, Officer Jeffrey King, Sergeant Betsy Segui,
and Lieutenant Jeffrey Hoffman. See Id. at
16:2-45:1. The City, by and through the Board, terminated
Ray's employment by vote at the end of the hearing on the
same day. Id. ¶ 6. The Complaint does not
reference any subsequent grievances, hearings, or
administrative remedies related to Ray's employment
survive a motion to dismiss, a plaintiff must plead
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (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). In
considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim,
the Court should follow a “two-pronged approach”
to evaluate the sufficiency of the complaint. Hayden v.
Paterson, 594 F.3d 150, 161 (2d Cir. 2010). “A
court ‘can choose to begin by identifying pleadings
that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not
entitled to the assumption of truth.'” Id.
(quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679). “At the
second step, a court should determine whether the
‘wellpleaded factual allegations, ' assumed to be
true, ‘plausibly give rise to an entitlement to
relief.'” Id. (quoting Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 679). “The plausibility standard is not akin to
a probability requirement, but it asks for more than a sheer
possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (internal quotations
general, the Court's review on a motion to dismiss
pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) “is limited to the facts as
asserted within the four corners of the complaint, the
documents attached to the complaint as exhibits, and any
documents incorporated by reference.” McCarthy v.
Dun & Bradstreet Corp., 482 F.3d 184, 191 (2d Cir.
2007). The Court may also consider “matters of which
judicial notice may be taken” and “documents
either in plaintiffs' possession or of which plaintiffs
had knowledge and relied on in bringing suit.”