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Melillo v. Brais

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

August 22, 2018

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

          RULING AND ORDER ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          VICTOR A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This case, removed from Connecticut Superior Court on March 30, 2017, involves allegations that a zoning official in Plainfield, Connecticut, Ryan Brais (“Defendant”), violated the Fourth Amendment rights of Alice Melillo and Allen Norden (together, “Plaintiffs”) by performing unnecessary inspections in their garage, photographing their belongings, and taking several objects from a closet, in violation of Section 1983. See Am. Compl., ECF No. 64.

         On August 3, 2018, Mr. Brais moved for summary judgment. ECF No. 105.

         For the following reasons, the motion for summary judgment is DENIED. This case, however, will proceed to trial only if Plaintiffs have admissible evidence that demonstrates a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Mr. Brais is entitled to qualified immunity, as addressed further below. Plaintiffs' response is due on or before September 7, 2018.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         The Court assumes the parties' familiarity with the factual and procedural background in this case. See Order granting Motion to Dismiss at 2-4, ECF No. 53; Order granting in part and denying in part Motion to Dismiss Amended Complaint at 2-5, ECF No. 89.

         On December 21, 2016, Plaintiffs filed this case in small claims court. Defendant transferred the case to the regular civil docket of the Connecticut Superior Court. Notice of Removal at 1, ECF No. 1; Melillo v. Brais, No. KNL-CV175015354-S (Conn. Super. Ct. 2017). Defendant then removed the case to this Court. Notice of Removal at 2. Plaintiffs moved to remand, and this Court denied the motion, finding that it had federal question jurisdiction over the case. Ruling on Motion to Remand Case at 4-7, ECF No. 26.

         On July 14, 2017, Defendant moved to dismiss the original Complaint, and on December 21, 2017, the Court granted the motion to dismiss. ECF Nos. 40, 53. On January 19, 2018, Plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint, asserting that Defendant had violated their Fourth Amendment rights to privacy in violation of Section 1983. Am. Compl., ECF No. 64. Plaintiffs also brought a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress. Id. Defendant moved to dismiss the Amended Complaint, and the Court granted the motion to the extent that the Amended Complaint asserted claims against Mr. Brais in his official capacity, but denied that motion on all other claims. ECF No. 89.

         On August 3, 2018, Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting: (1) Mr. Brais is entitled to qualified immunity with regard to Plaintiffs' constitutional claims under Counts One and Two; (2) Mr. Brais, by commencing and prosecuting a zoning enforcement action, did not violate Plaintiffs' constitutional rights; (3) Mr. Brais did not deprive Plaintiffs of a right to appeal a 2015 cease and desist order; (4) the submission of a proposed stipulated judgment to Plaintiffs did not violate their constitutional rights; (5) Mr. Brais did not seize or take Plaintiffs' personal belongings and is therefore not liable to compensate Plaintiffs; and (6) Plaintiffs' state-law claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress fails as a matter of law. Mot. for Summ. J., ECF No. 105. Along with his motion for summary judgment, Mr. Brais also filed a sixty-six page statement of material facts. ECF No. 105-2.

         On August 8, 2018, Plaintiffs filed an emergency motion for clarification, arguing that Mr. Brais's sixty-six page statement of material facts violated this Court's Local Rules, which require that a Local Rule 56(a)(1) statement “shall be no longer than twelve (12) double-spaced pages, absent leave of the Court granted for good cause shown.” Mot. for Clarification at 1, ECF No. 106-1.

         On August 8, 2018, Mr. Brais filed a response to Plaintiffs' motion, admitting that the original Local 56(a)(1) Statement violated the page limit of the Local Rule. ECF No. 108. Mr. Brais filed a proposed amended Local 56(a)(1) Statement, which is 41 pages, and requests that the Court grant, nunc pro tunc, leave to file excess pages. Id. at 1-2. Plaintiffs objected to the request to file excess pages. ECF No. 109.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A court will grant a motion for summary judgment if the record shows no genuine issue as to any material fact, and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party bears the initial burden of establishing the absence of a genuine dispute of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Cartrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The non-moving party may defeat the motion by producing sufficient specific facts to establish that there is a genuine issue of material fact for trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). “[T]he mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact.” Id. at 247-48.

         A court must view any inferences drawn from the facts in the light most favorable to the party opposing the summary judgment motion. Dufort v. City of New York, 874 F.3d 338, 343 (2d Cir. 2017). A court will not draw an inference of a genuine dispute of material fact from conclusory allegations or denials, Brown v. Eli Lilly & Co., 654 F.3d 347, 358 (2d Cir. 2011), and will grant summary judgment only “if, under ...


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