United States District Court, D. Connecticut
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS
JEFFREY ALKER MEYER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Chauncey Moore alleges that police officers from the City of
Norwalk, Connecticut unlawfully stopped him, beat him up, and
then forced him to have his stomach pumped in search of
illegal drugs. But Moore waited more than three years before
naming any of the police officers who allegedly abused him.
Because the statute of limitations expired for his federal
civil rights claims, I will dismiss his claims against the
individual police officer defendants. I will otherwise
dismiss his federal claims against the City of Norwalk on the
ground that he has not alleged facts that give rise to a
plausible claim for relief against the City. Accordingly, I
will grant defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint
without prejudice to Moore's right to seek relief on his
state law claims in state court.
following facts are set forth as alleged by Moore in the
amended complaint. Doc. #16. On April 26, 2014, Moore was
walking on a sidewalk in the City of Norwalk when he was
stopped without reason by two Norwalk police officers. When
they attempted to handcuff him, he ran but he was caught and
thrown to the ground. More police officers joined in. The
officers used a taser to stun Moore four different times.
They also uttered racial slurs and kicked him and stomped on
him. Then they put Moore in a police vehicle to go to the
hospital. During the ride in the police vehicle, he was
intentionally slammed into the divider separating the front
and back of the vehicle. At the hospital his stomach was
pumped in a fruitless search for drugs. Moore suffered
numerous physical and psychological injuries from this
traumatic encounter with the police.
waited almost three years to file this federal court action.
He gave his pro se complaint to prison officials on
April 23, 2017, just three days before the statute of
limitations would expire for his federal civil rights claims
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Lounsbury v.
Jeffries, 25 F.3d 131, 133-34 (2d Cir. 1994). His
initial complaint did not identify any of the police officers
by name. Instead, it alleged claims against the City of
Norwalk and six anonymous “John Doe” police
officer defendants. Doc. #1.
15, 2017, I issued an initial review order pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915A dismissing Moore's claim against the
City of Norwalk but allowing his “John Doe”
claims to proceed and specifying that he must identify the
“John Doe” defendants by name by August 15, 2017.
Doc. #7. On June 26, 2017, I granted Moore's
motion to appoint pro bono counsel, and counsel was
appointed on August 21, 2017. Docs. #9, #13.
meantime, on August 11, 2017, Moore filed a “Motion for
Extension of Time to Identify John Doe Defendants.”
Doc. #10. The motion stated in part that Moore was
“successful” in identifying two of the
“John Doe” defendants but that Moore had
“made no further attempt to obtain the rest of the Doe
defendant's identities because plaintiff anticipated and
assumed that Court appointed counsel would have contacted him
prior to the deadline of time in which to identify/amend
[the] complaint (August 15, 2017), ” and that
“[p]laintiff was thinking court appointed counsel would
have identities of the Doe defendants by now.”
Id. at 1.
granted an extension of time to file an amended complaint.
Doc. #15. On November 21, 2017, Moore through his appointed
counsel filed an amended complaint that named the City of
Norwalk and each of the defendant police officers by name.
amended complaint alleges several federal civil rights claims
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for an unlawful stop by the
police, use of excessive force, an unlawful search of his
body at the hospital, and a conspiracy to violate his civil
rights. The complaint also alleges claims for municipal
liability against the City of Norwalk. Lastly, the complaint
alleges state law claims for assault and battery as well as
for infliction of emotional distress.
have moved to dismiss. They argue in principal part that
Moore's federal claims against the individual officers
are time-barred because he failed to name them within the
three-year statute of limitations, and they argue that
Moore's claims against the City do not state plausible
grounds for relief.
background principles governing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to
dismiss are well established. The Court must accept as true
all factual matters alleged in a complaint, although a
complaint may not survive unless the facts it recites are
enough to state plausible grounds for relief. See,
e.g., Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009); Mastafa v. Chevron Corp., 770 F.3d 170, 177
(2d Cir. 2014). This “plausibility” requirement
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. Because a court should focus on what facts a
complaint alleges, a court is “not bound to accept as
true a legal conclusion couched as a factual
allegation” or “to accept as true allegations
that are wholly conclusory.” Krys v. Pigott,
749 F.3d 117, 128 (2d Cir. 2014). In short, the Court's
role is to determine if the complaint-apart from any of its
conclusory allegations-alleges enough facts to state a
plausible claim for relief.
against individual officers
does not dispute that he did not name any of the individual
defendant police officers by name until the filing of his
amended complaint in November 2017, which was more than six
months after the three-year statute of limitations for his
§ 1983 claims had expired. According to Moore, however,
his later substitution of the real names of the police