United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING RE: MOTION TO DISMISS (DOC. NO. 19)
C. Hall, United States District Judge.
Faiz Siddiqui (“Siddiqui”), a citizen and
resident of the United Kingdom, brings this action against
Connecticut police officer Eric Rocheleau
(“Rocheleau”) in his individual capacity. See
generally Amended Complaint (“Am. Compl.”)
(Doc. No. 3). Siddiqui alleges that Rocheleau committed
various constitutional and state law violations in connection
with his ongoing criminal investigation of Siddiqui for
harassment of Erum Majid Randhawa (“Randhawa”).
Id. Rocheleau now moves to dismiss Siddiqui's
Amended Complaint in its entirety. See generally
Motion to Dismiss (“Mot. to Dismiss”) (Doc. No.
reasons set forth below, Rocheleau's Motion to Dismiss is
is a citizen of the United Kingdom and a resident of London.
Am. Compl. at ¶ 3. Rocheleau is a Connecticut resident
and is employed as a police officer by the West Hartford
Police Department. Id. at ¶ 4. Randhawa, the
complainant in the underlying criminal case against Siddiqui,
is also a Connecticut resident. Id. at ¶ 6.
2006, Siddiqui became acquainted with Randhawa while visiting
his aunt in Connecticut. Id. at ¶ 7. After
Siddiqui returned to London, he attempted to continue the
relationship with Randhawa. Id. at ¶ 8.
However, Randhawa lost interest in Siddiqui in 2007, and the
two had no further contact until 2012. Id.
time before 2012, Siddiqui started to suspect that Randhawa
had been defaming him. Id. at ¶ 9. On the
advice of counsel, he emailed Randhawa in August 2012, to
express “his dismay at her conduct, ” but then
had no further contact with her until early 2015.
January 1, 2015, Siddiqui learned that Randhawa had been
viewing his information on the internet. Id. at
¶ 10. In response, Siddiqui called Randhawa once, but
did not connect with her and did not leave a message.
Id. At that time, Siddiqui was enrolled in a
graduate business school program at Northwestern University
in Illinois. Id.
March 2015, Randhawa complained to Rocheleau that Siddiqui
was harassing her. Id. at ¶ 11. In response,
Rocheleau visited Siddiqui's aunt and uncle, both of whom
lived in Connecticut. Id. at 12. Rocheleau
threatened that, if they did not provide him with
Siddiqui's phone number, “they would be treated as
felons and arrested.” Id. In addition,
Rocheleau called the Dean of Siddiqui's business school
and falsely stated that Siddiqui was living and working in
the United States in violation of his student visa.
Id. While speaking with Siddiqui's father in May
2015, Rocheleau also represented that Siddiqui would be
arrested and internationally extradited to the United States
to face criminal charges on the next occasion that he
attempted to travel outside of the United Kingdom.
April 24, 2015, Rocheleau applied for a search warrant in
Connecticut state court to obtain certain text messages and
phone records from Siddiqui's cell phone. Id. at
¶ 18; see generally Exhibit 1, Am. Compl.
(“Search Warrant Application”) (Doc. No. 3).
Although the state court issued the search warrant, Rocheleau
did not provide Siddiqui with a copy of the warrant, and
Siddiqui did not discover that his phone records had been
searched and seized until October 30, 2017. Id. at
22, 2015, Rocheleau applied for a warrant for Siddiqui's
arrest on a charge of Harassment in the Second Degree in
violation of section 53a-183 of the Connecticut General
Statutes. Id. at ¶ 30; see generally
Exhibit 2, Am. Compl. (“Arrest Warrant
Application”) (Doc. No. 3). The warrant was signed by a
state court judge and then “lodged with the United
States Department of Homeland Security.” Id.
at ¶ 31. Due to this outstanding arrest warrant,
Siddiqui has not traveled to the United States for the past
three years and, as a result, has not completed his graduate
business program at Northwestern University. Id. at
¶¶ 32, 33.
18, 2018, Siddiqui filed this action against Rocheleau.
See generally Complaint (“Compl.”) (Doc.
No. 1). In his Amended Complaint, Siddiqui asserts federal
claims for violations of (1) his right of access to the
courts under the First Amendment, Am. Compl. at ¶ 24;
(2) his right to be free of unreasonable searches and
seizures under the Fourth Amendment, id. at ¶
26; (3) his right to travel under the First, Fourth, and
Fourteenth Amendments, id. at ¶ 32; (4) his
right to be free of false arrest and imprisonment under the
Fourth Amendment, id. at ¶ 35; (5) his right to
substantive due process under the Fourteenth Amendment,
id. at ¶ 37; and (6) his right to engage in
protected speech under the First Amendment, id. at
¶ 40. Siddiqui also asserts various state law claims,
including for intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Id. at ¶ 44.
9, 2018, Rocheleau filed a Motion to Dismiss all claims
alleged in the Amended Complaint. See generally Mot.
to Dismiss. Rocheleau moves to dismiss Siddiqui's right
to travel claim under Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
See Defendant's Memorandum of Law in Support of
Motion to Dismiss (“Def.'s Mem.”) (Doc. No.
19-1) at 5. Rocheleau moves to dismiss Siddiqui's
remaining claims under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a
claim. See id.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Rule 12(b)(1) Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), “[a] case is
properly dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction .
. . when the district court lacks the statutory or
constitutional power to adjudicate it.” Makarova v.
United States, 201 F.3d 110, 113 (2d Cir. 2000). The
plaintiff bears the burden of proving the existence of
subject matter jurisdiction. Id. In determining
whether the plaintiff has met this burden, the court must
accept as true all factual allegations in the complaint and
draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff.
Carter v. Healthport Techs., LLC, 882 F.3d 47, 57
(2d Cir. 2016); Aurecchione v. Schoolman Transp. Sys.,
Inc., 426 F.3d 635, 638 (2d Cir. 2005).
Rule 12(b)(6) Failure to State a Claim
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) requires a complaint to plead
“a short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. Proc.
8(a). To survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a
claim under Rule 12(b)(6), that plain statement must allege
facts sufficient to state a plausible claim for relief.
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 557
(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). While this plausibility
standard does not require probability, it is not satisfied by
“a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully” or by facts that are “merely
consistent with a defendant's liability.”
Id. (internal quotation marks omitted).
deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court
must accept all material factual allegations of the complaint
as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the
plaintiff. Crawford v. Cuomo, 796 F.3d 252, 256 (2d
Cir. 2015). However, the court is “not bound to accept
as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual
allegation.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (internal
quotation marks omitted). In those instances,
“[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not
suffice.” Id. “[O]nly the facts alleged
in the pleadings, documents attached as exhibits or
incorporated by reference in the pleadings, and matters of
which judicial notice may be taken” may be considered
by the court. Samuels v. Air Transp. Local 504, 992
F.2d 12, 15 (2d Cir. 1993).
seeks to dismiss all of Siddiqui's claims. See
Mot. to Dismiss at 1. To begin, Rocheleau argues that the
court should abstain from exercising jurisdiction over the
Amended Complaint under the Younger abstention
doctrine. See Def.'s Mem. at 2. If the court
determines that abstention is not warranted, Rocheleau argues
that the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over
Siddiqui's right to travel claim because it is unripe,
and that Rocheleau's remaining causes of action fail to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted. See
id. at 2-3. The court addresses each of these arguments
in turn, starting with the issue of abstention.
argues that, under Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37
(1971), the court should abstain and dismiss Siddiqui's
Amended Complaint because the suit interferes with an ongoing
state criminal proceeding, namely, the execution of a
pending, state court warrant for Siddiqui's arrest.
See Def.'s Mem. at 7-10. Specifically, Rocheleau
argues that Siddiqui is using federal court to mount an
improper, collateral attack on the validity of his arrest and
search warrants. See id. at 8-9. Rocheleau contends
that, if Siddiqui wishes to challenge the lawfulness of these
warrants, he should surrender himself to Connecticut
authorities and raise these challenges during the ensuing
state court criminal proceeding. See id. at 9.
the Younger abstention doctrine, federal courts
should generally refrain from exercising jurisdiction over
federal claims that “involve or call into question
ongoing state proceedings.” Diamond "D"
Const. Corp. v. McGowan, 282 F.3d 191, 198 (2d Cir.
2002). This doctrine, which is rooted in the principles of
comity and federalism, “serves the vital purpose of
reaffirming the competence of the state courts, and
acknowledging the dignity of states as co-equal sovereigns in
our federal system.” Spargo v. New York State
Comm'n on Judicial Conduct, 351 F.3d 65, 74-75 (2d
Cir. 2003) (internal quotation marks and alterations
Circuit, application of Younger abstention depends
on the nature of the remedy being sought. While
Younger abstention may apply to suits for injunctive
or declaratory relief, the Supreme Court has not decided
whether it applies to claims for damages. See Kirschner
v. Klemons, 225 F.3d 227, 238 (2d Cir. 2000). However,
the Second Circuit has reasoned that, “[w]hen money
damages, as opposed to equitable relief, are sought, it is
less likely that unacceptable interference with the ongoing
state proceeding, the evil against which Younger
seeks to guard, would result from the federal court's
exercise of jurisdiction.” Id. Accordingly,
the Second Circuit has held that “abstention and
dismissal are inappropriate when damages are sought, even
when a pending state proceeding raises identical issues and
[the court] would dismiss otherwise identical claims for
declaratory and injunctive relief, but that a stay of the
action pending resolution of the state proceeding may be
case, Siddiqui's Amended Complaint seeks
“compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorney fees,
costs, and such equitable relief as this court may deem to be
fair and just.” Am. Compl. at ¶ 44. However, when
arguing against the application of Younger
abstention to his case, Siddiqui represents in his Opposition
brief that he is “not seeking injunctive relief,
” but is instead “seek[ing] money damages for
wrongdoing which already has taken place and to compensate
him for injuries already suffered as a result of that
wrongdoing.” Plaintiff's Brief in Opposition to
Motion to Dismiss (“Pl.'s Mem.”) (Doc. No.
20) at 8. In light of these representations and the Amended
Complaint's failure to specify the form of equitable
relief being sought, the court treats Siddiqui's suit as
an action for damages only. See Nwachukwu v. Connecticut
Dep't of Labor, No. 3:13-CV-1539 JCH, 2014 WL
6633050, at *1 n.1 (D. Conn. Nov. 20, 2014) (treating
plaintiff's suit as a damages suit when the plaintiff ...