United States District Court, D. Connecticut
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING
IN PART MOTION TO DISMISS [DKT. 34]
Vanessa L. Bryant United States District Judge
Nicole Chase brings the instant action alleging claims
arising out of her arrest by the Canton Police following a
complaint of sexual assault by her then-employer, Defendant
Calvin Nodine. Ms. Chase brings thirteen claims against
Nodine's Smokehouse and Calvin Nodine (the “Nodine
Defendants”), and ten claims against the Town of
Canton, Detective John Colangelo, Officer Adam Gompper,
Sergeant Mark J. Penney, and Chief Christopher Arciero (the
“Town Defendants”), including false arrest,
malicious prosecution, denial of equal protection, denial of
substantive due process, intentional infliction of emotional
distress, and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
See [Dkt. 1-1 (Notice of Removal, Att. 1 (Compl.))].
Town Defendants now move to dismiss all claims against them
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted. For the
following reasons, the motion is granted in part and denied
purposes of the motion to dismiss, the court assumes the
following facts set forth in the Complaint to be
true. Ms. Chase started working at Nodine's
Smokehouse, Inc. (“Nodine's Smokehouse”) in
or about September 2016. [Dkt. 1-1 ¶ 7]. She initially
worked at the Nodine's Smokehouse factory, and later
assisted with Nodine's Restaurant. Id. ¶
28. Nodine's Restaurant opened in or about November 2016.
Id. ¶ 29.
most of the time Ms. Chase worked at Nodine's Restaurant,
Calvin Nodine, the owner, would come by the restaurant
regularly but usually would not stay for very long.
Id. ¶¶ 14, 30. When he was there, Mr.
Nodine “would engage in inappropriate conduct that made
[Ms. Chase] feel uncomfortable.” Id. ¶
31. For example, Mr. Nodine, on more than one occasion,
purposefully dropped his eye glasses on the floor and
directed Ms. Chase to pick them up. Id. When she
would do as directed, he would stare down her shirt.
Id. Mr. Nodine would make suggestive comments and
jokes. Id. He would also stare at Ms. Chase and
follow her around. Id. Mr. Nodine's behavior
made Ms. Chase uncomfortable, but she “put up with it
because he was never around in the restaurant very
long.” Id. ¶ 32.
Nodine started spending more time at Nodine's Restaurant
in April 2017. Id. ¶ 33. On May 6, 2017, Mr.
Nodine was at the restaurant while Ms. Chase was working.
Id. ¶¶ 35-36. That day, Mr. Nodine made
multiple offensive sexual comments directed at Ms. Chase,
which she ignored. Id. ¶¶ 37, 39-40. Mr.
Nodine also made unwanted and uncomfortable physical contact
with Ms. Chase multiple times that day, including hugging and
kissing her on the cheek and later coming up behind her and
squeezing her body and her buttocks. Id.
¶¶41-44. At the end of the day, Mr. Nodine pulled
Ms. Chase into the men's bathroom, locked the door, and
forced Ms. Chase to perform oral sex on him. Id.
the incident, Ms. Chase texted her former general manager at
Nodine's Restaurant and told him of the assault, leaving
out the detail that Mr. Nodine had successfully forced her to
perform oral sex on him. Id. ¶¶ 48, 101.
He told her to report it to the police. Id. Ms.
Chase told her mother about the assault that night as well,
again leaving out the oral sex detail. Id.
next day, May 7, 2017, Ms. Chase went with her mother to the
Canton Police Department to report the assault. Id.
¶¶ 49, 60. Defendant police officer Adam Gompper
met with Ms. Chase, who had her relate the details of the
assault in the lobby of the Canton Police Department.
Id. ¶ 64. Ms. Chase told Officer Gompper that
she was not sure if she wanted to press charges at that time,
and Officer Gompper told her to come back and make a written
statement if she decided to pursue charges. Id.
¶ 70. Ms. Chase returned to the Police Department on
Thursday, May 11, 2017, and spoke to Officer Gompper again,
who typed up her statement and had her sign it. Id.
¶ 71. Ms. Chase did not specify that Mr. Nodine had
forced her to perform oral sex during either of the meetings
or in the written statement. Id. ¶ 101. Two
other Nodine's Restaurant employees provided statements
to the police corroborating Ms. Chase's account of Mr.
Nodine's other behavior towards her. Id.
to Ms. Chase's arrest warrant, Officer Gompper and
Defendant Detective John Colangelo interviewed Mr. Nodine on
May 18, 2017. Id. ¶ 81. Mr. Nodine had his
attorney present and, while he initially denied any sexual
contact with Ms. Chase, after conferring with his attorney,
he told Officer Gompper and Detective Colangelo that Ms.
Chase had performed consensual oral sex on him on one
occasion. Id. ¶¶ 82-83. The Police
Department did not update Ms. Chase following Mr.
Nodine's interviews as Officer Gompper had said they
would. Id. ¶ 84. After trying to reach Officer
Gompper multiple times to get an update on her case, Ms.
Chase was able to speak with him and he informed her that the
Department was still investigating the matter. Id.
21, 2017, Ms. Chase reported to the Police Department at
their request. Id. ¶¶ 87-88. She met with
Detective Colangelo, whom she was meeting for the first time,
in an interview room. Id. ¶¶ 89-90.
Detective Colangelo asked Ms. Chase about her story and then
pressed her for more information. Id. ¶¶
92-97. Detective Colangelo told Ms. Chase that Mr. Nodine had
told them she had performed consensual oral sex on him.
Id. ¶ 100. He also told her that Mr. Nodine had
taken a lie detector test, leaving out that he had failed
that test and then refused to take another test. Id.
¶¶ 98-99, 136. Ms. Chase felt that Detective
Colangelo was being aggressive and was intimidated by him.
Id. She became emotional and, despite being ashamed
and uncomfortable with explaining the specifics, she told
Detective Colangelo that Mr. Nodine forced her to perform
oral sex and that it was not consensual. Id.
¶¶ 102-104. Thereafter, Detective Colangelo focused
on Ms. Chase's prior omission of these details and
questioned whether Mr. Nodine had sexually assaulted her.
Id. ¶ 105.
Chase told Detective Colangelo about the text messages she
sent her former manager shortly after the assault, and
Detective Colangelo asked that she provide them with copies
of the messages. Id. ¶¶ 106-107. Detective
Colangelo told Ms. Chase that she had made a false statement
and asked if she wanted to revise her previous statement.
Id. ¶¶ 108-109. While denying that her
statement had been false, Ms. Chase told Detective Colangelo
that she would like to revise her statement but would like to
speak with a lawyer first. Id. Several days later,
Ms. Chase called Detective Colangelo to try to coordinate a
time to come in and amend her statement but she was unable to
reach him. Id. ¶ 110. The Court infers Ms.
Chase to allege that she left messages asking Detective
Colangelo to call her back but he failed to return her calls.
to Ms. Chase's arrest warrant, Detective Colangelo signed
the warrant application for the arrest of Ms. Chase for
making a false statement on July 7, 2017, 16 days after he
interviewed her. Id. ¶ 111. Around July 13,
2017, Ms. Chase went to the police department to drop off
copies of the text messages and again asked to speak with
Detective Colangelo about revising her statement, but he was
not available. Id. ¶¶ 112-113. Ms. Chase
thereafter emailed Detective Colangelo multiple times about
revising her statement, the second time attaching revisions
to be incorporated into her original statement. Id.
¶¶ 116-118. On August 10, 2017, Detective Colangelo
responded to Ms. Chase's emails. Id. ¶ 119.
In his response, Detective Colangelo indicated that he did
not know she had wanted to give a new statement but stated
that he had documented the change in her story and had
provided the case to the court for review. Id. He
further indicated that the case was still with the
State's Attorney's office and that he hoped to have
next steps shortly. Id.
Complaint alleges that the Assistant State's Attorney
signed the warrant application on August 30, 2017, after Ms.
Chase's many attempts to revise her statements and after
Detective Colangelo finally acknowledged those requests and
represented to Ms. Chase that he had documented the change.
Id. ¶ 121. The warrant was signed by the court
on September 6, 2017. Id. ¶ 122. On September
8, 2017, Detective Colangelo arrested Ms. Chase for making a
false statement in violation of Connecticut General Statute
§53a-57b and she was thereafter arraigned on the charge.
Id. ¶¶ 123, 126. On November 6, 2017, the
State's Attorney's Office entered an unconditional
nolle prosequi and the case was dismissed. Id.
April 10, 2018, Ms. Chase filed this lawsuit in Connecticut
Superior Court, Judicial District of Hartford. Case No.
HHD-CV-17-5049825-S. On April 20, 2018, the Town
Defendants-the Town of Canton, Detective Colangelo, Detective
Gompper, Sergeant Penney, and Town of Canton Chief of Police
Christopher Arciero-removed the case to federal court.
See [Dkt. 1].
Chase's Complaint alleges violations of the Connecticut
Fair Employment Practices Act for harassment, hostile work
environment, retaliation, and aiding and abetting; violations
of Title VII for harassment, hostile work environment, and
retaliation; negligent infliction of emotional distress;
intentional infliction of emotional distress; intentional
and/or reckless assault and battery; negligent assault and
battery; invasion of privacy; false imprisonment;
intimidation based on bigotry or bias; and malicious
prosecution against the Nodine Defendants. [Dkt. 1-1
¶¶ 140-219]. It also alleges false arrest;
malicious prosecution; denial of equal protection; denial of
substantive due process; intentional infliction of emotional
distress; and negligent infliction of emotional distress
against the Town Defendants. Id. ¶¶
220-279. On July 24, 2018, the Town Defendants moved to
dismiss the claims against them. [Dkt. 34 (Mot. Dismiss)].
Standard for a Motion to Dismiss
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.”
Brass v. Am. Film Techs., Inc., 987 F.2d
142, 150 (2d Cir. 1993); Patrowicz v. Transamerica
HomeFirst, Inc., 359 F.Supp.2d 140, 144 (D. Conn. 2005).
§ 1983 Official Capacity Claims (Counts 15, 18, and
Complaint brings three claims against the individual Town
Defendants (Colangelo, Gompper, Penney, and Arciero) in their
official capacities-Count 14 for § 1983 false arrest,
Count 18 for § 1983 malicious prosecution, and Count 21
for § 1983 denial of equal protection. Suits against
municipal officials in their official-capacities are
tantamount to suit against the municipality itself.
Monell v. New York City Dept. of Social Servs., 436
U.S. 658, 690 (1978); Hafer v. Melo, 502 U.S. 21, 25
(1991). “Because the real party in interest in an
official-capacity suit is the governmental entity and not the
named official, ‘the entity's policy or custom must
have played a part in the violation of federal law.”
Hafer, 502 U.S. at 25 (citing Kentucky v.
Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 166 (1985); Monell, 436
U.S. at 694).
order to impose liability on a local government under §
1983, a plaintiff “must prove that ‘action
pursuant to official municipal policy' caused their
injury.” Connick v. Thompson, 563 U.S. 51, 60
(2011) (quoting Monell, 436 U.S. at 691). Thus, in
order for Counts 14, 18, and 21 to stand, the Complaint must
allege that a municipal custom or practice caused the
deprivation of Ms. Chase's rights.
municipal policy includes the decisions of a government's
lawmakers, the acts of its policymaking officials, and
practices so persistent and widespread as to practically have
the force of law.” Id. at 61. “To show a
policy, custom, or practice, the plaintiff need not identify
an express rule or regulation.” Patterson v. County
of Oneida, 375 F.3d 206, 226 (2d Cir. 2004) (citing
Sorlucco v. New York City Police Dep't, 971 F.2d
864, 870-71 (2d Cir. 1992)). For example, it may be enough
where “a discriminatory practice of subordinate
employees was ‘so manifest as to imply the constructive
acquiescence of senior policy-making officials.'”
Id. (quoting Sorlucco, 971 F.2d at 871).
Additionally, “[a] policy, custom, or practice may also
be inferred where ‘the municipality so failed to train
its employees as to display a deliberate indifference to the
constitutional rights of those within its
jurisdiction.'” Id. (quoting Kern v.
City of Rochester, 93 F.3d 38, 44 (2d Cir. 1996)).
Complaint alleges that there are “Law Enforcement
Standards . . . as to methods and procedures for the
investigation and interview of victims of sexual
assault” and that “[t]hese standards are intended
to overcome the longstanding stereotypical assumption about
sexual assault and negative judgments made about victims of
sexual assault when they report the crime.” [Dkt. 1-1
¶ 61]. The Complaint further alleges that Defendants
failed to follow any of these standards in handling
Plaintiff's case. Id. ¶ 62. Plaintiff's
Opposition to the Motion to Dismiss suggests that those two
paragraphs, in addition to the facts set forth regarding the
officers' failure to meet those standards in Ms.
Chase's case, are enough to satisfy the pleading
standards for a Monell claim for Counts 14 and 18.
See [Dkt. 43 at 31].
respect to the denial of equal protection claim, Count 21,
the Complaint alleges that the Town of Canton Police
Department “maintained longstanding discriminatory
practices against women, ” noting that there were no
women police officers in the department at the time of Ms.
Chase's arrest and that the department provided
inadequate training and inadequate oversight of its officers.
Id. ¶¶ 249, 252-255. Additionally, it
alleges that the department “was riddled with
stereotypical assumptions about women who report crimes of
violence against men” and that this resulted in
“discrimination and hostility towards female victims of
crimes of violence against men.” Id.
¶¶ 254, 259.
from these mostly conclusory allegations, Ms. Chase provides
no factual allegations supporting the existence of a
municipal policy or practice outside the facts regarding her
own experience. But facts alleging a single instance of
misconduct or mishandling of a complaint do not suffice to
state a Monell claim. Newton v. City of New
York, 566 F.Supp.2d 256, 271 (S.D.N.Y. 2008) (“[A]
custom or policy cannot be shown by pointing to a single
instance of unconstitutional conduct by a mere employee of
the State.”); see also City of Oklahoma City v.
Tuttle, 471 U.S. 808, 831 (1985) (“To infer the
existence of a city policy from the isolated misconduct of a
single, low-level officer, and then hold the city liable on
the basis of that policy, would amount to permitting
precisely the theory of strict respondeat superior
liability rejected in Monell.”).
Complaint includes no alleged statements or reports that this
kind of misconduct occurs with regularity in the
department's handling of claims of sexual assault against
women or that there has been any observation that training
for handling such cases is lacking. Nor does she support her
claim with other instances of officers of the department
bringing unsupported false statement charges, or the like,
against other women who had made sexual assault complaints.
Cf. Graham v. County of Erie, No. 11-cv-605S, 2012
WL 1980609, at *5-6 (W.D.N.Y. May 31, 2012) (denying motion
to dismiss where plaintiff demonstrated “a pattern of
documented shortcomings, ” which included multiple
instances of misconduct recorded by a DOJ investigation);
Bertuglia v. City of New York, 839 F.Supp.2d 703,
738 (S.D.N.Y. 2012) (denying motion to dismiss where the
“Amended Complaint point[ed] to over fifteen cases
where City prosecutors allegedly committed misconduct, and
allege[d] the existence of many more such cases in the form
of unpublished opinion”); Bektic-Marrero v.
Goldberg, 850 F.Supp.2d 418, 431 (S.D.N.Y. 2012)
(denying motion to dismiss where plaintiff supported
allegations with a DOJ report regarding systemic failures in
the jail's provision of medical care to inmates).
Ms. Chase's allegations regarding the existence of a
municipal policy or practice of mishandling claims brought by
women against men for sexual assault include actual factual
support. The Complaint includes only conclusory statements
about there being discriminatory practices and inadequate
training and oversight. To survive a motion to dismiss, a
plaintiff “cannot merely allege the existence of a
municipal policy or custom, but must allege facts tending to
support, at least circumstantially, an inference that such a
municipal policy or custom exists.” Triano v. Town
of Harrison, 895 F.Supp.2d 526, 535 (S.D.N.Y. 2012).
“[N]aked assertion[s] devoid of further factual
enhancement” do not suffice. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 678. The fact that there were no female police officers in
the department at the time of Ms. Chase's arrest along
with the specific factual allegations supporting the claim
that the officers mishandled her own case do not plausibly
lead to an inference that a municipal policy or practice
such, Ms. Chase has failed to sufficiently plead liability on
the part of the Town of Canton for the § 1983 claims,
including the claims against the individual officers in their
official capacities, and Counts 15, 18, and 21 are therefore
DISMISSED. These dismissals are without prejudice to filing
an amended complaint within fourteen days after the date of
this decision setting forth factual support for the
conclusory claims alleged.
False Arrest & Malicious Prosecution (Counts 14, ...