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Mayes v. City of New Haven

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

March 25, 2019

NOELLE L. MAYES, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF NEW HAVEN, NEW HAVEN POLICE DEPARTMENT, LESLEE WITCHER, STEVE MCMORRIS, ENDRI DRAGOI, GLEN OLIWA, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OF DECISION ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS [DKT. 18]

          HON. VANESSA L. BRYANT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is the Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendants City of New Haven, New Haven Police Department, Leslee Witcher, Steve McMorris, Endri Dragoi, and Glen Oliwa (collectively “Defendants”). [Dkt. 18]. Plaintiff Noelle L. Mayes (“Plaintiff” or “Mayes”) brings this action for declaratory relief, injunctive relief, and damages for alleged violations of her Fourth Amendment rights. [Dkt. 30-1 (Amended Complaint). For the following reasons, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED.

         I. Background

         The following facts are taken from the Amended Complaint. [Dkt. 30-1]. The facts alleged in the Amended Complaint are taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff for the purpose of a motion to dismiss. See Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957). The assumption of truth applied to the factual allegations does not apply to any legal conclusions or unsupported characterizations of facts. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

         Plaintiff Noelle L. Mayes is a resident of Branford, Connecticut and resided in Branford, Connecticut at all times relevant to this action. [Dkt. 30-1, ¶ 6]. Defendants Officers Leslee Witcher, Steven McMorris, E. (Endri)[1] Dragoi, and Glen Oliwa were, at all times relevant to this action, police officers employed by Defendant City of New Haven and Defendant New Haven Police Department. [Id. at ¶ 7].

         On November 16, 2016, at or around 4:55 PM, Officer Oliwa was dispatched to 74 Day Street, New Haven, due to a harassment complaint. [Dkt. 30-1, ¶ 12]. Resident LaJeffies Hill told Officer Oliwa that Plaintiff was harassing Hill. [Id. at ¶ 13]. Hill is a resident of a public housing community. [Id. at ¶ 26]. Hill stated that Mayes harassed Hill through Facebook and text messages and that Mayes had “come to [Hill's] home and made a video telling Hill to come outside and fight.” [Id. at ¶ 14]. Hill identified no witnesses to the video and did not show the police. [Id. at 15]. Hill completed a “victim account report.” [Id. at ¶ 17].

         Officer Oliwa submitted an application for a warrant for Plaintiff's arrest. [Dkt. 30-1, at ¶ 16]. Officer Oliwa also conducted “a Connecticut State Police Records check which showed that Noelle Mayes was not incarcerated at the time of this incident.” [Id. at ¶ 18]. On the warrant application, Officer Oliwa wrote “I did not attempt to contact Mayes, as previous attempts by Hill and the police to contact her have resulted in an escalation in threats towards Hill.” [Id. at ¶ 16]. Officer Oliwa did not further investigate the statements from Hill that Mayes had sent her threatening Facebook and text messages. [Id. at ¶¶ 21, 22, 24]. Officer Oliwa also did not further investigate Hill's statements that Mayes had traveled to Oliwa's home “threatening to fight her.” [Id. at ¶ 26]. Following Officer Oliwa's response to the complaint at 74 Day Street, Plaintiff was arrested for “threatening, breach of the peace, and harassment 2nd degree.” [Id. at ¶ 29].

         Following this arrest, Officer Steve McMorris contacted Plaintiff. [Dkt. 30-1, ¶ 32]. Officer McMorris told Plaintiff that Hill attempted to file another complaint against Plaintiff. [Ibid.] Plaintiff provided Officer McMorris “with videos and real messages” suggesting that Hill was actually harassing Plaintiff. [Ibid.] Officer McMorris advised Plaintiff to change her number and told Plaintiff that “he would speak to a supervisor and make sure her side was documented in the complaint.” [Ibid.] On December 5, 2016, Plaintiff changed her phone number. [Id. at ¶ 33]. On December 14, 2016, Plaintiff again changed her phone number. [Ibid.] Plaintiff Provided Officer McMorris with her updated phone number both times it was changed. [Ibid.]

         On December 15, 2016, at 4:25 PM, Officer Dragoi was dispatched to 74 Day Street due to a harassment complaint. [Dkt. 30-1, ¶ 30]. At 74 Day Street, Officer Dragoi also spoke with LaJeffies Hill, who told Officer Dragoi that Plaintiff was harassing Hill through Facebook and text messages. [Id. at 30]. In the arrest warrant, Officer Dragoi wrote that “LaJeffies Hill was in fear for her safety due to seeing Mayes drive down the street she lives on.” [Id. at ¶ 31]. The harassment that was the subject of this complaint came from a phone number which no longer belonged to Plaintiff. [Id. at ¶ 34]. In Officer Dragoi's report of the second arrest, he did not include “the report made by Officer McMorris documenting Mayes' account of the harassment she endured at the hand of LaJeffies Hill.” [Id. at ¶ 35].

         On January 21, 2017, at or around 7:30 AM, Officer Witcher was dispatched to an address in New Haven to respond to a harassment complaint. [Dkt. 30-1, ¶ 44]. “Victim #1, ”[2] LaJeffies Hill, told Officer Witcher that Hill “had a protective order…against Noelle Mayes.” [Ibid.] Hill told Officer Witcher that more than one day prior to the complaint, Plaintiff “came to her house yelling through the mail slot that she was a whore and told her to come outside so she could beat her ass.” [Id. at ¶ 45]. Hill told Officer Witcher that Hill felt “scared and threatened” by Plaintiff's actions, and that Hill “stated she called the police numerous times and nothing was done.” [Ibid.] Hill stated that Plaintiff “had posted negative and derogatory things about her on Facebook suggesting she is a prostitute and has her home address online where people could come to her home at all hours of the night.” [Id. at ¶ 46]. Furthermore, Hill stated that “she feared for her life and her children's lives because [Plaintiff] is crazy and will do anything to destroy her life.” [Id. at ¶ 47].

         On January 26, 2017, Officer Witcher stated that she conducted a records check for the name “Noelle Mayes.” [Dkt. 30-1, ¶ 48]. Officer Witcher applied for an arrest warrant, stating in the warrant application “that Noelle Mayes has a criminal restraining order against her” and not “a protective order as previously stated.” [Ibid.] The application also stated that “the restraining order expires Nov. 21, 2017.” [Ibid.] The application stated that probable cause existed to arrest Plaintiff for “criminal violation of restraining order, harassment 2nd and threatening 2nd.” [Id. at ¶ 49].

         The protected order to which Officer Witcher referred actually stated the name “Noel Dubios [sic].” [Id. at 56]. Plaintiff has never changed her last name to “Dubios.” [Id. at ¶ 58]. There was not a criminal restraining order under the name “Noelle Mayes” with the birthdate “12-19-1984” as of January 26, 2017 or at any other time. [Id. at ¶ 57]. Plaintiff is not related to Hill, never lived with Hill, and is not an ex-partner of Hill's. [Id. at ¶ 60].

         Plaintiff timely filed a letter of intent with the office of the Mayor of the City of New Haven, which letter set forth the facts underlying this action. [Dkt. 30-1, ¶ 10].

         II. Legal Standard

         In reviewing a pro se complaint, the court must assume the truth of the allegations, and interpret them liberally to “raise the strongest arguments [they] suggest[].” Abbas v. Dixon, 480 F.3d 636, 639 (2d Cir. 2007); Sykes v. Bank of Am., 723 F.3d 399, 403 (2d Cir. 2013) (quoting Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 474 (2d Cir. 2006)); see also Tracy v. Freshwater, 623 F.3d 90, 101-02 (2d Cir. 2010) (discussing special rules of solicitude for pro se litigants). Although detailed allegations are not required, the complaint must include sufficient facts to afford the defendants fair notice of the claims and the grounds upon which they are based and to demonstrate a right to relief. Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007). To survive a motion to dismiss, a plaintiff must plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 570. “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 ‘well-pleaded 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 omitted).

         Rule 8(a) provides that a pleading must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. A claim is “facially plausible” when “the plaintiff pleads factual content that ...


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