United States District Court, D. Connecticut
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS
JEFFREY ALKER MEYER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Gregory Field has sued the City of Hartford, the mayor, and
three city employees alleging that they violated his rights
under the U.S. Constitution and Connecticut law. Field
complains about two incidents when city employees entered his
property. For the reasons set forth below, I will dismiss the
complaint without prejudice for failure to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted.
has filed this pro se action against the City of
Hartford as well as several city officials including the
City's mayor (Luke Bronin), a city attorney (Lisa
Silvestri), a senior project manager in the City's Blight
Remediation Division (Gustavo Espinoza), and the director of
the City's Blight Remediation Division (Laura
Settlemyer). He has sued the individual defendants in
both their official and individual capacities. Doc. #1-1 at
following facts as set forth in the operative complaint are
accepted as true only for the purposes of this ruling. Field
lives in a house on Nepaug Street in Hartford. Id.
at 6. He suffers from bipolar disorder and experiences
crippling depression, anxiety, and panic attacks.
Id. at 4.
to Field, the City and the individual defendants selectively
enforced city ordinances against him because of his mental
illness. Id. at 3, 8 (¶ 4). Although
Field's complaint describes by way of background a long
history of litigation with the City of Hartford, the focus of
his claims are two incidents involving trespasses on his
property that occurred in October 2016 and August 2017.
first of these incidents occurred on October 5, 2016, when a
police officer named Faienza “entered the
plaintiff's property, walked onto the grass to the house
and in front of the plaintiff's car, and placed a
Hartford Parking Authority street citation on the windshield
which faced the house, with the word ‘zoning'
circled and [a] $99 fine indicated.” Id. at 12
(¶ 13). The citation threatened to tow Field's car.
Ibid. Field alleges that the citation was related to
a municipal code provision that bans parking “in front
of the ‘building line, '” and that the code
was being selectively enforced against him because others who
parked their cars in the same way were not ticketed.
also placed a citation notice on Field's front door with
photographs of Field's vehicle and a note requesting
contact information for the owner of the house. Field alleges
that these photographs indicate that “Faienza had
walked all over the property.” Id. at 14
(¶ 15). Field maintains that he “was clearly
singled out and targeted for psychological bludgeoning,
intimidation, and harassment, fueled by bigotry and prejudice
based on his mental disabilities, and with the intent to prey
upon those disabilities and emotional vulnerabilities.”
Ibid. In his view, “[t]his citation was a
clear 14th [A]mendment violation of the
plaintiff's right to due process, clearly intended to
circumvent due process, clear harassment and intimidation,
and a demonstration of the defendants' propensity to make
up their own rules and procedures as they see fit,
regulations be damned.” Id. at 15 (¶ 15).
has not named Faienza as a defendant in this case. But he
alleges that Faienza was acting “at the
direction” of defendant Gustavo Espinoza, a senior
project manager in the City's Blight Remediation
Division. Id. at 14-15 (¶ 15). According to
Field, Espinoza “recruited officer Faienza to do his
dirty work from behind a police badge and gun.”
Id. at 13 (¶ 14).
several days, Field contacted Faienza's supervisor who
“disclosed that Faienza had acted at the direction of
defendant Espinoza” and that “Faienza was advised
by the defendant attorney Lisa Silvestri of [C]orporation
[C]ounsel, directly or through defendant Espinoza, that
Faienza's entry onto the plaintiff's property to
search, inspect, take photographs, issue the citation for the
car on the property, and other official actions while on the
property, was legal and not subject to 4th
Amendment or other restrictions.” Id. at 16
complaint in turn references and attaches an excerpt of an
email communication that Field alleges he was forwarded from
Faienza's supervisor in which Silvestri stated that
“[t]he officer can issue a ticket” for certain
violations of the city's ordinances. Id. at 17
(¶ 18); see also Id. at 40 (copy of email).
Apart from its statement about the legal authority of an
officer to issue a ticket for certain violations, the email
does not state that Silvestri purported to authorize any
entry on Field's property.
contacted the Corporation Counsel and Silvestri herself to
determine whether Silvestri had “endorsed” the
actions of Espinoza or Faienza but received no response.
Id. at 19 (¶ 21). In light of the lack of
response, “plaintiff logically presumed Silvestri to be
complicit in conspiring to violate the civil rights of the
plaintiff, endorsing unlawful acts on the part of defendant
Espinoza and officer Faienza, and therefore did not want to
be confronted or held accountable.” Id. at 20
appealed the parking citation to the local court, and the
citation was summarily dismissed on October 13, 2016.
Ibid. (¶ 23). Nevertheless, having to defend
the citation caused Field extreme anxiety. Ibid.
second incident took place on the afternoon of August 4,
2017, when Espinoza “apparently at the behest of
defendant Laura Settlemyer, entered the plaintiff's
property and affixed another crude and non standard notice to
the front door of the property.” Id. at 20-21
(¶ 26). Espinoza used “duct tape which left a
difficult to clean sticky residue in the summer sun.”
notice advised Field that in accordance with a city-wide
survey conducted by the Blight Remediation Team, his property
was found to be in violation of the Anti-Blight and
Property-Maintenance Ordinance and he may be subject to large
fines and liens against his property. Id. at 21
(¶ 27). Field vehemently denies that his property had
any of the alleged conditions giving rise to the violation.
Id. at 22-24 (¶¶ 27-30).
Field confronted Settlemyer about the notice,
“Settlemyer attempted to backpedal, ” and Field
“told Settlemyer that she was giving a laudable
Kellyanne Conway performance but couldn't so easily
weasel out of ultimate responsibility given the physical
evidence in hand.” Id. at 22 (¶ 27).
Moreover, according to Field, there is no provision in the
Hartford ordinances that allows for “a notice of
violation to be affixed to the front door of any property
in question in lieu of the mandated U.S. Mail process,
” and “[t]here is no provision that provides for
or dictates unconditional warrantless entry onto private
property.” Id. at 27 (¶ 33).
the involvement of Mayor Bronin, the complaint alleges that
“[a]s of October of 2017 Hartford mayor Luke Bronin had
been duly informed about the activities of the defendants
with regard to the plaintiff and the events described herein,
and to this date has done nothing to acknowledge or address
these issues.” Id. at 29 (¶ 36).
alleges that the defendants violated his constitutional
rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures
under the Fourth Amendment as well as his rights to due
process and equal protection of the law under the Fourteenth
Amendment. He further claims defendants violated various
sections of Article First of the Connecticut Constitution,
and he alleges counts of state common law negligence,
intentional infliction of emotional distress, and loss of
enjoyment of life.
have moved to dismiss the complaint. They argue that the
individual defendants have not been properly served and that
Field has not otherwise alleged facts that give rise to
plausible grounds for relief. Doc. #24.