Anderson v. New Britain et al
ORDER finding as moot 10 MOTION to Appoint Counsel filed by Michael Anderson, and 7 MOTION for Preliminary Injunction filed by Michael Anderson. Granting 8 MOTION for copy(s) filed by Michael Anderson to the limited extent that Mr. Anderson seeks a copy of his Complaint. INITIAL REVIEW ORDER: Discovery due by 3/8/2018, Dispositive Motions due by 4/7/2018)Signed by Judge Victor A. Bolden on 8/7/2017.(Ghosh, S.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
CITY OF NEW BRITAIN, et al.,
CASE NO. 3:17-cv-311 (VAB)
August 7, 2017
INIITAL REVIEW ORDER
Michael Anderson (“Plaintiff”), currently incarcerated at Enfield Correctional Institution
in Enfield, Connecticut, filed this Complaint pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Mr. Anderson’s
Complaint was received on February 22, 2017, and his motion to proceed in forma pauperis was
granted on May 10, 2017. Mr. Anderson has sued the City of New Britain and New Britain
Police Officers Rejean Ouellette, Devin Saylor, and Officer Pergolizza (“Defendants”). Mr.
Anderson asserts claims for malicious prosecution, false arrest and imprisonment and
Standard of Review
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the Court must review prisoner civil complaints against
governmental actors and “dismiss . . . any portion of [a] complaint [that] is frivolous, malicious,
or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted,” or that “seeks monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief.” Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
requires that a complaint contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief . . . .” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2).
Although detailed allegations are not required, “a complaint must contain sufficient
factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. 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) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). A complaint that
includes only “‘labels and conclusions’ or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action . . . .’” or “‘naked assertion[s]’ devoid of ‘further factual enhancement’” does not meet the
facial plausibility standard. Id. (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 557
(2007)). Although courts have an obligation to “construe a pro se complaint liberally,” a pro se
complaint must still include sufficient factual allegations to meet the standard of facial
plausibility. Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009).
On May 5, 2014, Mr. Anderson stood near brick/concrete structures in the back parking
lot of 40 Walnut Street in New Britain, Connecticut and looked for his friend. Compl., ECF No.
1 at ¶¶ 3. Instead of finding his friend, Mr. Anderson saw several men who he did not know
sitting on the structures. Id. As Mr. Anderson walked away from the area, Officer Ouellette
pulled up in his police vehicle and told Mr. Anderson to remain in the area. As he turned around,
Mr. Anderson noticed Officers Saylor and Pergolizza approaching the area in an allegedly
stealthy manner from different directions. Id. at ¶ 7. Officer Ouellette allegedly stated that the
owner of the property did not want people “hanging around” the area. Id. at ¶ 9. However,
there were no “No Loitering” signs posted and the property owner had not spoken to Mr.
Anderson or others about loitering. Id.
Mr. Anderson asked if he was under arrest. When the officers said no, he began to leave.
Id. at Addendum, p. 1. Officer Ouellette then allegedly grabbed Mr. Anderson, handcuffed him,
searched him, and placed him in the back of his vehicle. Id. Officer Ouellette spoke with the
other men for about fifteen minutes and then allowed them to leave. Id. Officer Ouellette then
removed Mr. Anderson from the vehicle and removed the handcuffs. Officer Ouellette gave Mr.
Anderson a ticket for loitering and released him. Id. After the officers left, Mr. Anderson read
the ticket. He was also accused of possession of marijuana. Id.
“These cases” were nolled. Id. Mr. Anderson alleges that he later learned that Officer
Pergolizza submitted documentation to the court that the marijuana was destroyed the same day
it was confiscated. Id. Mr. Anderson filed a section 1983 action regarding this matter in state
court. Summary judgment was entered in favor of Defendants. Id. at 8. After consulting with
his criminal attorney, Mr. Anderson surmises that he was arrested so that he would receive a
harsher sentence the next month when he was sentenced following his guilty plea to attempted
assault on a police officer. Id. at 8-9. Mr. Anderson also alleges that the officers wanted to
expose him to a harsher sentence because he had filed a lawsuit against New Britain police
officers, including Officer Saylor, in 2011. Id. at 9.1
Mr. Anderson asserts claims for false arrest or imprisonment and malicious prosecution.
To assert these claims under section 1983, Mr. Anderson must show that his Fourth Amendment
Mr. Anderson includes other allegations relating to state judicial officers and others who are not defendants in this
case and concerning matters that are not the subject of this action.
rights were violated and establish the elements of false arrest and malicious prosecution claims
under state law. See Walker v. Sankhi, 494 F. App’x 140, 142 (2d Cir. 2012) (citing
Manganiello v. City of New York, 612 F.3d 149, 161–62 (2d Cir.2010) (malicious prosecution);
Jaegly v. Couch, 439 F.3d 149, 151–52 (2d Cir.2006) (false arrest)). Neither claim accrues until
criminal proceedings are terminated in Mr. Anderson’s favor. See Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S.
477, 489 (1994) (malicious prosecution); Miles v. City of Hartford, 445 F. App’x 379, 383 (2d
Cir. 2011) (false arrest). Mr. Anderson alleges that the charges were nolled and does not indicate
that the nolle was conditional. Thus, he has alleged facts satisfying the favorable termination
To state a false arrest or false imprisonment claim, Mr. Anderson must allege that
Defendants unlawfully restrained his physical liberty. See Russo v. City of Bridgeport, 479 F.3d
196, 204 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 522 U.S. 818 (2007) (stating that unlawful restraint is an
essential element of false imprisonment and false arrest claims). Mr. Anderson alleges that
Officer Ouellette handcuffed him and placed him in his police vehicle. Compl., ¶ 5. He also
alleges that the actions of Officers Saylor and Pergolizza behaved “in a stealthy manner to insure
apprehension and as if to prevent anyone, especially whomever they did not want to leave, from
leaving the area.” Id. at ¶ 8. These allegations are sufficient to state plausible claims for false
arrest or imprisonment.
The state law elements of a claim for malicious prosecution are that the defendant
initiated or continued criminal proceedings against the plaintiff, the proceedings terminated in
plaintiff’s favor, and the defendant acted without probable cause and with malice. Roberts v.
Babkiewicz, 582 F.3d 418, 420 (2d Cir. 2009). Mr. Anderson alleges that Defendant Saylor
fabricated the statement about destroying the marijuana allegedly found on Mr. Anderson solely
to ensure his prosecution on that charge. Compl., p. 14. This is sufficient to state a plausible
claim for malicious prosecution.
Finally, Mr. Anderson alleges that Defendants conspired to accomplish these actions and
ensure his prosecution in retaliation for filing a lawsuit against, inter alia, Officer Saylor. Id. at
p. 3. Because of these allegations, Mr. Anderson’s conspiracy and retaliation claims must
proceed as well.
Mr. Anderson also includes the City of New Britain (“New Britain”) as a Defendant. He
alleges that New Britain failed to train and supervise the officers, hired them without proper
screening, and disregarded reports and police records of improper conduct. Compl., p.11.
Municipalities may be sued directly under Section 1983, if the rights of a private citizen are
violated under a policy, custom, ordinance, regulation, or decision of the municipality. Monell v.
Department of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658 (1978). To establish municipal liability, Mr.
Anderson must demonstrate a “causal link between an official policy or custom and [his] injury.”
Batista v. Rodriguez, 702 F.2d 393, 397 (2d Cir. 1983). He must show that his rights were
violated as the result of a municipal policy, a municipal custom or practice, or a decision of a
municipal policymaker with final policymaking authority. City of St. Louis v. Praprotnik, 485
U.S. 112, 123, 127 (1988).
In order for municipal liability to attach under Section 1983, “a municipality's failure to
train its employees in a relevant respect must amount to ‘deliberate indifference to the rights of
persons with whom the [untrained employees] come into contact.’” Connick v. Thompson, 563
U.S. 51, 62 (2011) (citing City of Canton, 489 U.S. at 388). “Only where a failure to train
reflects a ‘deliberate’ or ‘conscious' choice by a municipality—a ‘policy’ as defined by our prior
cases—can a city be liable for such a failure under [Section] 1983.” City of Canton, 489 U.S. at
389. “Deliberate indifference is a stringent standard of fault, requiring proof that a municipal
actor disregarded a known or obvious consequence of his action.” Bd. of Cty. Comm'rs of Bryan
Cty. v. Brown, 520 U.S. 397, 410 (1997).
Without evidence of a pattern of similar violations to provide “notice that a course of
training is deficient in a particular respect, decision-makers can hardly be said to have
deliberately chosen a training program that will cause violations of constitutional rights.”
Connick, 563 U.S. at 62. In a “narrow range of circumstances,” however, “a plaintiff might
succeed in carrying a failure-to-train claim without showing a pattern of constitutional
violations” where “a violation of federal rights [is] a highly predictable consequence of a failure
to equip law enforcement officers with specific tools to handle recurring situations.” Bryan Cty.,
520 U.S. at 409; see also id. (“The likelihood that the situation will recur and the predictability
that an officer lacking specific tools to handle that situation will violate citizens' rights could
justify a finding that policymakers' decision not to train the officer reflected ‘deliberate
indifference’ to the obvious consequence of the policymakers' choice—namely, a violation of a
specific constitutional or statutory right.”).
Mr. Anderson alleges that the New Britain ignored repeated violations of his rights by
Defendant officers, hired police officers without proper screening, “allowed unfit officers to
patrol the streets of New Britain,” and “knowingly disregard[ed] reports and police records that
showed that these officers have arrested and filed reports against others without the legal grounds
to do so.” Compl., p. 11. In addition, he alleges that the City allowed Defendants to falsely
arrest him and plant evidence on his person and later destroy it, describing a set of events that
could be a “highly predictable consequence of a failure to equip law enforcement officers with
specific tools to handle recurring situations.” Bryan Cty., 520 U.S. at 409.
While courts have dismissed failure to train claims that rest on conclusory allegations or
allege only few occurrences in which the municipality was put on notice, Mr. Anderson’s
specific—if limited—allegations save his claim from dismissal. See, e.g. Beckford v. City of
New Haven, 2011 WL 6153182 (D.Conn. Dec.12, 2011)(VLB) (dismissing Plaintiff's failure to
train claim where Plaintiff failed to raise specific facts to demonstrate that the city had actual or
constructive notice of systematic excessive force violations, and instead alleged that the city
“failed to enforce” the relevant laws pertaining to use of force, “creating an atmosphere of
lawlessness”); Triano v. Town of Harrison, NY, 895 F. Supp. 2d 526, 538–39 (S.D.N.Y. 2012)
(dismissing failure to train and supervise claims when the plaintiff “claim[ed] that incidents of
police abuse have been ‘covered up by [the Town],’ and that there is ‘vast evidence of
wrongdoing by [Town police] officers,’” but otherwise “allege[ed] not one single example to
support these assertions.”); Santos v. New York City, 847 F.Supp.2d 573, 577 (S.D.N.Y.2012)
(motion to dismiss granted “[b]ecause the existence of a municipal policy or practice, such as a
failure to train or supervise, cannot be grounded solely on the conclusory assertions of the
plaintiff”); Stengel v. City of Hartford, 652. F.Supp. 572, 575 (D.Conn.1987) (dismissing count
predicated on existence of custom or policy condoning and authorizing application of excessive
force where Plaintiffs alleged that complaints had been filed with police department against
officer on two prior occasions but no disciplinary action was taken).
As the Second Circuit has observed, “[i]t is unlikely that a plaintiff would have
information about the city's training programs or about the cause of the misconduct at the
pleading stage.” Amnesty Am. v. Town of W. Hartford, 361 F.3d 113, 130 n. 10 (2d Cir.2004).
While this does not relieve § 1983 plaintiffs of their obligation to plead a facially plausible
claim, it does put Mr. Anderson’s allegations in context. His claims, when read in the light most
favorable to Mr. Anderson, indicate a “pattern of similar constitutional violations by untrained
[municipal] employees,” Connick v. Thompson, 563 U.S. at 62, and state a claim for failure to
Motion for Injunctive Relief
Mr. Anderson has filed a motion for injunctive relief that includes two case numbers and
lists no defendants in this case in the caption. The Court assumes that Mr. Anderson intended to
file the motion in Anderson v. Semple, No. 3:17-cv-312 (VAB), not in this case. Accordingly,
the motion is denied as moot.
Motion for Appointment of Counsel
Mr. Anderson has filed a motion for appointment of pro bono counsel in this case under
28 U.S.C. § 1915. In his description of the nature of his claim, however, he describes a claim
that is unrelated to the allegations in this case. The Court concludes that Mr. Anderson intended
to file this motion in Anderson v. Semple, No. 3:17-cv-312 (VAB), not in this case. Accordingly,
his motion is denied as moot.
Motion for Copies
Mr. Anderson seeks a copy of his Complaint. He states that he filed two actions on the
same day and has no record of which case number is associated with which case. Pl. Mot. For
Copies at 2. Mr. Anderson is required to file all documents with the Court using the Prisoner efiling Program. By e-filing, prisoners are better able to retain the original copies of their
Mr. Anderson is aware of this requirement, as he includes information from the Standing
Order on the Prisoner e-filing Program in his certificate of service on this motion. Despite his
knowledge, he failed to comply with the requirement.
The Court will grant Mr. Anderson’s motion with regard to the Complaint only. Mr.
Anderson is henceforth on notice that he must file all documents with the Court using the
Prisoner e-filing Program. The Court will not provide copies of documents to him in the future if
he ignores this Order of the Court.
In accordance with the foregoing analysis, the Court enters the following orders:
The claim against the City of New Britain for failure to train is DISMISSED
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1). The case will proceed on all other claims against Defendants.
The Clerk of the Court is directed to prepare waiver of service of summons
packets for Defendants Ouellette, Saylor and Pergolizza in their individual capacities and mail
the packets to these defendants at the New Britain Police Department, 125 Columbus Boulevard,
New Britain, CT 06051, within twenty-one (21) days from the date of this Order. The Clerk of
the Court shall report to the court on the status of that waiver request on the thirty-fifth (35) day
after mailing. If any Defendant fails to return the waiver request, the Clerk of the Court shall
make arrangements for in-person service by the U.S. Marshals Service on that Defendant in his
individual capacity and the defendant shall be required to pay the costs of such service in
accordance with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(d).
The Clerk of the Court shall prepare a summons form and send an official
capacity service packet to the U.S. Marshal Service. The U.S. Marshal is directed to effect
service of the complaint on Defendants City of New Britain and New Britain Police Officers
Ouellette, Saylor and Pergolizza in their official capacities, in care of the New Britain Town &
City Clerk, 27 West Main Street, New Britain, CT 06051, within twenty-one (21) days from the
date of this order and to file a return of service within thirty (30) days from the date of this
Defendants shall file their response to the Complaint, either an Answer or motion
to dismiss, within sixty (60) days from the date the waiver forms are sent. If they choose to file
an Answer, they shall admit or deny the allegations and respond to the cognizable claim recited
above. They also may include any and all additional defenses permitted by the Federal Rules.
Discovery, under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 26 through 37, shall be
completed within seven months (210 days) from the date of this Order. Discovery requests
need not be filed with the court.
All motions for summary judgment shall be filed within eight months (240 days)
from the date of this Order.
Under Local Civil Rule 7(a), a nonmoving party must respond to a dispositive
motion within twenty-one (21) days of the date the motion was filed. If no response is filed, or
the response is not timely, the dispositive motion can be granted absent objection.
If the Mr. Anderson changes his address at any time during the litigation of this
case, Local Court Rule 83.1(c)2 provides that Mr. Anderson MUST notify the court. Failure to
do so can result in the dismissal of the case. Mr. Anderson must give notice of a new address
even if he is incarcerated. Mr. Anderson should write “PLEASE NOTE MY NEW ADDRESS”
on the notice. It is not enough to just put the new address on a letter without indicating that it is
a new address. If Mr. Anderson has more than one pending case, he should indicate all of the
case numbers in the notification of change of address. Mr. Anderson should also notify
Defendants or the attorneys for Defendants of his new address.
Mr. Anderson shall use the Prisoner e-filing Program when filing any documents
with the court.
Mr. Anderson’s motions for injunctive relief [ECF No. 7] and appointment of
counsel [ECF No. 10] are DENIED as moot.
Mr. Anderson’s motion for copies [ECF No. 8] is GRANTED to the extent that
the Clerk is directed to send Mr. Anderson a copy of his Complaint with this Order.
SO ORDERED at Bridgeport, Connecticut, this 7th day of August 2017.
/s/ Victor A. Bolden
Victor A. Bolden
United States District Judge
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