Wahid v. City of New York et al
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER: As set forth in the Court's May 17, 2017 Memorandum of Decision and Order, Defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim 42 is GRANTED. See attached Memorandum and Order for details. The Clerk of the Court is respectfully requested to close the case and to serve a copy of this Memorandum and Order on the pro se Plaintiff. Ordered by Judge LaShann DeArcy Hall on 5/17/2017. (Zdanys, Joanna)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
DECISION AND ORDER
15-cv-2869 (LDH) (CLP)
-againstOFFICER DENNIS MOGELNICKI; OFFICER
HUMBERTO MANTUANO; OFFICER ADAM
ABDULLA; DETECTIVE DENIS BRODERICK;
DETECTIVE DAVID BEUTEL; DETECTIVE JOSEPH
FAIVUS; and SERGEANT EDWARD SWENSON,
LASHANN DEARCY HALL, United States District Judge:
Plaintiff Elawame Wahid brings the instant action against Defendants Officers Dennis
Mogelnicki, Humberto Mantuano, and Adam Abdulla, Detectives Denis Broderick, David
Beutel, Joseph Faivus, and Sergeant Edward Swenson (collectively, “Defendants”). Plaintiff
alleges that he was falsely arrested, falsely imprisoned, and deprived of property without due
process of law in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. 1 Defendants move to dismiss the complaint
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Plaintiff has not opposed the motion.
During the relevant period, Plaintiff was a resident of Astoria, Queens. (Compl. 11, ECF
No. 10.) On May 4, 2012, three individuals allegedly broke into Plaintiff’s apartment and
assaulted and robbed him. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that two of the assailants escaped through the
apartment window, but the third fell onto a knife while trying to escape. (Id.) Defendants
On January 11, 2016, the previously assigned district court judge issued a Memorandum and Order sua sponte
dismissing the majority of the Defendants and claims in the case. (Jan. 11, 2016 Mem. and Order, ECF No. 15.)
Mogelnicki and Mantuano arrived at the scene and saw the third assailant’s body on the floor.
(Id. at 12.) Mogelnicki and Mantuano placed Plaintiff under arrest. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that,
upon his arrest, the officers took $6,370, as well as his phone, tablet, wallet, and passport. (Id.)
Plaintiff was later given a receipt that did not account for the allegedly confiscated possessions
or his money. (Id.) On April 4, 2016, Plaintiff was convicted at trial of murder in the second
degree. (Ceriello Decl. Ex. D, ECF No. 43-4.) 2
STANDARD OF REVIEW
To withstand a motion to dismiss, a complaint “must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is
facially plausible when the alleged facts allow the court to draw a “reasonable inference” of a
defendant’s liability for the alleged misconduct. Id. While this standard requires more than a
“sheer possibility” of defendant’s liability, id., “[i]t is not the Court’s function to weigh the
evidence that might be presented at a trial” on a motion to dismiss. Morris v. Northrop
Grumman Corp., 37 F. Supp. 2d 556, 565 (E.D.N.Y. 1999). Instead, “the court must merely
determine whether the complaint itself is legally sufficient, and, in doing so, it is well settled that
the court must accept the factual allegations of the complaint as true.” Id. (internal citation
Where, as here, the plaintiff is proceeding pro se, courts are “obliged to construe the
plaintiff’s pleadings liberally.” Giannone v. Bank of Am., N.A., 812 F. Supp. 2d 216, 219-20
(E.D.N.Y. 2011) (quoting McKluskey v. N.Y. State Unified Court Sys., No. 10-cv-2144, 2010 WL
The Court takes judicial notice of Plaintiff’s Certificate of Disposition concerning his conviction for murder in the
second degree. See Daniels v. Bonilla, No. 14-cv-3017, 2015 WL 4894683, at *4 n.8 (E.D.N.Y. Aug. 17, 2015)
(“The court may take judicial notice of the Certificate of Disposition for the limited purpose of recognizing that
plaintiff’s prosecution resulted in a conviction.”)
2558624, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. June 17, 2010)). Because pro se litigants are entitled to a liberal
construction of their pleadings, their complaints should be read to “raise the strongest arguments
that they suggest.” 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)). A pro se complaint, “however
inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers.” Sealed Plaintiff v. Sealed Defendant, 537 F.3d 185, 191 (2d Cir. 2008) (quoting
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)). This rule is “particularly so when the pro se
plaintiff alleges that [his] civil rights have been violated.” Id. (citing McEachin v. McGuinnis,
357 F.3d 197, 200 (2d Cir. 2004)). Accordingly, “the dismissal of a pro se claim as
insufficiently pleaded is appropriate only in the most unsustainable of cases.” Rios v. Third
Precinct Bay Shore, No. 08-cv-4641, 2009 WL 2601303, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. Aug. 20, 2009).
Plaintiff’s § 1983 False Arrest and False Imprisonment Claims
Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff’s false arrest and false imprisonment claims on the
basis that Plaintiff’s April 6, 2016 conviction bars those claims. (Defs.’ Mem. 4, ECF No. 44.)
A person who has been convicted of the crime for which he was arrested cannot state a claim for
false arrest. Johnson v. Pugh, No. 11-cv-385, 2013 WL 3013661, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. June 18,
2013) (citing Cameron v. Fogarty, 806 F.2d 380, 388-89 (2d Cir. 1986)); see also McFadden v.
New York, No. 10-cv-141, 2011 WL 6813194, at *4 (E.D.N.Y. Dec. 28, 2011) (collecting cases)
(“Courts in the Second Circuit routinely dismiss [false arrest] claims where the plaintiff’s
conviction has not been overturned or otherwise invalidated.”). Because Plaintiff was ultimately
convicted for murder in the second degree based on the events underlying this case, the officers
had probable cause to arrest him. Therefore, Plaintiff fails to state a claim for false arrest, and
the Court dismisses this claim. So, too, must the Court dismiss Plaintiff’s false imprisonment
claim. See Cameron, 806 F.2d at 387 (rule barring convicted plaintiff from pursuing false arrest
claims is “equally applicable” to false imprisonment claims).
Plaintiff’s Deprivation of Property Claim
Defendants also move to dismiss Plaintiff’s Fourteenth Amendment deprivation of
property claim because Plaintiff has failed to show that any interference with his property was
authorized or that state remedies were inadequate. (Defs.’ Mem. 5.) Deprivation of property by
a state actor, whether done intentionally or negligently, will not support a due process claim
redressable under § 1983 if “adequate state post-deprivation remedies are available.” Davis v.
New York, 311 F. App’x 397, 400 (2d Cir. 2009) (quoting Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 533
(1984)) (dismissing deprivation of property claim under § 1983 where defendants failed to
deliver package to inmate because other state remedies were available).
Courts addressing this issue have dismissed federal claims for deprivation of property
without due process of law, reasoning that New York has adequate state post-deprivation
remedies. That is, a plaintiff may bring a state law claim for negligence, replevin or conversion
with the Court of Claims. Love v. Coughlin, 714 F.2d 207, 208-09 (2d Cir. 1983) (affirming
dismissal of inmate’s claim that property was taken by correctional officers because “no civil
rights action lies if the state provides an adequate compensatory remedy” and noting that New
York’s Court of Claims provided adequate post-deprivation remedies); David v. N.Y.P.D. 42nd
Precinct Warrant Squad, No. 02-cv-2581, 2004 WL 1878777, at *5 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 23, 2004)
(dismissing plaintiff’s claim for deprivation of property without due process because New York
provides an adequate post-deprivation remedy in the form of state law causes of action for
negligence, replevin, or conversion). Further, Plaintiff has not pleaded any facts that would
indicate that the deprivation was authorized or the result of an established state procedure.
David, 2004 WL 1878777, at *5 (dismissing claim in part because plaintiff failed to show that
the deprivation of his property was the result of an established state procedure, rather than a
“random and unauthorized act”). Based on Plaintiff’s allegations, the Court can only assume that
any deprivation of property was random or unauthorized. Accordingly, Plaintiff’s due process
claim for deprivation of property is dismissed.
For the foregoing reasons, the complaint is dismissed in its entirety for failure to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted. The Clerk of the Court is hereby respectfully requested
to enter judgment in accordance with this Memorandum and Order and close the case.
LASHANN DEARCY HALL
United States District Judge
Dated: Brooklyn, New York
May 17, 2017
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