Lawrence v. Suffolk County Police Dept. et al
MEMORANDUM & ORDER. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint is sua sponte DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE for failure to state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii)-(iii) and 1915A(b)(1)-(2) as against Suffolk County and DeMarco. At thi s time, the claims against Det. King shall proceed. The Clerk of the Court is directed to issue a Summons for Det. King and to forward copies of the Summons and the Amended Complaint to the U.S. Marshal Service for service upon Det. King. The Court certifies that any appeal from this Order would not be taken in good faith and in forma pauperis status is DENIED for the purpose of any appeal. Ordered by Judge Joanna Seybert on 10/24/2013. (C/M Plaintiff) (Nohs, Bonnie)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
SHAWN EDWARD LAWRENCE,
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
-againstSHERIFF VINCENT DEMARCO;
WILLIAM E. KING, Det. 1260;
and SUFFOLK COUNTY,
Shawn Edward Lawrence, pro se
Suffolk County Correctional Facility
110 Center Drive
Riverhead, NY 11901
SEYBERT, District Judge:
By Order dated June 28, 2013, the Court granted the
application of pro se Plaintiff Shawn Edward Lawrence (“Plaintiff”)
to proceed in forma pauperis and dismissed the Complaint without
prejudice and with leave to amend.
In accordance with the Court’s
Order, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on July 15, 2013,
against Sheriff Vincent DeMarco (“DeMarco”), William E. King,
Detective 1260 (“Det. King”), and Suffolk County (collectively,
Complaint has rectified the previously identified deficiencies.
Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint states that on September 8,
2011, he was falsely arrested by Det. King for an alleged assault
with intent to cause serious physical injury pursuant to New York
Penal Law § 120.05(1).
(Am. Compl. ¶ IV.)
Upon arrest, Plaintiff
was taken to the 1st Precinct of Suffolk County (“1st Precinct”),
where he was held for two days.
Plaintiff asked why he was
arrested, but he did not receive an answer.
(Id. at 1.)
result of Plaintiff’s anxiety, which was caused by being held at
the 1st Precinct for two days, Plaintiff experienced chest pains
and headaches, and was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital for
(Id. at 4-5.)
Plaintiff later returned to the 1st
Precinct where he remained for a third day and was arraigned. (Id.
At arraignment, Plaintiff requested a felony hearing and
the opportunity to testify before the grand jury.
(Id. at 6.)
Thereafter, he was sent to the Suffolk County Jail for five to six
days where he was housed in “deplorable” conditions of confinement.
Plaintiff was released from the Suffolk County Jail and the
case against him was dismissed on July 18, 2012.
(Id. At 7.)
As a result, Plaintiff claims that he was deprived of his
Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights, including liberty
All allegations in the Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint are
presumed to be true for the purpose of this Memorandum and Order.
Correctional Facility in unsanitary conditions of confinement.
(Compl. ¶ IV.A.)
He claims to have suffered “emotional distress,
anxiety, high blood pressure, acid reflux, stomach infection, [and]
He also claims loss of employment
Plaintiff seeks damages solely for “the unlawful illegal
arrest, [and] malicious prosecution.”
(Id. ¶ V.)
He seeks to
recover a sum of 1.1 million dollars ($1,100,000.00) comprised of
damages, punitive damages, and “constitutional injury,” and five
hundred thousand dollars ($500,000.00) in compensatory damages.
Application of 28 U.S.C. § 1915
Section 1915 of Title 28 requires a district court to
dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint if the action is frivolous
or malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be
granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune
The Court is required to dismiss the action as soon as
it makes such a determination.
See id. § 1915A(b).
Courts are obliged to construe the pleadings of a pro se
plaintiff liberally. See Sealed Plaintiff v. Sealed Defendant, 537
F.3d 185, 191 (2d Cir. 2008); McEachin v. McGuinnis, 357 F.3d 197,
200 (2d Cir. 2004).
However, a complaint must plead sufficient
facts to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 167
L. Ed. 2d 929 (2007).
“A claim has facial plausibility when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.
Ct. 1937, 173. L.Ed. 2d 868 (2009) (citations omitted).
plausibility standard requires “more than a sheer possibility that
defendant has acted unlawfully.”
Id.; accord Wilson v. Merrill
Lynch & Co., 671 F.3d 120, 128 (2d Cir. 2011).
factual allegations’” are not required, “[a] pleading that offers
‘labels and conclusions’ or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements
of a cause of action will not do.’”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678
(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
Section 1983 provides that
[e]very person who, under color of any
statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or
usage, of any State . . . subjects, or causes
to be subjected, any citizen of the United
States . . . to the deprivation of any rights,
privileges, or immunities secured by the
Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the
party injured . . . .
42 U.S.C. § 1983; accord Rehberg v. Paulk, --- U.S. ----, 132 S.
Ct. 1497, 1501–02, 182 L. Ed. 2d 593 (2012).
To state a claim
challenged conduct was attributable at least in part to a person
who was acting under color of state law and (2) the conduct
deprived the plaintiff of a right guaranteed under the Constitution
of the United States.’”
Rae v. Cnty. of Suffolk, 693 F. Supp. 2d
217, 223 (E.D.N.Y. 2010) (quoting Snider v. Dylag, 188 F.3d 51, 53
(2d Cir. 1999)).
Section 1983 does not create any independent
substantive rights but rather is a vehicle to “redress . . . the
deprivation of [federal] rights established elsewhere.”
Roach, 165 F.3d 137, 142 (2d Cir. 1999); see also Rosa R. v.
Connelly, 889 F.2d 435, 440 (2d Cir. 1989).
Here, Plaintiff alleges that he was unlawfully arrested
and maliciously prosecuted.
In order to state a claim for relief
under Section 1983 against an individual defendant, a plaintiff
must allege the personal involvement of the defendant in the
alleged constitutional deprivation.
233, 249 (2d Cir. 2010).
See Farid v. Elle, 593 F.3d
The Supreme Court held in Iqbal that
“[b]ecause vicarious liability is inapplicable to . . . [section]
1983 suits, a plaintiff must plead that each Government-official
defendant, through the official’s own individual actions, has
violated the Constitution.”
556 U.S. at 676.
Thus, a plaintiff
“asserting a Section 1983 claim against a supervisory official in
personally involved in the allege constitutional deprivation.
Rivera v. Fischer, 655 F. Supp. 2d 235, 237 (W.D.N.Y. 2009)
A complaint based upon a violation under
Section 1983 that does not allege the personal involvement of a
defendant fails as a matter of law.
App’x 199, 201 (2d Cir. 2010).
See Johnson v. Barney, 360 F.
With these standards in mind, the
Court considers Plaintiff’s claims against the Defendants.
Suffolk County cannot be held liable under § 1983 on a respondeat
superior theory. See Monell v. Dep’t of Soc. Servs. of N.Y.C., 436
U.S. 658, 690-91, 98 S. Ct. 2018, 56 L. Ed. 2d 611 (1978); Roe v.
City of Waterbury, 542 F.3d 31, 36 (2d Cir. 2008).
To prevail on
a Section 1983 claim against a municipality, a plaintiff must show
“that ‘action pursuant to official municipal policy’ caused the
alleged constitutional injury.”
Cash v. Cnty. of Erie, 654 F.3d
324, 333 (2d Cir. 2011) (quoting Connick v. Thompson, ––– U.S.
––––, 131 S. Ct. 1350, 1359, 179 L. Ed. 2d 417 (2011)), cert.
denied, ––– U.S. ––––, 132 S. Ct. 1741, 182 L. Ed. 2d 528 (2012);
see also Monell, 436 U.S. at 690–91.
“[L]ocal governments . . .
governmental ‘custom’ even though such a custom has not received
Monell, 436 U.S. at 690–691 (citations omitted).
To establish the existence of a municipal policy or
custom, the plaintiff must allege: (1) the existence of a formal
policy which is officially endorsed by the municipality, see
Connick, 131 S. Ct. at 1359; (2) actions taken or decisions made by
decisionmaking authority, which caused the alleged violation of the
plaintiff’s civil rights, see Amnesty Am. v. Town of W. Hartford,
361 F.3d 113, 126 (2d Cir. 2004); Jeffes v. Barnes, 208 F.3d 49, 57
(2d Cir. 2000); (3) a practice “so persistent and widespread as to
practically have the force of law,” Connick, 131 S. Ct. at 1359;
see also Green v. City of N.Y., 465 F.3d 65, 80 (2d Cir. 2006), or
that “was so manifest as to imply the constructive acquiescence of
senior policy-making officials,” Patterson v. Cnty. of Oneida,
N.Y., 375 F.3d 206, 226 (2d Cir. 2004) (internal quotation marks
and citations omitted); or (4) that “a policymaking official
exhibit[ed] deliberate indifference to constitutional deprivations
caused by subordinates.”
Cash, 654 F.3d at 334 (quotations and
citations omitted); see also Okin v. Vill. of Cornwall–on–Hudson
Police Dep’t, 577 F.3d 415, 439 (2d Cir. 2009) (A municipal custom
may be found when “‘faced with a pattern of misconduct, [the
municipality] does nothing, compelling the conclusion that [it] has
acquiesced in or tacitly authorized its subordinates' unlawful
actions.’” (quoting Reynolds v. Giuliani, 506 F.3d 183, 192 (2d
Here, even affording the pro se Complaint a liberal
construction, there are no factual allegations from which the Court
could reasonably construe a plausible Section 1983 cause of action
against Suffolk County.
Accordingly, Plaintiff’s Section 1983
claims against Suffolk County are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
Claims Against Sheriff Vincent DeMarco
Although Plaintiff names DeMarco as a defendant, the only
claim against DeMarco in the Amended Complaint is that DeMarco, in
his official capacity, “illegally detained” Plaintiff when he was
sent to the Suffolk County Jail.
(Am. Compl. at 6.)
seeks no relief for the allegations he has made against DeMarco.
As set forth above, a plausible Section 1983 claim must
allege the personal involvement of the defendant in the alleged
See Warren v. Goord, 476 F. Supp. 2d
407, 413 (S.D.N.Y. 2007).
Given that DeMarco is the Suffolk County Sheriff, it
appears that Plaintiff seeks to hold DeMarco liable solely due to
his supervisory position. However, a plaintiff asserting a Section
capacity must sufficiently plead that the supervisor was personally
involved in the constitutional deprivation.
Supp. 2d at 237.
See Rivera, 655 F.
A supervisor cannot be liable for damages under
Section 1983 solely by virtue of being a supervisor because there
is no respondeat superior liability under Section 1983. Richardson
v. Goord, 347 F.3d 431, 435 (2d Cir. 2003).
Here, Plaintiff’s Complaint does not include any factual
allegations sufficient to demonstrate any personal involvement by
Defendant DeMarco, much less any facts from which the Court could
liberally construe that Defendant DeMarco was responsible for the
deprivation of Plaintiff’s constitutional rights. Accordingly, the
Section 1983 claim asserted against DeMarco is not plausible and is
DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B)
Claims Against Detective King
Plaintiff’s Section 1983 claims against Det. King shall
Accordingly, the Court orders the issuance of a Summons
and service of the Summons and Amended Complaint upon Det. King by
the United States Marshal Service.
For the reasons set forth above, Plaintiff’s Amended
Complaint is sua sponte DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE for failure to
state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii)-(iii) and
1915A(b)(1)-(2) as against Suffolk County and DeMarco.
Upon review of the Amended Complaint, the Court declines
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
Clerk of the Court is directed to issue a Summons for Det. King and
to forward copies of the Summons and the Amended Complaint to the
United States Marshal Service for service upon him.
See 28 U.S.C.
The Court certifies pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3)
that any appeal from this Order would not be taken in good faith
and therefore in forma pauperis status is DENIED for the purpose of
See Coppedge v. United States, 369 U.S. 438, 444-45,
82 S. Ct. 917, 8 L. Ed. 2d 21 (1962).
The Clerk of Court is directed to mail a copy of this
Order to the pro se Plaintiff.
/s/ JOANNA SEYBERT
Joanna Seybert, U.S.D.J.
24 , 2013
Central Islip, New York
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