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Dastinot v. Auburn Police Department

United States District Court, D. Maine

September 21, 2018

ROMELLY DASTINOT, Plaintiff
v.
AUBURN POLICE DEPARTMENT, et al., Defendants

          RECOMMENDED DECISION ON DEFENDANTS' PARTIAL MOTION TO DISMISS

          JOHN C. NIVISON, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         In this action, Plaintiff alleges Defendants deprived him of certain constitutional rights in connection with his arrest. (Complaint ¶ IV, ECF No. 1.)

         The matter is before the Court on Defendants' Partial Motion to Dismiss. (Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 14.) Through their motion, Defendants contend Plaintiff has failed to allege sufficient facts to support all of his claims.

         Following a review of the relevant pleadings and after consideration of Defendants' arguments, [1] I recommend the Court grant in part the motion.

         Background

         The following facts are derived from Plaintiff's complaint and are accepted as true for purposes of evaluating the pending motion to dismiss. McKee v. Cosby, 874 F.3d 54, 59 (1st Cir. 2017).

         According to Plaintiff, on February 15, 2014, while Plaintiff was waiting for a taxi outside a business establishment, Defendant Watkins, an officer with the Auburn Police Department, grabbed Plaintiff, put him against a car, and held him there. When Plaintiff asked why he was being arrested, another officer, Defendant Lemos, used a taser on Plaintiff, which caused Plaintiff to fall to the ground. Plaintiff alleges that while he was on the ground, the officers pressed Plaintiff's face into the pavement, and held him on the ground. A third officer, Defendant Ham, then instructed his police canine to attack Plaintiff, and the canine bit Plaintiff in the leg. At the police station, Plaintiff overhead an unidentified officer instruct the booking officers to assign a high bail. (Complaint at 6 - 8.) Ultimately, according to Plaintiff, all charges against Plaintiff were dismissed. (Id. at 9.)

         Plaintiff asserts Defendants violated his rights under the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment, and the Eighth Amendment.[2] He also alleges state law claims of assault and battery, false arrest, abuse of process, infliction of emotional distress, and negligence. (Id. at 4 - 5.) Plaintiff further asserts that Defendant Crowell, the Auburn Chief of Police, is liable for the conduct of his subordinate officers. (Id. at 6.) In the caption of his complaint, Plaintiff included the City of Auburn as a defendant.[3] (Id. at 1.)

         Discussion

         A. Motion to Dismiss Standard

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a party may seek dismissal of “a claim for relief in any pleading” if that party believes that the pleading fails “to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” In its assessment of the motion, a court must “assume the truth of all well-plead facts and give the plaintiff[] the benefit of all reasonable inferences therefrom.” Blanco v. Bath Iron Works Corp., 802 F.Supp.2d 215, 221 (D. Me. 2011) (quoting Genzyme Corp. v. Fed. Ins. Co., 622 F.3d 62, 68 (1st Cir. 2010)). To overcome the motion, a plaintiff must establish that the allegations raise a plausible basis for a fact finder to conclude that the defendant is legally responsible for the claim at issue. Id.

         Although a pro se plaintiff's complaint is subject to “less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, ” Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), this is “not to say that pro se plaintiffs are not required to plead basic facts sufficient to state a claim, Ferranti v. Moran, 618 F.2d 888, 890 (1st Cir. 1980). To allege a civil action in federal court, it is not enough for a plaintiff merely to allege that a defendant acted unlawfully; a plaintiff must affirmatively allege facts that identify the manner by which the defendant subjected the plaintiff to a harm for which the law affords a remedy. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

         B. Failure to State a Claim

         Defendants contend Plaintiff has failed to state an actionable claim except for his claims against Defendants Ham, Lemos, and ...


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