Castanza v. The Town Of Brookhaven, No. 06-CV-6654 (SJF)(AKT).

CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
Writing for the CourtFEUERSTEIN
Citation700 F.Supp.2d 277
PartiesVincent C. CASTANZA, Plaintiff,v.The TOWN OF BROOKHAVEN, Members of the Board of the Town of Brookhaven, John Jay Lavalle, individually and in his official capacity as Town Supervisor, Geraldine Esposito, individually and in her official capacity as Councilwoman, Edward J. Hennessey, individually and in his official capacity as Councilman, Charles A. Lefkowitz, individually and in his official capacity as Councilman, Timothy P. Mazzei, individually and in his official capacity as Councilman, James M. Tullo, individually and in his official capacity as Councilman, Karen Wilutis, individually and in her official capacity as Town Attorney, David V. Faulkner, individually and in his official capacity as Assistant Town Attorney, David Moran, individually and in his official capacity as Assistant Town Attorney, Dianne Lowe, individually and in her official capacity as Inspector, Brookhaven Department of Waste Management, Lauri Murray, individually and in her official capacity as Brookhaven Deputy Clerk and Registrar, Jayme Short, individually and in her official capacity as Secretary To the Town Clerk of Brookhaven, Brian Tohill, individually and in his official capacity as Town Investigator, Walter Maresco, individually and in his official capacity as a Town Employee and John Does and Jane Does Nos. 1-10, individually and in their capacities as assigns and/or employees of the Town of Brookhaven, Defendants.
Docket NumberNo. 06-CV-6654 (SJF)(AKT).
Decision Date22 March 2010

700 F.Supp.2d 277

Vincent C. CASTANZA, Plaintiff,
v.
The TOWN OF BROOKHAVEN, Members of the Board of the Town of Brookhaven, John Jay Lavalle, individually and in his official capacity as Town Supervisor, Geraldine Esposito, individually and in her official capacity as Councilwoman, Edward J. Hennessey, individually and in his official capacity as Councilman, Charles A. Lefkowitz, individually and in his official capacity as Councilman, Timothy P. Mazzei, individually and in his official capacity as Councilman, James M. Tullo, individually and in his official capacity as Councilman, Karen Wilutis, individually and in her official capacity as Town Attorney, David V. Faulkner, individually and in his official capacity as Assistant Town Attorney, David Moran, individually and in his official capacity as Assistant Town Attorney, Dianne Lowe, individually and in her official capacity as Inspector, Brookhaven Department of Waste Management, Lauri Murray, individually and in her official capacity as Brookhaven Deputy Clerk and Registrar, Jayme Short, individually and in her official capacity as Secretary To the Town Clerk of Brookhaven, Brian Tohill, individually and in his official capacity as Town Investigator, Walter Maresco, individually and in his official capacity as a Town Employee and John Does and Jane Does Nos. 1-10, individually and in their capacities as assigns and/or employees of the Town of Brookhaven, Defendants.

No. 06-CV-6654 (SJF)(AKT).

United States District Court,
E.D. New York.

March 22, 2010.


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R. Bertil Peterson, The Coalition of Landlords, Homeowners & Merchants, Inc., Babylon, NY, for Plaintiff.
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Jeltje DeJong, Kelly E. Wright, Devitt Spellman Barrett, LLP, Smithtown, NY, for Defendants.
OPINION & ORDER
FEUERSTEIN, District Judge.
I Introduction

On December 15, 2006, plaintiff Vincent C, Castanza (“Plaintiff”) commenced this action against John Jay Lavalle (“Lavalle”), Geraldine Esposito (“Esposito”), Edward J. Hennessey (“Hennessey”), Charles A. Lefkowitz (“Lefkowitz”), Timothy P. Mazzei (“Mazzei”), James M. Tullo (“Tullo”), Karen Wilutis (“Wilutis”), David V. Faulkner (“Faulkner”), David Moran (“Moran”), Dianne Lowe (“Lowe”), Lauri Murray (“Murray”), Jayme Short (“Short”), Brian Tohill (“Tohill”), and Walter Maresco (“Maresco”) (collectively the “Individual Defendants”), and John Does and Jane Does Nos. 1-10, the Town of Brookhaven (“Town”) and members of the Board of the Town (“Town Board Members”) (collectively with the Individual Defendants, “Defendants”), claiming, inter alia, trespass, infliction of emotional distress, and violations of 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 (§ 1983) and 1985 (§ 1985), and the Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.

Defendants now move pursuant to Rule 56 (“Rule 56”) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for summary judgment alleging, inter alia, that: (1) Plaintiff has improperly named Defendants in both their individual and official capacities; and (2) the Complaint fails to state a claim, thus should be dismissed in its entirety. For the reasons stated herein, the motion of Defendants for summary judgment is granted in part and denied in part.


II Background

Plaintiff has owned property in Miller Place, New York (“Miller Place Property”) since in or about 1990. On or about July 25, 2005, Plaintiff approached Lowe, a Town inspector, who was parked across the street from the Miller Place Property. Lowe informed Plaintiff that the Town had concerns about items, including lawn mowers, windows and piles of wood, metal and concrete, located primarily in the side and front yard of the Miller Place Property, and that such items needed to be removed. Plaintiff stated that he “would look into” and “take care of” some of the concerns that Lowe raised. (Hrg. Tr. 64:24-65:5, dated Jan. 24, 2006 (“Pl. Hrg.”), attached as Ex. C to Decl. in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J., dated September 4, 2007 (“deJong Decl.”).)

The Town served a Notice of Order (the “Notice”), dated August 15, 2005, 1 on the Miller Place Property directing Plaintiff to remove the “existing litter,” including “metal framed windows, lawn mowers, tires, scrap wood, bricks, cinder blocks,” and “metal structures,” on the front and rear of the Miller Place Property within ten (10) days of the date of the Notice or the Town, pursuant to section 45-4E (“ § 45-4E”) of the Sanitary Code of the Town, “shall undertake to enter upon the property, remove the litter and assess the costs of such removal against the property.” (Notice, attached as Ex. D to deJong Decl.)

On or about September 22, 2005, employees of the Town entered the Miller Place Property and removed items from the Miller Place Property, including, inter

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alia, a lawn mower, a material transporter, a utility ramp, a rototiller, a leaf vacuum, electric leaf blowers, gas engine equipment, lamps, an aluminum extension ladder, an aluminum utility bench, two wheel barrows, and storm windows. Plaintiff alleges that when the employees of the Town entered the Miller Place Property, by using a tank-threaded Bobcat loader, they caused substantial damage and removed tools that Plaintiff used in connection with his employment as a landscaper.

On November 15, 2005, the Town sent Plaintiff a letter (the “November 2005 Letter”) stating that Plaintiff owed the Town $2,531.36, “representing [the cost of] the clean-up of litter and debris on [the Miller Place Property].” (November 2005 Letter, attached as Ex. E to deJong Decl.)


III. DiscussionA. Legal Standard

Summary judgment should not be granted unless “the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). A fact is material “if it might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.” Holtz v. Rockefeller & Co., 258 F.3d 62, 69 (2d Cir.2001). An issue of fact is genuine only if a jury could reasonably find in favor of the nonmoving party based on that fact. See id.

The moving party bears the initial burden of establishing the absence of any genuine issue of material fact, after which the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to establish the existence of a factual question that must be resolved at trial. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). “In order to defeat a summary judgment motion that is properly supported by affidavits, depositions, and documents as envisioned by [Rule 56(e) ], the opposing party is required to come forward with materials envisioned by [Rule 56], setting forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue of material fact to be tried.” Gottlieb v. County of Orange, 84 F.3d 511, 518 (2d Cir.1996). The nonmoving party “cannot defeat the motion by relying on the allegations in his pleading ..., or on conclusory statements, or on mere assertions that affidavits supporting the motion are not credible.” Id. (citations omitted). In addition, “[t]he motion will not be defeated merely ... on the basis of conjecture or surmise.” Id. (citations and quotation marks omitted). In determining whether the nonmoving party has presented evidence sufficient to raise a genuine issue of material fact, the district court is required to construe the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, and draw all reasonable inferences in their favor. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252, 106 S.Ct. 2505; Cifarelli v. Vill. of Babylon, 93 F.3d 47, 51 (2d Cir.1996).


B. Section 1983 Claims 2
1. Official Capacity Claims

“[O]fficial-capacity suits generally represent only another way of pleading an action against an entity of which an officer

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is an agent.” Monell v. Department of Soc. Servs. of City of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 691, 98 S.Ct. 2018, 56 L.Ed.2d 611 (1978). “Based upon the understanding that it is duplicative to name both a government entity and the entity's employees in their official capacity, courts have routinely dismissed corresponding claims against individuals named in their official capacity as redundant and an inefficient use of judicial resources.” Escobar v. City of New York, No. 05 Civ. 3030, 2007 WL 1827414, at *3 (E.D.N.Y. June 25, 2007) (citations and quotations omitted). Since the Town is named in the Complaint, the claims against Defendants, in their official capacities, are dismissed as duplicative and redundant. See, e.g., Drees v. County of Suffolk, No. 06 Civ. 3298, 2007 WL 1875623, at *19 (E.D.N.Y. June 27, 2007) (dismissing the claims against the individual defendants, in their official capacities, as duplicative of the claims against the County); Baines v. Masiello, 288 F.Supp.2d 376, 384 (W.D.N.Y.2003) (dismissing the claims against the City's counsel and officials, in their official capacities, as duplicative of the claims against the City); Rini v. Zwirn, 886 F.Supp. 270, 282 (E.D.N.Y.1995) (dismissing the claims against the Town': appointed officials and employees, including a supervisor and town board members, in their official capacities, as duplicative of the claims against the Town); Orange v. County of Suffolk, 830 F.Supp. 701, 707 (E.D.N.Y.1993) (dismissing claims against the County's legislators and executive, in their official capacities, as duplicative of the claims against the County).

Accordingly, Defendants' motion for summary judgment to dismiss the claims against the Defendants, in their official capacity, is granted.

2. Individual Capacity Claims

“In this Circuit personal involvement of defendants in alleged constitutional deprivations is a prerequisite to an award of damages under § 1983.” Moffitt v. Town of Brookfield, 950 F.2d 880, 886 (2d...

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58 practice notes
  • Cowan v. City of Mount Vernon, Case No. 12–CV–6881KMK.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • March 27, 2015
    ...agents[,] and employees of a single corporate entity are legally incapable of conspiring together.” Castanza v. Town of Brookhaven, 700 F.Supp.2d 277, 291 (E.D.N.Y.2010) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Guichard v. Town of Brookhaven, 26 F.Supp.3d 219, 227 (E.D.N.Y.2014) (same);......
  • Zhang Jingrong v. Chinese Anti-Cult World Alliance (CACWA), 15-CV-1046
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • March 14, 2018
    ...at *15 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 24, 2014) (citing Herrmann v. Moore, 576 F.2d 453, 459 (2d Cir. 1978) ); Castanza v. Town of Brookhaven, 700 F.Supp.2d 277, 291 (E.D.N.Y. 2010) ("Under the intracorporate conspiracy doctrine, officers, agents[,] and employees of a single corporate entity are legally i......
  • Lee v. Town of Southampton, 18-cv-3167 (JMA)(SIL)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • February 21, 2020
    ...have consistently dismissed the official capacity claims as redundant.") (collecting cases); see also Castanza v. Town of Brookhaven, 700 F. Supp. 2d 277, 284 (E.D.N.Y. 2010) ("Based upon the understanding that it is duplicative to name both a government entity and the entity's employees in......
  • Villafane v. Sposato, CV 16-3674 (JFB) (AKT)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • August 22, 2017
    ...v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 166, 105 S.Ct. 3099, 3105, 87 L.Ed.2d 114 (1985) (alterations in original); Castanza v. Town of Brookhaven, 700 F. Supp. 2d 277, 283-84 (E.D.N.Y. 2010)). Therefore, a suit against Defendant Sposato in his official capacity is a suit against the Nassau County Sheriff......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
58 cases
  • Cowan v. City of Mount Vernon, Case No. 12–CV–6881KMK.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • March 27, 2015
    ...agents[,] and employees of a single corporate entity are legally incapable of conspiring together.” Castanza v. Town of Brookhaven, 700 F.Supp.2d 277, 291 (E.D.N.Y.2010) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Guichard v. Town of Brookhaven, 26 F.Supp.3d 219, 227 (E.D.N.Y.2014) (same);......
  • Zhang Jingrong v. Chinese Anti-Cult World Alliance (CACWA), 15-CV-1046
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • March 14, 2018
    ...at *15 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 24, 2014) (citing Herrmann v. Moore, 576 F.2d 453, 459 (2d Cir. 1978) ); Castanza v. Town of Brookhaven, 700 F.Supp.2d 277, 291 (E.D.N.Y. 2010) ("Under the intracorporate conspiracy doctrine, officers, agents[,] and employees of a single corporate entity are legally i......
  • Lee v. Town of Southampton, 18-cv-3167 (JMA)(SIL)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • February 21, 2020
    ...have consistently dismissed the official capacity claims as redundant.") (collecting cases); see also Castanza v. Town of Brookhaven, 700 F. Supp. 2d 277, 284 (E.D.N.Y. 2010) ("Based upon the understanding that it is duplicative to name both a government entity and the entity's employees in......
  • Villafane v. Sposato, CV 16-3674 (JFB) (AKT)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • August 22, 2017
    ...v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 166, 105 S.Ct. 3099, 3105, 87 L.Ed.2d 114 (1985) (alterations in original); Castanza v. Town of Brookhaven, 700 F. Supp. 2d 277, 283-84 (E.D.N.Y. 2010)). Therefore, a suit against Defendant Sposato in his official capacity is a suit against the Nassau County Sheriff......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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