Mason v. Besse

CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
Decision Date18 May 2020
Docket NumberCase No. 3:20cv246(KAD)
PartiesALLEN KENNETH MASON, Plaintiff, v. SERGEANT BESSE, ET AL., Defendants.


Case No. 3:20cv246(KAD)


May 18, 2020


Plaintiff, Allen Kenneth Mason, a pretrial detainee currently confined at Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Institution in Uncasville, Connecticut filed this civil rights complaint against Norwich Police Sergeants Besse and Rankin, Norwich Police Lieutenant Rykowski and Norwich Police Officers Krodel, Cannata, Dupointe and Meikle. Mason asserts various claims arising from his arrests on October 12, 2019, October 26, 2019 and October 30, 2019. For the reasons set forth below, the court dismisses the claims in the complaint with leave to amend three of the claims.

Standard of Review

Pursuant to 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." Id. In undertaking this review, the court is obligated to "construe" complaints "liberally and interpret[] [them] to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest." Sykes v. Bank of Am., 723 F.3d 399, 403 (2d Cir. 2013) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

Although detailed allegations are not required under Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of

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Civil Procedure, "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 has facial plausibility when a plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). A complaint that includes only "'labels and conclusions,' '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 Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557).

Factual Allegations

Mason was arrested by various members of the Norwich Police Department on October 12, 2019,1 October 26, 2019 and October 30, 2019. See Compl., ECF No. 1, at 4-6. On October 26, 2019,2 Sergeant Besse and Officers Krodel and Cannata, in response to a memorandum issued by Sergeant Besse, and as part of a conspiracy, stopped him for no apparent reason. Id. at 6-7. Neither Sergeant Besse, nor Officer Krodel, nor Officer Cannata had probable cause to search or arrest Mason or to seize his truck and license plate. Id. at 5-6.

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On October 30, 2019,3 at or near the Wequonnoc Apartments on North 5th Street in Taftville, Connecticut, Officers Krodel and Cannata tried to run Mason off the road by ramming his truck from behind and tasering Mason for no apparent reason. Id. at 4. Officers Krodel, Cannata, Meikle and Dupointe and Sergeant Rankin pointed their service weapons at Mason as he lay on the wet grass. Id.

Officers Krodel and Cannata arrested Mason and transported him to the Norwich Police station. At the station, officers placed Mason in a "below temp" cell without a blanket and confiscated his pants, shoes and shirt. Id. at 4-5. During his fourteen-hour confinement in the holding cell, officers neglected to provide Mason with any food. Id. At the time of his confinement, Mason suffered from kidney cancer. Id.


Mason lists three constitutional claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983. He asserts that the defendants violated his right to due process under the Fourteenth Amendment, his right to be free from illegal search and seizure without probable cause under the Fourth Amendment and his right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. Id. at 4, 6. In addition, Mason seeks to invoke the court's jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1982, 1985, 1986 and 1997 and the Racketeer Influenced and Corruption Organizations Act ("RICO"), 18 U.S.C. §§ 1961-1968. Id. at 2. Mason requests compensatory and punitive damages and an

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injunction directing the defendants to be retrained by attending two "Civil and Ethics" classes and to be demoted until they attend two lectures pertaining to the effects of racism on an individual's physical and emotional wellbeing. Id. at 8-9.

October 12, 2019 Arrest

As a preliminary matter, the Court notes that although Mason states that Norwich police officers arrested him on October 12, 2019, he includes no specific facts or claim pertaining to the arrest. Notably, Mason has filed another case asserting claims in connection with his October 12, 2019 arrest. See Mason v. Lax, et al., Case No. 20cv39(KAD). It does not appear therefore that Mason intended to base any of his claims in this matter on the October 12, 2019 arrest. However, even if such was his intent, these claims would be and are dismissed under the prior pending action doctrine. See, Curtis v. Citibank, N.A., 226 F.3d 133, 139 (2d Cir. 2000)(A plaintiff has "no right to maintain two actions on the same subject in the same court, against the same defendant at the same time."); Taylor v. Rodriguez, 238 F.3d 188, 197 (2d Cir. 2001)(A district court may invoke its power to administer its docket by staying or dismissing a suit that is duplicative of another suit in federal court.); Adam v. Jacobs, 950 F.2d 89, 92 (2d Cir. 1991)("the first suit [filed] should have priority.").

Claims under RICO

Congress enacted RICO to address the unlawful activities of those individuals involved in organized crime in in the United States. See Att'y Gen. of Can. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings, Inc., 268 F.3d 103, 107 (2d Cir. 2001) ("RICO is a broadly worded statute that has as its purpose the elimination of the infiltration of organized crime and racketeering into legitimate organizations operating in interstate commerce.") (internal quotation marks omitted). RICO is

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directed at "'racketeering activity,' which i[s] define[d] as any act 'chargeable' under several generically described state criminal laws,4 any act 'indictable' under numerous specific federal criminal provisions, and any 'offense' involving bankruptcy or securities fraud or drug-related activities that is 'punishable' under federal law." Sedima, S.P.R.L. v. Imrex Co., 473 U.S. 479, 482-83 (1985) (quoting 18 U.S.C. § 1961(1)). Section 1962 contains four subsections that set forth the criminal activities prohibited under RICO. See 18 U.S.C. § 1962(a)-(d). Section 1964, creates a private civil action for treble damages for "[a]ny person injured in his business or property by reason of a violation of section 1962 of this chapter." 18 U.S.C. § 1964(c).

"A private cause of action under RICO requires that the plaintiff allege: '(1) the defendant's violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1962, (2) an injury to the plaintiff's business or property, and (3) causation of the injury by the defendant's violation.'" Lerner v. Fleet Bank, N.A., 459 F.3d 273, 283 (2d Cir. 2006)). To state a claim under 18 U.S.C. § 1962(c), a plaintiff must allege "(1) that the defendant (2) through the commission of two or more acts (3) constituting a 'pattern' (4) of 'racketeering activity' (5) directly or indirectly invests in, or maintains [an] interest in, or participates in (6) an 'enterprise' (7) the activities of which affect interstate or foreign commerce." Williams v. Affinion Grp., LLC, 889 F.3d 116, 123-24 (2d Cir. 2018) (quoting Moss v. Morgan Stanley, Inc. 719 F.2d 5, 17 (2d Cir. 1983)). To demonstrate a pattern of racketeering activity, a plaintiff must allege two or more predicate acts, as defined in 18 U.S.C. § 1961(1), that "pose a threat of continuous criminal activity" and are "related to each other." Reich v. Lopez, 858 F.3d 55, 59 (2d Cir. 2017) (citation omitted).

In support of his civil RICO claim, Mason alleges that Officers "Racketeered Influenced

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and Corrupt Organization to Direct Participation in this violation to conduct illegal constitutional violations by way of obstruction of the courts falsifying legal documents terrorizing the black community profiling me and others with no due process." Compl. at 7. Even liberally construed, these allegations do not implicate the RICO statutes. First, allegations regarding constitutional violations and infliction of "terror" by the defendants do not meet the injury requirement of section 1964(c). See Westchester Cty. Indep. Party v. Astorino, 137 F. Supp. 3d 586, 612-13 (S.D.N.Y. 2015) ("Personal damages, emotional damages, and physical damages, for example, are insufficient [to establish standing under RICO]. . . . Moreover, the deprivation of constitutional rights is a personal injury that is not protected by RICO.") (collecting cases). Furthermore, Mason has not alleged that the defendants were involved in an enterprise which affected interstate or foreign commerce or that they committed two or more of the federal or state law crimes included in the definition of "racketeering activity" set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 1961(1). Accordingly, the RICO claim is dismissed. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1).

Claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1997

Mason next asserts claims under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act ("CRIPA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 1997 et seq. Section 1997a authorizes the Attorney General to initiate a civil action in federal court for equitable relief in response to allegations that a State or political subdivision of a State is "subjecting persons residing in or confined to an institution . . . to egregious or flagrant conditions which deprive such persons of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States causing such person to suffer grievous harm. . . ." 42 U.S.C. § 1997a(a). In addition, under Section 1997c, the Attorney General may intervene...

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