Town of Islip v. Datre

Decision Date14 February 2022
Docket Number16-CV-2156(MKB)
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of New York
PartiesTOWN OF ISLIP, Plaintiff, v. THOMAS DATRE JR., THOMAS DATRE SR, CLARA DATRE, CHRISTOPHER GRABE, 5 BROTHERS FARMING CORP., DFF FARM CORP., DATRE TRUCKING & FARMING INC., DATRE AUTO & EQUIPMENT SALES INC., DAYTREE AT CORTLAND SQUARE INC., DAYTREE CUSTOM BUILDERS INC., DATRE FAMILY FARMS INC., ISLANDIA RECYCLING INC., C.J. SITE DEVELOPMENT INC., COD SERVICES CORP., 96 WYTHE ACQUISITION LLC, 61 PARK PLACE LLC, 411118™ AVENUE LLC, THE CLASSON IN CLINTON LLC, CHEN 867 REALTY LLC, STAHAV REALTY CORP., JOHN KHANI, and JOHN DOE NO. 1 THROUGH JOHN DOE NO. 10, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM & ORDER

MARGO K. BRODIE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

Plaintiff the Town of Islip (the "Town") commenced the above-captioned action on April 29, 2016, against Defendants Thomas Datre Jr., Thomas Datre Sr., Clara Datre, et al[1] under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C § 1962, et seq. ("RICO"), the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Recovery Act, 42 U.S.C. § 9601, et seq. ("CERCLA"), and state causes of action. (Compl ¶¶ 1, 113-230, Docket Entry No. 1.) Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on April 27, 2017, alleging RICO CERCLA, and assorted state law claims, (Am. Compl., Docket Entry No. 74), and a Second Amended Complaint ("SAC") on May 24, 2019, alleging RICO, CERCLA, and state law causes of action for negligence, public nuisance, private nuisance, trespass, injury to property, and seeking restitution and crime victim relief. (SAC ¶¶ 159-295, Docket Entry No. 173.) Pursuant to CERCLA, Plaintiff seeks environmental response costs for work done to restore Roberto Clemente Park (the "Park"), where hazardous materials were unlawfully dumped in or around May of 2013, and continuing through about May of 2014.[2] (Id. ¶¶ 3, 200-14.) In the alternative, Plaintiff seeks contribution under CERCLA for costs associated with the restoration of the Park. (Id. ¶¶ 215-22). Defendants Thomas Datre Sr., Clara Datre, Daytree at Cortland Square Inc., and Daytree Custom Builders (collectively, the "Opposing Defendants") filed a Second Amended Answer ("SAA") to the SAC on February 7, 2020, asserting counterclaims against Plaintiff for First Amendment retaliation under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Fourteenth Amendment substantive due process and procedural due process violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, conspiracy to violate the First Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and indemnification/contribution for negligence and respondeat superior/negligent supervision. (SAA ¶¶ 335-418, Docket Entry No. 268.) The Opposing Defendants allege that Plaintiff named them as Defendants solely to punish them for filing and pursuing an action against the Town in this District, Daytree at Cortland Square Inc., et. al v. Michael P Walsh, et. al, 15-CV-2298.[3](See id W 335-42.)

Plaintiff now moves for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, requesting that the Court dismiss all counterclaims asserted by the Opposing Defendants; the Opposing Defendants oppose the motion.[4]

For the reasons discussed below, the Court grants Plaintiffs motion and dismisses the Opposing Defendants' counterclaims.

I. Background

The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted. (Pl's Stmt, of Undisputed Facts Pursuant to Local Rule 56.1 ("Pl's 56.1"), Docket Entry No. 307-1; Defs.' Rule 56.1 Counter-Stmt. ("Defs.' 56.1"), Docket Entry No. 309-26.)

a. The parties

Plaintiff is a municipal corporation duly organized under the laws of the State of New York. (Pl's 56.1111.) Defendants Thomas Datre Sr. and Clara Datre were officers and/or owners of Daytree Custom Builders Inc., Daytree at Cortland Square, Inc., and Datre Farms Realty Co. (Id. ¶ 12; Defs.' 56.1 ¶ 12.) Defendant Datre Jr. is the son of Datre Sr. and Clara Datre. (Pl's Mem. 1; Defs.' Opp'n 6-7.) Defendant COD Services Corp. ("COD") is a domestic business corporation organized under the laws of the State of New York, was a broker for the removal and disposal of construction waste containing hazardous substances from construction sites in the New York City metropolitan area, and arranged for the disposal of construction waste by the Opposing Defendants, who transported the waste to the Park.[5] (Pl's 56.1¶ 13.) IEV Trucking Corp. ("IEV") is a domestic business corporation organized under the laws of the State of New York, was a broker for the removal and disposal of construction waste from construction sites in the New York City metropolitan area, and arranged for the disposal of construction waste containing hazardous substances by the Opposing Defendants, who transported the waste to the Park.[6] (Id. ¶ 14.)

Iglesia De Jesucristo Palabra Miel (the "Church") is a non-profit entity and religious organization. (Id. ¶ 15.) Islandia Recycling Inc. is a corporation organized under the laws of the State of New York, and is owned or controlled by Defendant Christopher Grabe. (Id. 16.)

b. The interrelationship among the Opposing Defendants

Plaintiff claims facts relating to the "interrelationship among the [Opposing] Defendants." (Id. at 14.) Plaintiff contends that "Thomas Datre[] Jr. worked with Thomas Datre[] Sr. on construction projects performed by Thomas Datre Sr.'s various businesses." (Id. 49.) Clara Datre testified during her deposition that her son's companies did business with Datre Sr. and Clara's businesses. (Id. 65.) For example, in response to "public work progress-unrelated to the Park, Daytree at Cortland Square submitted a Form of Bid dated October 4, 2012 to the Town and identified Grabe as a "foreman" and Datre Jr. as a project manager for Daytree at Cortland Square.[7] (Id. ¶ 50.) Clara Datre, as President, signed the Form of Bid. (Id.) Corporate filings indicate overlap among Datre Sr., Clara Datre, Daytree at Cortland Square, and Datre Jr. and "his various businesses," including DFF Farm Corp., [8] (id ¶ 60), but Opposing Defendants claim that the overlap "was a mistaken filing by the accountant for the [Opposing] Defendants," (Defs.' 56.1 f 60). The parties dispute that Daytree at Cortland Square did business with COD, but the record demonstrates that direct payments were made by COD to Daytree at Cortland Square between May of 2013 and August of 2014. (Pl's 56.1 ¶ 56; Defs.' 56.1 ¶¶35, 56.)

In addition, Plaintiff contends that Daytree at Cortland Square shared offices in a single lease with Datre Jr. and his businesses at his offices in Ronkonkoma, New York. (Pl's 56.1 ¶¶ 51, 63-64.) Opposing Defendants concede that in late 2012 or early 2013 they moved into the building that their son had leased but contend that they carved out a separate suite. (Defs.' 56.1 51.) Further, Daytree at Cortland Square financed vehicles for use by Datre Jr. in his non-Daytree at Cortland Square related businesses because he could not qualify for financing on his own. (Pl's 56.1 53.) Daytree at Cortland Square therefore held title to the trucks operated by Datre Jr. for his businesses. (Id.) Daytree at Cortland Square and Clara Datre also provided various loans to Datre Jr. and his businesses between 2010 and 2014. (Id. ¶ 55.) Between December of 2013 and January of 2014, more than $60, 000 were exchanged between Clara Datre and Datre Jr. or his companies, including DFF Farms. (Id. 57.) Clara Datre explained that they considered it a loan if Datre Jr. was short on money and Datre Sr. and Clara or Daytree at Cortland Square covered the shortfall for him. (Id. ¶ 58.) Daytree at Cortland Square did not charge interest on its loans to Datre Jr., and Datre Jr. repaid the loans by a barter system by providing mechanical services to repair and maintain Daytree at Cortland Square's vehicles. (Id. 59.)

c. The contamination of the Park

The Park is located in Brentwood, New York, and is owned by the Town. (Id. ¶ 3.) Beginning in or around May of 2013, and continuing through on or around May of 2014, 38, 000 tons of construction and demolition debris ("C&D"), contaminated fill, and other solid wastes were transported, delivered, and unlawfully disposed of at the Park. (Id.) Plaintiff contends that each of the named Defendants played a role in the dumping activity, through "gaining or granting access to the Park, conducting the dumping activity, arranging and transporting the materials, concealing the nature of the activity from Town officials, and supplying the materials disposed of at the Park." (Id. 4.) Opposing Defendants deny these claims. (Defs.' 56.1 4.)

In or around April of 2013, the Church's representatives reached out to Plaintiff and requested permission to rehabilitate the soccer fields in the northwest quadrant of the Park through placement of topsoil and grass seed on the existing surface. (Pl's 56.1 17.) The Church represented that the rehabilitation would be performed by volunteer members of the Church congregation and users of the field at no cost to the Town. (Id.) Based on the Church's representations, Joseph Montuori, who was then Commissioner of the Town's Department of Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Affairs, permitted the Church to begin the work in or around May of 2013 at the Church's sole cost and expense. (Id. 18.) Montuori granted the permission without a written agreement, schedule, plans and specifications, insurance, performance bond, or Town board authorization. (Id.) Opposing Defendants deny having knowledge about these allegations. (Defs.' 56.1 18.)

In or around May of 2013, the Church needed more fill for the project. (Pl's 56.1 19.) A Church representative named William Carillo approached Grabe at a site in Central Islip, where Grabe and the Opposing Defendants were "at the time operating an illegal...

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