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Shelton v. Collins - Motion to Dismiss by CHRO

Shelton v. Collins - Motion to Dismiss by CHRO

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Published by Dan Schwartz
The CHRO has filed a motion to dismiss a complaint by Town of Shelton that it was being deprived of due process rights
The CHRO has filed a motion to dismiss a complaint by Town of Shelton that it was being deprived of due process rights

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Categories:Types, Business/Law
Published by: Dan Schwartz on Oct 15, 2013
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10/28/2013

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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTDISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
CITY OF SHELTON : CIVIL ACTION NO. 3:12-cv-01176(JBA)
 Plaintiff 
::v. ::GARY H. COLLINS, Chairperson of the Comm. on:Human Rights and Opportunities, in his official :Capacity; TANYA HUGHES, Interim Executive :Director of the Commission on Human Rights and :Opportunities, in her official capacity :
 Defendants
: SEPTEMBER 27, 2013
MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF
THE DEFENDANTS’
 SECOND MOTION TO DISMISSI. INTRODUCTION.
The second amended complaint
1
is an action for declaratory and injunctive relief brought by the City of Shelton (Plaintiff) against Gary H. Collins and Tanya Hughes (Defendants).Collins is the chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO).See Second Amended Complaint, ¶ 5. He occupies his office at the pleasure of the Governor of the State of Connecticut with the approval of both houses of the General Assembly. See CONN.GEN. STAT. § 46a-52(a). Hughes is the a
gency‘s
interim executive director. Id., 6. She owes
1
The original Complaint was filed on August 14, 2012. It named as a Defendant only theCHRO, which the P
laintiff admitted is ―an agency of the State of Connecticut‖.
See Complaint,
 ¶ 5. For many years it has been settled that ―i
n the absence of consent[,] a suit in which the Stateor one of its agencies or departments is named as the defendant is proscribed by the EleventhAmend
ment.‖
Pennhurst State School and Hospital v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100 (1984);Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 341 (1979)(state administrative agency is immune from § 1983action). The CHRO has never been inclined to consent to this kind of suit; White v. Martin, 26F.Supp.2d 385, 387 (D.Conn. 1998),
aff’d sub nom
. White v. CHRO, 198 F.3d 235, 1999 WL973622 (2d Cir. 1999); making the viability of the original Complaint extremely precarious. The
Amended Complaint was filed on November 12, 2012. It named the CHRO‘s
 
chairperson,executive director and three human rights referees, who function as administrative law judges.See Amended Complaint, ¶¶ 5-9.
Case 3:12-cv-01176-JBA Document 61 Filed 09/27/13 Page 1 of 39
 
Page 2
her appointment to the agency‘s commissioners.
See CONN. GEN. STAT. § 46a-52(c). TheDefendants are sued in their official capacities only.
2
 CONN. GEN. STAT. § 46a-58(a) makes it a
―discriminatory practice in violation of this
section for any person to subject, or cause to be subjected, any other person to the deprivation of any rights, privileges or immunities, secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of this stateor of the
United States‖ on account of things such as race or sex.
CONN. GEN. STAT. § 46a-
58(a) ―has long been this state‘s fundamental civil rights statute, with a purpose to cast a broadnet of protection for all persons from discrimination.‖
CHRO v. Board of Education, 270 Conn.665, 711, 855 A.2d 212 (2004).
At the heart of this action is the Plaintiff‘s contention that
CONN. GEN. STAT. § 46a-58(a)
violates ―Article VI, Clause 2 of the United StatesConstitution, the Supremacy Clause.‖
See Second Amended Complaint, ¶ 32.The Plaintiff alleges that once there were two cases pending before the CHRO in which itwas a party, McGorty v. City of Shelton Fire Department and Puryear v. Echo Hose AmbulanceCorps and the City of Shelton; see Second Amended Complaint, ¶¶ 8, 12; but that both caseshave now passed through the CHRO, either closed through settlement or on appeal. Id., ¶¶ 11,13, 14. The Second Amended Complaint identifies a handful of other instances of allegedlyunconstitutional action by the CHRO under CONN. GEN. STAT. § 46a-58(a), none of whichinvolved the Plaintiff. Id., ¶¶ 17-19, 21, 22. Nevertheless the Plaintiff pleads that it has standingto raise the claims asserted. Id., ¶¶ 36-41.
2
 
The Defendants have absolute immunity for claims against them in their individual capacities.Butz v. Economu, 438 U. S. 478, 513
 – 
17 (1978); Waldin v. Wishengrad, 745 F.2d 149, 151-53(2d Cir. 1984); Barrett v. U. S., 798 F.2d 565, 572 (2d Cir. 1986). This Court has already found
that the CHRO‘s executive director and other agency employees have absolute immunity when
discharging their judicial functions, the conduct challenged here. White v. Martin, 26 F.Supp.2d385, 390 (D. Conn. 1998
 ), aff’d sub no
m
. White v. CHRO, 198 F.3d 235, 1999 WL 973622 (2dCir. 1999).
Case 3:12-cv-01176-JBA Document 61 Filed 09/27/13 Page 2 of 39
 
Page 3
II. LEGAL STANDARDS GOVERNING THE MOTION.
On a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the moving party carries the burden of showing that jurisdiction does not exist. Lerner v. Fleet Bank, N.A.
 ,
318 F.3d 113, 128 (2d. Cir.2003). A defendant may base a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief 
can be granted on either or both of two grounds: (1) a challenge to the ―sufficiency of the plead
-
ing‖ under Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2); or (2) a challenge to the legal
existence of the claim. Wynder v.McMahon, 360 F.3d 73, 80 (2d Cir.
2004)(―There is a
critical distinction between the noticerequirements of Rule 8(a) and the requirement, under Rule 12(b)(6), that a plaintiff state a claim
upon which relief can be granted.‖)
; Kittay v. Kornstein, 230 F.3d 531, 541 (2d Cir. 2000).
―To survive a motion to
dismiss [under Rule 12(b)(6)], a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.‖
 (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Ashcroft v. Iqbal
 ,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); Bell AtlanticCorp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).
―A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff 
 pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is
liable for the misconduct alleged.‖
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 678.
The issue is ―not whether a plaintiff 
 will ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the
claims.‖
Todd v. Exxon Corp.
 ,
275 F.3d 191, 198 (2d Cir. 2001)(quoting Scheuer v. Rhodes
 ,
 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974)).
[T]he tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in thecomplaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of 
action, supported by merely conclusory statements, do not suffice.‖
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 678. A
 pleading that only ―tenders naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement‖ will
fail. Id.
Rule 8 ―demands more than an unadorned, the
-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-
me accusation.‖
Case 3:12-cv-01176-JBA Document 61 Filed 09/27/13 Page 3 of 39

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