Posted by: Patricia Salkin | June 11, 2015

Fed. Dist. Court in NY Denies Motion to Dismiss Equal Protection and Conspiracy Claims against Ex-Wife and Town Officials

Plaintiff Ernie Telian commenced the instant action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Defendants, his ex-wife and the Town of Delhi officials, violated his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. After the Court granted Defendants’ motions to dismiss with leave to amend certain claims, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint. Defendants then moved to dismiss the Amended Complaint.

Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint pointed to two other individuals who allegedly “constructed buildings without first obtaining a permit, and were, after being notified by the Town of the need for a permit … granted permits with no prosecution.” One of these comparators was Plaintiff’s ex-wife, Defendant Sherri Telian. The prior Court concluded that, despite the fact that she was equally responsible for building the structures that were the subject of the court case but faced no actual punishment, Plaintiff had not alleged that Sherri Telian was a proper comparator because the Plaintiff had not alleged that any of the Defendants were actually involved in the decision to allow her to avoid prosecution. Despite this, the court held that the Amended Compliant, if proved, would indicate that the decision to expose only the Plaintiff to prosecution for violating zoning ordinances was the result of an arrangement and agreement between the Defendants, the prosecutor, and the Town Justice. Accordingly, the court found that the Plaintiff alleged a plausible class-of-one claim, and that Sherri Telian was a valid comparator.

As to the state claims, unlike Plaintiff’s earlier allegations, where Sherri Telian only reported violations and the other Defendants acted independently to prosecute them, Plaintiff now alleged that Sherri Telian knowingly and actively participated in a careful scheme to bring false allegations and played a particular role in ensuring that those allegations damaged the Plaintiff. The court found that this change was “just enough” to survive the motion to dismiss. However, as to the malicious prosecution claim, the court found that the case against the accused ended when the Plaintiff and the Town entered into an agreement to withdraw the appeals. Because, a termination is not favorable “if the charge is withdrawn or the prosecution abandoned pursuant to a compromise with the accused” the Plaintiff failed to prove the favorable termination element of this claim, and it was therefore dismissed. Finally, Plaintiff’s conspiracy claim under Section 1983 survived the Defendant’s motion to dismiss when viewed in a light most favorable to the Plaintiff.

Telian v Town of Delhi, 2015 WL 2249975 (NDNY 5/13/2015)


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