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September 10, 2014

The Benefits Of Filing Police Misconduct Cases In New York State Court

By Michael H. Joseph

Federal Courts were once the protectors of civil rights and liberties, however recently eight years of Bush appointed Republican appointed judges have taken it upon themselves to tighten the standards and are now looking to throw cases out. Even through Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 8 states that the complaint need only have a plain statements of the facts and numerous cases have held that civil rights cases do not have heightened pleading requirements, the Federal Courts are misinterpreting Rule 12 to impose a de facto heightened pleading requirements. Now, without the benefit of discovery, Police misconduct attorneys must plead factually specific complaints that show that the client has a plausible cause of action of face dismissal.

The Courts are now dismissing cases because they don’f find the allegations to be plausible, in violation of clearly established jurisprudence. Even more egregious, they are allowing defendants to attach documents, including complaints and police records and are taking the allegations in these documents, many of which are fabricated and deeming them true and imposing the burden on the Plaintiff to rebut the contents of these documents.

The Federal Courts are taking these actions in the face of law that states they cannot do this. Rule 12(b) does not allow courts to consider matters outside the pleadings and summarily deem them “uncontroverted”, rather, the facts must be drawn from the four corners of the complaint with all inferences construed in the Plaintiff’s favor. Even when the Court considers extraneous documents, it may look at their content to determine what they state, but may not rely on those statements for their truth in a Rule 12 motion. The court’s function under Rule 12 is to assess the complaint’s legal feasibility, not the weight of the evidence which might be offered in support thereof. Where different inferences
can be drawn from the allegations, the resolution of these differing inferences is for the jury, not Under Rule 12, a complaint that states a plausible version of the events cannot be dismissed merely because the court finds a different version more plausible. The plausibility standard is not akin to a probability requirement and a complaint has facial plausibility if it pleads facts that allow the court to infer that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. The Court must accept Plaintiff’s allegations as true, drawing all inferences in the best light for the plaintiff, and if that light reveals a scene in which it is plausible that the defendant can be held liable, a Rule 12 motion must be denied. To avoid dismissal, a complaint must only contain enough facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.

When possible, a civil rights case often is better off being filed in State Court, where the Courts are still giving fair readings to complaints and are not overly interpreting the standards in a twisted manner to justify dismissals of meritorious complaints. In the meantime, our New York City lawyers will continue to fight the good fight.

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