Traylor v. Steward
To prevail on a §1985 conspiracy claim, a plaintiff must allege a common agreement to discriminate against and to deprive an individual of his constitutional rights. In February 2004, the plaintiff, Sylvester Traylor, called 911 and reported that his wife refused to take her anti-depressant medication and threatened to commit suicide. In March, Traylor's wife committed suicide. Traylor sued the Town of Waterford, alleging the municipality failed to protect his wife. Other residents allegedly informed Traylor that municipal workers issued slanderous statements. In February 2009, Traylor received a package with personal documents from a municipal worker, and he concluded that the municipality had illegally searched his residence. In August, when Traylor reported that a neighbor's dog allegedly attacked his dog, the police allegedly were unfriendly. In September, a cousin of a police officer allegedly drove over Traylor's mail box. Traylor's request for a safety sign near his home was denied. Traylor, who is African-American, sued the town, the first selectman, the law firm of Ryan Ryan Deluca and individual defendants, alleging that they slandered and discriminated and illegally seized his property. He requested damages of $15 million. The District Court dismissed for failure to state a claim, and Traylor appealed. The 2nd Circuit reviewed de novo. A complaint must contain sufficient facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face, pursuant to Ashcroft v. Iqbal, a 2009 decision of the U.S. Supreme Court. "Traylor," wrote the 2nd Circuit, "fails to state a conspiracy claim under §1985 because, although the complaint alleges a number of instances in which defendants purportedly have harmed him, he has not pleaded a non-conclusory basis for finding that these events were the result of a common agreement to discriminate against him and deprive him of his constitutional rights." Traylor's complaint did not plausibly allege that he was deprived of any rights pursuant to a municipal policy or custom. Traylor's complaint also did not allege that nongovernmental defendants participated in the alleged constitutional torts or acted under color of state law. The 2nd Circuit affirmed the judgment of the District Court, Droney, J.