Melendez v. City of New Haven
Former Detective Failed To Allege Monell Claim Against City
Civil Rights | Labor and Employment | Discrimination | Race Discrimination | Constitutional Law
- U.S. District Court
- Dec 30 2013 (Date Decided)
- Chatigny, J.
Although repeated complaints about alleged civil-rights violations are not required to prove deliberate indifference, two complaints may be insufficient to establish a valid Monell claim. Allegedly, the acting chief of police, John Velleca, reprimanded and transferred the plaintiff police detective, because the plaintiff interviewed a civilian who found a cell at a crime scene. The plaintiff filed a complaint and alleged that he was disciplined because of his race. Allegedly, the plaintiff was yelled at, disciplined and demoted, he lost his cruiser, and his work area was searched. The plaintiff sued and alleged unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, in violation of Title VII, and violation of the due process and equal protection clauses. The defendants moved to dismiss the substantive due-process claim. To survive a motion to dismiss, the plaintiff was required to allege conduct that shocked the conscience. "Derogatory remarks, reassignments, lack of assignments, higher standards of performance and conduct, and harsher discipline all fail to arise to the level . . . necessary to set forth a substantive due process claim," pursuant to Williams v. Perry, a 1996 decision of the District of Connecticut. Even if Velleca ordered the loss of the plaintiff’s cruiser and the search of his work area, that was insufficient to shock the conscience. The plaintiff’s Monell count failed to support a plausible inference that the city consciously chose to ignore unlawful conduct. Although repeated complaints about alleged civil-rights violations are not required to prove deliberate indifference, the plaintiff’s two complaints were insufficient to establish a valid Monell claim. In Marshall v. Town of Middlefield, a 2012 decision, the District Court held that a rational trier could not find a single complaint sufficient to provide notice of an obvious need for additional supervision. Allegations that the plaintiff police detective was yelled at, disciplined, demoted, lost his cruiser and had his workplace searched were insufficient to allege extreme and outrageous conduct. The court dismissed the plaintiff’s intentional-infliction-of-emotional-distress count. The plaintiff’s Title VII count against the city survived. The plaintiff’s equal-protection count against the defendant supervisor survived. The court dismissed the other counts.