ROBERTS v. BABKIEWICZ Docket No. 08-3858-cv.
582 F.3d 418 (2009)
Dale C. ROBERTS, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Joe BABKIEWICZ, Defendant-Appellee.
United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.
Decided: September 30, 2009.
Scott M. Karsten, Karsten, Dorman & Tallberg, LLC, West Hartford, CT, for Defendant-Appellee.
Before: CALABRESI, HALL, Circuit Judges, and SESSIONS, District Judge.
This is an appeal from a grant of Defendant-Appellee Joe Babkiewicz's motion for judgment on the pleadings entered in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut (Thompson, J.). Because this matter comes to us on appeal from a judgment on the pleadings, we rely on the complaint, the answer, any written documents attached to them, and any matter of which the court can take judicial notice for the factual background of the case. See, e.g., Faconti v. Potter, 242 Fed. Appx. 775, 777 (2d Cir.2007) (unpublished).
On appeal, Plaintiff-Appellant Dale Roberts challenges the district court's ruling that his malicious prosecution claim, brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, fails as a matter of law because the state court nolle prossed the assault charge that was the basis for the malicious prosecution claim on the same day that Roberts also pleaded guilty to interfering with a police officer and Roberts, therefore, had not shown under Connecticut law that the dismissal of the underlying criminal offense was a "favorable termination." From the record before us on appeal it is unclear whether the nolle prosequi of the criminal charge was necessarily related to or part of the disposition of the criminal offense to which Roberts pleaded guilty. We vacate the judgment of the district court and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
On December 1, 2004, Dale Roberts was arrested by the Bloomfield, Connecticut Police Department on various criminal and motor vehicle charges. The record is silent as to the nature of these charges. In his complaint Roberts has alleged that while he was in custody, Joe Babkiewicz, a police officer in the town of Bloomfield, assaulted him and inflicted physical injuries without cause or justification. Roberts further alleged that Babkiewicz then falsely accused him of assaulting a police officer, a felony, and maliciously prepared a false report of that charge which was presented to the prosecuting attorney.
In December 2007, Roberts brought a civil rights action against Babkiewicz under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging excessive force, false arrest, and malicious prosecution. The complaint asserted that the criminal charge was nolled because "it was apparent from medical evidence that the plaintiff was innocent of the charge." Compl. ¶ 9. The district court granted Babkiewicz's motion for judgment on the pleadings, finding that the excessive force and false arrest claims were barred by the statute of limitations. As for the claim of malicious prosecution, the district court took judicial notice of the Superior Court records showing that the nolle prosequi occurred on May 25, 2005, the same day as Roberts's guilty plea, and concluded that the two charges were "apparently related." Roberts v. Babkiewicz,
We review de novo a grant of a judgment on the pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c). Nicholas v. Goord,
"In order to prevail on a § 1983 claim against a state actor for malicious prosecution, a plaintiff must show a violation of his rights under the Fourth Amendment, and establish the elements of a malicious prosecution claim under state law." Fulton v. Robinson,
A nolle prosequi is a "unilateral act by a prosecutor, which ends the pending proceedings without an acquittal and without placing the defendant in jeopardy." Cislo v. City of Shelton,
Connecticut law adopts a liberal understanding of a favorable termination for the purposes of a malicious prosecution
The United States District Court for the District of Connecticut has reached different conclusions on whether a nolle prosequi bars a claim of false arrest or malicious prosecution. What these cases have in common however is that they were adjudicated at summary judgment, and the outcome depended on whether facts material to the reasons for the nolle prosequi remained in dispute. See, e.g., Lupinacci v. Pizighelli,
The majority of cases from Connecticut courts interpret Connecticut law so that a nolle prosequi satisfies the "favorable termination" element as long as the abandonment of the prosecution was not based on an arrangement with the defendant. See Holman, 390 F.Supp.2d at 123 ("The majority of decisions applying Connecticut law . . . hold that a nolle of the criminal charge may still permit the plaintiff to satisfy [the favorable termination] element if the circumstances of the nolle satisfy the See v. Gosselin test of an abandonment of prosecution without request from or by an arrangement with [the defendant]." (internal quotations omitted)). Under Connecticut law, as Holman correctly stated, "the mere allegation of a nolle in a complaint may be enough to withstand a motion to dismiss under Fed. R.Civ.P.12(b)(6)." Id. at 124. However, "a nolle will preclude a subsequent case for malicious prosecution when it was made as part of a plea bargain. . . ." Id. at 123-24.
The district court here concluded that the assault charge against Roberts that was nolled on the same date as the guilty plea was "apparently" part of Roberts's plea agreement by which he pleaded guilty to interfering with a police officer. Roberts,
Accepting the factual allegations of the complaint as true, Ashcroft v. Iqbal, ___ U.S. ___,
Because Roberts has adequately pled a claim for relief that is plausible on its face, i.e., he has pled facts which, if taken as true together with all reasonable inferences, would lead to the conclusion that the nolle prosequi was a favorable termination under Connecticut law, we must vacate the judgment of the district court and remand the case for further proceedings.
For the reasons stated herein, the judgment of the district court is vacated, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
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