MEMORANDUM & ORDER
NATHANIEL M. GORTON, District Judge.
This case arises out of the arrest of Matthew Fairbanks ("Fairbanks" or "plaintiff"), the subsequent search of his apartment and car and the seizure of his property. Fairbanks claims that defendants, various police officers employed by the Town of Danvers, Massachusetts, 1) falsely arrested him, 2) conducted an unlawful search and seizure, 3) violated his right to bear arms, 4) violated the Equal Protection Clause and 5) took his property without just compensation, all in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted is pending before the Court. For the following reasons, that motion will be allowed, in part, and denied, in part.
In January, 2013, plaintiff hosted a small social gathering at his apartment in Danvers, Massachusetts which included his estranged father, Mark Kendall, his neighbor, Maria Melendez and his father's friend, Holly Fletcher. During the gathering, plaintiff and his father, Kendall, stepped into the bathroom to have a conversation which descended into an argument with raised voices. In the course of the argument, fixtures in the bathroom were damaged and the toilet was broken off of its base and began leaking water into the apartment below.
At approximately 3:00 A.M., the individual who lived in the lower apartment called the police about the water leak. Officer Dana O'Hagan arrived at plaintiff's apartment shortly thereafter. Kendall and Fletcher met him in the lobby and told him that plaintiff was a Marine suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and was "crazy". O'Hagan and other officers went upstairs to plaintiff's apartment. They found plaintiff in the hallway and proceeded to handcuff and frisk him. They also asked him if he had any weapons and he responded that he had three weapons: a .45 caliber pistol, a .38 caliber revolver and a .22 caliber rifle two of which were in his vehicle.
Officers then entered plaintiff's apartment to recover his keys and seized the revolver and rifle from his vehicle. They also confiscated a knife, a "scope", the pistol and other property not specifically identified in the complaint from plaintiff's apartment.
Plaintiff was charged in the Massachusetts District Court with 1) assault and battery, 2) assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, 3) two counts of improper storage of a firearm and 4) malicious destruction of property. In July, 2013, he admitted to sufficient facts for a guilty finding with respect to the assault and battery charge and one of the charges of improper storage of a firearm. As to those admissions, he agreed to a two-year continuance without a finding. The other charges were dismissed.
In January, 2016, plaintiff filed suit in this Court against the Town of Danvers and five Danvers police officers, Officer Dana O'Hagan, Detective f/n/u Carleton, Officer f/n/u Cassidy, Officer f/n/u George and Sergeant f/n/u Janvrin (collectively "defendants"). This Court dismissed the claims against the Town of Danvers in September, 2016. The remaining defendants filed a motion to dismiss shortly thereafter which plaintiff opposes. That motion is the subject of this memorandum and order and for the reasons that follow, it will be allowed, in part, and denied, in part.
A. Legal Standard
To survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain "sufficient factual matter" to state a claim for relief that is actionable as a matter of law and "plausible on its face."
When rendering that determination, a court may not look beyond the facts alleged in the complaint, documents incorporated by reference therein and facts susceptible to judicial notice.
Defendants contend that plaintiff's claims must be dismissed pursuant to the doctrine espoused in
Claims brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 are not cognizable if their success would necessarily imply the invalidity of an underlying state court conviction.
If a § 1983 claim does not necessarily invalidate a state criminal judgment, it is permissible under the
In determining whether a § 1983 claim necessarily implies the invalidity of a state court conviction, district courts must evaluate the relationship between the claim and the conviction by asking whether the plaintiff could prevail only by negating an element of the convicted offense.
a. Count I: False Arrest
The record does not support dismissing plaintiff's false arrest claim. Pursuant to the Fourth Amendment, the constitutionality of an arrest hinges on whether, at the moment of arrest, the officers had probable cause to believe that plaintiff had committed or was committing an offense.
Plaintiff alleges that the defendants violated his Fourth Amendment rights by arresting him without probable cause. Defendants assert that such a claim is barred by the
b. Counts II and III: Unreasonable Search and Seizure
Although plaintiff's claim that the revolver and rifle were illegally seized must be dismissed under the
In Count II, plaintiff alleges Fourth Amendment violations based on the following warrantless searches: 1) the initial entry into the apartment, 2) the search of his automobile and 3) the officers' subsequent re-entry into the apartment in order to seize the pistol and other items and to take photographs. In Count III, plaintiff claims that the officers violated his Fourth Amendment rights by improperly seizing his car keys, a revolver and rifle from his vehicle and "other property", including a pistol, from his apartment.
Defendants contend that plaintiff's search and seizure claims are prohibited by the
Consequently, the Court can only determine with certainty that plaintiff's claim alleging an illegal seizure of his revolver and rifle is barred by
As for plaintiff's other Fourth Amendment claims, defendants neither address alternative discovery theories nor attempt to explain how those claims necessarily imply the invalidity of the state court CWOF. Therefore, based solely on the complaint and the state court documents, it is unclear whether the three searches and the seizure of unidentified items and the pistol from plaintiff's apartment are barred by
c. Count V: Violation of the Right to Bear Arms
Plaintiff fails to state a plausible claim that defendants violated his right to bear arms and that claim is also barred by
Plaintiff also alleges that defendants caused the issuing authority to suspend his license to possess firearms as a result of "their factually unsupported and legally improper" criminal charges. Such a claim is prohibited by
d. Count VI: Equal Protection Violation
Plaintiff's equal protection claim is barred by the
2. Plaintiff's Takings Claim is Not Ripe
Finally, plaintiff claims that the seizure of his firearms and other weapons was a taking in violation of the Fifth Amendment. Defendants correctly contend that plaintiff has failed to exhaust his state remedies and thus his takings claim is not ripe. The United States Constitution proscribes the taking of property without just compensation. U. S. Const. amend. V. In order for a takings claim to be ripe, the Government must have not only taken property but also denied just compensation.
A claimant is only excused from the requirement that he seek compensation in limited circumstances, such as when state remedies are unavailable or inadequate.
Plaintiff does not claim to have made any attempts to recover his property or receive just compensation for it. Moreover, he also fails to allege that a state remedy is unavailable or inadequate. Thus, his takings claim is not ripe and it will be dismissed.
In accordance with the forgoing, defendants' motion to dismiss for the failure to state a claim pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) (Docket No. 19) is, with respect to plaintiff's claims for 1) the illegal seizure of the firearms from his vehicle, 2) a violation of his Second Amendment rights, 3) a violation of the Equal Protection Clause and 4) impermissible takings of his property,
Therefore, plaintiff's claims for 1) false arrest, 2) an unreasonable search and 3) the impermissible seizure of the items from his apartment remain pending.