United States District Court, D. Vermont
OPINION AND ORDER
William K. Sessions III District Court Judge.
Matthew Rudavsky brings this action claiming that he was
assaulted by a police officer while in the custody of the
South Burlington Police Department (SBPD). Now pending before
the Court are two motions to dismiss: the first filed by the
City of South Burlington, SBPD Chief Trevor Whipple, SBPD
Deputy Chief Paul Edwards, and Lieutenant Jeffrey Martel (the
“Municipal Defendants”) (ECF No. 4); and the
second a partial motion to dismiss by Detective Christopher
Bataille, Officer Patrick Mulcahy, and Sergeant David Solomon
(the “Officer Defendants”) (ECF No. 11). For the
reasons set forth below, the Municipal Defendants' motion
to dismiss is granted in part and denied in
part, and the Officer Defendants' partial motion
to dismiss is granted in part and denied in
Complaint alleges that on January 12, 2015, several SBPD
officers responded to a report of a verbal altercation. Those
officers included Officer Mulcahy, Sergeant Mills, Sergeant
Soychack, Detective Bataille, and Sergeant Soffen. Plaintiff
Rudavsky was arrested at the scene, handcuffed, and
transported to the South Burlington police station. The
police noted that Rudavsky smelled strongly of intoxicants.
processing at the police station, Detective Bataille and one
of the other police officers removed Rudavsky's
handcuffs. Officer Mulcahy subsequently joined Detective
Bataille in the holding area to assist with Rudavsky's
fingerprinting. Rudavsky refused to be fingerprinted, at
which point Officer Mulcahy, Detective Bataille, and Officer
Holden restrained him and re-cuffed him with his hands behind
handcuffed, Rudavsky was escorted to a different holding cell
by Detective Bataille and Officer Mulcahy. Detective Bataille
then seated Rudavsky, still handcuffed, on a metal bench
facing away from both officers. The Complaint alleges that
the two officers were standing behind Rudavsky and to his
Detective Bataille was manipulating Rudavsky's handcuffs,
Rudavsky allegedly made a comment about him and shifted to
look at the officers. Detective Bataille, with one hand on
Rudavsky's cuffed arms and the other on his right
shoulder, allegedly “attacked Rudavsky by roughly
propelling him forward and downward, slamming him, head
first, to the concrete floor of the holding cell.” ECF
No. 7 at 4, ¶ 39. Officer Mulcahy allegedly jumped
forward to aid Detective Bataille. Another officer, possibly
Sergeant Solomon, pointed a weapon at Rudavsky. There is a
videotape of the incident.
claims that before he was “attacked” he did not
pose a threat to anyone, as he was seated and handcuffed. He
also contends that Officer Mulcahy had a chance to intervene
but failed to do so. Sergeant Solomon, Sergeant Mills, and/or
Officer Holden were in the general vicinity and able to
either see or hear the alleged assault by Detective Bataille.
head began to bleed, and his wounds were treated by members
of the South Burlington Fire Department. He now contends that
his medical care was inadequate. He also claims that he
complained about his treatment, but that his complaints were
never addressed or investigated. He faults the SBPD for
accepting allegedly-false incidents reports, and Chief
Whipple for failing to order an administrative review of the
incident despite the videotape evidence.
legal claims include excessive force in violation of the
United States and Vermont Constitutions; common law assault
and battery; contravention of the SBPD's use of force
policy; failure to train; and failure to properly act upon
reports. In total, the Complaint asserts ten causes of
action, including claims of municipal and vicarious
The Motion to Dismiss Standard
before the Court are the motions to dismiss filed by the
Municipal Defendants and the Officer Defendants. Both motions
are filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedures
reviewing a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6), a court applies a
“plausibility standard” guided by “two
working principles.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009). First, “[t]hreadbare recitals of
the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere
conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id.;
see also Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 555 (2007) (“While a complaint attacked by a Rule
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual
allegations . . . a plaintiff's obligation to provide the
‘grounds' of his ‘entitle[ment] to
relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
will not do.”) (internal citations omitted). Second,
“only a complaint that states a plausible claim for
relief survives a motion to dismiss.” Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 679. Thus, the complaint must contain
“factual amplification . . . to render a claim
plausible.” Arista Records LLC v. Doe 3, 604
F.3d 110, 120 (2d Cir. 2010) (quoting Turkmen v.
Ashcroft, 589 F.3d 542, 546 (2d Cir. 2009)).
motion to dismiss stage, all of the factual allegations in
the complaint will be taken as true. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 678. Those allegations will also be viewed in the light
most favorable to the plaintiff, and all inferences will be
drawn in his favor. Cohen v. S.A.C. Trading Corp.,
711 F.3d 353, 359 (2d Cir. 2013); see also York v.
Ass'n of the Bar of the City of New York, 286 F.3d
122, 125 (2d Cir. 2002) (“On a motion to dismiss for
failure to state a claim, we construe the complaint in the
light most favorable to the plaintiff, accepting the
complaint's allegations as true.”), cert.
denied, 537 U.S. 1089 (2002).
The Municipal Defendants' Motion to Dismiss
case, the Complaint asserts several causes of action against
the City, Chief Whipple, Deputy Chief Edwards, and Lieutenant
Martel. Specifically, Count III brings a claim against the
City under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Monell v. Department
of Social Services; Count IV asserts a claim against
Chief Whipple, Deputy Chief Edwards, and Lieutenant Martel
for supervisor liability under Section 1983; Count V alleges
a conspiracy to cover up unconstitutional acts; Count VI
includes a claim against the City under 24 V.S.A.
§§ 901-901a for the officers' alleged
negligence; Count VII alleges negligent training, retention,
and supervision; and Count X alleges vicarious liability on
the part of the City.
The City's Municipal Liability
City first moves to dismiss Rudavsky's Section 1983
municipal liability claims. Those claims are brought in Count
III, premised on a custom or policy of allowing ...