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Elliott v. Prosniewski

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

September 14, 2017

JODY ELLIOTT, Plaintiff,
v.
CONRAD PROSNIEWSKI, SALEM POLICE DEPARTMENT, CITY OF SALEM, and MAYOR KIMBERLY DRISCOLL Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS (DKT. NO. 13)

          DONALD L. CABELL, U.S.M.J.

         Jody Elliott (Elliott or “the plaintiff”) has brought a pro se civil rights lawsuit against the City of Salem, Massachusetts (“the City”), its mayor, Kimberly Driscoll (“Mayor Driscoll”), the Salem Police Department (“SPD”), and SPD Captain Conrad Prosniewski (“Captain Prosniewski”) (collectively “the defendants”). The gravamen of Elliott's complaint is that police officers repeatedly trivialized or ignored her complaints that certain neighbors were harassing her, and instead tended to credit the neighbors' own complaints regarding her. The defendants move to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).

         For the reasons discussed below, I find that the complaint as drafted fails to state a viable claim. The motion to dismiss will therefore be GRANTED.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         The complaint, taken as true for the purposes of the motion to dismiss, arises from an ongoing dispute between the plaintiff and her then neighbors and fellow trustees of her condominium association, Honor Segal (“Segal”) and Christopher Patzke (“Patzke”). Segal and Patzke reportedly made false and misleading statements about the plaintiff; among other things, they claimed that she was mentally ill and had a long and well documented history of disruptive behavior during association meetings. (Compl. ¶¶ 7, 9, 17, 35). Segal and Patzke also reportedly sent the plaintiff threatening emails, blocked her driveway, shut off her electricity, recorded her in her home, and posted on the building's front porch biblical quotes highlighting her failings as a Christian. (Id. ¶¶ 16-19, 21-23, 25, 32-35).

         Segal and Patzke at some point alleged to the SPD that the plaintiff had painted a swastika and other Nazi-related insignia in the cellar of the building in order to target Segal, who is Jewish, and Patzke, who is gay. The SPD under Captain Prosniewski's direction conducted an investigation but failed to seriously investigate the plaintiff's complaints, and credited Segal and Patzke's version of events over hers. At the conclusion of the investigation the Essex District Attorney's office brought criminal charges against the plaintiff. (Id. ¶¶ 27-28, 36, 38, 40, 45, 55-56, 64-66, 90).

         II. THE COMPLAINT

         The complaint asserts eight counts.

         Count One alleges that the SPD engaged in selective enforcement by failing to protect the plaintiff when she called them in July 2014 to complain about Patzke.

         Count Two is entitled “Neighbor Dispute” and summarizes an incident where the plaintiff called the SPD regarding Patzke's car blocking her from exiting the driveway. The plaintiff appears to allege that a police report summarizing the incident would have militated against charges being filed against her had it been considered.

         Count Three is entitled “Excessive Force” and alleges that an SPD officer frightened the plaintiff and her daughter when he and his colleague went to the plaintiff's unit late one evening and banged loudly on her front door.

         Counts Four and Five are lumped together and are entitled “Police Misconduct; Disregard for the Truth (and) Malicious Prosecution.” They allege that Captain Prosniewski lied to the plaintiff's attorney and caused her to “los[e] her legal representation.” They also allege that Captain Prosniewski told Patzke when the plaintiff would be at the courthouse so he could intimidate her and put her at risk for arrest or harm.

         Count Six, like Count One, is entitled “Selective Enforcement” and alleges that the SPD refused to investigate the plaintiff's allegations against Patzke and Segal.

         Count Seven is entitled “Failure to Protect” and alleges that SPD Officer Levesque failed to adequately address the plaintiff's complaint following a snowstorm that Patzke was harassing her by moving his car to block the plaintiff's car each time she cleared an area around it.

         Count Eight is also entitled “Failure to Protect” and alleges that SPD Levesque on another occasion failed to adequately address the plaintiff's complaint that Patzke had caused damage to the plaintiff's ...


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