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Censabella v. Town of Weare

United States District Court, D. New Hampshire

September 7, 2017

Lisa Censabella
v.
Town of Weare, et al.[1] Opinion No. 2017 DNH 182

          Wendy L. Spillane, Esq., Tony F. Soltani, Esq., Daniel P. Schwarz, Esq., Brian J. S. Cullen, Esq.

          ORDER AND MEMORANDUM

          Andrea K. Johnstone United States Magistrate Judge.

         The plaintiff, Lisa Censabella, alleges that various employees of the Town of Weare Police Department (“WPD”) and members Board of Selectmen (“Board”) were complicit in a conspiracy that ultimately resulted in Censabella's termination as a WPD employee. She brings a ten-count complaint alleging various violations of federal and state law. Brandon Montplaisir, a WPD officer, is named as a defendant in seven of those counts: Counts I, IV, V, VI, VIII, IX, and X. Montplaisir moves to dismiss each count pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) on the basis that Censabella has failed to state a claim against him upon which relief may be granted. Doc. no. 13. Censabella objects, subject to one limited exception. Doc. no. 18. For the reasons that follow, Montplaisir's motion is granted in part and denied in part.

         Standard of Review

         Under Rule 12(b)(6), the court must accept the factual allegations in the complaint as true, construe reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor, and “determine whether the factual allegations . . . set forth a plausible claim upon which relief may be granted.” Foley v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 772 F.3d 63, 71 (1st Cir. 2014) (citation and quotation marks omitted). A claim is facially plausible “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Analyzing plausibility is “a context-specific task” in which the court relies on its “judicial experience and common sense.” Id. at 679.

         Background

         Many of the general factual allegations relevant to Censabella's claims against Montplaisir are recited in narrative form in the court's companion order on defendant Shelia Savaria's motion to dismiss. See Sept. 6, 2017 Order and Memorandum (doc. no. 31). The court incorporates that narrative herein by reference, and limits its present discussion to a recitation of the specific allegations Censabella makes against Montplaisir.[2] These allegations are drawn from Censabella's complaint and certain documents attached to Montplaisir's motion to dismiss.[3] When viewed in the light most favorable to Censabella, they are as follows:

• Censabella surmised that Montplaisir was part of a conspiracy against then-WPD lieutenant James Carney.
• Montplaisir started to “target” Censabella due to the perception that she was close to Carney and was “leaking” information to him.
• In or around December 2013, Montplaisir told a Police Explorer that Censabella was a “shitty cop who did not know what she was doing.” Doc. no. 1-1 ¶ 8. Montplaisir later denied making this statement when Censabella confronted him about it.
• In summer 2014, then-WPD sergeant Kenneth Cox informed Censabella that certain members of the WPD, including Montplaisir, believed that Censabella was leaking information to Carney.
• In January 2015, Montplaisir informed a Weare animal control officer that Censabella had been suspended and would not be returning to the WPD.
• In March 2015, Censabella started crying uncontrollably when approached at a bar by Carney, telling Carney that she could not speak with him because she had “become the target” of several WPD officers, including Montplaisir, for not filing a false report against Carney.
• In early July 2015, several officers, including Montplaisir, read aloud in front of Censabella from a lawsuit that Carney had filed against them in state court. As they read the lawsuit, Montplaisir became increasingly angry and “glared” at Censabella. Montplaisir yelled, “Carney is a piece of shit and anyone who talks to him is a piece of shit.” Id. ¶ 115. Later in the day, Censabella started crying when speaking with Cox about the incident. When Censabella arrived at work the following day, someone had placed a box of tissues in her mailbox.
• In late July and early August 2015, several WPD officers, including Montplaisir, orchestrated “an onslaught of false allegations, untrue statements, and . . . internal affairs investigations” against Censabella. Id. ¶ 121. These actions resulted in Censabella being placed on unpaid administrative leave.
• In September 2015, Censabella filed charges of discrimination against several WPD officers, including Montplaisir, with the New Hampshire Commission for Human Rights (“NHCHR”) and the United States Equal Employment ...

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