United States District Court, D. New Hampshire
Sanjeev Lath, pro se.
Samantha Dowd Elliott, Esq. Robert J. Meagher, Esq. Sabin R.
N. LAPLANTE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
plaintiff Sanjeev Lath alleges that two Manchester Police
Department officers illegally entered his property when
responding to a 911 call. Lath brings a federal claim against
the City of Manchester under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for
violations of his Fourth Amendment rights (Count 1), and
state-law claims against the City for common-law trespass
(Count 2) and negligent failure to preserve recordings of the
911 call (Count 3). Lath also has state-law claims pending
against Cynthia and Michael Camp.
light of Lath's § 1983 claim, the court has
subject-matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331
(federal question) and 1367 (supplemental jurisdiction). The
City moves for judgment on the pleadings on Counts 1 and 3.
See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c).
pleadings are not closed, the court construes the City's
motion as a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim.
See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The court grants the
motion as to Count 1, concluding that Lath has failed to
allege that the officers' conduct was the result of a
City policy or custom. As Count 1 is the only federal claim
pending in this action, the court declines supplemental
jurisdiction over the remaining state-law claims against the
City, and accordingly dismisses them without prejudice.
court declines to dismiss Lath's state-law claims against
Cynthia and Michael Camp. With the City no longer a party,
Lath has alleged facts in his First Amended Complaint that,
when taken at face value, confer diversity jurisdiction over
those claims. However, as the court has an independent
obligation to ensure that there is a substantive basis for
subject-matter jurisdiction, the court directs Lath show
cause, within 30 days of the date of this Memorandum Order,
that the amount in controversy between he and the Camps
actually exceeds $75, 000. See 28 U.S.C. §
Applicable legal standard
Rule 12(c), a party may move for judgment on the pleadings
“after the pleadings are closed - but early enough not
to delay trial . . . .” For Rule 12(c) purposes,
pleadings are “closed” once the defendant has
filed its answer. Rezende v. Ocwen Loan Servicing,
LLC, 869 F.3d 40, 42 n. 3 (1st Cir. 2017) . As the City
filed its present motion in lieu of filing an answer to
Lath's First Amended Complaint, the pleadings are not
closed with respect to Lath's claims against the City.
The court accordingly interprets the City's motion as a
motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule
12(b)(6). See Laura v. Great Lakes Higher Education Guar.
Corp., 2018 DNH 023, 7 n. 17. This does not
significantly alter the court's analysis, however, as
“the two motions are ordinarily accorded much the same
treatment . . . .” Aponte-Torres v. Univ. of Puerto
Rico, 445 F.3d 50, 54 (1st Cir. 2006).
pleading that states a claim for relief must contain, ”
among other things, “a short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). To satisfy this requirement, a
plaintiff must include “factual content that allows the
court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is
liable for the misconduct alleged.” Martinez v.
Petrenko, 792 F.3d 173, 179 (1st Cir. 2015). In ruling
on a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court accepts
as true all well-pleaded facts set forth in the complaint and
draws all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor.
See, e.g., Martino v. Forward Air, Inc.,
609 F.3d 1, 2 (1st Cir. 2010). In light of Lath's pro se
status, the court liberally construes his pleadings. See
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam).
November 22, 2015, Lath was entering his residence with his
friend, Barbara Belware, when Cynthia Camp called 911 and
falsely reported that Lath had kicked a door. Two Manchester
Police Department officers responded to the
call. The officers knocked on the door of
Lath's unit. As Lath opened the door, one of the
officers stepped inside Lath's unit. Lath asked the
officer to leave his unit several times, but each time the
inside Lath's unit, the officer demanded that Lath remove
his shoe and provide it to the officer. In response, Lath
asserted his Fourth Amendment right to be free from
unreasonable searches and seizures. The officer informed Lath
that he would break down Lath's door if he had to return
with a warrant to seize Lath's shoe.