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Constitutional Torts: Murray v. Coleman

By: Daily Record Staff//September 17, 2010

Constitutional Torts: Murray v. Coleman

By: Daily Record Staff//September 17, 2010//

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U.S. District Court, Western District of New York

Constitutional Torts

Murray v. Coleman
Judge Larimer

Background: The plaintiff, William A. Murray, proceeding pro se, brings action against a number of employees of the New York State Department of Correctional Services, and Judith Ratner, an employee of the Department of Civil Service. Murray alleges that, during his employment with DOCS as a substance abuse counselor, the defendants subjected him to various forms of harassment and retaliation, in violation of his constitutional rights under the First and 14th Amendments. The defendants move to dismiss.

Ruling: The plaintiff made a sufficient effort to serve process on the defendants and since all are aware of the suit against him or her, and no prejudice is shown, the failure to effect proper service is excused. The plaintiff also is not claiming that the First Amendment entitled him to disclosure of the records he requested through FOIL, rather he asserts Ratner’s denial of his request was an unconstitutional act of retaliation for his exercise of his own First Amendment rights. While the allegations against Ratner are sparse and their merits untested at present, the court concludes that on the face of the complaint, the plaintiff has managed to sufficiently state a claim against Ratner for retaliation in violation of the First Amendment. The plaintiff has failed to state a claim against Ratner under the 14th Amendment. The defendants’ motion to dismiss the complaint is granted in part, and the plaintiff’s second cause of action, alleging violation of the 14th Amendment, is dismissed insofar as it is asserted against Ratner.

William J. Murray, pro se; Emil J. Bove Jr., assistant New York State Attorney General, for the defendants

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