Royal Crown Day Care LLC v. Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene, No. 12-4959 (2d Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging, among other things, that defendants violated their First Amendment and substantive due process rights by closing down Royal Crown's day care facility in retaliation for a letter of complaint that Royal Crown sent to a New York State senator. On appeal, the individually named defendants challenged from the district court's denial of their motion for summary judgment on qualified immunity grounds and from the denial of their motion to reconsider. The court concluded that defendants were not entitled to qualified immunity solely because closing down Royal Crown may have been justified under the Health Code; defendants' motivation in closing down Royal Crown was material to Royal Crown's First Amendment and substantive due process claims and the court did not have jurisdiction to consider whether the dispute about defendants' motivation was genuine; properly assuming on this interlocutory appeal that defendants retaliated against Royal Crown for speech protected by the First Amendment, defendants' action was not objectively reasonable; Royal Crown's First Amendment and substantive due process rights to be free from retaliation and irrational government action in response to its letter to the Senator were clearly established at the time that defendants closed down plaintiff's day care facility; and therefore, defendants were not entitled to summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity. The court affirmed the judgment of the district court.