United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
C. NUGENT, United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on the Motion for Judgment on the
Pleadings filed by Defendant, Caroline Hurwitz. (Docket #10.)
Ms. Hurwitz asks the Court to grant judgment in her favor on
each of the claims raised by Plaintiff, Eric Arnold.
Factual and Procedural Background.
Arnold alleges that on November 15, 2012, Ms. Hurwitz
negligently, knowingly, falsely and/or with malice against
Mr. Arnold signed a police statement that Mr. Arnold had
engaged in sexual conduct with her on October 27, 2012, by
force and against her will. Mr. Arnold alleges Ms.
Hurwitz's allegations were also included in a police
report and made otherwise by Ms. Hurwitz. (Complaint at
Paragraph 6.) Mr. Arnold asserts that the alleged false and
defamatory statements were communicated to the Chagrin Falls,
Ohio Police Department and to the Cuyahoga County, Ohio
Prosecutor's Office and caused a malicious criminal
prosecution to be instituted and continued against Mr. Arnold
in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, Case No.
13-CR-570388. (Complaint at Paragraph 8.) As asserted by Mr.
Arnold, the allegations made by Ms. Hurwitz resulted in Mr.
Arnold being indicted for Rape, in violation of Ohio Rev.
Code § 2907.02(a)(2), and for Kidnapping, in violation
of Ohio Rev. Code § 2905.01(A)(4). (Complaint at
Paragraph 9.) On April 17, 2014, following a jury trial, Mr.
Arnold was found not guilty on all counts of the indictment.
(Complaint at Paragraph 22.) Mr. Arnold alleges Ms.
Hurwitz's sole intent in seeking criminal charges was for
the improper purpose of harming him; that her actions were
intentional, willful and malicious and done with a conscious
disregard for his rights; and, that he has suffered severe
and irreparable damage to his personal reputation; severe
emotional distress; and; monetary damages in the form of
legal fees and expenses. (Complaint at Paragraph 10.)
Mr. Arnold claims that a New York Times Article, authored by
Ms. Hurwitz and published on April 8, 2016, in which Ms.
Hurwitz described herself as being raped at a “house
party, ” caused Mr. Arnold to incur severe and
irreparable damage to his personal reputation. (Complaint at
Paragraphs 12, 13, and 19.) Mr. Arnold asserts that although
the Article did not include his name, it included Ms.
Hurwitz's real name in the byline and that Ms. Hurwitz
knew the Article would be read by people in northeastern Ohio
- including by former classmates of both Mr. Arnold and Ms.
Hurwitz from Hawken School - and that the Parties' former
classmates would know Ms. Hurwitz was referring to Mr. Arnold
as her “rapist.” (Complaint at Paragraphs 15 and
16.) Mr. Arnold asserts that all sexual encounters between he
and Ms. Hurwitz were consensual and that Ms. Hurwitz's
statement in the Article that she was raped was made
negligently, knowingly, falsely and/or with malice against
Arnold initially filed his Complaint in the Cuyahoga County
Court of Common Pleas on November 9, 2016. The case was
removed to this Court by Ms. Hurwitz on February 10, 2017. In
his Complaint, Mr. Arnold raises claims for Malicious
Prosecution (Count I) and Defamation (Count II).
March 27, 2017, Ms. Hurwitz filed her Motion for Judgment on
the Pleadings. (Docket #10.) Ms. Hurwitz argues that Mr.
Arnold's malicious prosecution claim is legally
insufficient and fails to state a viable claim because she is
entitled to absolute immunity from civil liability for her
participation in the law enforcement investigation and
subsequent prosecution of Mr. Arnold. Ms. Hurwitz argues that
Mr. Arnold's defamation claim is also legally
insufficient, arguing that the New York Times Article does
not identify Mr. Arnold by name; that no reasonable reader
would be able to interpret the essay as defamatory; and, that
the article “provides a completely fair and neutral
overview of the proceedings related to Mr. Arnold's
criminal prosecution for rape.” On April 26, 2017, Mr.
Arnold filed his Memorandum in Opposition. (Docket #11.)
Relative to his malicious prosecution claim, Mr. Arnold
argues that statements made by Ms. Hurwitz to law enforcement
officers were not part of a judicial proceeding and,
therefore, are not protected by absolute immunity. (Docket
#11.) Further, Mr. Arnold argues that he has sufficiently
pled a claim for defamation, arguing the allegedly false
statements of criminal activity made by Ms. Hurwitz in the
New York Times Article were unambiguous; communicated in such
a way so as to suggest Ms. Hurwitz had factual, first-hand
knowledge of what she had written; and, reflected injuriously
on Mr. Arnold's reputation, exposing him to public
hatred, contempt, ridicule, shame or disgrace, thereby
constituting defamation per se.
Hurwitz filed a Reply Brief on May 10, 2017. (Docket #12.)
Standard of Review.
standard of review used by a district court to rule on a
motion for judgment on the pleadings is the same as the
standard used to rule on Rule 12(b)(6) motions. See
Grindstaff v. Green, 133 F.3d 416, 421 (6th
Cir. 1998). A motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6) allows a defendant to test the legal
sufficiency of a complaint without being subject to
discovery. See Yuhasz v. Brush Wellman, Inc., 341
F.3d 559, 566 (6th Cir. 2003). In evaluating a
motion to dismiss, the court must construe the complaint in
the light most favorable to the plaintiff, accept its factual
allegations as true, and draw reasonable inferences in
favorable of the plaintiff. See Directv, Inc. v.
Treesh, 487 F.3d 471, 476 (6th Cir. 2007).
The court will not, however, accept conclusions of law or
unwarranted inferences cast in the form of factual
allegations. See Gregory v. Shelby County, 220 F.3d
433, 446 (6th Cir. 2000).
order to survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must
provide the grounds of the entitlement to relief, which
requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action. See Bell
Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007).
That is, “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise
a right to relief above the speculative level, on the
assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true
(even if doubtful in fact).” Id. (internal
citation omitted); see Association of Cleveland Fire
Fighters v. City of Cleveland, No. 06-3823, 2007 WL
2768285, at *2 (6th Cir. Sept. 25, 2007)
(recognizing that the Supreme Court “disavowed the
oft-quoted Rule 12(b)(6) standard of Conley v.
Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80
(1957)”). Accordingly, the claims set forth in a
complaint must be plausible, rather than conceivable. See
Twombly, 127 S.Ct. at 1974.
motion brought under Rule 12(b)(6), the court's inquiry
is limited to the content of the complaint, although matters
of public record, orders, items appearing in the record of
the case, and exhibits attached to the complaint may also be
taken into account. See Amini v. Oberlin College,
259 F.3d 493, 502 (6th Cir. 2001). It is with this
standard in mind that the instant Motion must be decided.
Court has reviewed Mr. Arnold's Complaint, Ms.
Hurwitz's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, and all
briefing responsive thereto, in conjunction with relevant
applicable case law. For the reasons that follow, ...