Clay v. Meyers et al
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER, granting Pltff's 2 Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis solely for the purpose of this Order. Pltff's complaint is hereby dismissed pursuant to 28 USC sec. 1915(e)(2)(B). After construing pltff 39;s complaint liberally and interpreting his claims to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest, it is clear that he cannot assert a valid federal claim. Any amendment to his complaint would therefore be futile. The Court certifies pursuant t o 28 USC sec. 1915(a)(3) that any appeal from this Order would not be taken in good faith and therefore in forma pauperis status is denied for the purposes of an appeal. (Ordered by Judge Brian M. Cogan on 4/26/2012) c/m by chambers. Fwd. for Judgment. (Galeano, Sonia)
UNITED STATES D!STRJCT COURT
EASTERN DISTRJCT OF NEW YORK
DECISION AND ORDER
12 Civ. 1535 (BMC)
-againstBETTY MYERS, WILLIAM BROWN, RUTH
SELBY, ESQ., OTERO ZORAJDA, CARL
TRUNK, ESQ., SPIEGEL & LAGARENNE,
ESQ., RAM ABSTRACT LTD., FLEET
NATIONAL BANK, FEDERAL RESERVE
US [)tSTRlCT COURT [ 0
* APR27 2012
COGAN, District Judge.
Plaintiff, currently incarcerated at Sing Sing Correctional Facility, brings this prose
action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of his constitutional rights in connection
with the distribution of his mother's estate. Plaintiffs request to proceed in forma pauperis
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 is granted solely for the purpose of this Order. Plaintiff's
complaint is dismissed for the reasons set forth below.
Although the precise nature of the circumstances giving rise to this lawsuit are unclear,
plaintiff alleges that his constitutional rights were violated when he "was deprived out my home
property interest thru my mother's estate ... that was wrongfully sold from the defendants thru
false documents .... " Plaintiff annexes to his complaint a copy of a durable power of attorney
dated December 12, 2003, which gives Betty Myers authority to manage his mother Carolyn
Clay's financial affairs. Although the power of attorney states that Betty Myers is Carolyn's
sister, plaintiff alleges that this is incorrect. Plaintiff contends that defendant Myers falsified the
power of attorney in order to misappropriate his mother's assets, including her house in
Brooklyn, and that, as a result of this fraud, he was deprived of his inheritance once his mother
passed away. Plaintiff seeks a declaratory judgment and monetary damages.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Under28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), a district court shall dismiss an in forma pauperis
action where it is satisfied that the action "(i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim
on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune
from such relief." However, courts must construe a prose litigant's pleadings liberally,~
Chavis v. Chappius, 618 F.3d 162, 171 (2d Cir. 2010), especially when those pleadings allege
civil rights violations, see Sealed Plaintiffv. Sealed Defendant #1, 537 F.3d I 85, 191-93 (2d Cir.
2008). Nevertheless, a complaint must plead enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face." Bell At!. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S. Ct. 1955 (2007).
"A claim has facial plausability 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.lqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). Although "detailed factual allegations" are
not required, "[aJ pleading that offers 'labels and conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do."' Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 127 S. Ct.
1955). Similarly, a complaint is insufficient to state a claim "if it tenders 'naked assertion[s J'
devoid of 'further factual enhancement."' ld. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557, 127 S. Ct.
A pro se complaint that fails to state a claim should not be d. . d .
ISmisse Without granting
leave to amend "at least once when a liberal reading of the complaint gives any indication that a
valid claim might be stated." Gomez v. USAA Fed. Sav. BanJ<, 171 F.3d 794, 795 (2d Cir. 1999)
(per curiam). However, the law is we11-settled that leave to amend need not be granted when the
substantive deficiencies in the complaint establish that amendment would be futile. See Cuoco
v. Mortisugy, 222 F.3d 99, 112 (2d Cir. 2000); see also Ellis v. Chao, 336 F.3d 114, 127 (2d Cir.
Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, and may only preside over cases that fall
within the subject matters delineated by Congress. See Bender v. Williamsport Area Sch. Dist.,
475 U.S. 534, 54], 106 S. Ct. 1326 (1986): Lyodonville Sav. Bank & Trust Co. v. Lussier,211
F.3d 697,700-01 (2d Cir. 2000). Plaintiff asserts that his claims involve a deprivation of his
rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, and that jurisdiction is conferred by 42
U .S.C. § 1983. However, in order to maintain an action under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege that
the constitutional deprivation complained of was committed by a person acting under color of
state law. See Cornejo v. Bell, 592 F.3d 121, 127 (2d Cir. 2010). P1aintiffhas failed to meet this
The gravamen of plaintiffs complaint is that defendant Myers forged a document that
granted her power of attorney on behalf of plaintiff's mother, and that the remaining defendants
never questioned the authenticity of this document. However, all but one of the defendants in
this case appear to be private actors, and plaintiff offers nothing more than the conclusory
assertion that defendants "acted under color of state law" to suggest otherwise. As stated by the
Supreme Court, "the under-color-of-state-law element of§ I 983 excludes from its reach merely
private conduct, no matter how discriminatory or \Vfongful." American Manufacturers Mutual
Insurance Co. v. Sullivan, 526 U.S. 40, 50, 119 S. Ct. 977, 985 (1999) (internal quotation marks
omitted); cf. Brentwood Acad. v. Tenn. Secondary Sch. Athletic Ass'n, 531 U.S. 288,295, 121
S. Ct. 924, 930 (2001) ("(S]tate action may be found if, though only if, there is such a 'close
nexus between the State and the chaiienged action' that seemingly private behavior 'may be
fairly treated as that of the State itself."') (quoting Jackson v. Metro. Edison Co., 419 U.S. 345,
351, 95 S. Ct. 449, 453 (1974)). Thus, plaintiffhas failed to state a claim against Betty Myers,
William Brown, Ruth Selby, Otero Zoraida, Carl Trunk, Spiegel & Lagarenne, Ram Abstract
Ltd., or Fleet National Bank.
With regard to the remaining defendant the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, although
it is not a private actor, it does not act on behalf of a state either. Rather, the Federal Reserve
Bank is a corporate entity of the United States that derives its powers from, and is chartered
pursuant to, the Federal Reserve Act. See Khan v. Fed. Reserve Bank of New York, No. 02 Civ.
8893,2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1543, at '39 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 2, 2005); Scott v. Fed. Reserve Bank
of New York, 704 F. Supp. 441,446 (S.D.N.Y. 1989). Accordingly, the Federal Reserve Bank
does not act under color of state law. - - - 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1643, at *39; - - 704
F. Supp. at 447. Moreover, plaintiff has not aiieged sufficient facts to state a plausible claim
under any other federal statute. Plaintiffs aiiegation that the Federal Reserve Bank never
questioned the power of attorney is insufficient as a matter of law, and plaintiffs claim against
this defendant is therefore dismissed as well.
failing applies with equal force to the remaining defendants, with the exception of Myers.
Plaintiff's complaint is hereby dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
After construing plaintiff's complaint liberally and interpreting his claims to raise the strongest
arguments that they suggest, it is clear that he cannot assert a valid federal claim. Any
amendment to his complaint would therefore be futile. See Ellis, 336 F.3d at 127; Cuoco, 222
F.3d at 112 (2d Cir. 2000).
The Court certifies pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3) that any appeal from this Order
would not be taken in good faith and therefore in forma pauperis status is denied for the
purposes of an appeal. See Coppedge v. United States, 369 U.S. 438, 444-45, 82 S. Ct. 917
Dated: Brooklyn, New York
April 26, 2012
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