Clay v. Meyers et al

Filing 4

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)

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UNITED STATES D!STRJCT COURT EASTERN DISTRJCT OF NEW YORK ----------------------------------------------------------- X THOMAS CLAY, MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER Plaintiff, 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 BANK, Defendants. ----------------------------------------------------------- ~o 1.J~ IN.EJ~~O~r.~ \11/ ~ US [)tSTRlCT COURT [ 0 * APR27 2012 V BROOKLYN OFiT X 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. BACKGROUND 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. 1955). 2 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. 2003). DISCUSSION 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 burden here. 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 3 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 See Khan, Scott, 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. 1 This 1 failing applies with equal force to the remaining defendants, with the exception of Myers. 4 CONCLUSION 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 (1962). SO ORDERED. "--U.S.D.J. Dated: Brooklyn, New York April 26, 2012 5 ~

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