Edwards v. Elmhurst Hospital Center
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: For the reasons set forth in the attached Memorandum and Order, plaintiff's amended complaint is dismissed with prejudice for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. The Clerk of Court is directed to enter judgment accordingly, mail a copy of this Memorandum and Order and the accompanying judgment to plaintiff, and note the mailing on the docket.The Court certifies pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3) that any appeal would not be taken in good faith and therefore IFP status is denied for purpose of an appeal. Ordered by Judge Roslynn R. Mauskopf on 6/24/2013. (Mauskopf, Roslynn)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
JOHN L. EDWARDS,
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
13-CV-985 (RRM) (LB)
-vELMHURST HOSPITAL CENTER,
ROSLYNN R. MAUSKOPF, United States District Judge.
On February 20, 2013, pro se plaintiff John L. Edwards initiated the instant action
alleging violations under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.
(“Title VII”), and the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. (“ADA”). By
order dated February 28, 2013, the Court granted plaintiff’s request to proceed in forma pauperis
(“IFP”), and directed plaintiff to file an amended complaint which offered facts giving rise to an
inference that his employment was terminated for a discriminatory reason. On March 8, 2013,
plaintiff submitted an amended complaint. By order dated March 18, 2013, the Court noted that
plaintiff’s amended complaint did not comply with the March 8 order, and ordered plaintiff to
show cause why his amended complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim on
which relief may be granted. The Court also warned in its March 18 order that, because of
plaintiff’s history of filing baseless actions against defendant, plaintiff may be subject to a filing
injunction and/or the imposition of monetary sanctions upon notice and opportunity to be heard
should he continue to engage in such conduct. Plaintiff filed an affirmation on April 2, 2013
responding to the order to show cause.
For the reasons discussed below, plaintiff’s amended complaint is DISMISSED with
Plaintiff is a serial filer of employment discrimination suits against defendant Elmhurst
Hospital Center. To date, he has filed eight lawsuits in this Court, seven of which have been
dismissed. See Edwards v. Elmhurst Hospital Center, 01 CV 3018 (NG) (stipulation and order
of settlement and discontinuance signed May 21, 2004); Edwards v. Elmhurst Hospital Center,
06 CV 6859 (RRM) (order dated August 31, 2009, granting defendant’s motion for summary
judgment); Edwards v. Elmhurst Hospital Center, 07 CV 2452 (RRM) (order dated July 16,
2010, granting defendant’s motion for summary judgment); Edwards v. Elmhurst Hospital
Center, 08 CV 3686 (RRM) (order dated September 21, 2010, granting defendant’s motion for
summary judgment); Edwards v. Elmhurst Hospital Center, 09 CV 1679 (RRM) (order dated
September 21, 2010, granting defendant’s motion for summary judgment); Edwards v. Elmhurst
Hospital Center, 11 CV 4693 (RRM) (order dated March 6, 2013 granting defendant’s motion to
dismiss); Edwards v. Elmhurst Hospital Center, 11 CV 5348 (RRM) (order dated March 6, 2013
granting defendant’s motion to dismiss); Edwards v. Elmhurst Hospital Center, 11 CV 5349
(RRM) (order dated March 6, 2013 granting defendant’s motion to dismiss).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), a district court shall dismiss an IFP 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.” An action is “frivolous” when either: (1) “the ‘factual contentions are clearly baseless,’
such as when allegations are the product of delusion or fantasy”; or (2) “the claim is ‘based on an
indisputably meritless legal theory.’” Livingston v. Adirondack Beverage Co., 141 F.3d 434, 437
(2d Cir. 1998) (internal citation omitted).
It is axiomatic that pro se complaints are held to less stringent standards than pleadings
drafted by attorneys and the Court is required to read the plaintiff’s pro se complaint liberally
and interpret it raising the strongest arguments it suggests. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89
(2007); Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9 (1980); Sealed Plaintiff v. Sealed Defendant #1, 537 F.3d
185, 191–93 (2d Cir. 2008).
At the pleadings stage of the proceeding, the Court must assume the truth of “all wellpleaded, nonconclusory factual allegations” in the complaint. Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum
Co., 621 F.3d 111, 123 (2d Cir. 2010) (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 667–78 (2009)).
A complaint must plead sufficient facts to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “A claim has facial plausibility
when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference
that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. 678 (citations omitted).
The plausibility standard does not impose an across-the-board, heightened fact pleading
standard. Boykin v. KeyCorp, 521 F.3d 202, 213 (2d Cir. 2008). The plausibility standard does
not “require[ ] a complaint to include specific evidence [or] factual allegations in addition to
those required by Rule 8.” Arista Records, LLC v. Doe 3, 604 F.3d 110, 119 (2d Cir. 2010).
However, the plausibility standard does impose some burden to make factual allegations
supporting a claim for relief. As the Iqbal court explained, it “does not require detailed factual
allegations, but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me
accusation.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. 678.
Plaintiff’s instant action alleges that defendant violated his rights under Title VII and the
ADA. Title VII prohibits an employer from discriminating against any individual with respect to
“compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s
race, color, religion, sex or national origin.” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). To establish a prima
facie case of discrimination, a plaintiff must show that: (1) he is a member of a protected class,
(2) was qualified for the position he held, and (3) suffered an adverse employment action (4)
under circumstances giving rise to an inference of discrimination. Ruiz v. Cnty. of Rockland, 609
F.3d 486, 491 (2d Cir. 2010); Joseph v. North Shore Univ. Hosp., No. 08 CV 3799, 2011 WL
573582, at *11 (E.D.N.Y. Feb. 15, 2011).
The ADA provides that “no covered entity shall discriminate against a qualified
individual with a disability because of the disability of such individual in regard to . . . the hiring,
advancement, or discharge of employees . . . and other terms, conditions, and privileges of
employment.” 42 U.S.C. § 12112(a). In order to establish a prima facie case of discrimination
under the ADA, the plaintiff must establish that: (1) the defendant is subject to the ADA; (2) he
suffers from a qualifying disability; (3) he was otherwise qualified to perform the essential
functions of his position with or without a reasonable accommodation; and (4) the defendant
terminated plaintiff’s employment under circumstances giving rise to a reasonable inference of
discrimination because of his disability. See Shannon v. N.Y. City Transit Auth., 332 F.3d 95, 99
(2d Cir. 2003); Debell v. Maimonides Medical Center, No. 09 CV 3491, 2011 WL 4710818, at
*4 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 30, 2011).
Even under the most liberal construction of plaintiff’s amended complaint and his
affirmation in response to the order to show cause, plaintiff provides no facts that connect any
adverse employment action to a protected status. Plaintiff’s amended complaint simply alleges
that his supervisors failed to file workers compensation papers on his behalf, and that there were
hazardous working conditions at his place of employment. (Am. Compl. at ¶ 8.) The charge of
discrimination attached to plaintiff’s amended complaint alleges that during the course of his
employment plaintiff “was subjected to harassment due to my race and color,” and further
alleges that he “was harassed, excluded and intimidated by management for filing worker’s
compensation claims and for reporting the unsafe conditions.” (Am. Compl. at p. 6.) Plaintiff
fails to set forth any particulars regarding any complaints that were made, nor does he set forth
any adverse actions connected thereto.
Plaintiff’s affirmation in response to the Court’s order to show cause offers additional
factual allegations, but those allegations are still wholly conclusory and, either taken alone or
together with those in the amended complaint, fail state a claim for relief under Title VII or the
ADA. Plaintiff alleges that defendant (1) failed to file workers compensation papers on his
behalf, (2) created hazardous working conditions and then failed to correct them, (3) harassed,
retaliated against, and eventually terminated plaintiff after he filed EEOC charges and made
complaints to the human resources department, (4) failed to accommodate plaintiff’s disabilities,
which included a chest injury, neck and back injuries, a “vertigo injury,” and asthma, and (5)
failed to pay plaintiff for time he was away from work after suffering a job-related injury.
Plaintiff alleges that he suffered from several disabilities and that defendant failed to
accommodate his injuries, but does not allege facts that could possibly give rise to a reasonable
inference that he was discriminated against because of those injuries. Similarly, although
plaintiff alleges that he was treated unequally because he was black, he alleges no facts that give
rise to any inference that any employment action was taken against him because of his race.
Finally, plaintiff’s claim that he was retaliated against for filing EEOC charges and making
complaints to human resources is conclusory and does not plausibly suggest entitlement to relief.
See Ruston v. Town Bd. of Skaneateles, 610 F.3d 55, 59 (2d Cir. 2010) (“Under Iqbal, factual
allegations must be sufficient to support necessary legal conclusions,” and must “plausibly
suggest an entitlement to relief”); see also Arista Records, 604 F.3d at 120–21 (although
Twombly and Iqbal did not impose a heightened pleading standard in employment discrimination
cases, enough facts must still be pleaded to make plaintiff’s claim plausible).
As noted in the Court’s order to show cause, Plaintiff has engaged in filing repeated
baseless actions against defendant during the course of his employment. It is clear that multiple
unfavorable outcomes in plaintiff’s actions have not dampened his need to litigate the
termination of employment with defendant. Plaintiff’s continued filing of baseless complaints
against defendant has been and continues to be a waste of limited judicial resources and will not
continue to be tolerated. Lau v. Meddaugh, 229 F.3d 121, 123 (2d Cir. 2000) (“[t]he district
courts have the power and obligation to protect the public and the efficient administration of
justice from individuals who have a history of litigation entailing vexation, harassment and
needless expense to other parties and an unnecessary burden on the courts and their supporting
personnel.”). See also Pandozy v. Tobey, No. 07-4897-cv, 2009 WL 1674409, at *2 (2d Cir.
June 16, 2009); Jenkins v. Eaton, No. 08-CV-713, 2010 WL 3861050, at *6 (E.D.N.Y. Aug. 25,
As such, Plaintiff is again warned that if he continues this conduct he may be subject to a
filing injunction and/or the imposition of monetary sanctions upon notice and opportunity to be
heard. Simon v. U.S., No. 12-CV-5416, 2013 WL 210188, at *1 (E.D.N.Y. Jan. 17, 2013).
Accordingly, plaintiff’s amended complaint is dismissed with prejudice for failure to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915 (e)(2)(B)(ii).
The Clerk of Court is directed to enter judgment accordingly, mail a copy of this
Memorandum and Order and the accompanying judgment to plaintiff, and note the mailing on
The Court certifies pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3) that any appeal would not be taken
in good faith and therefore IFP status is denied for purpose of an appeal. Coppedge v. United
States, 369 U.S. 438, 444–45 (1962).
Roslynn R. Mauskopf
Dated: Brooklyn, New York
June 24, 2013
ROSLYNN R. MAUSKOPF
United States District Judge
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