Gault v. NYPD et al
AMENDED ORDER: For the reasons stated on the record in the 6/2/16 hearing before the Court, and to reflect the Court's modification of its prior application of the Eleventh Amendment immunity doctrine in its 9/11/15 Memorandum & Order, the Cour t hereby issues the attached Amended Memorandum & Order, amending its 11/30/15 order. Plaintiff should not take any further action as a result of this order, as the Court issues it merely to reflect rulings already made on the record at the 6/2/16 hearing. Ordered by Judge Pamela K. Chen on 6/8/2016. (Levanon, Neta)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
ANTHONY E. GAULT,
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
NYPD, New York City Police;
CITY AND STATE OF NEW YORK
FOOD STAMPS/MEDICAID; CITY AND STATE
FAIR HEARING RECEPTIONIST OF NEW YORK,
14 Boerum Place Administrative Fair Hearing;
CORPORATION; DUNKIN DONUTS ORGANIZATION/
CORPORATION; BROOKLYN CRIMINAL COURT;
DISTRICT ATTORNEY OFFICE, Security for
14 Boerum Place Brooklyn N.Y. Administrative Fair
Hearing at 14 Boerum place; OFFICE STALING,
ROBERT MERCADO; GLORIA LEE, PEACE OFFICER
NARDIA, MANAGER at MACDONALDS,
PAMELA K. CHEN, United States District Judge:
On February 2, 2015, Plaintiff Anthony E. Gault (“Plaintiff”), appearing pro se, filed this
action against Defendants, alleging false arrest and excessive use of force, presumably under 42
U.S.C. § 1983. By Order dated September 11, 2015, this Court granted Plaintiff’s request to
proceed in forma pauperis, dismissed his claims as to all Defendants but Robert Mercado, Officer
Staling, and Gloria Lee, 1 and granted Plaintiff thirty days in which to file an amended complaint.
(Dkt. 6.) The Court sua sponte extended that deadline and, on October 30, 2015, Plaintiff filed an
amended complaint. (Dkt. 7.) For the reasons stated below, Plaintiff’s claims against Gloria Lee
Plaintiff failed to name these three Defendants in the caption of his original complaint, but nonetheless named
them in the “List [of] all defendants.” (Dkt. 2 at 1-2.)
are dismissed, but Plaintiff has stated a sufficient claim for false arrest and excessive force against
Defendants Robert Mercado and Officer Staling, and Plaintiff shall be permitted to proceed against
Plaintiff’s complaint, though more than a bit hazy, appears to sound under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 and allege claims of false arrest and excessive force against Robert Mercado the “Fair
Hearing Supervisor” and Officer Staling. (See Dkt. 7 at 2.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendant
Mercado, along with “ten to twelve security guards,” attacked him and that Defendant Staling not
only refused to hear Plaintiff’s complaints about that conduct or take Plaintiff to the hospital, but
also, along with Defendant Mercado, “beat [Plaintiff] up in the lobby” of an unnamed location,
“hand cuff[ed]” Plaintiff, and “dragg[ed] [him] to the elevators” in that same location. (Id.) As
compensation for these alleged wrongs, Plaintiff seeks “legal cash and restitution of every kind.”
(Id. at 2-3.)
STANDARD OF REVIEW
A complaint must plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face,”
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007), and “allow[ ] the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged,” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009). At the pleadings stage of the proceeding, the Court must assume the truth
of “all well-pleaded, nonconclusory factual allegations” in the complaint. Kiobel v. Royal Dutch
Petroleum Co., 621 F.3d 111, 124 (2d Cir. 2010) (citing Iqbal at 678). The pleading standard is
necessarily “less stringent” in the context of pro se litigants, whose complaints the Court is
required to construe liberally and interpret as raising the strongest arguments they suggest.
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9-10 (1980); Sealed
Plaintiff v. Sealed Defendant #1, 537 F.3d 185, 191-93 (2d Cir. 2008).
Nevertheless, under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), district courts shall dismiss an in forma
pauperis action that “(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 the claims alleged are “‘based on an indisputably meritless legal
theory,’” meaning they “lack an arguable basis in law . . . or a dispositive defense clearly exists
on the face of the complaint.” Livingston v. Adirondack Bev. Co., 141 F.3d 434, 437 (2d Cir. 1998)
Standard for a § 1983 Claim
In order to state a § 1983 claim, a plaintiff must allege (1) that the challenged conduct was
“committed by a person acting under color of state law,” and (2) that such conduct “deprived [the
plaintiff] of rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution or laws of the United
States.” Cornejo v. Bell, 592 F.3d 121, 127 (2d Cir. 2010) (quoting Pitchell v. Callan, 13 F.3d
545, 547 (2d Cir. 1994)). Section 1983 does not create any independent substantive right, but
rather is a vehicle to “redress . . . the deprivation of [federal] rights established elsewhere.” Thomas
v. Roach, 165 F.3d 137, 142 (2d Cir. 1999).
Moreover, pursuant to Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Plaintiff must
provide sufficient facts to allow each named Defendant to have adequate notice of the claims
against them and to know whether there is a legal basis for recovery. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678
(Rule 8 “demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.”);
Simmons v. Abruzzo, 49 F.3d 83, 86 (2d Cir. 1995) (requiring a complaint to give notice “which
will enable the adverse party to answer and prepare for trial, allow the application of res judicata,
and identify the nature of the case so that it may be assigned the proper form of trial”) (internal
quotation marks and citation omitted).
§ 1983 claims against Defendant Gloria Lee
Plaintiff fails to allege any facts in support of his claim against putative Defendant Gloria
Lee; indeed, Ms. Lee is not mentioned even once in Plaintiff’s amended complaint. Because
Plaintiff has failed to state a claim against Ms. Lee, Plaintiff’s claims against Gloria Lee are
dismissed. See Wright v. Smith, 21 F.3d 496, 501 (2d Cir. 1994) (“It is well settled in this Circuit
that ‘personal involvement of defendants in alleged constitutional deprivations is a prerequisite to
an award of damages under § 1983.’”).
§ 1983 claims against Defendants Robert Mercado and Officer Staling
Plaintiff alleges that Robert Mercado, the Fair Hearing Supervisor, and Officer Staling beat
him up and detained him unlawfully, and that these Defendants were in law enforcement or
otherwise employed by State authorities. (See Dkt. 7 at 2.) These assertions suffice at the pleading
stage to state a claim under Section 1983, Cornejo, 592 F.3d at 127, and satisfy the Section 1983
“prerequisite” of the individual Defendants’ “personal involvement” in the alleged “constitutional
deprivation,” see Wright, 21 F.3d at 501 (internal quotation marks omitted).
Plaintiff’s claims against Gloria Lee are dismissed, and the Clerk of Court is respectfully
requested to terminate Defendant Lee from this action. No summons shall issue as to Ms. Lee.
The amended complaint shall proceed as to Robert Mercado and Officer Staling. The Clerk
of Court is respectfully requested to issue summonses against Defendants Mercado and Staling,
and the United States Marshals Service is directed to serve the respective summons, the amended
complaint, and a copy of this Memorandum and Order upon Defendants Mercado and Staling
without prepayment of fees.
The case is respectfully referred to the Honorable Lois Bloom, United States Magistrate
Judge, for pretrial supervision, including the service of process on the two remaining Defendants.
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 purpose of
an appeal. See Coppedge v. United States, 369 U.S. 438, 444-45 (1962).
/s/ Pamela K. Chen
PAMELA K. CHEN
United States District Judge
Dated: June 8, 2016
Brooklyn, New York
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