Jones v. De-Blasio et al
MEMORANDUM AND OPINION. For the reasons in the attached Memorandum and Order, the complaint 12 is dismissed. Plaintiffs are granted thirty (30) days from the entry of this order to file a third amended complaint, in accordance with the directions i n the attached Memorandum and Order. No summonses shall issue at this time, and all further proceedings shall be stayed for thirty (30) days. If plaintiffs fail to comply with this order within thirty (30) days, the case will be dismissed and judgmen t will enter. The Clerk of Court is respectfully directed to serve each plaintiff with a copy of this Memorandum and Order and this ECF entry at his last known address, as stated on the docket, and note service on the docket. Ordered by Judge Kiyo A. Matsumoto on 4/11/2017. (Grover, Vanish)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
ROBERT JONES; REGINALD WASHINGTON; and
those similarly situated,
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
15-CV-4753 (KAM) (LB)
-againstBILL DeBLASIO, “Mayor” County Executive,
City of New York, Municipal Corporation;
JASON TURNER, Commissioner for the City
of New York, Human Resources Administration
"HRA"; JO-ANN B. BARHART, Commissioner
for the City of New York, Social Security
Income Administration "SSI"; ALPHONSO
JACKSON, Secretary of Housing and Urban
Development "HUD"; VICKI BREEN, Commissioner
of Housing Preservation and Development
"HDP"; GARY D. RODNEY, President Housing
Development Co. "HDC"; MARITZA SILVA FARRELL,
AFFORDABLE RENT CO.; JOHN/JANE DOE,
Commissioner City of New York, Department
of Social Services "DSS"; RICK DAVIS,
Rockaway House LLC; and ANTHORNEY DOE,
Rockaway House LLC,
MATSUMOTO, United States District Judge:
(“Washington”)1 bring this pro se action as a purported “class
action,” pursuant to a multitude of statutes.
For the reasons
discussed below, the complaint is dismissed and plaintiffs are
granted thirty (30) days from the entry of this Order to file a
third amended complaint as set forth below.
A. Procedural History
Plaintiff Jones commenced this action in the Southern
District of New York on August 7, 2015.
(ECF No. 1, Complaint.)
The matter was transferred to the Eastern District of New York
on August 11, 2015.
(ECF No. 2, Transfer Order.)
Washington was added as a plaintiff and Rockaway House LLC,
Three-Quarter House was removed as a defendant.
(ECF No. 9,
Because Washington had failed to sign the
Amended Complaint filed on March 4, 2016, plaintiffs refiled the
The court granted Jones’s motion to proceed
forma pauperis on March 21, 2016, and Washington’s motion to
proceed in forma pauperis on March 31, 2016.
B. Factual Background
On January 15, 2015, plaintiff Jones was paroled from
state custody and obtained housing in Brooklyn, New York at the
Rockaway House LLC, which manages residences known as threequarter houses.
(ECF No. 12, Am. Compl. ¶ 15.)
shelter was located at 367 Howard Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11233.
(Id. ¶ 16.)
On January 17, 2015, Jones sought “more suitable”
Brooklyn, N.Y., 11207.
Jones was required to participate in a
(Id. ¶¶ 22-23.)
During his time at Rockaway House
LLC, he suffered injuries on his hands, feet, neck, back, and
face due to continued exposure to bed bugs, toxic black mold,
(Id. ¶ 30.)
On March 12, 2015, Jones was arrested by the New York
Police Department for an alleged burglary.
Because Jones was unable to post bail while in custody, he was
evicted from Rockaway House on May 21, 2015, for failure to pay
rent and attend his abuse treatment session.
(Id. ¶¶ 35-36.)
shearling jacket, three cell phones, a JVC camcorder, a Nikon
camera, other clothing, boots, shirts, pants, and legal papers
because they were not stored properly when he was evicted.
Jones and Washington also allege that they were denied
the ability to lease low income public access housing that they
were entitled to, because of discrimination based on their race,
color, and economic status.
(Id. ¶¶ 49-52.)
that Bill DeBlasio, Jason Turner, Jo-Ann B. Barhart, Alphonso
Jackson, Vicki Been, the John Doe Commissioner of the Department
of Social Services, Maritza Silva Farrell, Gary Rodney, Rick
Davis and Anthorney Doe refused to provide housing to plaintiffs
Plaintiffs assert that defendants acquiesced in a policy and
custom of refusing to lease properties to individuals based on
their race and color.
Jones also separately alleges a § 1983 claim against
Rick Davis and Anthorney Doe based on the conditions of, and his
eviction from, Rockaway House LLC.
Additionally, Jones asserts
violations of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601, et seq.,
Homeless Assistance Act of 1987, 42 U.S.C. §§ 11301, et seq.,
the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101,
seq., and the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 701.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
court shall sua sponte dismiss an in forma pauperis action at
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.”
Under 28 U.S.C. §
docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner
seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee
complaint that “is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a
claim upon which relief may be grated.”
28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
In reviewing the complaint, the court must construe
Plaintiff v. Sealed Defendant # 1, 537 F.3d 185, 191 (2d Cir.
complainants “need only give the defendant fair notice of what
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 570 (2007)).
However, pro se
plaintiffs must still allege sufficient facts to “state a claim
to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at
“A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal
A. Civil Rights Claims
Plaintiffs allege claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
rights because they were refused housing on the basis of their
(ECF No. 12, Am. Compl. ¶¶ 118, 148, 159.)
that defendants acquiesced in a policy and custom of refusing to
lease properties to individuals based on their race and color.
(Id. ¶¶ 159-164.)
Additionally, Jones brings a § 1983 claim
against Rick Davis and Anthorney Doe based on the conditions of,
and his eviction from, the Rockaway House LLC.
(Id. at ¶¶ 91-
Plaintiffs’ § 1983 claims against defendants must be
direct or personal involvement in the conduct which may have
caused the constitutional deprivation.
“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.”
Farrell v. Burke, 449 F.3d 470, 484 (2d
Cir. 2006) (citing Wright v. Smith, 21 F.3d 496, 501 (2d Cir.
claims because plaintiff did not allege personal involvement by
defendants); Holmes v. Kelly, No. 13-cv-3122, 2014 WL 3725844,
at *2 (E.D.N.Y. July 25, 2014).
Plaintiffs do not “allege a
tangible connection between the acts of the defendant and the
Bass v. Jackson, 790 F.2d 260, 263 (2d Cir.
Plaintiffs’ claims fail for the additional reason that
liability cannot be imposed on the defendants solely because of
superior or vicarious liability under § 1983.
See, e.g., Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 676 (“Because vicarious liability is inapplicable to
. . . § 1983 suits, a plaintiff must plead that each Governmentofficial
plaintiffs’ claims against defendants cannot rest on a theory of
Hernandez v. Keane, 341 F.3d 137, 144 (2d
Cir. 2003); see also King v. Warden, No. 13-cv-5307, 2013 WL
5652756, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. Oct. 11, 2013); Papadopoulos v. Amaker,
No. 12-cv-3608, 2013 WL 3226757, at *3 (E.D.N.Y. June 25, 2013).
Here, the complaint does not suggest that any defendant had
direct involvement with, knowledge of, or responsibility for the
alleged deprivation of plaintiff’s civil rights.
plaintiffs’ § 1983 claim against defendants based on an alleged
refusal to lease or provide housing must be dismissed.
Jones’s § 1983 claim against Rick Davis and Anthorney
Doe also fails because he does not allege that they are state
To state a § 1983 claim, a plaintiff must, in addition
challenged was “committed by a person acting under color of
Cornejo v. Bell, 592 F.3d 121, 127 (2d Cir. 2010).
Private actors may be considered to act under the color of state
law for the purposes of § 1983 if the private actor was a
“willful participant in joint activity with the State or its
Ciambriello v. Cty. of Nassau, 292 F.3d 307, 324 (2d
Cir. 2002) (citing Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144,
Because plaintiff has not alleged that Rick Davis
alleged facts suggesting that they were “willful participants in
a joint activity with the State,” his § 1983 claim against them
must be dismissed.
See McMillian v. North Core Studios, No. 16-
building managers were state actors subject to suit under §
B. State Law Claims
To the extent plaintiff Jones seeks to bring claims
under New York State or New York City landlord-tenant or real
jurisdiction, as “[i]t is well-settled that ‘federal courts do
not have subject matter jurisdiction over state eviction actions
Auth., No. 14-cv-5633, 2015 WL 502229, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. Feb. 5,
2015) (quoting Oliver v. N.Y.C. Hous. Auth., No. 10–cv–3204,
McMillan v. Dep't of Bldgs., No. 12-CV-318, 2012 WL 1450407, at
*2 (E.D.N.Y. Apr. 26, 2012) (federal court lacks jurisdiction
over eviction claims); Southerland v. N.Y.C. Hous. Auth., No.
1983 claims in order to confer federal question jurisdiction”);
Galland v. Margules, No. 05-cv-5639, 2005 WL 1981568, at *1
(S.D.N.Y. Aug. 17, 2005) (federal courts do not “have federal
question subject matter jurisdiction over plaintiff's housing
law claims, even when such claims are dressed in the garb of
prejudice to bring them in state court.
C. Jones’s Remaining Claims
Jones’s remaining claims asserting violations of the
Fair Housing Act, Homeless Assistance Act of 1987, the Americans
with Disabilities Act, and the Rehabilitation Act must also be
dismissed because they fail to comply with Federal Rule of Civil
Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
requires a plaintiff to provide “(1) a short and plain statement
of the grounds for the court’s jurisdiction . . . , (2) a short
and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief, and (3) a demand for the relief sought . . .
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
A complaint must contain “sufficient
factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.”
and citation omitted).
(internal quotation marks
“[A] plaintiff's obligation to provide
the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than
elements of a cause of action will not do.
must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative
alterations, and citations omitted).
Here, the remaining allegations fail to conform with
the pleading requirements of Rule 8.
Jones asserts violations
of various federal statutes.
However, Jones fails to identify
any specific prohibited act taken by any specific defendant.
Because no defendant is identified as having committing harm
with respect to any of the remaining claims, it is not possible
to ascertain how the Fair Housing Act, Homeless Assistance Act
of 1987, Americans with Disabilities Act, or Rehabilitation Act
See McCray v. Nassau Cty. Med. Staff, No. 09-cv-
(dismissing complaint for failure to comply with Rule 8 because
“[d]efendants cannot be expected to parse plaintiff’s complaint
into comprehensible legal claims, or even understand factually
the nature of plaintiff’s allegations”); Clifton v. Hra N.Y.C.
Govt, No. 16-cv-1753, 2016 WL 4203486, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. Aug. 9,
2016) (dismissing for failure to allege any “substantial factual
allegations” that would “allow each defendant to have a fair
Salahuddin v. Cuomo, 861 F.2d 40, 42 (2d Cir. 1988) (a court may
dismiss a complaint that is “so confused, ambiguous, vague, or
otherwise unintelligible that its true substance, if any, is
dismissed for failure to comply with Rule 8.
granted thirty (30) days from the entry of this order to file a
third amended complaint.
Cruz v. Gomez, 202 F.3d 593, 598 (2d
Plaintiffs are directed that the third amended
complaint must comply with Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure, in that it must clearly state the grounds for
relief, include legible factual allegations that are personal to
plaintiffs and describe the bases for their claims.
must identify specific defendants and the particular acts that
caused or led to the harm.
Plaintiffs must also identify each
individual defendant in both the caption and the body of the
individuals who have some personal involvement in the actions
they allege in the second amended complaint.
Plaintiffs are advised that their third amended
complaint does not simply add to their second amended complaint
or original complaint.
Once the third amended complaint is
plaintiffs must include in the third amended complaint all the
The third amended complaint must be captioned as a
“Third Amended Complaint” and bear the same docket number as
No summonses shall issue at this time and all
further proceedings shall be stayed for 30 days.
fail to comply with this order within the time allowed, judgment
1915(a)(3) that any appeal would not be taken in good faith and
therefore in forma pauperis status is denied for purpose of an
Coppedge v. United States, 369 U.S. 438, 444-45 (1962).
plaintiff with a copy of this Memorandum and Order at his last
known address, as stated on the docket, and note service on the
KIYO A. MATSUMOTO
United States District Judge
Brooklyn, New York
April 11, 2017
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