Clifton v. HRA NYC GOVT et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: Clifton's amended complaint, filed in forma pauperis, is dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted and for failure to comply with Rule 8. See 28 U.S.C. § l915(e)(2)(B); Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). 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). The Clerk of Court is directed to mail a copy of this Memorandum and Order along with the Judgment to Clifton, note the mailing on the docket, enter judgment, and close this case. Ordered by Judge Roslynn R. Mauskopf on 3/8/2017. (Taronji, Robert)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
I 6-CV-1 753 (RRM) (CLP)
-againstOTDA; HRA; USDA,
ROSL YNN R. MAUSKOPF, United States District Judge.
By Memorandum and Order dated August 8, 20 16, the Court granted Clifton's request to
proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U .S.C. § 19 15, and dismissed the complaint for failure
to state a claim upon which relief may be granted and for failure to comply with Ru le 8. (See
8/9/16 Order (Doc. No. 4) at 3.) Clifto n was granted thirty (30) days leave to submit an amended
complaint. (Id. ) For the reasons discussed below, Clifton's amended complaint filed on
September 1, 20 16, is hereby dismissed and the case is closed.
The fo llowing facts are drawn from Clifton 's complaint and the exhibits attached thereto,
which are assumed to be true for purposes of this Memorandum and Order. Clifton's amended
complaint is fa r from a model of c larity. As best as can be ascertai ned, C lifton is challenging the
denial of certain public assistance benefits. Although Clifton ' s amended complaint fails to state
which benefits he was al legedly denied, his amended complaint alludes to difficu lties in
obtaining housing. (Comp!. (Doc. No. I) at 5, 7.) 1 Clifton annexes to hi s amended complaint a
notice of a fa ir hearing which took place at the Office of Temporary and Di sability Assistance
("OTDA") on September 1, 20 16, as well as a Fair Hearing Compliance Statement which
For ease of reference, all citations to Court documents util ize ECF pagination.
that, fo llowing the fair hearing, hi s cash assistance benefi ts remain unchanged.
(Campi. at 10, 13.) The Com1 no tes that C lifton' s amended compl aint is substanti ally similar to
a recent action that Clifton filed. See Clifton v. DOI, l 6-CY-5003 (RRM). It is unclear what
relief Clifto n is seeking from the Court.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
An amended complaint must plead " enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible
on its face." Bell At!. Corp. v. Twombly, 55 0 U. S. 544, 570 (2007). A claim is plausible "when
the plainti ff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable fo r the mi sconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U .S. 662, 678 (2009). In
reviewing a prose complaint, the Court must be mindful that a plaintiff s pleadings should be
held " to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Hughes v. Rowe,
449 U.S. 5, 9 ( 1980) (citatio n and internal quotation marks omitted); accord Erickson v. Pardus,
55 1 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009). However, prose status
"does not exempt a party from comp I iance with relevant rules of procedural and substantive
law." Boddie v. N. Y State Div. of Parole, 285 F. Supp. 2d 42 1, 426 (S.D .N.Y. 2003) (internal
quotatio n marks omitted).
The Court is required to di smiss an in forma pauper is action, if the Court determines it
"(i) is frivolo us or malicio us, (ii) fails to state a claim on whi ch relief m ay be granted, or (iii)
seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune fro m such relief." 28 U.S.C.
§ l 9 l 5(e)(2)(B). An action is frivolous as a matter of law when, inter alia, it is based on an
" indisputably meritless legal theory" - that is, when it " lacks an arguable basis in law or [when]
a dispositi ve defense clearly ex ists on the face of the complaint. " Livingston v. Adirondack
Beverage Co., 14 1F.3d 434, 437 (2d Cir. 1998) (internal citation omitted).
Pursuant to Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of C ivi l Procedure, a plaintiff must provide a
short, plain statement of claim against each defendant named so that they have adequate notice of
the claims against them. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (" [Rule 8] demands more than an unadorned,
the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation ."). A pleading that only " tenders naked
assertions devo id of further factual enhancement" wi ll not suffice. Id. A plaintiff must provide
facts sufficient to allow each defendant to have a fair understanding of what the plaintiff is
complaining about and to know whether there is a legal basis fo r recovery. See Twombly v. Bell
At/. Co1p, 425 F.3 d 99, 106 (2d Cir. 2005) (defining "fair notice" as '" that which will enable the
adverse party to answer and prepare for trial, all ow the application of res judicata, and identify
the nature of the case so that it may be assigned the proper fo rm of trial "' (quoting Simmons v.
Abruzzo, 49 F.3d 83, 86 (2d Cir. 1995))). A court may dismiss a complaint that is "so confused,
ambiguous, vague, or otherwise unintelligible that its true substance, if any, is well disguised."
Salahuddin v. Cuomo, 861 F.2d 40, 42 (2d Cir. 1988).
Although Clifton ' s amended complaint indicates that he is bringing the action pursuant to
the Court's fede ral question jurisdiction, (Comp!. at 4), as presently pied, his allegations fail to
present a question suffici ent to invoke such jurisdiction. Clifton fails to allege any facts
sufficient to suggest a violation of federal law or his constitutional rights.
In New York Ci ty, the public assistance programs are adm inistered by the Human
Resources Adm inistration ("HRA") under delegated authority from OTDA. MK.B. v.
Eggleston, 445 F. Supp. 2d 400, 405- 06 (S .D.N.Y. 2006); Roberson v. Giuliani, No. 99-CVl 0900 (DLC), 2000 WL 760300, at *2 (S.D.N.Y . June 12, 2000). To the extent that Clifton
claims that hi s benefits have been incorrectl y determined and, thus, seeks to challenge the
outcome of his fair hearing decision, he must do so by bringing a proceeding in state court under
Article 78 of the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules. See Locurlo v. Safir, 264 F.3d 154,
174 (2d Cir. 200 I) ("An Article 78 proceeding permits a petitioner to submit affidavits and other
written evidence, and where a material issue of fact is raised, have a trial of the disputed issue,
including constitutional claims."); Campo v. N. Y C. Emps. ' Rel. Sys. , 843 F.2d 96, 101 (2d Cir.
1988) (" Arti cle 78 of the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules provides a summary
proceeding which can be used to rev iew administrative decisions."); Vapne v. Eggleston, No. 04CV-565 (NRB), 2004 W L 2754673, at *4-5 (S.D .N.Y. Dec. 1, 2004) ("Article 78 is routinely
the venue in whi ch adverse food stamps determinations are challenged, often successfull y.").
Clifton fails to allege any substantive factual allegations in support of any claims of
violations of the Constituti on or federal statutes. Accordingly, his claims are di smissed.
Leave to Amend
The Second Circuit has held that a prose litigant should be afforded at least one
opportunity to "amend his complaint prior to its dismissal for fa ilure to state a claim, unless the
court can rul e out any possibility, however unli kely it might be, that an amended complaint
would succeed in stating a claim." Gomez v. USAA Fed. Savs. Bank, 17 1 F.3d 794, 796 (2d C ir.
1999) (per curiam). Clifton has already been given an opportunity to am end his complaint.
Though mindful of Clifto n' s pro se status, the Court finds that any further attempt to amend the
complaint would be futile. See Cuoco v. Moritsugu, 222 F.3d 99, 11 2 (2d Cir. 2000).
Accordingly, the Court declines to grant Cli fto n leave to fi le a second amended complaint.
Clifton's amended complaint, filed informa pauperis, is dismissed for failure to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted and for fai lure to comply with Rule 8. See 28 U.S.C.
§ l 9 15(e)(2)(B); Fed. R. C iv. P. 8(a).
The Court certifies pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § J 9 J 5(a)(3) that any appeal from this Order
would not be taken in good faith and therefore informa pauperis status is denied for purpose of
an appeal. See Coppedge v. United States, 369 U.S. 438, 444-45 (1962).
The Clerk of Court is directed to mail a copy of this Memorandum and Order along with
the Judgment to Clifton, note the mailing on the docket, enter judgment, and close this case.
s/Roslynn R. Mauskopf
ROSL YNN R. MAUSKOPF
United States District Judge
Dated: Brooklyn, New York
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