Barrie v. United States of America
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER, For the reasons that follow, Barrie's request for injunctive relief is denied. Pltff's request for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction is denied, but without prejudice to the substitution of MB Hal al as party pltff and MB Halal making its own application for such relief. If the substitution of party is not completed by counsel within the time allowed, the action will be dismissed with prejudice. Thus, if pltff wishes to assert any claims on be half of MB Halal in this action, he must have counsel appear for MB Halal within 30 days of the entry of this order on the docket. The Court certifies pursuant to 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 purpose of an appeal. (Ordered by Judge Eric N. Vitaliano on 5/5/2016). c/m (Galeano, Sonia)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
-against16 Civ. 1769 (ENV) (LB)
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Plaintiff Mohammed Barrie, proceeding pro se, filed this action seeking review of a final
decision of the United States Department of Agriculture ("USDA"), disqualifyidg his store MB
Halal Meat, Inc. ("MB Halal") from participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance
Program ("SNAP"). Compl., ECF No. 1. Plaintiff paid the filing fee to initiate the action.
Presently before the Court is his request that USDA be restrained and enjoined, pending a
hearing, from barring his participation in SNAP. Unsigned Order to Show Cau~e, ECF No. 3 at
1. For the reasons that follow, Barrie's request for injunctive relief is denied.
Barrie owns MB Halal, a grocery store located in Brooklyn. Compl. at 13. MB Halal
was authorized to participate in SNAP, a federal benefits program that allows qualified
households to purchase food at participating retail grocery stores. Id at 14. USDA charged MB
Halal with trafficking in SNAP benefits, 1 based on a series of irregular transact1ns occurring
between June 2014 and November 2014. Id. MB Halal, through counsel, contested the
Trafficking is defined as, inter alia, "[t]he buying, selling, stealing, or otherwise effecting an
exchange of SNAP benefits ... for cash or consideration other than eligible foo~, either directly,
indirectly, in complicity or collusion with others, or acting alone." 7 C.F .R. § 271.2.
allegations, but was pennanently disqualified from SNAP. Id at 16; see id. at 7-12. The store
appealed this disqualification. Id Following review, USDA issued a final agency decision,
dated March 17, 2016, upholding the pennanent disqualification of MB Halal. Id at 14-33.
Analysis of the Law
SNAP provides that an "approved retail food store" may be permanently disqualified
from participation in SNAP "on the first occasion" that it is found to have trafficked in SNAP
benefits. 7 U.S.C. §§ 202l(a), (b)(3)(B). "If [a retail food) store ... feels aggrieved by [a final
determination following administrative appeal], it may obtain judicial review thereof .... " 7
U.S.C. § 2023(a)(13). USDA's decision "shall be and remain in full force and effect" pending
judicial review, "unless on application to the court on not less than ten days' notice, and after
hearing thereon and a consideration by the court of the applicant's likelihood of prevailing on the
merits and of irreparable injury, the court temporarily stays such administrative action pending
disposition of such trial or appeal." 7 U.S.C. § 2023(a)(l 7). 2
As a preliminary matter, although Barrie is the sole named plaintiff in this action, his
complaint relates to the disqualification of his incorporated grocery store. Compl. at 5. It is
well-settled that a prose individual may not appear on behalf of a corporation. Srre Sewell v.
I 199 Nat. Ben. Fundfor Health Human Servs., 303 F. App'x 902, 903 n.1 (2d Cir. 2008) ("[A]
layman may not represent a separate legal entity."); Pecarsky v. Galaxiworld.com Ltd, 249 F.3d
167, 172 (2d Cir. 2001 ). Furthennore, the statutes and regulations on which Barrie relies, see
CompI. at 4, permit the "store" to seek judicial review of its disqualification, 7 U .~.C. §
Morgan v. Ragan, 46 F. Supp. 3d 52, 59 (D.D.C. 2014) (collecting cases in r'hic4 district
courts have concluded that 7 U.S.C. § 2023(a)(l 7) does not require an oral hearing and that the
motion may be determined on the papers).
2023(a)(l 3); see 7 C.F.R. § 279. 7(a), without defining the store to include its owher or owners,
nor does it pennit them to bypass the usual requirement that parties "conduct their own cases."
28 U.S.C. § 1654. See Guzman v. U.S. Dep't ofAgric. Food & Nutrition Serv., 931 F. Supp. 2d
488, 490 n.1 (S.D.N.Y. 2013) (while dismissing on other grounds, observing that prose owners
would not be permitted to represent a disqualified and incorporated SNAP retailer). Therefore, if
Barrie wishes to litigate the claims of his store in this action, he must have counsel appear on
behalf of and substitute MB Halal as party plaintiff within 30 days of the entry of this order on
Barrie also alleges that he was personally disqualified from participating in SNAP.
Compl. at 5. However, a simple reading of the USDA decision attached to the complaint clearly
establishes that it disqualifies only MB Halal from participating in SNAP. Compl. at 14. 3 Thus,
there is no basis for the injunctive relief he requests on his own behalf.
For the foregoing reasons, plaintiffs request for a temporary restraining order and
preliminary injunction is denied, but without prejudice to the substitution of MB Halal as party
plaintiff and MB Halal making its own application for such relief. If the substitution of party is
not completed by counsel within the time allowed, the action will be dismissed with prejudice.
Thus, if plaintiff wishes to assert any claims on behalf of MB Halal in this.action, he
must have counsel appear for MB Halal within 30 days of the entry of this order op the docket.
In cases where the owners "personally trafficked in food stamps," USDA may disregard
corporate fonn and disqualify them along with their stores. Abdelaziz v. United S~ates, Through
Department ofAgriculture, 837 F.2d 95, 97-98 (2d Cir. 1988). In this case, USDA's
determination did not accuse Barrie of personally trafficking in food stamps, much less
disqualify him personally from SNAP participation.
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).
Dated: Brooklyn, New York
May 5, 2016
United States District Judge
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?