Clifton v. VA Admin/RRB
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: The Court grants Clifton's request to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 for the purpose of this Memorandum and Order. Clifton's complaint, filed in forma pauperis, is dismissed f or failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted and for failure to comply with Rule 8. See 28 U.S.C.§ 1915(e)(2)(B); Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). Clifton is granted thirty (30) days leave from the date of this Memorandum and Order to file an amended complaint as detailed above. If Clifton fails to amend his complaint within thirty (30) days as directed by this Memorandum and Order, judgment shall be entered. The Court certifies pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3) that any appeal f rom this Memorandum and 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 to Clifton and note the mailing on the docket. Ordered by Judge Roslynn R. Mauskopf on 3/8/2017. (Taronji, Robert)
UN ITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
I 6-CV-5204 (RRM) (CLP)
-againstVA ADMIN/ RRB,
ROSL YNN R. MAUSKOPF, United States District Judge.
Plaintiff Otis Clifton filed the instant action prose. The Court grants Clifton's request to
proceed informa pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 for the purpose of this Memorandum
and Order. For the reasons discussed below, the complaint is dismissed for fa ilure to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted and for failure to comply with Rule 8. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B); Fed. R. C iv. P. 8(a). C lifton is granted thirty (30) days leave from the date of
this Memorandum and Order to submit an amended complaint.
The fo ll owing facts are drawn from Cl ifton' s complaint and are assumed to be true for
purposes of thi s Memorandum and Order. Clifton ' s complaint is far from a model of clarity.
Cli fton simply asserts that the Veteran Adm inistration denied him survivors' benefits. (Compl.
(Doc. No. 1) at 4 ii III.) 1 It is unclear on what basis Cl ifton alleges that he is entitled to such
ST AND ARD OF REVIEW
A complaint must plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face. " Bell All. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A claim is plausible " when the
For ease of reference, all citations to Court documents utilize ECF pagination .
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable fo r the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S . 662, 678 (2009). In
reviewing a prose complaint, the Court must be m indfu l that a plaintiffs pleadings should be
held " to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Hughes v. Rowe,
449 U.S. 5, 9 ( 1980) (citation 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 compliance w ith relevant rules of procedural and substantive
law." Boddie v. NY Stale 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 dismiss an informa pauperis action, if the Court determines it
"(i) is fri volous or malicious, (ii) fai ls to state a claim o n w hich rel ief may be granted , or (iii)
seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C .
§ 19 15(e)(2)(B). An action is frivolous as a matter of law when, inter alia, it is based o n an
" indi sputably meritless legal theo ry" - that is, w hen it " lacks an arguable basis in law or [when]
a di spositive defense clearly exists on the face of the complaint." Livingston v. Adirondack
Beverage Co., 141 F.3d 434, 437 (2d Cir. 1998) (internal citation omitted). The Court shou ld
generall y not dism iss apro se complaint w ithout granting the plaintiff leave to amend ifa valid
claim could be stated . See Cuoco v. Moritsugu, 222 F.3d 99, 11 2 (2d Cir. 2000).
Pursuant to Ru le 8 of the Federal Rules of C ivil Procedure, a plaintiff must provide a
short, plain statement of claim against each defendant named so that they have adequate notice of
the cl aims against them. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (" [Rule 8) demands more than an unadorned,
the-defendant-unl awfully -harmed-me accusation."). A pleading that only "tenders naked
assertio ns devoid of further factual enhancement" will 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.3d 99, 106 (2d Cir. 2005) (defining " fair notice" as '" that which w ill enable the
adverse party to answer and prepare fo r trial , allow the app lication of res judicata, and identify
the nature of the case so that it may be ass igned the proper form 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 unintellig ibl e that its true substance, if any, is well d isguised."
Salahuddin v. Cuomo, 861 F.2d 40, 42 (2d C ir. 1988).
Here, the nature of Cl ifton 's claim is unclear. Accord ing ly, his claims must be d ismissed.
Leave to Amend
In li ght of this Court's duty to liberally construe prose complaints, C lifton is granted
thirty (3 0) days leave to fi le an amended complaint. C li fton 's amended complaint must set forth
the legal basis and factual allegations in a clear and concise manner in o rder to support his claim
against defendant, and he must state the relief that he is seeking with respect thereto.
To the extent that C lifton is alleging that he was denied a survivors pension benefit, any
amended complaint that C lifton elects to fi le must allege what ste ps, if any, he has taken to
receive that benefit. Clifto n should include the date that he filed a claim fo r benefi ts and the
location of the local Veterans Admini stration office where he fil ed the claim. If the claim was
denied, C lifton must state what steps he took to appeal the denial of benefits. Further, C lifton
must clearly and concisely state the reason why he is entitled to receive such a benefit, e.g., he
was a surv iving spouse or was a chi ld of a veteran . Clifton should annex to his amended
complaint any documents that he has in support of his claim for benefits.
The amended complaint must be captioned "Amended Complaint" and bear the same
docket number as thi s Memorandum and Order. No summons shall issue at this time and all
further proceedings shall be stayed for thirty (3 0) days. If Clifton fails to amend his complaint
w ithin thirty (30) days as directed by this Memorandum and Order, judgment shall be entered.
This is the ninth action that C li fton has fil ed in the Court. See Clifton v. OTDA , 13-CV-
53 15 (RRM) (di smissed without prejudice by order dated April 4, 20 14); Clifton v. OTDA , 14CV-1 5 13 (RRM) (dismi ssed w ithout prejudice by order dated April 4, 20 14); Clifton v. SSA, l 4CV-1514 (RRM) (Memorandum and Order dated April 4, 2014, di smissing the comp laint with
leave to am e nd w ithin th irty days; Clifton fai led to submit an amended complaint and j udgment
was entered against C lifton July 3, 2014); Clifton v. OTDA , 15-CV-6806 (RRM) (dismissed by
order dated February 4, 20 16) ; Clifton v. HRA el al. , 16-CV-1753 (Memorandum and Order
dated August 9, 2016 dismissing the compla int w ith leave to amend within thirty days; amended
complaint fil ed September 9, 20 16 still pending); Cl[flon v. /-/RA NYC el al. , 16-CV-2922 (RRM)
(pending) ; Cl[flon v. DOI el al. , I 6-CV-5003 (RRM) (pending) ; Clifton v. HRA el al. , 16-CV5203 (RRM) (pending) .
Clifton is advised that the future filing of meritless complaints shall not be tolerated by
this Court. See Lau v. Meddaugh, 229 F.3d 12 1, 123 (2d Cir. 2000) ("The district courts have
the power and the obligation to protect the public and the efficient administration of justice from
indi viduals who have a hi story of litigation entailing vexation, harassment and needless expense
to other parties and an unnecessary burden o n the cou11s and their supporting personnel."
(internal quotatio n marks and alteratio ns omitted)); see also Pandozy v. Tobey, No. 07-CV-4897
·(PNL) (RSP) (BDP), 2009 WL 1674409, at *2 (2d Cir. June 16, 2009); Jenkins v. Eaton, No. 08CY-713 (NGG) (LB), 2010 WL 3861050, at *6 (E.D.N. Y. A ug. 25 , 2010) ("The Second Circuit
has held that the Court has the authority to issue a filing injunctio n when a plaintiff abuses the
process of the Courts to harass and annoy o thers w ith meritless, frivolous , vexatio us or repetitive
proceed ings." (internal quotati on marks and alternations omitted)), report and recommendation
adopted, 20 10 WL 38424 12 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 28, 20 10).
Clifton's complaint, fi led informa pauperis, is dismissed for failure to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted and for failure to comply with Ru le 8. See 28 U.S.C.
§ l 91 5(e)(2)(B); Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). Cli fto n is granted thirty (30) days leave from the date of
this Memorandum and Order to fil e an amended complaint as detai led above. If C lifton fai ls to
amend hi s complaint within thirty (30) days as directed by this Memorandum and Order,
judgment shall be entered.
The Cou11 certifies pursuant to 28 U.S .C. § l 9 l 5(a)(3) that any appeal from this
Memorandum and Order would not be taken in good faith and therefore informa pauperis status
is denied fo r purpose of an appeal. See Copp edge v. United Stales, 369 U.S. 438, 444-45 ( 1962).
The Clerk of Court is directed to mail a copy of this Memorandum and Order to Clifton
and note the mailing on the docket.
s/Roslynn R. Mauskopf
ROSL YNN R. MAUSKOPF
United States District Judge
Dated: Brook lyn, New York
)ll~ R' 2017
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