Goodwine v. New Jersey Transit et al
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER dated 8/9/17 granting 2 Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis. Plaintiffs complaint is dismissed as barred by the doctrine of res judicata. The Court certifies pursuant to 28:1915 (a)(3) that any appeal from t his order would not be taken in good faith and therefore in forma pauperis status is denied for the purpose of an appeal. Coppedge v. United States, 369 U.S. 438, 444-45 (1962). ( Ordered by Judge Brian M. Cogan on 8/9/2017) c/m *forwarded for jgm (Guzzi, Roseann)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
: MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
- against : 17-cv-4528 (BMC)
NEW JERSEY TRANSIT; NATIONAL
RAILROAD PASSENGER CORPORATION :
COGAN, District Judge.
Plaintiff Earl Goodwine, proceeding pro se, filed the instant action alleging, inter alia,
that defendants violated his civil rights and intentionally caused him to suffer emotional distress
when they obtained and utilized plaintiff’s medical records in connection with a previous lawsuit
that plaintiff had filed in this Court. Plaintiff’s request to proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP”)
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 is granted. For the reasons stated below, plaintiff’s complaint is
dismissed as barred by the doctrine of res judicata.
Plaintiff previously filed a lawsuit in this Court against National Railroad Passenger
Corporation and Amtrak. See Goodwine v. Nat’l R.R. Passenger Corp., et al., No. 12-CV-3882
(“Goodwine I”). In Goodwine I, plaintiff alleged that in January 2010 he was falsely arrested by
Amtrak Police and that he suffered physical injuries in the process. In July 2014, the case was
called for trial. Plaintiff refused to proceed to trial and the Court entered judgment dismissing
the complaint with prejudice for failure to prosecute and assessing costs to plaintiff. Plaintiff
appealed and the Second Circuit dismissed plaintiff’s appeal as lacking an “arguable basis in law
or fact.” Goodwine v. Nat’l R.R. Passenger Corp., et al., No. 14-3214-cv (Feb. 11, 2015).
In July 2017, more than two years later, plaintiff moved in Goodwine I for an “injunction
to compel having my social, medical, picture, criminal record sealed and deposition nulled.” By
Order dated July 28, 2017, I denied plaintiff’s motion for an injunction, finding that there was no
personal information on the public docket that warranted sealing and that it was far too late for
plaintiff to protest certain subpoenas issued to defendants to obtain plaintiff’s medical records in
connection with defending against his claims.
In the instant action the gravamen of plaintiff’s claims arise from the underlying
proceedings in Goodwine I. Although the complaint is not entirely clear, plaintiff has effectively
recycled his injunction motion and filed it as a complaint. He complains that the defense lawyers
Goodwine I improperly removed that action from state court and that they acted unethically in
handling his medical records and personal information, which they obtained during discovery,
during the case. Plaintiff also challenges certain rulings that were made by the Magistrate Judges
who supervised discovery in Goodwine I. Plaintiff seeks, inter alia, monetary damages.
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), a district court shall dismiss an in forma pauperis
action where it is satisfied that the action “(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 either: (1) “the ‘factual contentions are clearly
baseless,’ such as when allegations are the product of delusion or fantasy”; or (2) “the claim is
‘based on an indisputably meritless legal theory.’” Livingston v. Adirondack Beverage Co., 141
F.3d 434, 437 (2d Cir. 1998) (internal citation omitted).
The term res judicata encompasses two different preclusion doctrines: claim preclusion
and issue preclusion. Under claim preclusion, the doctrine at issue here,“a final judgment
forecloses successive litigation of the very same claim, whether or not relitigation of the claim
raises the same issues as the earlier suit.” Marcel Fashions Grp., Inc. v. Lucky Brand Dungarees,
Inc., 779 F.3d 102, 107-08 (2d Cir. 2015) (internal quotation marks omitted). Claim preclusion
bars not only claims actually adjudicated in the prior case, but also “claims that might have been
raised in the prior litigation but were not.” Id. at 108. The doctrine of res judicata precludes a
party from asserting a claim in subsequent litigation if: (1) the previous action involved an
adjudication on the merits; (2) the previous action involved the same adverse parties; and (3) the
claims in the subsequent action were, or could have been raised, in the previous action.”
Monahan v. N.Y. City Dep’t of Corr., 214 F.3d 275, 285 (2d Cir. 2000). A plaintiff’s pro se
status in the previous litigation does not warrant an exception to the application of preclusion.
Res judicata “applies to pro se plaintiffs whose claims in a second action are based on the same
factual predicates presented in the first action.” Bey v. City of New York, 454 F. App’x 1, 6 (2d
Here, all of the elements of res judicata are satisfied. The dismissal of plaintiff’s
previous action, Goodwine I, for failure to prosecute serves as an adjudication on the merits.
Fed. R. Civ. Pro 41(b); see also Jackson v. New York State, 523 F. App’x 67, 68-69 (2d Cir.
2013); La Societe Anonyme des Parfums Le Galion v. Jean Patou, Inc., 495 F.2d 1265, 1275 (2d
Cir. 1974); Moutsinas v. Dept. of Educ. of City of New York, No. 05 CIV. 3096, 2006 WL
1997637, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. July 18, 2006). Plaintiff asserts claims in the instant action against the
same defendants in Goodwine I, and his claims arise out of the transaction or occurrence that
was the subject matter of the previous action. Plaintiff may not seek to use the instant action to
collaterally attack the litigant’s conduct and the Court’s decisions and judgment in Goodwine I.
In addition, because the Second Circuit affirmed dismissal of the case, this Court cannot
consider plaintiff’s claims because of the “mandate rule.” Either plaintiff raised the claims he is
raising here when he appealed the case, or he failed to raise them and thereby waived them. The
mandate rule forecloses consideration of issues that could have been raised on appeal but were
not as well as claims that were actually raised but rejected. See U.S. v. Vidal, 136 F. App’x 438
Accordingly, the complaint is dismissed. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). The Clerk of Court
is directed to enter judgment dismissing the action. 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 the purpose of an appeal. Coppedge v. United States, 369
U.S. 438, 444-45 (1962).
Digitally signed by
Brian M. Cogan
Dated: Brooklyn, New York
August 9, 2017
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