Ellis v. City of New York Health & Hospitals Corporation et al
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER dated 10/30/17 granting plaintiff's 2 Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis. Plaintiff is ordered to file an amended complaint within twenty (20) days of the date of this Memorandum Decision and Order, failing which this case will be dismissed. ( Ordered by Judge Brian M. Cogan on 10/30/2017 ) c/m (Guzzi, Roseann)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
: MEMORANDUM DECISION AND
- against :
: 17-cv-6177 (BMC)
CITY OF NEW YORK HEALTH &
HOSPITALS CORPORATION; KINGS
COUNTY HOSPITAL CENTER,
COGAN, District Judge.
Plaintiff brings this pro se action, asserting federal claims under Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (“Title VII”), and related claims under the New
York State and New York City Human Rights Laws. Plaintiff’s request to proceed in forma
pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 is granted. For the reasons stated below, plaintiff is
ordered to file an amended complaint within twenty (20) days of the date of this Memorandum
Decision and Order, failing which this case will be dismissed.
Plaintiff’s complaint provides scant factual allegations in support of her claim of
discrimination based on her race, sex, and color. She simply asserts that during her
“employment at Kings County Hospital, [she] was discriminated against and treated unfairly.”
Plaintiff alleges that on July 23, 2017, she received a Notice of Right to Sue letter from the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). However, she indicates that she is unable to
locate the letter, and will submit the letter at a later date. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
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). At the pleadings stage of the
proceeding, the Court must assume the truth of “all well-pleaded, nonconclusory factual
allegations” in the complaint. Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., 621 F.3d 111, 123 (2d Cir.
2010) (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009)). A complaint must, however, plead
sufficient facts to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).
It is axiomatic that pro se complaints are held to less stringent standards than pleadings
drafted by attorneys and the Court is required to read the plaintiff's pro se complaint liberally and
interpret it raising the strongest arguments it suggests. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89 (2007).
However, even a pro se complaint must allege “‘enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.’” Fowlkes v. Ironworkers Local 40, 790 F.3d 378, 387 (2d Cir. 2015)
(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
A plaintiff must allege facts sufficient to allow the defendants to have a fair
understanding of what she is complaining about and to enable the defendants to determine
whether there is a possible legal basis for recovery. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 8 imposes the requirement that the plaintiff’s pleadings “give the defendant fair
notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds on which it rests.”) (internal quotation marks
omitted). 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).
Plaintiff alleges Title VII violations, but, as previously noted, her complaint is
completely devoid of any facts in support of her discrimination claim. Title VII prohibits an
employer from discriminating against any individual with respect to “compensation, terms,
conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex or
national origin.” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). A plaintiff asserting a Title VII discrimination
claim must allege facts showing that “(1) the employer took adverse action against him and (2)
his race, color, religion, sex, or national origin was a motivating factor in the employment
decision,” which can be shown “by alleging facts that directly show discrimination or facts that
indirectly show discrimination by giving rise to a plausible inference of discrimination.” Vega v.
Hempstead Union School Dist., 801 F.3d 72, 86-87 (2d Cir. 2015); Jones v. Target Corp., No. 15
CV 4672, 2016 WL 50779, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. Jan. 4, 2016). Here, the factual basis of plaintiff’s
Title VII complaint is unclear. She fails to plead any facts in support of her claim that
defendants discriminated against her because of her race, color or sex.
Although at the pleading stage a plaintiff is not required to prove discrimination, she
must plausibly allege a claim upon which relief can be granted. Vega, 801 F.3d at 86-87. Even
under the most liberal construction of plaintiff’s allegations, she provides no facts that could
possibly connect any adverse employment action to a protected status. See Littlejohn v. City of
New York, 795 F.3d 310 (2d Cir. 2015) (an employment discrimination complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face); Ruston v. Town
Bd. of Skaneateles, 610 F.3d 55, 59 (2d Cir. 2010) (“Under Iqbal, factual allegations must be
sufficient to support necessary legal conclusions,” and must “plausibly suggest an entitlement to
Accordingly, plaintiff is granted twenty (20) days leave to file an amended complaint.
See Cruz v. Gomez, 202 F.3d 593 (2d Cir. 2000). If plaintiff has a basis for a claim of
employment discrimination, she should provide facts in support of such claim. Plaintiff is
directed that her amended complaint must comply with Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure and it must “plead enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570; Littlejohn, 795 F.3d at 310. If available, plaintiff should include a
copy of the charge of discrimination that she filed with the EEOC along with a copy of the
Notice of Right to Sue Letter.
The Clerk of Court shall include a form complaint for employment discrimination. The
amended complaint must be captioned as an “Amended Complaint” and bear the same docket
number as assigned to this Order. No summons shall issue at this time and all further
proceedings shall be stayed for 30 days or until further order of the Court. If plaintiff elects not
to file an amended complaint, or fails to do so in a timely manner, the action will be dismissed.
The Court certifies pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3) that any appeal would not be taken in
good faith and therefore in forma pauperis status is denied for the purpose of any appeal. See
Coppedge v. United States, 369 U.S. 438, 444-45 (1962).
Digitally signed by Brian M.
Dated: Brooklyn, New York
October 30, 2017
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