Dudley v. Singas et al
ORDER: SO ORDERED the plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis is granted. Plaintiff's claims for injunctive relief, malicious prosecution, and false arrest are hereby dismissed sua sponte pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915 (e)(2) (B)(ii), 1915A(b)(1). Plaintiff's negligence claim is dismissed without prejudice. 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 any appeal. The Clerk of Court is directed to mail a copy of this Order to pro se plaintiff. Ordered by Judge Joan M. Azrack on 11/13/2017. (CM to pro se plaintiff) (Florio, Lisa)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
BRIAN KEITH DUDLEY, #13009249,
For Online Publication Only
-againstD.A. MADELINE SINGAS, A.D.A. MICHAEL
BUSHWACK, A.D.A. JENE KANG, P.O. GREGORY
NICHOLSON, Shield #2953/Serial #8342; P.O. JOHN
MONELL, Shield #3440/Serial #8916; NASSAU COUNTY
P.O. JOSEPH SEDITA, Shield #1951/Serial #8398,
NASSAU COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE,
AZRACK, United States District Judge:
11/13/2017 3:28 pm
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
LONG ISLAND OFFICE
On March 18, 2016, incarcerated pro se plaintiff Brian Keith Dudley (“plaintiff”)
commenced this action against Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas (“D.A. Singas”),
Assistant District Attorney Michael Bushwack (“A.D.A. Bushwack”), Assistant District Attorney
Jene Kang (“A.D.A. Jene Kang”), P.O. Gregory Nicholson, Shield #2953/Serial #8342
Nicholson”), P.O. John Monell, Shield #3440/Serial #8916 (“P.O. Monell”), Nassau County, P.O.
Joseph Sedita, Shield #1951/Serial #8398 (“P.O. Sedita”), and the Nassau County District
Attorney’s Office (“D.A’s Office” and collectively, “defendants”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
(“Section 1983”), alleging a deprivation of his constitutional rights.
complaint is an application to proceed in forma pauperis.
The Court grants plaintiff’s request to
proceed in forma pauperis and sua sponte dismisses the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii), 1915A(b)(1) for the reasons that follow.
All material allegations in the complaint are assumed to be true for the purpose of this
See, e.g., Rogers v. City of Troy, New York, 148 F.3d 52, 58 (2d Cir. 1998) (stating in
reviewing a pro se complaint for sua sponte dismissal, a court is required to accept the material
allegations in the complaint as true).
Plaintiff’s voluminous complaint is submitted on the Court’s Section 1983 complaint form
with an additional 150 pages of exhibits.
Plaintiff seeks to challenge his criminal prosecution
and conviction in state court.
According to the complaint, plaintiff was charged with vehicular manslaughter in the
second degree and operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.
Plaintiff claims that he was not intoxicated and alleges that the circumstances surrounding
the accident “do not reasonably lead to the exclusive hypothesis of my recklessness.”
Rather, plaintiff alleges that the “accident occurred when the pedestrian crossed the street against
the traffic signal” and that the victim was an alcoholic. (Id. at 6.)
Plaintiff claims that he was
not read his Miranda rights at the time of his arrest and that the results of the “breath test”
administered to plaintiff at the scene were “defective” because plaintiff’s asthma inhalers
(Albuterol and Advir) affected the test.
(Id. at 7.)
Plaintiff claims that he has been “incarcerated
for over two years on these fraudulent charges” and claims “entitlement to either release from
custody or a felony exam. . . .”
(Id. at 8.)
In the space on the complaint form that calls for a
description of any injuries suffered as well as any medical treatment required and/or received,
plaintiff alleges: “Negligence, wrongful imprisonment, malicious prosecution, severe mental
anguish, and pain and suffering.”
(Id. ¶ IV.A.)
For relief, plaintiff seeks, inter alia,
compensatory and punitive damages in total sum in excess of $10 million. (Id. at ¶ V.)
When plaintiff filed his complaint, he was still awaiting trial on the charges against him.
However, on April 28, 2017, plaintiff submitted a letter to the Court indicating that he was
convicted in state court and is now seeking to vacate that conviction through a motion brought
pursuant to N.Y. C.P.L.R. § 440.10 in state court.
According to plaintiff’s April 28, 2017
submission, plaintiff was convicted of manslaughter in the second degree and violations of N.Y.
V.T.L. § 1192(2) and & §511(1). Plaintiff received a sentence of 5-15 years of imprisonment.
In Forma Pauperis Application
Upon review of plaintiff’s declaration in support of the application to proceed in forma
pauperis, the Court finds that plaintiff is qualified to commence this action without prepayment of
the filing fee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). Therefore, plaintiff’s application to proceed in forma
pauperis is granted.
Standard of Review
The Prison Litigation Reform Act requires a district court to screen a civil complaint
brought by a prisoner against a governmental entity or its agents and dismiss the complaint, or any
portion of the complaint, if the complaint is “frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1).
Similarly, pursuant to the in forma
pauperis statute, a court must dismiss an action if it determines that it “(i) is frivolous or malicious,
(ii) fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or (iii) seeks monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). The Court must dismiss
the action as soon as it makes such a determination.
28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).
Pro se submissions are afforded wide interpretational latitude and should be held “to less
stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.”
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519,
520 (1972) (per curiam); see also Boddie v. Schnieder, 105 F.3d 857, 860 (2d Cir. 1997).
addition, the court is required to read the plaintiff’s pro se complaint liberally and interpret it as
raising the strongest arguments it suggests.
United States v. Akinrosotu, 637 F.3d 165, 167 (2d
Cir. 2011) (per curiam) (citation omitted); Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009).
The Supreme Court has held that pro se complaints need not even plead specific facts;
rather the complainant “need only give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the
grounds upon which it rests.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (internal quotation
marks and citations omitted); cf. Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(e) (“Pleadings must be construed so as to do
justice.”). However, a pro se plaintiff must still plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that
is plausible on its face.”
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).
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.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citations omitted). The plausibility standard requires “more than a
sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.”
Id. at 678.
While “‘detailed factual
allegations’” are not required, “[a] pleading that offers ‘labels and conclusions’ or ‘a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.’” Id. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555).
Section 1983 provides that
[e]very person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or
usage, of any State . . . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United
States . . . to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the
Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured . . . .
42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Section 1983 “is not itself a source of substantive rights, but a method for
vindicating federal rights elsewhere conferred by those parts of the United States Constitution and
federal statutes that it describes.” Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 144 n. 3 (1979); Thomas v.
Roach, 165 F.3d 137, 142 (2d Cir. 1999).
two essential elements.
In order to state a § 1983 claim, a plaintiff must allege
First, the conduct challenged must have been “committed by a person
acting under color of state law.” Cornejo v. Bell, 592 F.3d 121, 127 (2d Cir. 2010) (quoting
Pitchell v. Callan, 13 F.3d 545, 547 (2d Cir. 1994)).
Second, “the conduct complained of must
have deprived a person of rights, privileges or immunities secured by the Constitution or laws of
the United States.”
Id.; see also Snider v. Dylag, 188 F.3d 51, 53 (2d Cir. 1999).
1. Plaintiff’s Conviction Bars His Claims for Injunctive Relief and Malicious
To the extent that plaintiff, who has been convicted, seeks release from prison, his § 1983
claims seeking such relief are precluded by Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475 (1973), which held
that “habeas corpus is the exclusive remedy for a state prisoner who challenges the fact or duration
of his confinement and seeks immediate or speedier release, even though such a claim may come
within the literal terms of § 1983,” Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 481 (1994).
Relatedly, plaintiff’s claims for malicious prosecution against all defendants are
precluded by the holding of Heck v. Humphrey.
In Heck, the Supreme Court held that
in order to recover damages for allegedly unconstitutional conviction or
imprisonment, or for other harm caused by actions whose unlawfulness would
render a conviction or sentence invalid, a § 1983 plaintiff must prove that the
conviction or sentence has been reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive
order, declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such determination,
or called into question by a federal court’s issuance of a writ of habeas corpus, 28
U.S.C. § 2254. A claim for damages bearing that relationship to a conviction or
sentence that has not been so invalidated is not cognizable under § 1983. Thus,
when a state prisoner seeks damages in a § 1983 suit, the district court must
consider whether a judgment in favor of the plaintiff would necessarily imply the
invalidity of his conviction or sentence; if it would, the complaint must be
dismissed unless the plaintiff can demonstrate that the conviction or sentence has
already been invalidated.
Heck, 512 U.S. at 486–87.
Because plaintiff was convicted and his conviction has not been
overturned, his malicious prosecution claims must be dismissed.
False Arrest Claims Against P.O. Nicholson, P.O. Monell, and P.O. Sedita
Plaintiff also alleges that he was falsely arrested.
The elements of a false arrest claim
“under Section 1983 are ‘substantially the same’ as the elements under New York law.”
City of New York, 336 F.3d 72, 75 (2d Cir. 2003) (quoting Hygh v. Jacobs, 961 F.2d 359, 366 (2d
Claims for false arrest under both New York common law and Section 1983 require
that a plaintiff to “demonstrate that defendant intended to confine him, he was conscious of the
confinement, he did not consent to the confinement, and the confinement was not otherwise
See Shain v. Ellison, 273 F.3d 56, 67 (2d Cir. 2001) (citing Singer v. Fulton Cnty.
Sheriff, 63 F.3d 110, 118 (2d Cir. 1995)).
“A false arrest claim is defeated by the plaintiff’s
conviction for the offense for which he was arrested.”
Phelan v. Sullivan, 541 F. App’x 21, 23
(2d Cir. 2013) (citing Cameron v. Fogarty, 806 F.2d 380, 387 (2d Cir. 1986)).
Because plaintiff has been convicted, his false arrest claims must be dismissed.
State Law Claims
Plaintiff also alleges negligence under New York State law.
Because all of plaintiff’s
federal claims have been dismissed, the Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over
plaintiff’s state-law negligence claim.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3) (“The district court may
decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over a claim . . . if . . . the district court has dismissed
all claims over which it has original jurisdiction . . . .”); Carnegie-Mellon Univ. v. Cohill, 484 U.S.
343, 350 n.7 (1988) (“[I]n the usual case in which all federal-law claims are eliminated before
trial, the balance of factors to be considered under the pendent jurisdiction doctrine—judicial
economy, convenience, fairness, and comity—will point toward declining to exercise jurisdiction
over the remaining state-law claims.”).
Accordingly, plaintiff’s negligence claim is dismissed
For the forgoing reasons, the plaintiff’s application to proceed in forma pauperis is granted.
Plaintiff’s claims for injunctive relief, malicious prosecution, and false arrest are hereby dismissed
sua sponte pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) (B)(ii), 1915A(b)(1).
Plaintiff’s negligence claim
is dismissed without prejudice.
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 any 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 Order to pro se plaintiff.
Joan M. Azrack
United States District Judge
November 13, 2017
Central Islip, New York
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