with the other defendants. Am. Compl. at pp. 3-4.
Granting plaintiff's motion to amend this portion of the Complaint would be futile because, as explained below, plaintiff has failed to state a claim against Legal Aid, and the proposed amendments fail to cure the deficiencies in his Complaint. This portion of plaintiff's cross-motion therefore is denied, as well.
II. Motion to Dismiss
Although Legal Aid premises its motion to dismiss on subprovisions (2), (4), (5) and (6) of Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b), the only argument it has briefed on this motion is failure to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). Accordingly, this court now turns to the merits of that portion of the motion.
In deciding a motion to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), a court must take all allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Ortiz v. Cornetta, 867 F.2d 146, 149 (2d Cir. 1989). A complaint should not be dismissed "unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 2 L. Ed. 2d 80, 78 S. Ct. 99 (1957). The admonition not to dismiss assumes greater weight if -- as is the case here -- the complaint alleges a violation of civil rights. Easton v. Sundram, 947 F.2d 1011, 1015 (2d Cir. 1991), cert. denied, 118 L. Ed. 2d 548, U.S. , 112 S. Ct. 1943 (1992). Moreover, this court is mindful that pro se complaints are to be construed with even greater liberality. Platsky v. Central Intelligence Agency, 953 F.2d 26, 28 (2d Cir. 1991).
A. The Civil Rights Claims
Legal Aid argues that plaintiff's allegations concerning the violation of his civil rights by Legal Aid should be dismissed on the ground that Legal Aid has not acted under color of state law, as required to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In order to survive a motion to dismiss, a plaintiff pleading a claim under § 1983 need allege only that "some person acting under color of state law deprived the claimant of a federal right." Green v. Maraio, 722 F.2d 1013, 1016 (2d Cir. 1983) (citing Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 64 L. Ed. 2d 572, 100 S. Ct. 1920 (1980)).
Legal Aid is correct, as far as it goes, that the Second Circuit expressly has ruled that Legal Aid is not a state actor. Lefcourt v. Legal Aid Soc., 445 F.2d 1150, 1157 (2d Cir. 1971) (holding that although Legal Aid provides services for indigent criminal defendants which governmental agencies otherwise might have to assume, it is a private institution "in no manner under State or City supervision or control"); Housand v. Heiman, 594 F.2d 923, 924-25 (2d Cir. 1979) (public defenders and court-appointed defense attorneys do not "act under color of law"); see also Polk County v. Dodson, 454 U.S. 312, 325, 70 L. Ed. 2d 509, 102 S. Ct. 445 (1981) ("[A] public defender does not act under color of state law when performing a lawyer's traditional functions as counsel to a defendant in a criminal proceeding."). However, this proposition does not go far enough. Rather, the Supreme Court has held that allegations that a private defendant conspired with state officials to deprive a plaintiff of a federally protected right may be sufficient to satisfy the "under color of state law" requirement of § 1983. Tower v. Glover, 467 U.S. 914, 923, 81 L. Ed. 2d 758, 104 S. Ct. 2820 (1983) (finding allegations that public defender conspired with various state officials, including judges and former Attorney General, to secure plaintiff's conviction were sufficient to state a claim under § 1983).
Here, plaintiff has alleged that Legal Aid conspired with the other defendants to coerce him to enter a guilty plea, notwithstanding the deficiencies in the charges against him. Pursuant to Tower, these allegations are sufficient to satisfy the "under color of state law" requirement of § 1983. However, plaintiff has failed to detail instances of collusion sufficient to support the conspiracy claim, and his claim under § 1983 therefore cannot survive Legal Aid's motion to dismiss.
With respect to plaintiff's claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1985, the elements of a cause of action under this section are that a defendant (1) engaged in a conspiracy, (2) for the purpose of depriving any person or class of persons of equal protection of the laws, (3) acted in furtherance of the conspiracy, and (4) deprived such person of a federally protected right. Sowell, 1990 WL 127599, at *1 (citing New York State Nat'l Org. for Women v. Terry, 886 F.2d 1339, 1358 (2d Cir. 1989), cert. denied, 495 U.S. 947, 109 L. Ed. 2d 532, 110 S. Ct. 2206 (1990)). In addition, the plaintiff must allege a racial or class-based invidiously discriminatory animus behind the conspirators' action. Id. (citing Griffin v. Breckenridge, 403 U.S. 88, 101-02, 29 L. Ed. 2d 338, 91 S. Ct. 1790 (1971)). Finally, a constitutional conspiracy claim under § 1985 must be pleaded with at least some degree of particularity. Feerick v. Sudolnik, 816 F. Supp. 879, 888 (S.D.N.Y.), aff'd, 2 F.3d 403 (2d Cir. 1993); Laverpool v. New York City Transit Auth., 760 F. Supp. 1046, 1056 (E.D.N.Y. 1991).
In this case, plaintiff has failed to state more than conclusory allegations in support of his conspiracy claim. Accord San Filippo v. United States Trust Co. of N.Y., Inc., 737 F.2d 246, 256 (2d Cir. 1984) (dismissing conspiracy claim where complaint alleged no specific facts suggesting that defendants had agreed to provide perjured testimony but only alleged that two witness-defendants had met with prosecutor prior to trial), cert. denied, 470 U.S. 1035, 84 L. Ed. 2d 797, 105 S. Ct. 1408 (1985). Moreover, he has failed to allege that defendants acted with a racial or class-based discriminatory intent. Plaintiff's claim under § 1985 therefore is insufficient to survive this motion to dismiss.
Furthermore, the court notes that even if plaintiff were to elaborate on the conclusory allegations contained in his Complaint, plaintiff's claims under both §§ 1983 and 1985 would be barred by the state court's denial of his motion to withdraw his guilty plea. Plaintiff's causes of action under these sections center around his allegations that he was forced to enter a guilty plea; because the state court previously ruled that plaintiff could not withdraw his plea, plaintiff now is estopped from attacking that plea under the guise of a civil rights action. Migra, 465 U.S. at 84-85.
B. The Legal Malpractice Claim
Legal Aid construes plaintiff's rather ambiguous averments to plead an additional claim for legal malpractice. Construing the Complaint most generously in favor of plaintiff pro se, this court agrees that the Complaint could be read to allege legal malpractice on the part of Legal Aid.
In light of the conclusion reached above that plaintiff's federal claims must be dismissed, this court lacks an independent basis for jurisdiction over plaintiff's state law claim and, in the exercise of its sound discretion, may decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over that claim. See 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3) (a 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."); see also Beal v. City of N.Y., 1994 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5269, 1994 WL 163954, at *6 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 22, 1994); Cornett v. Bank of Cal. Int'l, 1993 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8855, 1993 WL 254983, at *4 (S.D.N.Y. June 30, 1993). Because this court has dismissed all of plaintiff's federal claims, and in the interest of judicial economy, this court hereby dismisses plaintiff's state law claim for lack of jurisdiction. Id.; cf. Dunton v. County of Suffolk, 729 F.2d 903, 911 (2d Cir. 1984) (holding that where federal claims were "patently meritless and insubstantial," district court did not have jurisdiction to retain state claims).
In sum, for the reasons stated above, plaintiff's motion to amend the Complaint is granted only to the extent that plaintiff is given leave to name the additional individual defendants. Legal Aid's motion to dismiss is granted, without prejudice.
Dated: Brooklyn, New York
May 19, 1994
I. LEO GLASSER, U.S.D.J.