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Alarcon v. Brooklyn

July 20, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Seybert, District Judge


Pending before the Court is the Complaint of pro se Plaintiff Pedro Alarcon ("Plaintiff") brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983"), accompanied by an application to proceed in forma pauperis. For the reasons discussed herein, the application is GRANTED, but the Complaint is DISMISSED without prejudice.


Plaintiff submits his Complaint on a standard 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Prisoner Complaint) form. In his brief "Statement of Claim" section, Plaintiff writes, "I did get my property and money", "I made a mistake in life I got stressed out for what I did", and "Because I was feeling guilty for baby [illegible word] born with drug in the body." (Compl. ¶ 2.) Under the "Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies Section," he states "I did not get any paper slip to get my money or property," and "to claim my property and my money." (Id. ¶ E.) In the "Relief" section, Plaintiff writes, "I live on a fix income I want Consular Garcia to help me get my money and property." (Id. ¶ 5.)

For the reasons set forth below, to the extent Plaintiff wishes to file a Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, his claims are dismissed without prejudice for failure to comply with Rule 8 of the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure. To the extent Plaintiff is seeking to file a motion pursuant to Rule 41(g) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, seeking return of items of property, he is directed to amend his pleadings to make his intention clear.


I. In Forma Pauperis Application

Upon review of Plaintiff's declaration in support of his application to proceed in forma pauperis, the Court determines that the Plaintiff's financial status qualifies him to commence this action without prepayment of the filing fees. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). Therefore, Plaintiff's request to proceed in forma pauperis is GRANTED.

II. Application of the Prison Litigation Reform Act and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 8

The 1996 Prison Litigation Reform Act, codified at 28 U.S.C. § 1915, requires a district court to dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint if the action is frivolous or malicious; fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i-iii). The Court is required to dismiss the action as soon as it makes such a determination. See id.

It is axiomatic that the Court is required to read the Plaintiff's pro se Complaint liberally, see Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9, 101 S.Ct. 173, 66 L.Ed. 2d 163 (1980); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21, 92 S.Ct. 594, 30 L.Ed. 2d 652 (1972) (stating that pro se complaints are held to "less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers"); McEachin v. McGuinnis, 357 F.3d 197, 200 (2d. Cir. 2004) ("[W]hen the plaintiff proceeds pro se, . . . a court is obliged to construe his pleadings liberally, particularly when they allege civil rights violations."), and construe it "'to raise the strongest arguments'" suggested. Soto v. Walker, 44 F.3d 169, 173 (2d Cir. 1995) (quoting Burgos v. Hopkins, 14 F.3d 787, 790 (2d Cir. 1994)). Moreover, at this stage of the proceedings, the Court assumes the truth of the allegations in the Complaint. See See Hughes, 449 U.S. at 10; Koppel v. 4987 Corp., 167 F.3d 125, 127 (2d Cir. 1999). Nevertheless, to the extent that Plaintiff seeks to file a Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Court finds that the Complaint must be dismissed because the cause of action against the Defendants is not sufficiently pled with specificity to meet the pleading requirements of Rule 8(a).

Notwithstanding the liberal pleading standards, all complaints must contain at least "some minimum level of factual support for their claims," Alfaro Motors, Inc. v. Ward, 814 F.2d 883, 887 (2d Cir. 1987). Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides, in relevant part, that a complaint "shall contain . . . a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief," and "[e]ach averment of a pleading shall be simple, concise, and direct." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8. Essentially, Rule 8 ensures that a complaint provides a defendant with sufficient notice of the claims against him. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 8; Salahuddin v. Cuomo, 861 F.2d 40, 42 (2d Cir. 1988). In that vein, the Second Circuit has held that complaints containing only vague or conclusory accusations and no specific facts regarding the alleged wrongdoing do not allow defendants to frame an intelligent defense and are therefore subject to dismissal. See Alfaro Motors, 814 F.2d at 887.

When a complaint fails to comply with the requirements of Rule 8, district courts have the authority to dismiss the complaint sua sponte. See Salahuddin, 861 F.2d at 42; see also Fitzgerald v. First East Seventh St. Tenants Corp., 221 F.3d 362, 364 (2d Cir. 2000) (holding that district courts have the authority to dismiss frivolous actions sua sponte "in order to preserve scarce judicial resources.") "Dismissal, however, is usually reserved for those cases in which the complaint is so ...

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