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Barreto v. Rouff

October 17, 2009

JUAREZ E. BARRETO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
VALETIN ROUFF, SUFFOLK COUNTY, SUFFOLK COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

Juarez F. Barreto ("Plaintiff"), a frequent filer in this Court, proceeding pro se, commenced this action against Valetin Rouff, the County of Suffolk, and the Suffolk County Police Department ("Defendants").*fn1 Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated his constitutional rights when he was not permitted to consult with a lawyer during a police questioning. Accompanying Plaintiff's Complaint is a request to proceed in forma pauperis.

Upon review of Plaintiff's application, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff in forma pauperis status. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). However, for the reasons discussed below, Plaintiff's Complaint is dismissed against Suffolk County Police Department and Suffolk County.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff alleges that on September 2, 2009, while visiting with his parole officer, he was advised that members of the Suffolk County Police Department were on their way to charge him for his involvement in a February 2008 crime. Plaintiff alleges that he was "handed over" to Detective Rouff and driven to the Suffolk County Police Precinct. In addition, Plaintiff alleges that, during the car ride and subsequent questioning at the Precinct, he was denied access to an attorney, despite his repeated requests. Plaintiff states that Detective Rouff told him that he had to sign a confession before he would get an attorney or be allowed to make a phone call. (Compl. ¶¶ 1 -3.) Finally, Plaintiff alleges that after his arrest, more than five hours passed before he was read his Miranda rights. Among other things, Plaintiff seeks five million dollars in relief as well as an order of protection against Officer Rouff.

DISCUSSION

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

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.

Since Plaintiff is incarcerated and seeks relief against government officials, 28 U.S.C. § 1915A also requires that the Court dismiss the Complaint sua sponte 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.

Courts are obliged to construe the pleadings of a pro se Plaintiff liberally, particularly allegations of civil rights violations. See Sealed Plaintiff v. Sealed Defendant, 537 F.3d 185, 191 (2d Cir. 2008); McEachin v. McGuinnis, 357 F.3d 197, 200 (2d Cir. 2004). If a liberal reading of the complaint "gives any indication that a valid claim might be stated," courts must grant leave to amend the complaint. See Cuoco v. Moritsugu, 222 F.3d 99, 112 (2d Cir. 2000).

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 ...


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