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Tucker v. R.V.C. Housing Authority

October 18, 2009

DAVID TUCKER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
R.V.C. HOUSING AUTHORITY, JOHN G. DUENGES, KEVIN O'TOOLE, MICHAEL MEEHAN, MICHAEL COLE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joanna Seybert, U.S.D.J.

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

SEYBERT, District Judge

On December 1, 2007, pro se Plaintiff David C. Tucker ("Tucker" or "Plaintiff") filed a Complaint alleging that Defendant Rockville Centre Housing Authority ("RVC") and John G. Duenges ("Duenges"), Executive Director of RVC, defamed Plaintiff and violated his constitutional rights by attempting to evict Plaintiff from his residence. This Court granted Plaintiff in forma pauperis status and, on March 10, 2009, granted Defendants' motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The Court also gave Plaintiff an opportunity to amend his Complaint in accordance with the Court's Order. Presently before the Court is Plaintiff's Amended Complaint.

BACKGROUND

I. Original Complaint

This case stems from a letter, allegedly sent by Duenges to Plaintiff's parents, who resided with Plaintiff. According to Plaintiff, the letter stated that Duenges was aware of Tucker's recent arrest and conviction, and directed Plaintiff's parents to remove his name from the lease by completing the enclosed "Tenant Vacate" form. The letter also stated that, under the adopted "One Strike Policy", Tucker was no longer allowed to live with his parents in their apartment. Finally, the letter allegedly warned that if Tucker continued to live in his parents' apartment, they would be in violation of their lease. Such violation would result in termination of the lease and their eviction.

In his original Complaint, Plaintiff claims that the attempted eviction violated his constitutional rights because, at the time the letter was sent, he had only been charged with an offense and had not yet been convicted. Moreover, the Complaint stated that the Defendants had defamed Plaintiff. Finally, Plaintiff claimed that the one-strike policy did not apply to Plaintiff's lease. In May 2008, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). On March 10, 2009, ("the March 2009 Order") this Court granted Defendants' motion to dismiss and granted Plaintiff an opportunity to amend his Complaint in accordance with the Court's Order. In dismissing Plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim, the Court stated that Plaintiff had not shown that he was, in fact, deprived of a property interest, nor that Defendants intentionally deprived Plaintiff of such an interest. Tucker v R.V.C. Housing Authority, et al., No. 07-CV-5217 (E.D.N.Y. Mar. 10, 2009) (citing McGriff v. Mun. Hous. Auth., No. 06-CV-4878, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 80312, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 10, 2007)). Regarding Plaintiff's defamation claim, the Court noted that Plaintiff had failed to allege sufficient facts for either a claim of libel or slander under New York law. Specifically, the Court stated that Plaintiff had not indicated the alleged defamatory statements, and had not shown that such statements were false and made with an applicable level of fault. Accordingly, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's Complaint but gave him an opportunity to re-plead his defamation allegation and identify the Constitutional violation alleged in his Section 1983 claim.

II. Amended Complaint

On April 14, 2009, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint against John Duenges; Kevin O'Toole, Detective of the Rockville Centre Police Department; Michael Meehan, Detective of the Rockville Centre Police Department; and Michael Cole as forensic scientist of the Nassau County Police Department (collectively "Defendants"), alleging violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, in relation to his pending eviction and state criminal case. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 3-6.) Plaintiff attaches seventy-three pages of exhibits including, inter alia, Duenges' letter to Plaintiff informing him of the "one strike" provision, several notices of unpaid rent, various letters pertaining to Plaintiff's housing, state court documents, a habeas petition, and a power of attorney and health care proxy form.

While it is difficult for the Court to discern the exact nature of his claims, it appears that Plaintiff alleges that he plead guilty to a misdemeanor in Nassau County under duress of losing his Housing Authority Apartment, and that he should not be evicted because he is in the process of appealing his conviction. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 6-7.) Plaintiff makes scattered references such as Defendants committed "random acts of conspiracy," and "Defendants fail to prevent a conspiracy between David Tucker and family federal-subsidized landlord John G. Duenges . . . ." Plaintiff seeks, among other things, that this Court assume jurisdiction over his state court proceedings, and prevent defendant Duenges from evicting Plaintiff from his home, pending an appeal from his criminal conviction.

DISCUSSION

I. 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.

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 and amended 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. ...


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