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Barreto v. Suffolk County

January 20, 2010


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


Juarez F. Barreto ("Plaintiff"), a frequent filer in this Court, proceeding pro se, commenced this action (10-CV-0028) against John and Jane Does, the County of Suffolk, and the Suffolk County Sheriff's Department ("Defendants").*fn1 Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated his constitutional rights when he was assaulted by another inmate. Accompanying Plaintiff's Complaint is a request to proceed in forma pauperis and a request for appointment of counsel. Upon review of Plaintiff's application, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff in forma pauperis status and DENIES his motion for appointment of counsel. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915. However, for the reasons discussed below, Plaintiff's Complaint is dismissed against Suffolk County Sheriff's Department and Suffolk County.


Plaintiff alleges that on October 18, 2009, while incarcerated at the Suffolk County Correctional Facility, he was "attacked from behind without his knowledge by another inmate," and alleges that the incident could have been avoided. (Compl. ¶ 2.) Plaintiff describes that he was rushed to Stony Brook Hospital where he received medical care and subsequently underwent surgery. Plaintiff alleges that later in the month he was taken to Peconic Bay Medical Center where he received treatment for a bladder problem. (Compl. ¶ 26.) In the remainder of Plaintiff's nearly twenty-five page handwritten Complaint, he alleges he received inadequate medical treatment. Plaintiff seeks, among other things, a full investigation and a total of eight million dollars.


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 28 U.S.C. § 1915

On one hand, Section 1915 of Title 28 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. Furthermore, Section 1915(e), as amended by the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995, applies to both prisoner and non-prisoner in forma pauperis actions. See Burns v. Goodwill Indus. of Greater New York, No. 01-CV-11311, 2002 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11875, at *5-6 (S.D.N.Y. July 1, 2002).

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. The Second Circuit has held that the purpose of this Rule is to provide an adverse party with notice of the claims asserted and to limit the burden imposed on both courts and litigants by unnecessarily verbose and incoherent pleadings. See Salahuddin v. Cuomo, 861 F.2d 40, 42 (2d Cir. 1988). In that vein, the Supreme Court 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 Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325, 327 (1989); Alfaro Motors, Inc. v. Ward, 814 F.2d 883, 887 (2d Cir. 1987). All complaints, including pro se complaints, are required to contain at least "some minimum level of factual support for their claims." Megna v. United States Dep't of the Navy, 317 F. Supp. 2d 191, 192 (E.D.N.Y. 2004).

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."). It is axiomatic that the Court is required to read the Plaintiff's pro se submissions liberally and to liberally construe a pro se plaintiff's papers "'to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest.'" Soto v. Walker, 44 F.3d 169, 173 (2d Cir. 1995) (quoting Burgos v. Hopkins, 14 F.3d 787, 790 (2d Cir. 1994)). "Dismissal, however, is [proper] . . . for those cases in which the complaint is so confused, ambiguous, vague, or otherwise unintelligible that its true substance, if any is well disguised." Salahuddin, 861 F.2d at 42.

III. Section 1983

Plaintiff does not overtly specify the nature of his lawsuit other than alleging that Defendants violated Plaintiff's rights. Liberally construing Plaintiff's claim as one pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, that section provides, in relevant part, that: Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law.

42 U.S.C. § 1983. To state a claim under Section 1983, a plaintiff must allege: (1) that the defendant acted under color of state law; and (2) that as a result of the defendant's actions, the plaintiff suffered a deprivation of his or her rights or privileges as secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States. See Am. Mfr. Mut. Ins. Co. v. Sullivan, 526 U.S. 40, 49-50, 119 ...

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