UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT NORTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
February 9, 2010
AIMEE O'NEIL AND M.O., PLAINTIFFS,
CATHERINE BEBEE; AND OSWEGO CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT, DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Glenn T. Suddaby, United States District Judge
DECISION and ORDER
Currently before the Court in this a pro se civil rights action filed by Aimee O'Neil ("Plaintiff") is her motion to proceed in forma pauperis, her motion for a stay, and her two separate letter requests. (Dkt. Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.) For the reasons discussed below, Plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis is granted; her Complaint is sua sponte dismissed with prejudice due to its frivolous, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B); her motion for a stay and two letter requests are denied as moot; and she is directed to show cause, within thirty (30) days of the date of this Decision and Order, as to why the Court should not issue an Order prohibiting her from filing any future pro se actions in this Court without prior leave of the Court.
I. PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS
After carefully reviewing Plaintiff's papers in support of her motion to proceed in forma pauperis, the Court finds that she qualifies for in forma pauperis status. (See Dkt. No. 2.) As a result, the Court grants Plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis.*fn1
II. REVIEW OF PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT
A. Court's Duty to Sua Sponte Review Complaint
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), when a plaintiff seeks to proceed in forma pauperis, "the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . the action . . . (i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).*fn2 Thus, there is a responsibility on the Court to determine that a complaint may be properly maintained in the District before it may permit a plaintiff to proceed with an action in forma pauperis. Id.
In determining whether an action is frivolous, the Court must look to see whether the complaint lacks an arguable basis in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). Although the Court has a duty to show liberality towards pro se litigants, Nance v. Kelly, 912 F.2d 605, 606 (2d Cir. 1990) (per curiam), and extreme caution should be exercised in ordering sua sponte dismissal of a pro se complaint before the adverse party has been served and the parties have had an opportunity to respond, Anderson v. Coughlin, 700 F.2d 37, 41 (2d Cir. 1983), there is a responsibility on the Court to determine that a claim is not frivolous before permitting a plaintiff to proceed with an action in forma pauperis in order to prevent abuses of the process of the Court, Harkins v. Eldredge, 505 F.2d 802, 804 (8th Cir. 1974), as well as discourage the waste of judicial resources.
B. Legal Standard Governing Dismissals for Failure to State Claim
It has long been understood that a dismissal for failure to state a claim, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), may be based on either or both of two grounds: (1) a challenge to the "sufficiency of the pleading" under Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2); or (2) a challenge to the legal cognizability of the claim. Jackson v. Onondaga County, 549 F. Supp.2d 204, 211, nn. 15-16 (N.D.N.Y. 2008) (McAvoy, J., adopting Report-Recommendation on de novo review) [citations omitted].
With regard to the first ground, Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2) requires that a pleading contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2) [emphasis added]. By requiring this "showing," Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2) requires that the pleading contain a short and plain statement that "give[s] the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Jackson, 549 F. Supp.2d at 212, n.17 [citations omitted]. The main purpose of this rule is to "facilitate a proper decision on the merits." Id. at 212, n.18 [citations omitted].*fn3
The Supreme Court has long characterized this pleading requirement under Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2) as "simplified" and "liberal," and has repeatedly rejected judicially established pleading requirements that exceed this liberal requirement. Id. at 212, n.20 [citations omitted]. However, even this liberal notice pleading standard "has its limits." Id. at 212, n.21 [citations omitted]. As a result, numerous Supreme Court and Second Circuit decisions exist holding that a pleading has failed to meet this liberal notice pleading standard. Id. at 213, n.22 [citations omitted]; see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949-52 (2009).
Most notably, in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, the Supreme Court reversed an appellate decision holding that a complaint had stated an actionable antitrust claim under 15 U.S.C. § 1. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (2007). In doing so, the Court "retire[d]" the famous statement by the Court in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957), that "a complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim 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." Twombly, 127 S.Ct. at 1968-69. Rather than turning on the conceivability of an actionable claim, the Court clarified, the "fair notice" standard turns on the plausibility of an actionable claim. Id. at 1965-74. The Court explained that, while this does not mean that a pleading need "set out in detail the facts upon which [the claim is based]," it does mean that the pleading must contain at least "some factual allegation[s]." Id. at 1965 [citations omitted]. More specifically, the "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level [to a plausible level]," assuming (of course) that all the allegations in the complaint are true. Id. [citations omitted].*fn4
As have other Circuits, the Second Circuit has recognized that the clarified plausibility standard that was articulated by the Supreme Court in Twombly governs all claims, including claims brought by pro se litigants (although the plausibility ofthose claims is to be assessed generously, in light of the special solicitude normally afforded pro se litigants).*fn5 It should be emphasized that Fed. R. Civ. P. 8's plausibility standard, explained in Twombly, was in no way retracted or diminished by the Supreme Court's decision (two weeks later) in Erickson v. Pardus, in which (when reviewing a pro se pleading) the Court stated, "Specific facts are not necessary" to successfully state a claim under Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Erickson v. Pardus, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007) [citation omitted; emphasis added]. That statement was merely an abbreviation of the often-repeated point of law--first offered in Conley and repeated in Twombly--that a pleading need not "set out in detail the facts upon which [the claim is based]" in order to successfully state a claim. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1965, n.3 (citing Conley, 355 U.S. at 47) [emphasis added]. That statement did not mean that all pleadings may achieve the requirement of "fair notice" without ever alleging any facts whatsoever. Clearly, there must still be enough fact set out (however set out, whether in detail or in a generalized fashion) to raise a right to relief above the speculative level to a plausible level.*fn6
Finally, in reviewing a complaint for dismissal under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), the court must accept the material facts alleged in the complaint as true and construe all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. This standard is applied with even greater force where the plaintiff alleges civil rights violations and/or where the complaint is submitted pro se. However, while the special leniency afforded to pro se civil rights litigants somewhat loosens the procedural rules governing the form of pleadings (as the Second Circuit has observed),*fn7 it does not completely relieve a pro se plaintiff of the duty to satisfy the pleading standards in Fed. R. Civ. P. 8, 10 and 12.*fn8 Rather, asboth the Supreme Court and Second Circuit have repeatedly recognized, the requirements set forth in Fed. R. Civ. P. 8, 10, and 12 are procedural rules that even pro se civil rights plaintiff must follow.*fn9 Stated more plainly, when a plaintiff is proceeding pro se, " all normal rules of pleading are not absolutely suspended." Jackson, 549 F. Supp.2d at 214, n.28 [citations omitted].
C. Summary of Plaintiff's Complaint
On October 8, 2009, Plaintiff filed her Complaint in this action. (Dkt. No. 1.) The text in the body of the Complaint is single spaced, and its pages are unnumbered. (Id.) In only four of the twelve pages (specifically, pages two through five) of the Complaint does Plaintiff make any attempt at numbering paragraphs. (Id. at 2-5.) Even when she does so, she does not number the paragraphs consecutively. (Id.) Most of the paragraphs are not limited as far as practicable to a single set of circumstances, but extend to numerous sets of circumstances. (Id. at 4-10.) In the caption, Plaintiff names herself, as well as her daughter, M.O., as Plaintiffs in the action, and Catherine Bebee and the Oswego City Schools as the Defendants in the action. (Id. at 1.) However, in the body of the Complaint, Plaintiff identifies a host of other Defendants, at one point also seemingly naming M.O. as a Defendant. (Id. at 3-12.)
With regard to her claims, construed with the utmost of special leniency, Plaintiff has commenced this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, asserting several civil rights violations. (Dkt. No. 1, Attach. 1 [Civil Cover Sheet ].) As summarized by Plaintiff, for example, her claims encompass "tax evasion, fraud, perjury, libel, defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, malpractice, negligence, invasion of privacy, violation of unlawful search and seizure, deprivation of due process, and violation of equal rights under the law . . . based upon section U.S. 42 section 1983 and 1876 . . . ."*fn10 (Dkt. No. 1 at 10.)
In support of these claims, Plaintiff asserts factual allegations regarding a broad range of events occurring from the summer of 2000 to the spring of 2001, including (but not limited to) conspiracy, bribery, kidnaping, and perjury by a social worker. (See generally Dkt. No. 1.)
More specifically, Plaintiff alleges that, between approximately August of 2000 and April of 2001, Defendant Bebee, a social worker employed by the Oswego City School District, (1) conspired with six other individuals (including members of "the Baker family," who presumably reside in or near Oswego, New York) to kidnap Plaintiff's daughter on December 22, 2000, from a children's hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, where she was receiving orthopedic medical treatment from Dr. Sheila Love, and transport her to New York, and then (2) perpetrated a fraud on an Oswego County Court in a proceeding presided over by Judge James McCarthy in April of 2001. (Id.)
Plaintiff further alleges that, in carrying out this conspiracy, Defendant Bebee committed the following acts: (1) she acted at the behest, and/or for the benefit, of Plaintiff's ex-husband (apparently named William Wallace), who purports to be the father of Plaintiff's daughter but who has not proved his paternity; (2) she accepted a bribe of one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) from someone in, or associated with, the Baker family, which she intended to use for the purpose of a transgender operation; (3) she invaded Plaintiff's privacy by relying on a sealed child protection report documenting the orthopedic injury to Plaintiff's daughter, and by causing Plaintiff's home to be searched illegally; (4) she not only kidnaped Plaintiff's daughter but her two other children, whom she smuggled to a third state before bringing them to New York; (5) she falsely accused Plaintiff of child abuse; (6) she helped to somehow restrict Plaintiff's parental rights in court through use of fraud, slander and due process violations; and (7) she caused Plaintiff's daughter to be placed with the Baker family in New York, against the recommendation of her daughter's pediatrician. (Id.)
As relief, Plaintiff demands $1,000,000.00 in compensatory and punitive damages. (Id. at 12.)
D. Analysis of Complaint
As an initial matter, the Court notes that the form of Plaintiff's Complaint violates several federal and local rules. See, e.g., Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(a) (requiring caption to name all defendants); Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(b) (requiring that all paragraphs be numbered sequentially, and that each paragraph be limited as far as practicable to a single set of circumstances); N.D.N.Y. L.R. 10.1(a) (requiring text in body of complaint to be double-spaced, and pages to be consecutively numbered). However, in light of the special solicitude that should ordinarily be afforded pro se litigants (and because these rule violations pale in comparison to Plaintiff's other pleading deficiencies, described below), the Court will overlook these rule violations. The Court does this with some hesitancy, given Plaintiff's familiarity with the pleading requirements established the local and federal rules, due to her extraordinary litigiousness (see, infra, Part IV of this Decision and Order).
The Court notes also that Plaintiff has filed this action not only on her own behalf, but apparently on behalf of her child, M.O., who is a minor. (See Dkt. No. 1 , at 3; Dkt. No. 2, at 2 [listing M.O. as a dependent].) As Plaintiff previously has been repeatedly advised, M.O. may not proceed on her own behalf. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 17(c).*fn11 Nor is a "pro se" non-attorney permitted to represent another person in federal court litigation. Berrios v. New York City Housing Auth., 564 F.3d 130, 132-133 (2d Cir. 2009). Accordingly, M.O. is dismissed as a Plaintiff in this action.
With regard to Plaintiff's claims, many of the the factual allegations throughout the Complaint are conclusory, unsubstantiated and rambling; and there are few detailed allegations clearly identifying individual(s), dates, and specific acts of the asserted misconduct forming the basis for alleged constitutional violations. Succinctly stated, the manner in which Plaintiff has set forth her claims is not short and plain, but so verbose, disjointed, vague and confusing that it is nearly impossible for the Court to assess them, and surely impossible for the Defendants to respond to them and prepare for trial.*fn12 However, in an extension of special solicitude to Plaintiff, and an effort to provide a more detailed explanation as to why Plaintiff's Complaint is frivolous, the Court will attempt to address the bulk of Plaintiff's claims in more detail.
1. Section 1983 Pleading Requirements
Generally, to state a claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege that (1) the challenged conduct was attributable at least in part to a person or entity acting under color of state law and (2) such conduct deprived the plaintiff of a right, privilege, or immunity secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States. Dwares v. City of New York, 985 F.2d 94, 98 (2d Cir. 1993); see also Torres v. Mazzuca, 246 F. Supp.2d 334, 342 (S.D.N.Y. 2003) (quoting West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 ).
a. Person or Entity
State action is an essential element of any § 1983 claim. See Gentile v. Republic Tobacco Co., 95-CV-1500, 1995 WL 743719, at *2 (N.D.N.Y. Dec. 6, 1995) (Pooler, J.) (citing Velaire v. City of Schenectady, 862 F. Supp. 774, 776 (N.D.N.Y. 1994) (McAvoy, C.J.) [citation omitted]). It is the plaintiff's duty to allege state action on the part of the defendants named in a complaint; and a court may dismiss an action under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) where a plaintiff fails to plead such a nexus. See, e.g., Jenkins v. Murphy, 08-CV-0921, 2008 WL 4596197, at *2 (N.D.N.Y. Oct. 14, 2008) (McCurn, J.) [collecting cases]; Humphrey v. Rescue Mission, 05-CV-0795, 2005 WL 1661826, at *2 (N.D.N.Y. July 14, 2005) (Mordue, J.) [collecting cases].*fn13
Here, the action is brought against Catherine Bebee and her employer, the Oswego City Schools. Examples of Plaintiff's allegations against Bebee are as follows:
D. Invasion of privacy -- Catherine Bebee violated, denied, and /or abridged, my privacy under the colors of state laws by misusing and abusing her job position and leaving her jurisdiction, Freeman v. Rideout, 808 F 2d 949 (2d CIR.1986).
3. Negligence -- because Catherine Bebee failed to verify the validity of a court order, paternity order, and her own job duties before leaving the state of New York, Catherine Bebee is also negligent because the injury to [M.O.] was unfounded and legally sealed, in which Catherine Bebee, a social worker, has total access to a founded or unfounded report, and even if it was founded, it does not entitle Catherine Bebee to travel to the State of Florida as the state of Florida, in their own jurisdiction, has their own social workers, to handle their own investigations based upon findings of Dr. Sheila Love, as Sheila Love was assigned to treat patient [M.O.]
Catherine Bebee is not assigned, she has no jurisdiction over [M.O.] and there needs to be a clear, definitive ruling stating Catherine Bebee has no jurisdictional authority over said child, and will never have any. It is very important to establish this factor, because the pattern of retaliation is only continuing so said child cannot attend public school. . . . (Dkt. No. 1, at 3-4.)
Catherine Bebee, while under oath, under the penalties of perjury, in front of Judge James McCarthy, stated she was paid a large sum of money to travel to Florida and take said children after a careful conspiracy and several meetings to carefully plan out this act. Catherine Bebee stated she was paid an excessive $100,000.00 and was going to use this money for the purpose a transgender operation, in which she felt entitled to undertake by causing trauma and harm to my home and my family. (Dkt. No. 1, at 5.)
For the sake of brevity, the Court will assume that Plaintiff has alleged facts plausibly suggesting that Defendant Bebee was acting in her capacity as a state actor when she committed the acts in question. Again, the Court does this with some hesitancy, given the fact that it is not clear in what position with the school district Defendant Bebee was acting which would have conferred upon her duties regarding Plaintiff's daughter during the time in question (or even that she was employed by a municipal entity rather than some private non-profit organization).*fn14
More problematic is Plaintiff's claim against the Oswego City School District. As an initial matter, to the extent that Plaintiff seeks to impose liability on the City of Oswego or the Oswego City School District, there are no factual allegations plausibly suggesting liability by either entity. Moreover, "[a]lthough municipalities are within the ambit of section 1983, municipal liability does not attach for actions undertaken by city employees under a theory of respondeat superior." Birdsall v. City of Hartford, 249 F. Supp.2d 163, 173 (D. Conn. 2003) (citing Monell v. New York City Dep't of Soc. Servs. of City of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 691, 98 S.Ct. 2018, 2036 ).
However, despite the fact that respondeat superior liability does not lie, a municipal entity can be held accountable for a constitutional violation which has occurred pursuant to "a policy statement, ordinance, regulation, or decision officially adopted and promulgated by [the municipality's] officers . . . [or] pursuant to governmental 'custom' even though such a custom has not received formal approval through the body's official decision making channels." Monell, 436 U.S. at 690-91, 98 S.Ct. at 2036. Such municipal liability can be alleged in a case as this in various ways including, inter alia,through allegation of an officially adopted rule or widespread, informal custom plausibly suggesting "a deliberate government policy or failing to train or supervise its officers." Bruker v. City of New York,337 F. Supp.2d 539, 556 (S.D.N.Y. 2004) (citingand quoting Anthony v. City of New York, 339 F.3d 129, 140 [2d Cir. 2003]). A plaintiff may also allege such municipal liability by alleging facts plausibly suggesting that municipal officers have acquiesced in or condoned a known policy, custom or practice. Jeffes v. Barnes, 208 F.3d 49, 57 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, County of Schenectady v. Jeffes, 531 U.S. 813, 121 S.Ct. 47 (2000); Wenger v. Canastota Cent. Sch. Dist., 95-CV-1081, 2004 WL 726007, at *3 (N.D.N.Y. Apr. 5, 2004) (Scullin, C.J.).
Here, the Complaint is devoid of factual allegations that plausibly suggest liability against the Oswego City School District. Again, it is unclear that Defendant Bebee is employed by that entity (as opposed to being employed by Oswego County or some private non-profit organization). For example, at least one portion of the Complaint alleges that Defendant Bebee is employed by Oswego County. (See Dkt. No. 1, at 9-10.) In addition, and more importantly, there are no factual allegations plausibly suggesting that, at the time of the alleged constitutional violations, Defendant Bebee was acting pursuant to an official custom, policy, or practice of the Oswego City School District. Rather, the Complaint rather explicitly alleges that Defendant Bebee was acting outside of her authority and pursuant to employment by the Baker Family.
For all these reasons, Plaintiff's claims against Defendant Oswego City School District are dismissed for frivolousness.
b. Right, Privilege, or Immunity Secured by the Constitution
As to the constitutional violations asserted in Plaintiff's Complaint, references to constitutional rights and amendments are generally confined to five of the twelve pages of the Complaint. (See generally Dkt. No. 1, at 1-3, 5, 10.) More specifically, construed with the utmost liberality, Plaintiff's Complaint asserts that Defendant Bebee violated her following three constitutional rights: (1) her right to privacy under the Fourth Amendment; (2) her right to procedural due process under the Fourteenth Amendment; and (3) her right to equal protection of the laws under the Fourteenth Amendment. (Id.) In addition, Plaintiff asserts a conspiracy claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Id. at 2, 7-10.)*fn15
With regard to Plaintiff's right-to-privacy claim under the Fourth Amendment, Plaintiff alleges that this violation occurred when the following acts occurred: (1) her home, in an unspecified city and state, was illegally searched at an unspecified time by an unspecified individual; and (2) Defendant Bebee relied on a sealed child protection report documenting the orthopedic injury to Plaintiff's daughter, in her effort to kidnap Plaintiff's daughter, transport her from Florida to New York, and/or somehow restrict Plaintiff's parental rights. (Id. at 1-2, 4-5.) The first act is simply too vague and speculative to plausibly suggest a Fourth Amendment violation by Defendant Bebee. The second act, as alleged, does not give rise to a Fourth Amendment violation for three reasons: (1) it is highly questionable whether the act plausibly constitutes a violation of N.Y. Social Services Law § 422-a, which permits disclosure of a sealed child protection report by a social services commissioner under certain circumstances; (2) even if the act does plausibly constitute such a violation, a violation of state law does not, in and of itself, give rise to a violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which requires a violation of either the United States Constitution or a federal statute;*fn16 and (3) even if the act does give rise to a constitutional violation, it is highly questionable whether Plaintiff has standing to assert that violation, because the report concerned Plaintiff's daughter (and Plaintiff is as a pro se litigant who cannot litigate the claim on behalf of her daughter).
With regard to Plaintiff's due process claim under the Fourteenth Amendment, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants failed to give any her notice and an opportunity to be heard (including an opportunity to present evidence and witnesses such as medical experts), presumably in a legal proceeding in Family Court in Oswego County to terminate Plaintiff's parental rights and/or modify her visitation rights. (Id. at 1-2.) This vague allegation does not allege facts plausibly suggest how much process was due because it does not allege in what type of proceeding Plaintiff was denied procedural protections (e.g., a modification of Plaintiff's visitation rights, a termination of Plaintiff's parental rights, a temporary removal of Plaintiff's daughter with the written consent of the person legally responsible for her care, a preliminary order of removal of Plaintiff's daughter after a petition is filed, a preliminary order of removal of Plaintiff's daughter before a petition is filed, or an emergency removal of Plaintiff's daughter without a court order). Indeed, based on Plaintiff's other factual allegations, it is plausible that the proceeding was permitted to be conducted ex parte. It is even conceivable that Plaintiff did not even have standing to participate in the proceeding.
With regard to Plaintiff's equal protection claim under the Fourteenth Amendment, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Bebee treated Plaintiff unequally under the law by exceeding the scope of her job duties to (1) invade Plaintiff's privacy, (2) travel to Florida to kidnap her daughter, and (3) "impact" Plaintiff by traumatizing her daughter, and depriving her daughter of medical treatment in New York State. (Id. at 2-5.) To assert an equal protection claim, a plaintiff must allege facts plausibly suggesting that she was intentionally treated differently from others similarly situated as a result of intentional or purposeful discrimination directed at an identifiable or suspect class. Where the alleged classification involves a "suspect class" or "quasi-suspect class," the alleged classification is subject to "strict scrutiny" by a court. Otherwise, the alleged classification is subject to only "rational basis scrutiny." To survive such scrutiny, the alleged classification need only be "rationally related" to a "legitimate state interest."
Here, Plaintiff has not even alleged facts plausibly suggesting there has been any classification at all in this case, i.e., that she was intentionally treated differently from others similarly situated as a result of intentional or purposeful discrimination directed at an identifiable or suspect class. (Rather, she alleges that Defendant Bebee acted differently compared to other social workers.) Moreover, even if Plaintiff had alleged facts plausibly suggesting that she was treated differently from others, she has not alleged facts plausibly suggesting that the alleged discrimination she experienced was not rationally related to a legitimate state interest (i.e., protecting Plaintiff's daughter by returning her to lawful custodians in New York State).
With regard to Plaintiff's conspiracy claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, she alleges that, between approximately August and December of 2000, Defendant Bebee conspired with numerous members of "the Baker family" to kidnap Plaintiff's daughter on December 22, 2000, from a children's hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, and transport her to New York. (Id. at 2, 7-10.) More specifically, Plaintiff alleges that this conspiracy possessed the following characteristics: (1) it was perpetrated by seven individuals; (2) it was motivated, in part, by revenge against Plaintiff for causing the "drug bust" of one of the conspirators; (3) it was motivated also by the certain other conspirators' need for money to satisfy illegal gambling debts and to pay for a transgender operation; (4) it was preceded by witness tampering and extortion by one of the conspirators, and the making of a death threat to Plaintiff by another of the conspirators while Plaintiff was approximately eight months pregnant; (5) it culminated in the making of a bribe of $100,000 to Defendant Bebee, and a bribe of an unspecified amount to two other conspirators; and (6) it was followed by tax evasion by at least five of the seven conspirators. (Id.)
To sustain a conspiracy claim under § 42 U.S.C. 1983, a plaintiff must demonstrate that a defendant "acted in a wilful manner, culminating in an agreement, understanding or meeting of the minds, that violated the plaintiff's rights . . . secured by the Constitution or the federal courts." Malsh v. Austin, 901 F. Supp. 757, 763 (S.D.N.Y. 1995) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). Conclusory, vague, or general allegations of a conspiracy to deprive a person of constitutional rights do not state a claim for relief under section 1983. See Sommer v. Dixon, 709 F.2d 173, 175 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 464 U.S. 857 (1983).
Here, the only factual allegation contained in Plaintiff's Complaint that plausibly suggests a "meeting of the minds" between Defendant Bebee and any of the other six alleged conspirators is her receipt--at an unspecified place and time from an unidentified individuals--of $100,000 for a transgender operation. (Dkt. No. 1, at 2, 7-10.) These pleading deficiencies--which render his claim vague and conclusory--are fatal to Plaintiff's conspiracy claim. See Polur v. Raffe, 912 F.2d 52, 56 (2d Cir. 1990), cert. denied, 499 U.S. 937 (1991); Barr v. Abrams,810 F.2d 358, 363 (2d Cir. 1987); Warren v. Fischl, 33 F. Supp. 2d 171, 177 (E.D.N.Y. 1999).
For all these reasons, Plaintiff's claims against Defendant Bebee are dismissed for frivolousness.*fn17
2. Statute of Limitations
Even when construed with the utmost of special leniency, the events giving rise to Plaintiff's claims occurred between approximately August of 2000 (when the conspirators started meeting about Plaintiff) and April of 2001 (when Defendant Bebee perpetrated a fraud on an Oswego County Court in a proceeding presided over by Judge James McCarthy in April of 2001. (Dkt. No. 1, at 3-8, 10.)
"The applicable statute of limitations for § 1983 actions arising in New York requires claims to be brought within three years." Pinaud v. County of Suffolk, 52 F.3d 1138, 1156 (2d Cir. 1995) [citations omitted]; see also Connolly v. McCall, 254 F.3d 36, 40-41 (2d Cir. 2001) ("[Plaintiff's] federal constitutional claims, brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, are governed by New York's three-year statute of limitations for personal injury actions . . . .") [citations omitted]. A claim arising under Section 1983 accrues "when the plaintiff knows or has reason to know of the harm that he seeks to redress." Connolly v. McCall, 254 F.3d 36, 41 (2d Cir. 2001) [internal quotation marks and citation omitted], accord, Pearl v. City of Long Beach, 296 F.3d 76, 80 (2d Cir. 2002) [internal quotation marks and citations omitted].
Here, the three-year limitations period started running, at the latest, in April of 2001, and expired, at the latest, in April of 2004. Under the circumstances, the applicable three-year limitations period clearly bars Plaintiff's claims. The Court notes that Plaintiff, an experienced pro se litigant who has had similar if not identical claims barred due to untimeliness, was, when she filed this action, undoubtedly aware of this limitation period. See, e.g., O'Neil v. Oswego County Family Court, 07-CV-6016, Decision and Order, at 11-12 (W.D.N.Y. filed Feb. 20, 2007); O'Neil v. Fulton Police Dept., 07-CV-6045, Decision and Order, at 1, 16 (W.D.N.Y. filed Feb. 28, 2007); O'Neil v. N.Y.S. Dept. of Educ., UID 2007-038-526, Decision (N.Y. Ct. Cl. filed March 30, 2007).
For this alternative reason, Plaintiff's claims against Defendants are dismissed for frivolousness.
3. Res Judicata and Collateral Estoppel
In the following three cases, Plaintiff's claims against Defendant Bebee and Oswego City Schools were previously dismissed on multiple grounds, including untimeliness: (1) O'Neil v. Oswego County Family Court, 07-CV-6016, Decision and Order, at 10-12 (W.D.N.Y. filed Feb. 20, 2007) (dismissing Plaintiff's claims against Defendants Bebee and Oswego City Schools based on untimeliness and lack of federal jurisdiction); (2) O'Neil v. State of New York, 07-CV-0071, Decision and Order, at 6-7 (N.D.W. Va. filed July 19, 2007) (dismissing Plaintiff's claims against Defendants Bebee and City of Oswego for lack of federal jurisdiction); and (3) O'Neil v. N.Y.S. Dept. of Educ., UID 2007-038-526, Decision (N.Y. Ct. Cl. filed March 30, 2007) (dismissing Plaintiff's claims against Defendant Bebee as untimely pursuant to, inter alia, New York State's three-year statute of limitations governing certain of those claims).
For this alternative reason, Plaintiff's claims against Defendants are dismissed for frivolousness.
4. Nature of Dismissal
Generally, when a pro se action is dismissed sua sponte, the plaintiff should be allowed to amend his or her complaint once before their complaints are dismissed. See Gomez v. USAA Fed. Savings Bank, 171 F.3d 794, 796 (2d Cir. 1999). However, such leave is not required where any amended complaint would be futile due to the substantive nature of the fatal flaws in the original complaint.*fn18 Here, the flaws in Plaintiff's Complaint are substantive in nature such that better pleading would not cure them. As a result, the Court finds that it would be futile to afford Plaintiff an opportunity to amend her Complaint.
III. PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR STAY AND TWO LETTER REQUESTS
Plaintiff's motion to stay the proceedings is rendered moot by the Court's dismissal of Plaintiff's action with prejudice due to its frivolousness. As a result, that motion is denied as moot. In the alternative, that motion is denied as procedurally improper in that it is unsupported by an affidavit, as required by Local Rule 7.1(a). Moreover, that motion is denied on the second alternative ground that it is unsupported by a showing of cause. (Dkt. No. 3.) Specifically, Plaintiff appears to be requesting that this action be stayed "in order to criminally arrest employees required to mandate abuse and were allegedly involved in human trafficking, . . . ." (Id. at 2.) Finally, as for Plaintiff's two letters requesting requested that the Clerk issue summonses for service upon Defendants, in light of the foregoing, those requests are denied as moot. (Dkt. Nos. 4, 5.)
IV. ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE
A review of Plaintiff's litigation history reveals that, in addition to filing the current action in this District, she has filed five (5) other pro se civil rights actions in this District: (1) O'Neil v. Diskey, 5:09-CV-0540, Complaint (N.D.N.Y. filed on May 7, 2009) (transferred by Suddaby, J., to the Middle District of Florida on May 20, 2009); (2) O'Neil v. Van Auser, 5:09-CV-0594, Complaint (N.D.N.Y. filed on May 20, 2009) (dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction by Mordue, C.J., on July 21, 2009); (3) O'Neil v. Ponzi-Flett, 5:09-CV-0983, Complaint (N.D.N.Y. filed on Aug. 28, 2009) (dismissed for frivolousness by Suddaby, J., on February 9, 2010); (4) O'Neil v. Ponzi, 5:09-CV-0985, Complaint (N.D.N.Y. filed on Aug. 28, 2009) (dismissed as duplicative by Suddaby, J., on Oct. 22, 2009); and (5) O'Neil v. Pasco County, 5:09-CV-1175, Complaint (N.D.N.Y. filed on Oct. 21, 2009) (transferred by Suddaby, J., to the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida on December 7, 2009). Moreover, a review of the Federal Judiciary's Public Access to Court Electronic Records ("PACER") reveals that Aimee O'Neil has filed some forty (40) pro se civil rights actions in other federal courts across the country. These actions include thirty-two (30) pro se civil actions filed in the Western District of New York in 2007 (eighteen of which were filed in the same week). These actions also include seven (7) pro se civil actions filed in the Northern District of West Virginia. These actions also include two (2) pro se civil actions filed in the Middle District of Florida. Finally, these actions include one (1) pro se civil actions filed in the Western District of Michigan.
All of Plaintiff's actions filed in the Western District of New York were sua sponte dismissed with prejudice as frivolous. See O'Neil v. Fulton Police Dept., 07-CV-6045, Decision and Order, at 7-18 (W.D.N.Y. filed Feb. 28, 2007). Similarly, all of Plaintiff's actions filed in the Northern District of West Virginia were sua sponte dismissed with prejudice as frivolous. See O'Neil v. Cornerstone Homes, 07-CV-0069, 2007 WL 2116410, at *1-5 (N.D. W.V. July 19, 2007), aff'd by O'Neil v. Oswego County Dept. of Soc. Servs., 258 F. App'x 581 (4th Cir. Dec. 17, 2007). As for Plaintiff's three remaining actions in other districts, two were sua sponte dismissed (the third having been filed merely a month ago). Finally, it is important to note that many of the forty-six (46) pro se civil actions that Plaintiff has filed have been duplicative in nature. Indeed, the current action is duplicative in nature. See, supra, Part II.3. of this Decision and Order.
Under such circumstances, a federal district court may impose a reasonable filing restriction on a pro se litigant in that particular court, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 11, 28 U.S.C. § 1651(a), and its inherent authority to control and manage its own docket so as to prevent abuse in its proceedings. For example, a federal district court may, after providing an appropriate opportunity to be heard, prohibit a vexatious litigant from filing, in that particular court, any action pro se (that is, without counsel), without prior leave of that court.See Hong Mai Sa v. Doe, 406 F.3d 155, 158 (2d Cir. 2005) ("If a litigant has a history of filing vexatious, harassing or duplicative lawsuits, courts may impose sanctions, including restrictions on future access to the judicial system.") [internal quotations and citations omitted]; In re Sassower, 20 F.3d 42, 44 (2d Cir. 1994) (where a pro se plaintiff has demonstrated a "clear pattern of abusing the litigation process by filing vexatious and frivolous complaints," a "leave to file" requirement may be instituted by the court as an appropriate sanction); Moates v. Barkley, 147 F.3d 207, 208 (2d Cir. 1998) ("[T]he district court may not impose a filing injunction on a litigant sua sponte without providing the litigant with notice and an opportunity to be heard."); Azubuko v. Unknown Boston Police Officers, 08-CV-0330, 2008 WL 1767067, at *1 (N.D.N.Y. Apr. 16, 2008) (McCurn, J.).
It is worth noting that at least two federal district courts have imposed such a restriction on Plaintiff. See O'Neil v. Fulton Police Dept., 07-CV-6045, Decision and Order, at 18-20 (W.D.N.Y. filed Feb. 28, 2007); O'Neil v. Cornerstone Homes, 07-CV-0069, 2007 WL 2116410, at *6 (N.D. W.V. July 19, 2007), aff'd by O'Neil v. Oswego County Dept. of Soc. Servs., 258 F. App'x 581 (4th Cir. Dec. 17, 2007).
Because of her history of filing vexatious, harassing or duplicative lawsuits, Plaintiff is hereby warned that the Court will not tolerate the filing of frivolous actions by her in the future. As a result, she is directed to show cause, within thirty (30) days of the date of this Decision and Order, as to why this Court should not issue an Order barring her from filing any future pro se actions without first obtaining leave of the Court. In the event that Plaintiff fails to show such cause, she will be prohibited from filing, in this Court, anyaction pro se (that is, without counsel), without prior leave of the Court, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 11, 28 U.S.C. § 1651(a) and the Court's inherent authority to control and manage its own docket so as to prevent abuse in its proceedings.
ACCORDINGLY, it is
ORDERED that Plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis (Dkt. No. 2) is GRANTED; and it is further
ORDERED that Plaintiff's Complaint (Dkt. No. 1) is sua sponte DISMISSED with prejudice due to its frivolousness, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i),(ii); and it is further
ORDERED that Plaintiff's motion for a stay (Dkt. No. 3) is DENIED; and it is further ORDERED that Plaintiff's requests that the Clerk issue summonses for service upon the Defendants (Dkt. Nos. 4, 5) are DENIED; and it is further
ORDERED that Plaintiff is hereby directed to SHOW CAUSE, within THIRTY (30) DAYS of the date of this Decision and Order, why this Court should not issue an Order barring her from filing any future pro se actions in this Court without first obtaining leave of the Court. In the event that Plaintiff fails to show such cause, she will be PROHIBITED from filing, in this Court, anyaction pro se (that is, without counsel) without prior leave of the Court, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1651(a) and the Court's inherent authority to control and manage its own docket so as to prevent abuse in its proceedings.
The Court hereby certifies, for purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3), that any appeal taken from the Court's final judgment in this action would not be taken in good faith.