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Wallace v. Suffolk County Correctional Facility

July 2, 2010

MAURICE WALLACE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SUFFOLK COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, SUFFOLK COUNTY, NEW YORK, CORRECTIONAL OFFICER THOMAS HEAVEY, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Presently pending before the Court is incarcerated pro se plaintiff Maurice Wallace's ("Plaintiff") application to proceed in forma pauperis and Complaint alleging violation of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983"). For the reasons that follow, the application to proceed in forma pauperis is GRANTED, the claim asserted against Defendant Suffolk County Correctional Facility ("SCCF") is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE, and the claim asserted against Defendant Suffolk County is DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. In addition, the Court finds that the appointment of pro bono counsel is warranted pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1).

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff commenced this action against SCCF, Suffolk County, New York, and C.O. Thomas Heavey*fn1 , alleging violation of his constitutional rights pursuant to Section 1983. Plaintiff, a frequent filer in this Court*fn2 , avers that on July 27, 2009, he was ordered to "[l]ay on the ground before I hit you with the baton" by an unidentified corrections officer. Plaintiff claims that while complying with that directive, he was then handcuffed by another unidentified corrections officer while another unidentified corrections officer "put his boot on my neck." Plaintiff alleges that Defendant C.O. Heavey then "kicked me in the face twice causing facial fractures, redness of my right eye." Defendant C.O. Heavey is also alleged to have sprayed mace at the Plaintiff. Plaintiff alleges that these actions were taken against him in retaliation for his then-pending lawsuits "against [the corrections officers'] co-workers, and detectives and/or police whom may be friends or family." As a result of the alleged assault, Plaintiff seeks damages in the amount of "eight hundred million."*fn3 Plaintiff alleges that his glasses were broken during the assault and that he suffered a "right facial fracture." Plaintiff claims to now experience sleepless nights, that he has a jaw that "locks and unlocks" and that has suffered mental anguish. Consequently, Plaintiff claims that he is "a victim of cruel and unusual punishment" and "excessive force." The Complaint is accompanied by an application to proceed in forma pauperis.

DISCUSSION

I. In Forma Pauperis

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

II. Application Of 28 U.S.C. § 1915

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.

It is axiomatic that the Court is required to read the Plaintiff's pro se Complaint liberally and to 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)); see also 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); see also Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200, 167 L.Ed. 2d 1081 (2007) ("a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers"). Moreover, at this stage of the proceedings, the Court assumes the truth of the allegations in the Complaint. See H.J. Inc. v. Northwestern Bell Tel. Co., 492 U.S. 229, 249-50, 109 S.Ct. 2893, 106 L.Ed. 2d 195 (1989); Koppel v. 4987 Corp., 167 F.3d 125, 127 (2d Cir. 1999).

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).

III. Section 1983

Section 1983 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 ...


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