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Scheidel v. United States

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT NORTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK


September 28, 2010

STEPHEN L. SCHEIDEL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, DEFENDANT.

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 pro se civil rights action filed by Stephen L. Scheidel ("Plaintiff") is United States Magistrate Judge George H. Lowe's Report-Recommendation recommending that Plaintiff's Complaint be dismissed with prejudice; that Plaintiff's pending motion to proceed in forma pauperis (Dkt. No. 3) be granted; and that Plaintiff's pending motion to appoint counsel (Dkt. No. 3) and letter-motion for a three-judge panel (Dkt. No. 4) be denied as moot (Dkt. No. 6). For the reasons that follow, the Report-Recommendation is accepted and adopted in its entirety; Plaintiff's Complaint is dismissed in its entirety; his motion for to proceed in forma pauperis is granted; and his motion to appoint counsel and letter-motion for a three-judge panel are denied as moot.

I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

A. Plaintiff's Complaint

Plaintiff filed his Complaint in this action on November 2, 2009. (Dkt. No. 1.) Construed with the utmost of liberality, Plaintiff's Complaint alleges that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation ("FDIC") wrongfully withdrew its offer of employment to Plaintiff as a bank examiner in 2008 after a criminal background check revealed that he had been convicted of the felony of embezzlement from an employee pension fund, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 664, in 1992. (See generally, Dkt. No. 1 [Plf.'s Compl.].) Based on these factual allegations, Plaintiff asserts a host of claims under the United States Constitutions and related New York State law. For a more detailed recitation of these claims, and the factual allegations giving rise to them, the Court refers the reader to the Complaint in its entirety.

B. Procedural History

On May 6, 2010, Magistrate Judge Lowe issued a Report-Recommendation recommending that this action against the United States of America ("United States" or "Defendant") be dismissed with prejudice pursuant to U.S.C. § 1915(e), based on his finding that the underlying claims are duplicative of those claims raised in Plaintiff's separately pending action against a federal agency, Scheidel v. Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp., No. 5:09-CV-0114 (N.D.N.Y.). (Dkt. No. 6.)

On May 10, 2010, Plaintiff filed a response to the Report-Recommendation, which was docketed as an "Objection." (Dkt. No. 7.) In his response, Plaintiff argues that he made a "procedural mistake" in filing this action as a separate proceeding. (Id.) He explains that he made the mistake because he believed he had exhausted his right to amend his Complaint in his prior action, Scheidel v. Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp., No. 5:09-CV-0114 (N.D.N.Y.). (Id.) As a result, Plaintiff requests that the Court withdraw this action and file it as a "cross-complaint" in Case No. 5:09-CV-0114. (Id.)

Earlier today, the Court issued a Decision and Order in the related case of Scheidel v. Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp., No. 5:09-CV-0114 (N.D.N.Y.), dismissing Plaintiff's Amended Complaint in its entirety. In that Decision and Order, the Court found, among other things, as follows: (1) Plaintiff's claim for money damages against the FDIC arising out of the FDIC's alleged violation of the Ex Post Facto Clause is a Bivens claim that is not actionable against the FDIC; (2) even if the claim were actionable, Plaintiff failed to allege facts plausibly suggesting that the FDIC violated the Ex Post Facto Clause; (3) Plaintiff's claim alleging a constitutional violation premised on the Fourteenth Amendment is not actionable because the FDIC is not a state actor; (4) Plaintiff's Fifth Amendment claim is a Bivens claim that is not actionable against the FDIC; (5) Plaintiff did not have a property right in his employment offer, nor a "Fifth Amendment right under New York State law" (or any right under federal or state law) that was violated as a result of the FDIC deeming his certificate of relief of disabilities invalid; (6) Plaintiff failed to allege facts plausibly suggesting a claim for either deprivation of future employment or interference with prospective economic advantage; (7) even if Plaintiff had alleged facts plausibly suggesting a claim for deprivation of future employment or interference with prospective economic advantage, such a claim is specifically barred by the FTCA; (8) Section 702 of the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA") does not confer jurisdiction to this Court to award Plaintiff monetary damages on his claim that the FDIC "unlawful[ly] interpret[ed]" 12 C.F.R. 336 sub part B; (9) to the extent that Plaintiff seeks relief that is not monetary, because Plaintiff's "unlawful interpretation" claim is cognizable under Section 1346(b), the FDIC "cannot be sued in its own name"; and (10) 12 C.F.R. § 336.4 is not an "unlawful" regulation.

II. APPLICABLE LEGAL STANDARDS

A. Standard of Review Governing a Report-Recommendation

When specific objections are made to a magistrate judge's report-recommendation, the Court makes a "de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made." See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C).*fn1

When only general objections are made to a magistrate judge's report-recommendation, the Court reviews the report-recommendation for clear error or manifest injustice. See Brown v. Peters, 95-CV-1641, 1997 WL 599355, at *2-3 (N.D.N.Y. Sept. 22, 1997) (Pooler, J.) [collecting cases], aff'd without opinion, 175 F.3d 1007 (2d Cir. 1999).*fn2 Similarly, when a party makes no objection to a portion of a report-recommendation, the Court reviews that portion for clear error or manifest injustice. See Batista v. Walker, 94-CV-2826, 1995 WL 453299, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. July 31, 1995) (Sotomayor, J.) [citations omitted]; Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b), Advisory Committee Notes: 1983 Addition [citations omitted]. After conducing the appropriate review, the Court may "accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C).

B. Standard Governing Review of Plaintiff's Complaint Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)

Magistrate Judge Lowe correctly recited the legal standard governing a district court's review of complaints submitted by pro se plaintiffs seeking to proceed in forma pauperis (Dkt. No. 6, at 1-3). As a result, this standard is incorporated by reference in this Decision and Order.

III. ANALYSIS

As an initial matter, the Court does not construe Plaintiff's response to Magistrate Judge Lowe's Report-Recommendation as an Objection for purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). Rather, the Court construes Plaintiff's response as a notice of voluntary dismissal of the current action pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(a)(1)(A), conditioned on the Court's permitting Plaintiff to amend his Complaint in Scheidel v. Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp., No. 5:09-CV-0114 (N.D.N.Y.), to add the United States as a Defendant in that action. As a result, the Court must review the Report-Recommendation only for clear error.

After carefully reviewing all of the papers in this action, including Magistrate Judge Lowe's Report-Recommendation, the Court concludes that Magistrate Judge Lowe's thorough Report-Recommendation is correct in all respects.(Dkt. No. 6 [Report-Recommendation].) Magistrate Judge Lowe employed the proper standards, accurately recited the facts, and reasonably applied the law to those facts. (Id.) As a result, the Court accepts and adopts the Report-Recommendation in its entirety for the reasons stated therein.

Having concluded that Plaintiff's Complaint is duplicative of his Amended Complaint in Scheidel v. Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp., No. 5:09-CV-0114 (N.D.N.Y.), the Court must address Plaintiff's request to file a Second Amended Complaint in Scheidel v. Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp., No. 5:09-CV-0114 (N.D.N.Y.), adding the United States as a Defendant in that action. After carefully considering that request, the Court denies it for five reasons.

First, as explained above in Part I.B. of this Decision and Order, earlier today the Court issued a Decision and Order dismissing Plaintiff's Amended Complaint in Scheidel v. Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp., No. 5:09-CV-0114 (N.D.N.Y.). As a result, no action is pending in which Plaintiff may file a Second Amended Complaint.

Second, because Plaintiff has already filed an Amended Complaint in Scheidel v. Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp., No. 5:09-CV-0114 (N.D.N.Y.), and because he has not obtained the written consent of the defendant in that action, Plaintiff must file a motion for leave to amend his Amended Complaint, attaching a copy of his proposed amended pleading and specifically identifying the proposed amendments. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2); N.D.N.Y. L.R. 7.1(a)(4). He has not done so. Moreover, even if he had done so, the Court would deny his motion as unsupported by a showing of cause, in large part due to the futility of the proposed amendment (described below). Furthermore, setting aside the futility of the proposed amendment (described below), the Court finds that the FDIC would be unduly prejudiced by such an amendment, because the FDIC has spent a significant amount of time and resources drafting a motion to dismiss, drafting a reply memorandum of law, and attending mediation.

Third, to the extent that Plaintiff seeks to add to the non-actionable claims asserted in Case No. 5:09-CV-0114 any allegations that are currently asserted in his Complaint in this action, the allegations currently asserted in his Complaint in this action would not add anything of substance to the non-actionable claims that were asserted in Case No. 5:09-CV-0114.

Fourth, the FDIC is an agency of the United States. As a result, to the extent that Plaintiff seeks, in Scheidel v. Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp., No. 5:09-CV-0114 (N.D.N.Y.), to assert against the United States any claims that he has already asserted against the FDIC, those claims are futile.

Fifth, and finally, to the extent that Plaintiff seeks, in Scheidel v. Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp., No. 5:09-CV-0114 (N.D.N.Y.), to assert a bill-of-attainder claim against the United States, such a claim would be futile. A bill of attainder is "a law that legislatively determines guilt and inflicts punishment upon an identifiable individual without provision of the protections of a judicial trial." Nixon v. Admin. of Gen. Servs., 433 U.S. 425, 468 (1977). To show that an act is an ex post facto law or a bill of attainder, the act must be validly characterized as punishment in the constitutional sense. Flemming v. Nestor, 363 U.S. 603, 613 (1960). "In determining whether legislation which bases a disqualification on the happening of a certain past event imposes a punishment, the Court has sought to discern the objects on which the enactment in question was focused." Flemming, 363 U.S. at 613-14. "Where the source of legislative concern can be thought to be the activity or status from which the individual is barred, the disqualification is not punishment even though it may bear harshly upon one affected." Id.

Here, 12 C.F.R. § 1822(f), which provides the FDIC with the authority to enact a regulation that prohibits employment of an individual previously convicted of a felony, is not a bill of attainder because the disqualification is not punishment. See Flemming, 363 U.S. at 616. (noting that "the setting by a State of qualifications for the practice of medicine, and their modification from time to time, is an incident of the State's power to protect the health and safety of its citizens, and its decision to bar from practice persons who commit or have committed a felony is taken as evidencing an intent to exercise that regulatory power, and not a purpose to add to the punishment of ex-felons").*fn3 As a result, Plaintiff's Complaint fails to allege facts plausibly suggesting that 12 C.F.R. § 1822(f) is a bill of attainder.*fn4

For all of these reasons, the Court denies Plaintiff's request to amend his Amended Complaint in Scheidel v. Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp., No. 5:09-CV-0114 (N.D.N.Y.), to add the United States as Defendant.

ACCORDINGLY, it is

ORDERED that Magistrate Judge Lowe's Report-Recommendation (Dkt. No. 6) is ACCEPTED and ADOPTED in its entirety; and it is further

ORDERED that Plaintiff's Complaint (Dkt. No. 1) is DISMISSED in its entirety; and it is further

ORDERED that Plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis (Dkt. No. 3) is granted;*fn5 and it is further

ORDERED that Plaintiff's motion to appoint counsel (Dkt. No. 3) and Plaintiff's letter-motion requesting a three-judge panel (Dkt. No. 4) are DENIED as moot; and it is further

ORDERED that Plaintiff's request to amend his Amended Complaint in Scheidel v. Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp., No. 5:09-CV-0114 (N.D.N.Y.), to add as a Defendant the United States of America is DENIED.

The Clerk is directed to enter judgment in favor of the defendant and close this case.

The Court hereby certifies, for purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3), that any appeal taken from this Decision and Order would not be taken in good faith.


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