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Chad Johnson v. Suffolk County

June 23, 2011

CHAD JOHNSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SUFFOLK COUNTY, SCPD HEADQUARTERS, MICHAEL SOTO, SEAN P. MCQUAID, SEAN COMISKEY, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN THEIR OFFICIAL CAPACITIES, DEFENDANTS.



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

ORDER

On May 20, 2011, incarcerated pro se plaintiff Chad Johnson ("Plaintiff") filed his Complaint alleging violation of his civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983") accompanied by an application to proceed in forma pauperis. Upon review of Plaintiff's declaration in support of the application, the Court finds that Plaintiff's financial status qualifies him to file this action without prepayment of the filing fee. Accordingly, the application to proceed in forma pauperis is GRANTED. However, for the reasons that follow, the Complaint is sua sponte dismissed with prejudice as against the Suffolk County Police Department Headquarters and without prejudice with leave to file an Amended Complaint as against Suffolk County and the individual officers in so far as they are being sued in their official capacities.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff's brief, handwritten Complaint submitted on the Court's civil rights complaint form alleges that, on May 24, 2010, defendant-police officers Michael Soto, Sean P. McQuaid and Sean Comiskey (collectively "the individual Defendants") compelled Plaintiff "to be wittness [sic] against myself" and "denied my requests for counsel numerous times" in violation of Plaintiff's Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights. (Compl. at § IV). Plaintiff further alleges that the individual Defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights by "choking, smacking, punching [and] kicking" him. (Id.). According to the Complaint, the individual Defendants also "step[ped] on my testicles." (Id.).

As a result of the foregoing, Plaintiff claims to have suffered cuts and bruises on his shoulder, neck, left eye, and on the right side of his face. (Id. at ¶IV. A). Plaintiff also alleges to now suffer from "flagrant migraines, constent [sic] nightmares, depression, and mental/emotional injurys [sic]." (Id.). Plaintiff seeks to recover compensatory damages in the amount of $12,000.00 jointly and severally against each Defendant, punitive damages in the amount of $50,000.00 against each Defendant and the costs of this litigation. (Id. at ¶V). Plaintiff further seeks "a perment [sic] injunction ordering defendants Suffolk County, S.C.P.D. Headquarters to make it a requirement for law enforcement to video tape reading of rights and accused waiving rights while signing Miranda rights card." (Id.).

DISCUSSION

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 the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA")

The PLRA, 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); 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a)&(b); Abbasv.Dixon, 480 F.3d 636, 639 (2d Cir. 2007). The Court is required to dismiss the action as soon as it makes such a determination. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).

It is axiomatic that pro se complaints are held to less stringent standards than pleadings drafted by attorneys and the Court is required to read the Plaintiff's pro se Complaint liberally and interpret it raising the strongest arguments it suggests. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94, 127 S. Ct. 2197, 167 L. Ed. 2d 1081 (2007); Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9, 101 S. Ct. 173, 66 L. Ed. 2d 163 (1980); Pabon v. Wright, 459 F.3d 241, 248 (2d Cir. 2006); McEachin v. McGuinnis, 357 F.3d 197, 200 (2d. Cir. 2004) ("[W]hen the plaintiff proceeds pro se, . . . a court is obliged to construe his pleadings liberally, particularly when they allege civil rights violations."). Moreover, at this stage of the proceeding, the Court assumes the truth of the allegations in the Complaint. See Hughes, 449 U.S. at 10; Koppel v. 4987 Corp., 167 F.3d 125, 127 (2d Cir. 1999).

A. Section 1983

Section 1983 provides that [e]very person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State . . . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States . . . to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured.

42 U.S.C. ยง 1983. To state a claim under Section 1983, a plaintiff must "allege that (1) the challenged conduct was attributable at least in part to a person acting under color of state law and (2) the conduct deprived the plaintiff of a right guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States." Rae v. County of Suffolk, No. 07-CV-2138 (RMM)(ARL), 2010 WL ...


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