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Brandi R. Simmons v. 52nd Precinct

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK


June 18, 2012

BRANDI R. SIMMONS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
52ND PRECINCT, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: John G. Koeltl, United States District Judge:

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER OF SERVICE

Plaintiff, currently incarcerated at Rikers Island, brings this pro se action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Defendants violated his constitutional rights. Named as Defendants are the 52nd Precinct*fn1 and four John Does and one Jane Doe who are police officers or detectives who were working at the 52nd Precinct between 5:00 p.m. on April 27, 2012, and 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. on April 28, 2012.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint, or portion thereof, that states a frivolous or malicious claim, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B), 1915A(b); see Abbas v. Dixon, 480 F.3d 636, 639 (2d Cir. 2007). While the law authorizes dismissal on any of these grounds, district courts "remain obligated to construe a pro se complaint liberally." Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009). Thus, pro se complaints should be read with "special solicitude" and should be interpreted to raise the "strongest [claims] that they suggest." Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 474-75 (2d Cir. 2006) (per curiam) (citations omitted).

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff alleges that on or about April 27, 2012, five officers or detectives from the 52nd Precinct falsely arrested him, "viciously" beat him, and seized $54 of his money "under the pretense that [he] was being charged with criminal sale of a controlled substance." Compl. at 3. Plaintiff alleges that two of the officers "physically and mentally abus[ed]" him while escorting him to North Central Bronx Hospital. Id. In addition, Plaintiff alleges that he was placed in handcuffs and shackles, "lifted in the air," taken to Central Brooking, and "thrown into the cell like cattle." Id. According to Plaintiff, he was arrested in retaliation for a previous civil rights lawsuit he had filed against officers from the same precinct that resulted in Plaintiff obtaining a $17,000 settlement. Id. at 5-6. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages. Id. at 5.

DISCUSSION

A. 52nd Precinct

Plaintiff's claims against the 52nd Precinct of the New York City Police Department must be dismissed because an agency of the City of New York is not an entity that can be sued. N.Y. City Charter ch. 17, § 396 ("[A]ll actions and proceedings for the recovery of penalties for the violation of any law shall be brought in the name of the City of New York and not in that of any agency, except where otherwise provided by law."); see Brewton v. City of New York, 550 F. Supp. 2d 355, 368 (E.D.N.Y. 2008); Echevarria v. Dep't of Corr. Servs., 48 F. Supp. 2d 388, 391 (S.D.N.Y. 1999). In light of Plaintiff's pro se status and clear intention to assert claims against the City of New York, the Court construes the Complaint as asserting claims against the City of New York, and directs the Clerk of Court to amend the caption of this action to substitute the City of New York as the defendant. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 21. This amendment is without prejudice to any defenses the City of New York may wish to assert.

B. John Doe/Jane Doe Defendants:

Plaintiff names four John Does and one Jane Doe. Under Valentin v. Dinkins, 121 F.3d 72 (2d Cir. 1997), a pro se litigant is entitled to assistance from the district court in identifying a defendant. Id. at 76. The Complaint appears to supply sufficient information to permit the New York City Law Department to identify the four John Does and one Jane Doe, officers or detectives who were working at the 52nd Precinct between 5 p.m. on April 27, 2012, and 2 or 3 a.m. on April 28, 2012. It is, therefore, ordered that the New York City Law Department ascertain the identity of the Doe Defendants whom Plaintiff seeks to sue here and the addresses where these Defendants may be served. The New York City Law Department shall provide this information to Plaintiff and the Court within 60 days of the date of this Order.

Plaintiff must thereafter file an Amended Complaint naming the Doe Defendants within 30 days of receiving this information. The Amended Complaint shall replace, not supplement, the original Complaint. An Amended Civil Rights Complaint form, which Plaintiff should complete, is attached to this Order. Once Plaintiff has filed an Amended Complaint, if necessary, the Clerk of Court shall issue an Amended Summons and the Pro Se Office shall send to Plaintiff an amended Rule 4 service package. Plaintiff shall then have 120 days


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