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Darlington Amadasu v. Sema Felix Ngati

September 9, 2012

DARLINGTON AMADASU, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SEMA FELIX NGATI, LAW OFFICES OF S. FELIX NGATI, ERIC ABAKPORO, AND LAW OFFICES OF ERIC ABAKPORO, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Roslynn R. Mauskopf, United States District Judge.

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

Before the Court are pro se plaintiff Darlington Amadasu's September 28, 2011 filings, entered on ECF as: (1) a motion to vacate and set aside the Court's September 2, 2011 Memorandum and Order adopting the August 15, 2011 Report and Recommendation ("R&R");

(2) a cross-motion for summary judgment against Eric Abakporo and the Law Offices of Eric Abakporo; and (3) an opposition to defendants' motions for summary judgment. (Doc. Nos. 73, 74, 76.)*fn1 For the reasons set forth below, the September 2, 2011 Memorandum and Order is VACATED sua sponte, all of plaintiff's motions are DENIED, and the Court adopts the August 15, 2011 R&R in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

Familiarity with the factual background of this action, set forth in detail in the R&R (Doc. No. 70 at 1-4), is assumed. On March 4, 2011, defendants were permitted to move for summary judgment on all of plaintiff's claims nunc pro tunc. (Doc. No. 65.) By Order entered March 7, 2011, this Court referred those motions to the assigned Magistrate Judge, the Honorable Lois Bloom, for a Report and Recommendation ("R&R"). Plaintiff was instructed by Judge Bloom to file his opposition to the motions by April 7, 2011. (Id.) However, instead of opposing the motions, plaintiff moved pursuant to Rule 56(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for additional time to conduct discovery. (Doc. No. 66.) On April 15, 2011, Judge Bloom denied plaintiff's Rule 56(d) motion but extended his time to oppose the defendants' motions to May 13, 2011. (Doc. No. 67.)

Nevertheless, on May 9, 2011, instead of filing an opposition, plaintiff: (1) moved to stay adjudication of the summary judgment motions; (2) sought an extension of time file an opposition; and (3) objected to Judge Bloom's April 15, 2011 order. (Doc. No. 68.) On August 12, 2011, this Court affirmed Judge Bloom's April 15, 2011 order denying plaintiff's Rule 56(d) motion. (Doc. No. 69.) On August 15, 2011, Judge Bloom issued an R&R recommending that the Court grant defendants' motions for summary judgment as to plaintiff's legal malpractice claim against defendant Ngati and his law firm. (Doc. No. 70.) She further recommended that the motion for summary judgment be denied as to plaintiff's legal malpractice claim against Abakporo and his law firm. (Id.) Judge Bloom reminded the parties that, pursuant to Rule 72(b), any objection to the R&R was due by September 1, 2011. (Id.)

On August 29, 2011, plaintiff filed a letter with the court seeking an extension of time to object to Judge Bloom's R&R. (Doc. No. 72.) Notably, plaintiff's letter did not seek leave to file an untimely opposition to defendants' motions or a cross-motion. Due to a clerical error, plaintiff's request was not initially brought to the attention of the Court until several days after its receipt. On September 2, 2011, unaware of plaintiff's request, the Court issued a Memorandum and Order adopting Judge Bloom's R&R. (Doc. No. 71.) On September 28, 2011, plaintiff filed the instant motions. (Doc. Nos. 73, 74, 76.)

Despite their straightforward titles, plaintiff's filings are voluminous and confusing. The first document, although titled as a motion to vacate the September 2, 2011 Memorandum and Order, sets forth: (1) the various relief sought by plaintiff in all of his filings; (2) what could be a Local Rule 56.1 statement; and (3) standards of review for an abuse of discretion by a district court and for a district court's review of an administrative decision. (Pl. First Filing (Doc. No. 73) at 1-3.)*fn2 The document also sets forth legal arguments attacking various aspects of the R&R, such as Judge Bloom's reference "to defendants' affirmations in the R&R as Affidavits." (Id. at 4.) Additionally, plaintiff expresses his agreement with the conclusions of the R&R to the extent that it denied defendants summary judgment in part. (Id. at 5.)

The second document filed by plaintiff appears to be a brief in support of a cross-motion, but also purports to be a "Concurrence with Magistrate's Report & Recommendation as to Abakporo and its Law Office." (Pl. Second Filing (Doc. No. 74) at 1.) Indeed, this filing makes legal arguments covering both of those issues, but also includes arguments that could be construed as either opposition to the defendants' motions or objections to the R&R. (See, e.g., id. at 12 ("Affirmations of Abakporo is illegal, jurisdictionally defective and must not be considered in that it failed to meet the four basic requirements of Rule 56(c)(4) for an affidavit or declaration.").) To make it more confusing, the filing concludes with what plaintiff describes as a Due Process argument based on the Court's alleged non-compliance with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 1. (Id. at 21 ("[T]his court's maneuvering and manipulation of the normal judicial process [sic] in failing to promote the goals of Rule 1 'interfere with the just and speedy determination of this action' and 'judicial economy.'").)*fn3 The third document filed by plaintiff is 82 pages and contains legal arguments pertaining to plaintiff's cross-motion, opposition and objections to the R&R. (Pl. Third Filing (Doc. No. 76).)

In addition to the documents described above, plaintiff also filed several hundred pages of affidavits and exhibits supporting his legal arguments. (Doc. Nos. 75, 77.) The first affidavit and set of exhibits appear to contain material relevant to plaintiff's claims against the Abakporo defendants. (Doc. No. 75.) The second affidavit and set of exhibits appear to contain material relevant to plaintiff's claims against the Ngati defendants. (Doc. No. 77.)

As an initial matter, plaintiff's request for an extension of time to file objections to the R&R (Doc. No. 72) is granted, and therefore the September 2, 2011 Memorandum and Order is hereby vacated sua sponte.*fn4 The Court will thus consider plaintiff's objections to Judge Bloom's August 15, 2011 R&R as if they had been timely filed. Reviewing those objections de novo, the Court finds them to be without merit. With regard to new evidence and legal arguments presented in conjunction with plaintiff's objections, the Court concludes that plaintiff did not properly cross-move and/or oppose the defendants' motions; as such, the Court will not address the merits of those filings

DISCUSSION

I.Plaintiff's Objections to the R&R

When reviewing a magistrate's report and recommendation, a court "may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. ยง 636(b)(1)(C). A court must make a de novo determination to the extent that a party makes specific objections to a magistrate's findings. Id.; see also United States v. Male Juvenile, 121 F.3d 34, 38 (2d Cir. 1997). Objections must be specific and clearly aimed at particular findings in the magistrate's proposal. See Camardo v. Gen. Motors Hourly--Rate Employees Pension Plan, 806 F. Supp. 380, 381--82 (W.D.N.Y. 1992). When a party makes conclusory or general objections, or simply reiterates the original arguments, the court will review the report only for clear error. See, e.g., Frankel v. City of New York, 2009 WL 465645, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 25, 2009); Pearson--Fraser v. Bell Atl., 2003 WL 43367, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 6, 2003); Camardo, 806 F. Supp. at 382. Similarly, "objections that are merely ...


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