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Carlos Peterson v. the County of Onondaga

January 7, 2013

CARLOS PETERSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE COUNTY OF ONONDAGA, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Andrew T. Baxter, United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER and REPORT-RECOMMENDATION

The Clerk has sent to the court a civil rights complaint, together with an application to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP"), filed by pro se plaintiff Carlos Peterson. (Dkt. Nos. 1, 3). Plaintiff, who is currently incarcerated at the Clinton Correctional Facility, has not paid the filing fee for this action.

I. IFP Application

A review of plaintiff's IFP application shows that he declares he is unable to pay the filing fee. (Dkt. No. 2). This court agrees, and finds that plaintiff is financially eligible for IFP status.

In addition to determining whether plaintiff meets the financial criteria to proceed IFP, the court must also consider the sufficiency of the allegations set forth in the complaint in light of 28 U.S.C. § 1915, which provides that the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that the action is (i) frivolous or malicious;

(ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) -(iii).

In determining whether an action is frivolous, the court must consider whether the complaint lacks an arguable basis in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). Dismissal of frivolous actions is appropriate to prevent abuses of court process as well as to discourage the waste of judicial resources. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327; Harkins v. Eldridge, 505 F.2d 802, 804 (8th Cir. 1974). Although the court has a duty to show liberality toward pro se litigants, and must use extreme caution in ordering sua sponte dismissal of a pro se complaint before the adverse party has been served and has had an opportunity to respond, the court still has a responsibility to determine that a claim is not frivolous before permitting a plaintiff to proceed. Fitzgerald v. First East Seventh St. Tenants Corp., 221 F.3d 362, 363 (2d Cir. 2000) (finding that a district court may dismiss a frivolous complaint sua sponte even when plaintiff has paid the filing fee).

To survive dismissal for failure to state a claim, the complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim that is "plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id. (citing Bell Atl. Corp., 550 U.S. at 555). The court will now turn to a consideration of the plaintiff's complaint under the above standards.

II. Complaint

In the complaint, plaintiff states that he is challenging "fraud imprisonment" and "fake child abuse." (Complaint ("Compl.") ¶ 7; Causes of Action). Plaintiff states that he was "wrongfully convicted," that he was the victim, and that "the truth . . . relies on all evidence for my defense . . . ." (Compl. at CM/ECF p.4).*fn1 Plaintiff states that the "County" charged him with child abuse, and he lost his job because of the "damage done to my name." (Id.) Plaintiff states that the County then just "dropped the charges." However, plaintiff also states that he is "still waiting to be overturned in the false conviction criminal case," but in the meantime he is bringing the "Truth" to the court's attention. (Id.) Plaintiff then states that he is demanding three million dollars and fifteen cents.

Attached as an exhibit to plaintiff's complaint is a form, signed by an assistant district attorney which indicates that misdemeanor charges of endangering the welfare of a child were dismissed because plaintiff was serving a ten year term on unrelated charges. (Compl. at CM/ECF p.5). Finally, plaintiff has attached two other documents to the complaint. The first is a type-written statement of facts,*fn2 including references to medical records and other court documents. (Compl. CM/ECF p.6). The second document is clearly a page from another Northern District of New York complaint, filed by this plaintiff in 2009.*fn3 (Compl. CM/ECF p.7). This page lists six police officers as defendants, and states that they "Committed Physical Brutality in Violation of Corrections Law 70.51.5." (Id.)

Plaintiff states that his causes of action are "fraud imprisonment" and "fake child abuse," and although the court interpreted his complaint as naming only Onondaga County as a defendant, the caption of the complaint lists "The County of Onondaga Syracuse N.Y. Defendant(s)." (Compl. at CM/ECF p.1).

Although it is unclear, plaintiff does not appear to be challenging the alleged excessive force used during his arrest. In fact, plaintiff has another pending case in the Northern District of New York in which he challenges the force used by the officers as excessive. Peterson v. Syracuse Police Dep't, No. 1:09-CV-00106 (LEK/RFT). Plaintiff also does not appear to be challenging the charge for which he is currently incarcerated. He states that he is "still waiting to be overturned [sic] in the false conviction criminal case."*fn4 (Compl. at CM/ECF p. 4).

Reading plaintiff's complaint as liberally as possible,*fn5 plaintiff appears to be claiming that the "child abuse" charges that were dismissed by the "County" were false or "fake," and he may be attempting to allege false ...

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