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Miller v. Madison

United States District Court, Second Circuit

May 20, 2013

ROBERT E. MILLER, JR., Plaintiff,
PAUL G. MADISON, Defendant.


LAWRENCE E. KAHN, District Judge.


This is an action for breach of contract. See Dkt. No. 6 ("Amended Complaint") § 16. Currently before the Court are several Motions filed by pro se Plaintiff Robert E. Miller, Jr. ("Plaintiff"), and pro se Defendant Paul G. Madison ("Defendant"). Plaintiff, who has been granted leave to proceed with this action in forma pauperis, has filed: (1) a Motion for default judgment; (2) a Letter Motion requesting a writ of execution on that default judgment; and (3) a Letter Motion requesting a "receipt and accounting" of security Plaintiff allegedly submitted to the Court. Dkt. Nos. 4; 15-16; 33 ("Motion for Accounting"). Defendant, an attorney, has filed: (1) a Cross-Motion to dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint and in opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for default judgment; and (2) a Letter Motion to stay Plaintiff's Motion for a writ of execution pending resolution of the Cross-Motion. Dkt. Nos. 17 ("Motion to Stay"); 18 ("Cross-Motion"); 18-1 ("Memorandum").

For the following reasons, Plaintiff's Motions are denied, Defendant's Motions are denied, and Plaintiff's Amended Complaint is dismissed under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).


A. Factual Background

Plaintiff, who is currently incarcerated in federal prison in Indiana, alleges that he approached Defendant in May 2011 to obtain his legal services. Am. Compl. § 1. At that time, Plaintiff's mother sent Defendant a $300 personal check, which he cashed, in payment for his initial review of Plaintiff's case file. See id.

On approximately October 10, 2011, Plaintiff sent Defendant the first of several financial instruments that Plaintiff calls "Secured Notes" and alleges are secured by a $7, 000, 000 judgment in his favor in Illinois state court. Id . § 2. Over the course of the next few months, Plaintiff sent Defendant several similar instruments, bringing the total amount Plaintiff sent to Defendant in this form to approximately $605, 000. Id . §§ 5-10. Although Defendant expressed concern over the validity and legality of the instruments at the time, Plaintiff insisted that they would be honored by a bank. See id. §§ 4-5, 7.

In a letter dated December 20, 2011, Defendant told Plaintiff, "[i]f you can't come up with a retainer, using traditional methods, i.e. certified bank check, money order, certified check, just say so and end the madness." Id . § 3. Defendant eventually sought Plaintiff's permission to cash a $1, 000 "Treasury check" from Plaintiff that Defendant had held uncashed for approximately five or six months. Id . § 5. Plaintiff give his permission, and Defendant wrote Plaintiff a letter on February 9, 2012, stating that the money "[w]ould go towards legal fees to date, and provide [Plaintiff] with a credit of $350 towards legal fees for administrative purposes including work detailed" in a previous letter. Id.

On Plaintiff's further insistence, Defendant presented some of the instruments to a bank for inspection and was told that the instruments were invalid. Id . § 8. Defendant sent Plaintiff a letter on approximately May 22, 2012, informing him that "until [Defendant] receive[ed] a certified bank check as [his] retainer, [he] will receive no more mail." Id . § 12 (third and fourth alterations in original). Plaintiff insists that Defendant is obligated to protest the bank's refusal to cash the instruments and, in so doing, obtain an official "Notice of Dishonor in writing from the bank." Id . § 9.

Plaintiff alleges that Defendant was obligated to accept the instruments as payment and that his failure to cash the instruments constitutes a breach of contract. Id . §§ 4, 14. Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages in the amount of $606, 300 plus fees and expenses. Id . § 17.

B. Procedural Background

On May 29, 2012, Plaintiff filed his original Complaint in this action, a Motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, and the Inmate Authorization Form required by Northern District of New York Local Rule 5.4. Dkt. Nos. 1 ("Complaint"); 2 ("IFP Application"); 3. On June 1, 2013, the Court granted Plaintiff's IFP Application but directed Plaintiff to file an amended complaint within thirty days. Dkt. No. 4. Plaintiff filed his Amended Complaint on June 18, 2012. Am. Compl.

Defendant failed to file an answer to the Amended Complaint within the time allotted by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, [1] and on September 4, 2012, Plaintiff requested that the Clerk of the Court enter a default against Defendant. Dkt. No. 13. Two days later, on September 6, 2012, the Clerk of the Court filed an Entry of default in this action. Dkt. No. 14. Plaintiff subsequently filed his Motions for default judgment and for a writ of execution on September 20 and November 16, 2012, respectively. Dkt. Nos. 15, 16.

On December 4, 2012, Defendant filed his Cross-Motion and Motion to Stay. Cross-Mot.; Mot. to Stay. Plaintiff, in turn, filed Responses to the Cross-Motion on ...

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