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Shenk v. Social Security Administration

United States District Court, E.D. New York

March 28, 2014

CAROLYN SHENK, [1] Plaintiff,


SANDRA L. TOWNES, District Judge.

Plaintiff Carolyn Shenk ("Plaintiff"), proceeding pro se, brings this action pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§12101 et seq.; section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. §794; and other unspecified "disabilities laws" against the Social Security Administration ("SSA"); former SSA Commissioner, Michael Astrue; and four SSA employees (collectively, "Defendants"). Defendants now move to dismiss this action pursuant to Rule 12(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion is granted and this action is dismissed.


On August 24, 2012, Plaintiff faxed a two-page complaint (the "Complaint") and other submissions relating to the instant action to the Clerk's Office for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Plaintiff's submissions included (1) a letter dated August 20, 2012, addressed to Chief Judge Carol Amon, requesting permission to commence a new action via facsimile and (2) a motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, along with two proposed orders to show cause. By order dated August 30, 2012, Chief Judge Amon granted Plaintiff permission to commence this action via facsimile. The action was then assigned to this Court.

In a memorandum and order dated October 18, 2012, and filed October 19, 2012 (the "Prior "M&O"), this Court denied Plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunctive relief. See Shenk v. Social Sec. Admin., No. 12-CV-4370 (SLT), 2012 WL 5196783 (E.D.N.Y. Oct. 19, 2012). Familiarity with the Prior M&O is assumed. However, for the convenience of the reader, this Court will repeat its description of the Complaint, which originally appeared in the Prior M&O.

Plaintiff's Complaint

As noted in the Prior M&O, Plaintiff's Complaint is unclear, but one can deduce the following facts from the allegations in the pleading and the three exhibits attached thereto. For some time prior to 2012, Plaintiff had been receiving Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") benefits from the SSA. Early in 2012, the SSA contacted Plaintiff and threatened to suspend her SSI benefits unless Plaintiff provided certain information needed to re-evaluate Plaintiff's SSI claim. Plaintiff provided the SSA with "[e]verything they needed." Complaint at 1. In late March and early April 2012, Plaintiff received correspondence from the SSA confirming that the agency had received the necessary information and was restoring Plaintiff's SSI benefits.

A few months later, however, Plaintiff's SSI benefits were discontinued. Plaintiff did not receive SSI payments due at the beginning of July and August 2012. Id. at 1. The Complaint implies that Plaintiff did not receive adequate notice before her benefits were discontinued, alleging that Plaintiff received a letter "written over in some serial killer' RED BOLD CRAZY, SERIAL KILLER' THREATENING MARKER, " but "not the official termination or stopping which... Plaintiff never received." Id. at 2 (emphasis in original).

The Complaint charges that two of the four SSA employees who are named as defendants herein-Francis and Biondadilldo-were responsible for writing the threatening red messages and for the decision to discontinue Plaintiff's benefits "without merit and just cause." Id. In addition, the Complaint alleges that Plaintiff was "completely ignored and abused" by Defendants; that Biondadilldo, Francis, and another SSA employee-defendant Caban-all screamed at her; that defendant Chan ignored Plaintiff's requests for a return telephone call; and that Plaintiff was subjected to "harassment and excessive questioning." Id. at 1-2.

Although the Complaint specifically alleges that Plaintiff is "filing this complaint for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 1990 Title II... and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and all disability laws collectively, " id. at 1, the only act committed by defendants which is specifically alleged to have violated the ADA and other disability laws is the sending of the threatening red messages. The Complaint alleges that these messages were sent to "[s]care, [i]ntimidate and threaten the disabled homebound plaintiff in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, City and State and federal disability [l]aws collectively." Id. at 2 (internal quotations omitted, brackets added). The Complaint also mentions the ADA and Rehabilitation Act in a notation in the caption, immediately below the jury trial demand, which requests a "Special Accommodation hearing" and several "Special Accommodations": "auxiliary aides, faxing, telephone conference pursuant to ADA Rehab...." Id. at 1. However, the Complaint appears to request those accommodations from the Court, stating:

Disabled plaintiff... has a wrist injury at present so please provide a special accommodation... [S]he is requesting Telephone and faxing as this is her alternative method that she needs for her disability and phone Conference and any other auxiliary please keep this in mind, thank you.

Id. at 2. Nothing in the Complaint suggests that Plaintiff requested "Special Accommodations" from the SSA or that these requests were denied.

The Complaint also alludes to violations of Plaintiff's "Civil and human rights" and "[o]bstruction of justice, " as well as "violations of the United States Constitution, Due Process, 5th and 14th amendments and The New York Constitution." Id. at 1. However, the pleading does not explain how the acts or omissions alleged in the Complaint violated Plaintiff's Constitutional, civil or human rights or constituted "obstruction of justice." In addition, the Complaint does not ...

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