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Onwuka v. Taxi Limousine Commission

United States District Court, E.D. New York

March 31, 2014

SAMPSON IROABUCHI ONWUKA, Plaintiff,
v.
TAXI LIMOUSINE COMMISSION, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

SANDRA L. TOWNES, District Judge.

For almost three years, this Court has been attempting, without success, to have the pro se plaintiff in this action submit a comprehensible complaint. In August 2012-shortly after plaintiff responded to a memorandum and order directing him to file a third amended complaint by essentially resubmitting the second amended complaint-Corporation Counsel requested, for the third time, that this action be dismissed pursuant to Rule 41(b). For the reasons set forth below, that motion is granted.

BACKGROUND

The Court has issued three prior memoranda and orders in this case. Although this Court assumes familiarity with those prior rulings, the Court will briefly summarize those rulings to demonstrate the extraordinary lengths to which the Court has gone in an effort to elucidate plaintiff's claims.

In late 2010, plaintiff filed a four-page form complaint, which attached a four-page, typrewritten narrative and several exhibits. Although that complaint named the "Taxi Limousine Commission"-presumably, the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission ("TLC")-as the only defendant and failed to state a claim against the TLC, the facts alleged in that pleading suggested that plaintiff was attempting to state a claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against TLC employees for police brutality and/or malicious prosecution. Accordingly, in a memorandum and order dated December 28, 2010 (the "First M&O"), this Court granted plaintiff leave to amend his complaint to, among other things, "name as defendants those individuals whom he alleges to have been personally involved in police brutality' and/or malicious prosecution.'" First M&O at 4. That memorandum expressly advised plaintiff that the TLC was not a suable entity and that he "should not name the TLC as a defendant" with respect to his claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C.

§ 1983. Id. at 5. That First M&O specifically directed that no summonses be issued. Id. at 7.

In early February 2011, plaintiff filed an unsigned, 10-page document entitled "Complaint Amendment, " and the Clerk of Court erroneously issued plaintiff a summons. Although Corporation Counsel immediately notified this Court that the summons had been issued in error, see Letter to Hon. Lois Bloom from Asst. Corp. Counsel Bradford C. Patrick, dated Feb. 10, 2011, plaintiff subsequently served the summons and his "Complaint Amended" on the TLC. When the TLC failed to file an answer or move to dismiss plaintiff's pleading, plaintiff moved for a default judgment. The TLC not only opposed that request, but cross-moved to dismiss plaintiff's pleading either for failure to state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii), or for failure to comply with the First M&O.

In Onwuka v. New York City Taxi Limousine Comm'n, No. 10-CV-5399 (SLT)(LB), 2012 WL 34090 (E.D.N.Y. Jan. 6, 2012) (the "Second M&O"), this Court declined to enter a default or to dismiss plaintiff's case. In discussing the TLC's motion to dismiss, this Court noted that plaintiffs amended pleading failed to comply with the First M&O. Specifically, the complaint continued to name the TLC as the sole defendant, did not make clear whether plaintiff intended to sue any of the ten individuals named in the body of the complaint, and did not clearly state what each of those individuals did or failed to do. Aware that plaintiff was representing himself and unfamiliar with the pleading requirements, the Court provided plaintiff with guidance on how to prepare a second amended complaint and with the number of the Pro Se Office.

On May 4, 2012, after obtaining several extensions of time in which to file his second amended complaint, plaintiff filed a 136-page pleading. The second amended complaint no longer named the TLC as a defendant, but named ten new defendants: the State of New York; the City of New York; its mayor, Michael Bloomberg; the former and current Commissioners of the TLC, a TLC attorney and four other individuals. However, the pleading contained so much extraneous material as to make it impossible to discern plaintiff's claims. By letter dated May 24, 2012, Corporation Counsel again requested that this Court dismiss the action pursuant to Rule 41(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for failure to comply with the Court's orders. See Letter to Hon. Sandra L. Townes from Asst. Corp. Counsel Steven M. SIlverberg, dated May 24, 2012.

In a memorandum and order dated July 24, 2012, but filed on July 25, 2014- Onwuka v. Taxi Limousine Comm'n, No. 10-CV-5399 (SLT)(LB), 2012 WL 3043202 (E.D.N.Y. July 25, 2012) (the "Third M&O")-this Court disregarded Corporation Counsel's request and granted plaintiff yet another opportunity to amend his pleading. In that Third M&O, this Court again provided guidance on how to prepare a complaint and provided plaintiff with the number of the Pro Se Office. The Court also took pains to explain why the Second Amended Complaint was inadequate, stating, inter alia:

[T]he second amended complaint is far too lengthy and prolix. As this Court noted in the Second M&O, a complaint "should contain only a short, plain statement of the facts and should not be interspersed with comments and opinions." Second M&O at 7. Moreover, the complaint should contain only allegations. There is no need to substantiate those allegations at this juncture; to quote from or cite to legal authorities, such as statutes and cases; or to address potential defenses, such as qualified immunity or collateral estoppel.

Third M&O at 6; 2012 WL 3043202, at *4. The Court then granted plaintiff permission to file a third amended complaint but warned:

The Third Amended Complaint should follow the format described in the Second M&O and discussed in more detail in this Memorandum and Order.... If plaintiff fails to file his Third Amended Complaint within the time allowed, or fails to following [ sic ] the specific directions set forth in this, and prior, ...

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