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Bida v. Russo

United States District Court, E.D. New York

April 9, 2014

ILIRJAN BIDA, Plaintiff,
v.
BRUCE RUSSO, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

ROSLYNN R. MAUSKOPF, District Judge.

On January 2, 2014, plaintiff, Ilirjan Bida, proceeding pro se, filed the instant complaint, seeking an order compelling the Federal Emergency Management Agency ("FEMA") to release documents pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"), 5 U.S.C. § 552. (Compl. (Doc. No. 1).) Plaintiff's request to proceed in forma pauperis is granted pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 solely for purposes of this Memorandum and Order. For the reasons set forth below, the complaint is dismissed with leave to amend.

BACKGROUND

For purposes of this Memorandum and Order, the Court assumes that the allegations plaintiff makes in his complaint are true. See, e.g., Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 566 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Plaintiff owns real property located at 141 Haven Avenue, Staten Island, New York ("the home"). Defendant, Bruce Russo, was his tenant. On October 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy damaged the home and "destroyed totally" the basement, where plaintiff and defendant each had personal property. (Compl. ¶ III.) On November 6, 2012, a FEMA employee inspected the property and told plaintiff that defendant would receive money from FEMA and reimburse plaintiff for the cost of cleaning the property, which was $1, 500. Defendant received "[a]round $30, 000" from FEMA but failed to pay plaintiff the $1, 500.00, as well as two months' rent, and left the home.

Plaintiff filed the instant action on January 2, 2014, naming Russo as the sole defendant. Plaintiff seeks an order compelling FEMA to "release my tenant file." ( Id. ¶ IV.)

DISCUSSION

I. Standard of Review

A plaintiff must establish that the court has subject matter jurisdiction. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1); 12(h)(3) ("If the court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action."); Rene, 32 F.Supp.2d at 541-42 (dismissing pro se complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction). Subject matter jurisdiction exists in federal court only when the (1) complaint presents a federal question, 28 U.S.C. § 1331, or (2) plaintiff and defendant are of diverse citizenship and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.00, id. § 1332. "[S]ubject-matter jurisdiction, because it involves the court's power to hear a case, can never be forfeited or waived." United States v. Cotton, 535 U.S. 625, 630 (2002).

A plaintiff must also plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007); see Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A claim has "facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 at 678. The Court construes a pro se plaintiff's allegations liberally, to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest. Triestman v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 474 (2d Cir. 2006). However, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) requires a court to dismiss an in forma pauperis action that (1) is frivolous or malicious, (2) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or (3) seeks monetary relief against a defendant immune from such relief. A plaintiff's pro se status "does not exempt a party from compliance with relevant rules of procedural and substantive law." Rene v. Citibank NA, 32 F.Supp.2d 539, 541 (E.D.N.Y. 1999) (quoting Traguth v. Zuck, 710 F.2d 90, 95 (2d Cir. 1983)).

II. The Complaint Must Be Dismissed

A. FOIA

FOIA generally provides that any person has a right, enforceable in court, to obtain access to executive branch federal agency records unless a statutory exemption protects the records from public disclosure. See 5 U.S.C. § 552(b). Further, FOIA provides that

[T]he district court... in the district in which the complainant resides, or has his principal place of business, or in which the agency records are situated, or in the District of Columbia, has jurisdiction to enjoin the agency from withholding agency records and to order the ...

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