United States District Court, N.D. New York
D. JAMES COON, Plaintiff,
WASHINGTON COUNTY REAL PROPERTY TAX SERVICES; TOWN OF WHITECREEK (Assessor, Tax Collector, Justice Court Clerk}; TOWN OF CAMBRIDGE JUSTICE COURT; CATHERINE A. BURKLY; MARVIN DAY (RPA GRANVILLE FAMILY HEALTH, GLENS FALLS HOSPITAL}; AMBER MARRIOT (GLENS FALLS NATIONAL BANK CORP}; TOWN OF CAMBRIDGE MAYOR VALERIE REAGAN; TOWN OF WHITECREEK SUPERVISOR BOB SHEA, Defendants.
D. JAMES COON, 103 CR71, Cambridge, New York, Plaintiff pro se.
REPORT-RECOMMENDATION AND ORDER
THÉRÈSE WILEY DANCKS, Magistrate Judge.
The Clerk has sent this pro se Amended Complaint together with an application to proceed in forma pauperis to the Court for review. (Dkt. Nos. 2 and 3.) Plaintiff appears to have named as Defendants Washington County Real Property Tax Services ("WCRPTS"); Town of Whitecreek (its Assessor, Tax Collector, Justice Court, and Court Clerk); Town of Cambridge Justice Court; Catherine A. Burkly ("Burkly"); Marvin Day, RPA (Granville Family Health, Glens Falls Hospital); Amber Marriot, Glens Falls National Bank Corp.; Town of Cambridge Mayor Valerie Reagan; and Town of Whitecreek Supervisor, Bob Shea.
Plaintiff asserts subject matter jurisdiction based upon his alleged claims for violation of his civil rights; the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq. ; the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 ("HIPAA"), 42 U.S.C. § 1320, et seq. ; invasion of privacy; tortious interference with Plaintiff's right to do his own business; negligence; incompetence; and medical malpractice. (Dkt. No. 3 at 1-2). For the reasons discussed below, I grant Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis and recommend that the District Court sua sponte dismiss his Amended Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), with leave to amend as to only certain defendants and one of the claims asserted in the Amended Complaint.
I. PLAINTIFF'S APPLICATION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS
A court may grant in forma pauperis status if a party "is unable to pay " the standard fee for commencing an action. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). A review of Plaintiff's in forma pauperis application reveals that he meets this standard. Therefore, Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis (Dkt. No. 2) is granted.
II. ALLEGATIONS OF THE COMPLAINT
A. The Trailer Sale Litigation and Alleged Violation of Plaintiff's Privacy Rights
Plaintiff, who is disabled and with his family of three lives on $730.00 per month in social security, inherited real property and a trailer at 103 CR 71 Cambridge, New York in January of 2010. Id. at 2, 6. Plaintiff has, on his own, paid all upkeep, taxes, insurance, and done all repairs necessitated by multiple acts of vandalism. Id. Some, but not all, of Plaintiff's claims relate to the Cambridge property.
On or about June 12, 2013, Plaintiff placed ads in a number of newspapers for the purpose of selling the trailer on the Cambridge property. Id. at 2, 6. After looking at the trailer, Ray Harrington made an $18, 000 purchase offer which was accepted by Plaintiff. Id. at 2-3. A $1, 500 down payment was made, but there were no further payments, and after a few month of "fooling around, " the Harrington's "stiffed" Plaintiff on the trailer Id. at 3. The Harringtons commenced a small claims court action for $3, 000 against Plaintiff in connection with the trailer purchase agreement. Id. Plaintiff responded with a lawsuit against the Harringtons before Justice Patrick J. McGrath in Rensselaer County Supreme Court. Id. Burkly represented the Harringtons in the lawsuit commenced by Plaintiff. Id. at 4. According to Plaintiff, Burkly, whom he has never met, has been running a smear campaign against him. Id. at 3.
Plaintiff asked his long time medical care provider, Defendant Marvin Day, RPA ("Day"), to prepare an update on his medical condition. Id. The updated information was filed with Judge McGrath in connection with the litigation. Id. Plaintiff claims that Burkly and Day got together and went through Plaintiff's private and confidential medical history in four letters from Day to Plaintiff that were covered by the physician-patient privilege, HIPAA, the ADA, other federal and state laws, and the Glens Falls Hospital patient rights. Id. at 4. Plaintiff contends that he had asked Day for a letter for the state court only to show Judge McGrath why he might miss court from time to time and "never hired Burkly or W. Marvin Day RPA to represent or consult on my medical conditions, " and "never signed any release or discussed the situation with Burkly or Day." Id.
Plaintiff claims that as a part of her smear campaign, Burkly, using Day, submitted an affidavit in the state court litigation accusing Plaintiff of having forged Day's signature on the first letter. Id. Day claimed that although the information in the letter was accurate, the signature was not his. Id. Burkly also asserted that in the state court proceeding Plaintiff had filed a falsified document containing a chronological list of ten medically needed hospitalizations over a ten month period. Id. Plaintiff contends that none of the medical information used by Burkly was valid for use in defending the Harringtons on Plaintiff's breach of contract claim. Id. Plaintiff fired Day after the disclosure having decided he was not trustworthy. Id.
Plaintiff has also alleged that Burkly filed an affidavit asking the court to dismiss his case because an affidavit submitted by Plaintiff had an outdated notary stamp. Id. at 12. Plaintiff has named the notary, Amber Marriott as a Defendant for using the outdated stamp. Id.
B. Plaintiff's Property Tax Dispute with the Town of Whitecreek
Plaintiff's property at 103 CR 71 Cambridge, New York is located in the Town of Whitecreek. Id. at 6. Plaintiff has alleged that the Town of Whitecreek tax collector and tax assessor, improperly and with the intent to steal Plaintiff's property for non-payment of real property taxes, have mistakenly denied him his STAR and disability exemptions on his real estate taxes and have relied upon mistaken information regarding where Plaintiff and his family have been living and where his son has been attending school. Id. at 6-7.
According to Plaintiff, during the years 2009 and 2010, his annual real property taxes on the property were $456.00. Id. at 6. Initially Plaintiff received a tax bill in the same amount for 2011. Id. at 7. However, following denial of his STAR and disability exemptions, Plaintiff was sent a superseding bill in the amount of $1178.90. Plaintiff appears to suggest that he was wrongfully denied his STAR and disability exemptions in 2011 as a result of Burkly's submission of documents she had concocted and submitted indicating that Plaintiff was committing tax fraud with respect to his Whitecreek property and school taxes. Id. at 6-7. Plaintiff denies committing fraud. Id.
Plaintiff has alleged that his initial tax bill for 2012, which he paid, was $456.00 Id. at 7. However, that bill was superseded by a bill for $1, 285.00 after his STAR and disability exemptions were taken away because Plaintiff's property had been so badly vandalized on two occasions, it became uninhabitable in June of 2010 and again from May through October 2012. Id. at 7.
Plaintiff's STAR and disability exemptions were restored in 2013, and according to the Amended Complaint, he received a school tax bill for $2.23, which he paid. Id. However, he did not receive a property tax bill. Id. It turned out that the property tax bill had been sent to his old address, and when he received the bill, it was $2, 996.00 plus fees for a total of $3, 189.00. Id. Plaintiff was subsequently told by the Town of Whitecreek that if he did not pay his property taxes by November of 2013, his property would be sold for non-payment of taxes. Id. at 8.
Plaintiff also complains that the Town of Whitecreek tax assessor failed to reduce his tax assessment after being informed by Plaintiff that the value of his property had decreased by $20, 000 as a result of vandalism. Id. at 7. According to Plaintiff, the value of the property decreased from $59, 000 to $29, 000. Id.
C. Town of Whitecreek's Failure to Replace the Town Justice and Claims Against the Town Justice Challenging Judicial Determinations
Plaintiff claims that the Whitecreek Town Justice, who is about eighty years old, suffers from memory loss, dementia, or early Alzheimers, and that the Town has a duty to its citizens to watch when a person gets too old to handle a job that entails people's lives and their freedom. Id. at 8. The Whitecreek Town Justice, who is also the Cambridge Town Justice, has run unopposed for both positions. Id.
Plaintiff has alleged that he appeared before the Whitecreek Town Justice eleven times in 2011-2013 to evict a non-paying tenant. The Town Justice kept forgetting what documents had been filed in the case, what had transpired in court, and the rulings he had made, resulting in the tenant continuing to reside in Plaintiff's property from June 6, 2011 through May 30, 2012, without paying any of the $8, 050.00 rent due, and causing $5, 867.90 in property damage. Id. at 9. According to Plaintiff, in one instance the Whitecreek Town Justice told Plaintiff's wife that she had to obtain service documents from the Clerk of the Cambridge Justice Court and after she had done so, the Whitecreek Town Justice forgot about it and dismissed the case when the tenant told the court that Plaintiff rather than his wife had done the service documents. Id.
Plaintiff also complains about the Town Justice's handling of the Harrington's small claims action commenced for recovery of the down payment. Id. at 11. The allegations in the Amended Complaint regarding the Harrington action are largely incomprehensible but may reasonably be construed as requesting that the district court invalidate the Justice Court's finding in the Harrington's favor in the amount of $1, 515.00. See id. at 11.
D. Medical Malpractice
Plaintiff claims that Day and Defendant Granville Family Health Center committed gross negligence and medical malpractice by failing to provide the medications, minerals and vitamins he needs because of severe medical issues resulting from seven surgeries and complications over the past year. Id. at 5. Plaintiff contends that he is supposed to take approximately twenty-six medications two or three times a day, including muscle relaxants and two narcotics for chronic pain, and that the staff at the clinic routinely makes mistakes in calling in prescriptions so that Plaintiff runs out of needed medication. Id. Plaintiff also claims to be having an ongoing ...