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Maddox v. Joyce

United States District Court, N.D. New York

April 23, 2014

JAMES H. MADDOX, Plaintiff,
LINDA A. JOYCE, Defendant.

JAMES H. MADDOX, Plaintiff, Pro Se, Rochester, New York.


RANDOLPH F. TREECE, Magistrate Judge.

The Clerk has sent for review a civil rights Complaint filed by pro se Plaintiff James Maddox pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Dkt. No. 1, Compl. Maddox, who has not paid the filing fee, has submitted an Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis ("IFP"). Dkt. No. 2, IFP App. Plaintiff also filed a Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order ("TRO"), which has been referred to this Court. See Dkt. No. 4 & Text Order, dated Feb. 26, 2014.


A. Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

Upon review of Plaintiff's IFP Application (Dkt. No. 2), the Court finds that Plaintiff has demonstrated sufficient economic need and may commence this action without prepayment of the filing fee. Thus, Plaintiff's IFP Application is granted.

B. Pleading Requirements

Section 1915(e) of Title 28 of the United States Code directs that, when a plaintiff seeks to proceed in forma pauperis, "the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that... the action or appeal (i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). Thus, it is a court's responsibility to determine that a plaintiff may properly maintain his complaint before permitting him to proceed further with his action.

In reviewing a pro se complaint, this Court has a duty to show liberality toward pro se litigants, see Nance v. Kelly, 912 F.2d 605, 606 (2d Cir. 1990), and should exercise "extreme caution... in ordering sua sponte dismissal of a pro se complaint before the adverse party has been served and both parties (but particularly the plaintiff) have had an opportunity to respond." Anderson v. Coughlin, 700 F.2d 37, 41 (2d Cir. 1983) (emphasis in original) (citations omitted). Therefore, a court should not dismiss a complaint if the plaintiff has stated "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). "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." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Although the court should construe the factual allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, "the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions." Id. "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). "[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged - but it has not show[n]'-that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Id. at 679 (quoting FED. R. CIV. P. 8(a)(2)). Furthermore, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 "demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Id. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). A pleading that only "tenders naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement" will not suffice. Id. (internal quotation marks and alterations omitted). Allegations that "are so vague as to fail to give the defendants adequate notice of the claims against them" are subject to dismissal. Sheehy v. Brown, 335 F.Appx. 102, 104 (2d Cir. 2009).

C. Allegations Contained in the Complaint

Plaintiff brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which establishes a cause of action for "the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws" of the United States by a person acting under color of state law. Wilder v. Virginia Hosp. Ass'n, 496 U.S. 498, 508 (1990) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 1983); see also Myers v. Wollowitz, 1995 WL 236245, at *2 (N.D.N.Y. Apr. 10, 1995) (Section 1983 "is the vehicle by which individuals may seek redress for alleged violations of their constitutional rights."). In order to state a claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege that (1) "some person has deprived him of a federal right, " and (2) "the person who has deprived him of that right acted under color of state... law." Velez v. Levy, 401 F.3d 75, 84 (2d Cir. 2005) (quoting Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640 (1980)).

The following constitutes the entirety of the facts set forth in the Complaint. On August 13, 2007, Plaintiff was informed by letter that he was "indicated"[1] in a report of suspected child abuse or maltreatment. Compl. at ¶ 4(1) & Ex. 1. Within that letter, he was advised of his right to seek an amendment of the record, but must make such request within ninety days. Id. Plaintiff states that on August 28, 2007, he sent a notice of appeal and requested further information, but has been "denied procedural due process for 6 yrs and 4 months." Id. at ¶ 4(2).

Based on the above sparse allegations, Plaintiff asserts that Defendant Linda A. Joyce, who according to the Exhibits attached to the Complaint, is/was the Director of the State Central Register in the Division of Child Welfare and Community Services, "intentionally deprived" Plaintiff of his liberty interest and violated his due process rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment by denying him a timely hearing pursuant to New York State Social Services Law § 422(8). Id. at First Cause of Action. He further asserts that the denial of his liberty interest interfered with his First Amendment right to "argue against the agency that deprived [him] of his liberty." Id. at Second Cause of Action. Finally, Plaintiff claims he was subjected to cruel and unusual ...

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