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Ajamian v. Barney

United States District Court, N.D. New York

May 6, 2014


ROBERT H. AJAMIAN, Plaintiff, pro se.


ANDREW T. BAXTER, Magistrate Judge.

The Clerk has sent to the court a complaint filed on a form for civil rights actions pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, together with an application to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP"), filed by pro se plaintiff, Robert Ajamian. (Dkt. Nos. 1, 2).

I. IFP Application

When plaintiff first submitted his complaint, the IFP application was incomplete. On March 26, 2014, this court administratively closed this case, but gave plaintiff the opportunity to comply with the filing fee requirement or submit a properly completed IFP application. (Dkt. No. 3). Plaintiff has re-filed his motion to proceed IFP, and the Clerk has reopened the action for this court's review. (Dkt. No. 4 & Text Order of March 28, 2014).

A review of plaintiff's new IFP application shows that he has still failed to answer critical questions associated with his income. (Dkt. No. 4) (IFP Application, Question 3). In his first application, plaintiff indicated that he was not employed, but when asked if he has received "Other Income" in the past twelve months, he left that section totally blank. (Dkt. No. 2, Question 3). He was required to answer either "Yes" or "No" to a question that asked whether he received income from a series of different sources of income. ( Id. ) In his new application, he has checked "No" for every source of income, making it impossible to determine how he is able to pay for food or shelter. (Dkt. No. 4, Question 3) Although plaintiff has now answered all of the questions on the form to a certain extent, some of his answers do not make sense.[1]

However, the court will not detail all the concerns it continues to have with plaintiff's application. Notwithstanding plaintiff's failure to properly complete the IFP application, the court will continue its analysis of the complaint, because even if plaintiff had properly completed the IFP application, the case would have to be dismissed. Thus, the court will proceed to a consideration of the merits and will grant IFP for purposes of filing only.

II. Merits

In addition to determining whether plaintiff meets the financial criteria to proceed IFP, the court must also consider the sufficiency of the allegations set forth in the complaint in light of 28 U.S.C. § 1915, which provides that the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that the action is (i) 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)(i)-(iii).

In determining whether an action is frivolous, the court must consider whether the complaint lacks an arguable basis in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). Dismissal of frivolous actions is appropriate to prevent abuses of court process as well as to discourage the waste of judicial resources. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327; Harkins v. Eldridge, 505 F.2d 802, 804 (8th Cir. 1974). Although the court has a duty to show liberality toward pro se litigants, and must use extreme caution in ordering sua sponte dismissal of a pro se complaint before the adverse party has been served and has had an opportunity to respond, the court still has a responsibility to determine that a claim is not frivolous before permitting a plaintiff to proceed. Fitzgerald v. First East Seventh St. Tenants Corp., 221 F.3d 362, 363 (2d Cir. 2000) (finding that a district court may dismiss a frivolous complaint sua sponte even when plaintiff has paid the filing fee).

To survive dismissal for failure to state a claim, the complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim that is "plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id. (citing Bell Atl. Corp., 550 U.S. at 555). The court will now turn to a consideration of the plaintiff's complaint under the above standards.

III. Jurisdiction

A. Legal Standards

Subject matter jurisdiction can never be waived or forfeited. ACCD Global Agriculture, Inc. v. Perry, No. 12 Civ. 6286, 2013 WL 840706, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. March 1, 2013) (quoting Dumann Realty, LLC v. Faust, No. 09 Civ. 7651, 2013 WL 30672, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 3, 2013) (citing Gonzalez v. Thaler, ___ U.S. ___, 132 S.Ct. 641, 648 (2012); Henderson ex rel. Henderson v. Shinseki, ___ U.S. ___, 131 S.Ct. 1197, 1202 (2011)). ...

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