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Geer v. Whorf

United States District Court, N.D. New York

September 5, 2014

PAKENAUTH GEER, Plaintiff,
v.
ST. MAIL CLERK WHORF; EDWARDS; B. IRWIN; CHAPMAN; and SHARROW, Defendants.

PAKENAUTH GEER Plaintiff, Pro Se Washington Correctional Facility Comstock, New York.

REPORT-RECOMMENDATION and ORDER

RANDOLPH F. TREECE, Magistrate Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

The Clerk has sent to the Court for review a civil rights Complaint filed by pro se Plaintiff Pakenauth Geer. Dkt. No. 1, Compl.[1] Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at Washington Correctional Facility and has paid the statutory filing fee.[2] Notwithstanding his full payment of the filing fee, Plaintiff seeks permission to proceed with this action in forma pauperis (IFP). Dkt. No. 10.

II. DISCUSSION

A. IFP Application

Upon review of Plaintiff's IFP Application (Dkt. No. 10), the Court finds that Plaintiff has demonstrated sufficient economic need and therefore grants his request to proceed with this action IFP.

Having found that Plaintiff meets the financial criteria for commencing this action IFP, and because Plaintiff seeks relief from a governmental entity or an officer or employee of a governmental entity, the Court must consider the sufficiency of the allegations set forth in the Complaint in light of 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e) and 1915A. Section 1915(e) 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... (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).[3] Thus, even if a plaintiff meets the financial criteria to commence an action IFP, it is this Court's responsibility to determine whether Plaintiff may properly maintain the Complaint. See id.

Likewise, under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, a court must review any "complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity" and must "identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint... is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or... seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C. § 1915A; see also Carr v. Dvorin, 171 F.3d 115, 116 (2d Cir. 1999) (per curiam) (holding that Section 1915A applies to all actions brought by prisoners against government officials even when plaintiff paid the filing fee); Abbas v. Dixon, 480 F.3d 636, 639 (2d Cir. 2007) (stating that both sections 1915 and 1915A are available to evaluate prisoner pro se complaints).

In reviewing a pro se complaint, the court has a duty to show liberality toward pro se litigants, see Nance v. Kelly, 912 F.2d 605, 606 (2d Cir. 1990) (per curiam), 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) (internal 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 Bell Atl. Corp. v. 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 Bell Atl. Corp. v. 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)). Rule 8 "demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Thus, 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 Fed.App'x 102, 104 (2d Cir. 2009).

B. Sufficiency of the Complaint

The facts set forth in Plaintiff's Complaint are sparse and are oftentimes simply accompanied by conclusory statements of the law. Nevertheless, in liberally construing Plaintiff's pleading, the Court finds that the following facts are alleged in Plaintiff's Complaint. Plaintiff's claims arise out of his confinement at Washington Correctional Facility. See generally Compl. On September 19, 2013, Defendant B. Irwin, at the direction of an unnamed supervisor, issued Plaintiff a "bogus ticket, " put him in keeplock, and prevented him from seeing a doctor. Id. at Part IV ("Statement of Claim"). On September 25, 2013, Defendant Edwards issued a penalty of thirty days loss of "everything."[4] Id. On October 10, 2013, Defendant Chapman stopped Plaintiff from preparing legal documents, and, on November 15, 2013, Defendant Sharrow issued Plaintiff a "bogus ticket" for listening to his radio too loudly. Id. Lastly, on unspecified dates, Defendant St. Mail Clerk Whorf interfered with Plaintiff's outgoing legal mail and read his incoming private and legal mail. Id.

Construing the Complaint liberally, it appears that Plaintiff has attempted to allege violations of his rights under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. The Court will ...


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