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Levesque v. State

United States District Court, N.D. New York

September 8, 2014

ANDRE LEVESQUE, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE OF NEW YORK; CLINTON COUNTY GOVERNMENT CENTER; TOWN OF PLATTSBURGH COURT; CITY OF PLATTSBURGH COURT; CLINTON COUNTY COURT; CLINTON COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEYS OFFICE; FRANKLIN COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEYS OFFICE; CLINTON COUNTY SHERIFFS OFFICE; PLATTSBURGH CITY POLICE; N.Y.S. DIVISION OF STATE POLICE; N.Y.S. OFFICE OF THE INSPECTOR GENERAL; CVPH MEDICAL CENTER, Defendants.

DECISION and ORDER

THOMAS J. McAVOY, Senior District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff ANDRE LEVESQUE commenced this action pro se asserting claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Presently before the Court are motions to dismiss brought by Defendants State of New York, New York State Police, and New York State Unified Court System (as the parent agency of the City of Plattsburgh Court and Clinton County Court) ("the State Defendants") (dkt. #31); Defendant City of Plattsburgh Police ("Plattsburgh") (dkt. #49); and Defendant CVPH Medical Center ("CVPH") (dkt. #52).

II. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff submits a long, rambling, and confusing hand-written complaint brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C § 1983 for alleged violations of his constitutional rights. Plaintiff claims that he has been a victim of discrimination, "dehumanization", retaliation, assault, and violations of his right to privacy. See Dkt. #1. His claims stem from, or relate to, his confinement at the Clinton County Correctional Facility, his treatment by unspecified New York State Troopers, the refusal of the Clinton County District Attorney's Office to act on his complaints, and his treatment while psychiatrically confined at the CVPH Medical Center. Although not referencing any statute, Plaintiff also seemingly asserts a claim under the Americans With Disabilities Act against CVPH. It appears from the allegations in the Complaint that many, if not all, of Plaintiff's claims have been raised in prior litigation in this Court and in the courts of New York and New Hampshire.[1]

The Court assumes familiarity with the allegations made in the Complaint and will set forth below only those factual allegations pertinent to the pending dismissal motions.

III. STANDARDS OF REVIEW

The parties move to dismiss the claims against them pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 8, 10, 12(b)(1), 12(b)(6), and 12(h)(3). The following standards of review apply.

1. Rules 8 & 10

Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires a plaintiff to submit a Complaint consisting of a short, plain statement showing that the pleader is entitled to relief. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The purpose of the Rule 8(a)(2) pleading requirement is to provide fair notice to a defendant, to inform the defendant of the acts that the plaintiff complains of, and grounds upon which the plaintiff claims he is entitled to relief. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964 (2007) ("Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ' in order to give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'") (quoting Conley v. Gibson , 355 U.S. 41, 47, 78 S.Ct. 99 (1957)). Rule 10 further requires a plaintiff to "state its claim... in numbered paragraphs, each limited as far as practicable to a single set of circumstances." Fed.R.Civ.P. 10. "While the special leniency afforded to pro se civil litigants somewhat loosens the procedural rules governing the form of pleadings, it does not completely relieve a pro se plaintiff of the duty to satisfy the pleading standards set forth in Fed.R.Civ.P. 8, 10, and 12." Vega v. Artus , 610 F.Supp.2d 185, 195-96 (N.D.N.Y. 2009).

b. Rule 12(b)(1) and 12(h)(3)

Under Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(h)(3) a court "must accept as true all material factual allegations in the complaint, but [is] not to draw inferences from the complaint favorable to plaintiffs." J.S. ex rel. N.S. v. Attica Cent. Schs. , 386 F.3d 107, 110 (2nd Cir. 2004) (citation omitted)." A plaintiff asserting subject matter jurisdiction bears the burden to prove its existence by a preponderance of the evidence. Morrison v. National Australia Bank Ltd. , 547 F.3d 167, 170 (2nd Cir. 2008). "[J]urisdiction must be shown affirmatively, and that showing is not made by drawing from the pleadings inferences favorable to the party asserting it." Id . (citation omitted). A district court may consider evidence outside the pleadings and dismiss a case when it "lacks the statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate it." Makarova v. United States , 201 F.3d 110, 113 (2nd Cir. 2000). If jurisdiction is lacking, the action must be dismissed in its entirety. Fed.R.Civ.P. Rule 12(h)(3). Since dismissal of an action for lack of jurisdiction renders all other defenses and motions moot, courts will generally consider a 12(b)(1) motion before ruling on other bases for dismissal. U.S. ex rel Kreindler & Kreindler v. United Techs. Corp. , 985 F.2d 1148, 1155-56 (2d Cir. 1993), cert. den. sub nom Kreindler & Kreindler v. United Techs. Corp. , 508 U.S. 973 (1993).

c. Rule 12(b)(6)

In reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court "must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint." Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A. , 534 U.S. 506, 508 n. 1, 122 S.Ct. 992, 152 L.Ed.2d 1 (2002). How ever, a court may disregard those pleadings that are "no more than conclusions" and determine whether the remaining factual allegations "plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief." Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 663-64, 679, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009). Plausibility requires "more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

Thus, "[w]hile a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations... a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds' of his entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Id. at 1964-65. "Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level... on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact)." Id. at 1965. "[T]he pleading must contain something more... than... a statement of facts that merely creates a suspicion [of] a legally cognizable right of action.'" Id. at 1965 (quoting 5 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1216, pp. 235-236 (3d ed. 2004)).

A complaint does not suffice "if it tenders naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement." Ashcroft , 129 S.Ct. at 1949. Legal conclusions must be supported by factual allegations. Iqbal, at 1950. "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id. at 1949. "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." Id . "Where a complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent with' a defendant's liability, it stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief." Id . (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. 557) (internal quotations omitted). The standard pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c) is identical to that under Rule 12(b)(6). Patel v. Contemporary Classics of Beverly Hills , 259 F.3d 123, 126 (2d Cir. 2001).

When assessing the sufficiency of a complaint against this backdrop, particular deference should be afforded to a pro se litigant whose complaint merits a generous construction by the Court when determining whether it states a cognizable cause of action. Erickson v. Pardus , 551 U.S. 89, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007) ("[A] pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers'") (quoting Estelle v. Gamble , 429 U.S. 97, 106, 97 S.Ct. 285, 292 (1976) (internal quotations omitted)). In the event of a perceived deficiency in a pro se plaintiff's complaint, a court should not dismiss without granting leave to amend at least once if there is any ...


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