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Valdiviezo v. City of New York

United States District Court, E.D. New York

September 16, 2014



SANDRA L. TOWNES, District Judge.

On July 25, 2014, plaintiff Mario Valdiviezo, who is currently incarcerated at the George R. Vierno Center (G.R.V.C.) on Rikers Island, commenced this pro se action by delivering three completed forms to G.R.V.C. personnel for mailing to the Court. One form is entitled "Complaint under the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, " and includes a three-page, handwritten "Statement of Facts." The other two forms are a "Request to Proceed In Forma Pauperis " and an "Application for the Court to Request Pro Bono Counsel." The Court grants plaintiff's request to proceed in forma pauperis but, for the reasons set forth below, dismisses the City of New York and the 66th Precinct from this action and denies plaintiff's application for pro bono counsel.


The following facts are drawn exclusively from plaintiff's form complaint (hereafter, the "Complaint") and the three-page "Statement of Facts" (hereafter, "SOF"), which is inserted after page 3 of the Complaint. For some unspecified period prior to February 26, 2013, plaintiff was living with a girlfriend, Delia Hernandez, in his apartment on New Utrecht Avenue in Brooklyn, New York (SOF, pp. 1-2). At some juncture, Hernandez threatened plaintiff's minor daughter, who lived with them ( id., p. 2). Plaintiff reported the threat to officers at the New York Police Department's 66th Precinct, the precinct closest to his home ( id. ). The officers there refused to permit him to file a criminal complaint against Hernandez, asserting that his apartment was in the 62nd Precinct ( id. ).

Thereafter, plaintiff decided to send his daughter to Florida to live with her mother ( id., p. 1). On February 26, 2013, while they were returning home from the airport, plaintiff asked Hernandez to move out ( id. ). Hernandez was "highly upset" and, unbeknownst to plaintiff, "decided to go to the precinct and put in a complaint against [plaintiff] on February 28, 2013" ( id. ).

Sometime between 5:45 and 6:00 on the evening of February 28, 2013, two detectives-defendant William Greer and an unidentified "black male"-knocked on the door of plaintiff's apartment (Complaint, pp. 2-3; SOF, p. 1). Although they did not have a warrant, the detectives forced plaintiff out of his apartment and into the hallway, where they arrested and searched him (Complaint, p. 3; SOF, p. 1). The detectives removed plaintiff's jewelry, watch and cell phone and placed the items inside his apartment, telling him that he could not take those belongings to the precinct (SOF, p. 1). The detectives assured plaintiff that he would be released later that night and could retrieve his property then, but those assurances proved false ( id. ). Plaintiff was not released and, while detained, lost his job, the apartment and all his belongings ( id. ).

At the precinct, plaintiff was allegedly subjected to various forms of harassment and maltreatment. According to plaintiff, unspecified officers made "racial remarks;" refused his requests for food, water, and access to a bathroom; and forced him to sign a form which plaintiff, who could not "read properly, " did not understand (SOF, p. 2). The officers never told him why he had been arrested ( id. ).

The case against plaintiff was dismissed on July 9, 2013 (Complaint, p. 3; SOF, p. 3)... In April 2014, plaintiff received from his lawyer a document entitled "Complainant's Statement of Intent, " which was allegedly provided to the lawyer by the District Attorney's Office and which is attached to the Complaint as Exhibit 1. In that document, which appears to have been completed by Hernandez on March 5, 2013, Hernandez states that she does not wish to press charges against plaintiff. Hernandez claims that she was forced to falsely incriminate plaintiff by an unspecified detective who wanted to hold plaintiff in custody in anticipation of charging him in another case.

In his Complaint, plaintiff seeks $2 million in compensatory damages for his "unlawful arrest, " the warrantless search, the detective's solicitation of Hernandez's "false statement, " and the District Attorney's failure to immediate disclose the "Complainant's Statement of Intent" (Complaint, p. 5). The complaint names three defendants-the City of New York, Detective Greer and the 66th Precinct-but does not contain any specific allegations concerning the City.


Standard of Review

Section 1915A(a) of the Title 28 of the United States Code requires a district court to "review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity." Upon review, the court is required to "identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint.... (1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). When a prisoner is proceeding pro se, the Court is required to read the complaint liberally and interpret it raising the strongest arguments it suggests. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89 (2007); Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9 (1980); Sealed Plaintiff v. Sealed Defendant #1, 537 F.3d 185, 191-93 (2d Cir. 2008). If a liberal reading of the complaint "gives any indication that a valid claim might be stated, " the court must grant leave to amend the complaint. See Cuoco v. Moritsugu, 222 F.3d 99, 112 (2d Cir.2000); Gomez v. USAA Fed. Say. Bank, 171 F.3d 794, 795 (2d Cir.1999).

Even a pro se complaint must plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic 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). Although all allegations contained in the complaint are assumed to be true, this tenet is "inapplicable to legal conclusions." Id. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not require detailed factual allegations, but demands "more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. lqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). As the Supreme Court has stated:

A pleading that offers "labels and conclusions" or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders "naked ...

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