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Ezeh v. McDonald

United States District Court, W.D. New York

January 21, 2015

CHRISTOPHER EZEH, Plaintiff,
v.
ROBERT A. MCDONALD, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Defendant.

DECISION AND ORDER

ELIZABETH A. WOLFORD, District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Christopher Ezeh ("Plaintiff") has two motions currently pending. (Dkt. 63, 71).[1] In his motion filed on October 14, 2014, Plaintiff requests that: (1) I recuse myself from this matter; (2) I reconsider my Decision and Order dated April 30, 2014 (Dkt. 49), and portions of my Decision and Order dated September 29, 2014 (Dkt. 58); and (3) he be granted leave to submit an amended complaint. (Dkt. 63 at 1-11). In his motion filed on November 25, 2014, Plaintiff requests for a second time that I recuse myself from this matter. (Dkt. 71 at 1-3).

Defendant Robert A. McDonald, Secretary of Veterans Affairs ("Defendant" or "Secretary McDonald"), opposes Plaintiff's requests[2] and has filed his own motion asking the Court to enjoin Plaintiff from making any further motions without leave of the Court. (Dkt. 65, 67).

For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motions for recusal are denied, Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration is denied, Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend is granted in part and denied in part, and Defendant's motion to enjoin Plaintiff from filing any further motions without leave of the Court is denied without prejudice.

BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The factual background of this case is set forth in detail in the Court's Decision and Order dated September 29, 2014 (Dkt. 58) (the "September 29th Decision and Order"). Familiarity with the September 29th Decision and Order is presumed for purposes of this Decision and Order. Those portions of this matter's procedural history that are relevant to the pending motions are summarized below.

Since the commencement of this action just over one year ago, Plaintiff has filed at least 15 motions. ( See Dkt. 3, 11, 15, 17, 23, 24, 29, 30, 42, 44, 51, 59, 63, 71, 73). These motions have been voluminous, repetitive, and often frivolous. They have also been rife with aspersions on defendants, as well as this Court and its employees.

On January 1, 2014, Plaintiff filed a 22-page motion (including exhibits) asking the Court to change the electronic docket to list his former employer as "VA Medical Center, Canandaigua, NY, " rather than listing it as "VA Medical Center" with "Canandaigua, NY" listed as a geographical identifier. (Dkt. 11). In the motion, Plaintiff accused the Court's staff of having attempted to conceal the identity of the Defendant in order to "shield it from public recognition." ( Id. at 5).

Then, on January 27, 2014, Plaintiff filed a 179-page motion (including exhibits) seeking (1) leave to amend his complaint; (2) a jury trial; (3) dismissal of then-defendant William E. Burkhart, Jr., Esq.'s motion to dismiss because the affirmation of service was not sworn to under penalty of perjury; and (4) an order requiring Mr. Burkhart to pay him $100, 000. (Dkt. 17 at 1-4). The motion was riddled with arguments without basis in law, including an argument that Mr. Burkhart was somehow attempting to represent other litigants in this action because he cited a case referring to multiple defendants ( id. at 8); that Mr. Burkhart had defaulted in spite of having filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint ( id. at 18); and that Mr. Burkhart's motion failed to comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8, which governs the form of pleadings, not motions ( id. at 21-22).

On February 4, 2014, Plaintiff filed a 34-page motion (including exhibits) in which he moved for a jury trial for a second time, despite having filed a motion for the identical relief approximately one week earlier. (Dkt. 23 at 4). Plaintiff further argued, without basis in law, that the Court's order granting the defendants' request to extend their time to answer or move to April 4, 2014, was "not in compliance with the Federal Law." ( Id. at 3). Plaintiff also argued, again without basis in law, that Assistant United States Attorney Kathryn L. Smith ("AUSA Smith") had no authority to represent the defendants, despite AUSA Smith having filed a notice of appearance (Dkt. 16) on January 24, 2014. (Dkt. 23 at 3-4).

Less than a week later, on February 10, 2014, Plaintiff filed a 119-page motion (with exhibits) requesting that the public access restrictions placed on certain exhibits which contained his Social Security number and bank account information be lifted. (Dkt. 24 at 2). Plaintiff made numerous additional requests of the Court based on the appearance of certain items on PACER. ( Id. at 4-5). Plaintiff accused the Court's staff of having suppressed his exhibits "in order to preclude the Judge from knowing that they exist so that she or he would render a favorable ruling to the defendant" in "blatant violation of the Plaintiff's Human Rights." ( Id. at 11). Again, access to the exhibits had been limited to the parties and court-users because Plaintiff had submitted unredacted documents setting forth his Social Security number and banking information. Plaintiff also made various unfounded accusations against the United States Marshals Service based on his displeasure with the manner in which they had served his complaint, stating that they "could be indicted for breach of contract, manipulation of U.S. Mail, violation of the Federal Law in the service of process, fraudulent collection of money without rendering the services for which money was paid to them." ( Id. at 14-15).

Four days later, on February 14, 2014, Plaintiff filed a 198-page motion (including exhibits). (Dkt. 29). Plaintiff asked the Court, in part, to order the United States Marshals Service to serve his complaint on the Department of Veterans Affairs and the United States Postal Service, and to order the Department of Veterans Affairs to pay him $4, 213.81. ( Id. at 2-3).

On March 11, 2014, Plaintiff filed a 51-page motion (with exhibits) asking the Court to order the Department of Veterans Affairs to "release" his "COBRA package." (Dkt. 30 at 1-2). This motion sought damages related to Plaintiff's allegedly wrongful termination despite liability not having been established and the majority of the defendants having not yet answered or otherwise responded to the complaint.

On March 21, 2014, I held a status conference in this matter. (Dkt. 32). I explained to Plaintiff that the conference had been called specifically because of the unusual number of motions he had filed. (Dkt. 57 at 3:6-12). I further explained to him that it would likely be "several months" before any decision would be rendered on his motions ( id. at 4:10-13); that it would likely be a considerable time before a trial would be scheduled (after completion of discovery and dispositive motions) ( id. at 5:7-6:2); that if he filed a motion and did not get an immediate response from the Court, he should not file another motion seeking the same relief ( id. at 8:3-10); and that his filing of frivolous or improper motions would risk the imposition of sanctions under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 ( id. at at 8:16-9:5; 25:6-17; 26:8-22).

Unfortunately, these warnings seem to have had little or no impact on Plaintiff's conduct in this litigation. On April 17, 2014, Plaintiff filed a document purporting to be a motion for default judgment against the VA Medical Center, Canandaigua, NY, despite having not complied with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55 and first sought a Clerk's entry of judgment. (Dkt. 44). The Clerk of the Court's office filed this document as a request for a Clerk's entry of judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55 and denied the request. Plaintiff then sent a letter to the Court dated April 28, 2014, in which he protested the Clerk of the Court's office's denial of his request and accused the Clerk of the Court's staff of having usurped the role of the judge and defense counsel. (Dkt. 48). The Court deemed this letter a second motion for a default judgment and entered a Decision and Order denying Plaintiff's request on April 30, 2014 (the "April 30th Decision and Order"). (Dkt. 49).

Between April and June of 2014, the parties made numerous filings related to the then-pending motions. In early June of 2014, Plaintiff sent the Court a letter indicating that he would be out of the country until mid-July. ( See Dkt. 55).

The September 29th Decision and Order was issued on September 29, 2014, and resolved all then-outstanding motions. ( See Dkt. 58 at 3). Following entry of the September 29th Decision and Order, I referred this matter to United States Magistrate Judge Jonathan W. Feldman "for all pretrial matters excluding dispositive motions." (Dkt. 62).

On October 1, 2014, Plaintiff filed a 41-page motion (including exhibits) asking the Court to "release" its decision on his previously filed motions, to issue a decision on his complaint, and to make changes to the transcript of the status conference held on March 21, 2014. (Dkt. 59 at 1-5). Plaintiff had previously sent the Court a letter dated August 11, 2014, in which he claimed that the court reporter had made "major and minor omissions of salient points and misrepresentations" in the transcript and asked that the Court make wholesale changes to the transcript based solely on his representation that he had not said what the court reporter recorded. ( Id. at 36-40). Plaintiff accused the court reporter of having "deformed and completely rendered meaningless" his statements. ( Id. at 39).

On October 14, 2014, Plaintiff filed his 203-page motion (with exhibits) for recusal, reconsideration, and leave to amend. (Dkt. 63). In this motion, Plaintiff once again demanded a jury trial ( Id. at 18), despite having been instructed by the Court that "your demand for a jury trial has been made. You no longer need to make any further demands for a jury trial...." (Dkt. 57 at 13:16-19). Defendant filed his opposition to this motion on November 5, 2014, and Plaintiff filed a reply on November 13, 2014. (Dkt. 67, 68).

Defendant filed his motion to enjoin Plaintiff from filing any further motions without leave of the Court on November 4, 2014. (Dkt. 65). Plaintiff filed his opposition on November 13, 2014. (Dkt. 68).

Despite having been specifically told that he should not file multiple motions seeking the same relief ( see Dkt. 57 at 8:3-10), Plaintiff filed his second, 61-page motion for recusal on November 25, 2014. (Dkt. 71). The Court entered a scheduling order giving Defendant until December 10, 2014, to file any further opposition papers (Dkt. 72); Defendant made no further filings.

In addition to the filings noted above, Plaintiff has sent numerous letters to the Court throughout the course of this litigation making various requests and demands. Many of these letters have been included as exhibits to his later ...


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