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Hayes v. Barnell

United States District Court, Eastern District of New York

April 20, 2015

JOHN HAYES, Plaintiff,
v.
MR. STEVEN BARNWELL, ESQ., Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

Sandra J. Feuerstein, U.S.D.J.

On November 5, 2014, incarcerated pro se plaintiff John Hayes (“plaintiff”) filed a complaint against his court appointed attorney, defendant Steven Barnwell, Esq. (“Barnwell”), pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, with an application to proceed in forma pauperis.

A review of the declaration in support of the application to proceed in forma pauperis establishes that plaintiff’s financial status qualifies him to commence this action without prepayment of the filing fee. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1914(a); 1915(a)(1). Therefore, plaintiff’s request to proceed in forma pauperis is granted. However, for the reasons that follow, the complaint is sua sponte dismissed.

I. Background[1]

The complaint alleges that during his arraignment, plaintiff advised the state court that he wanted to testify before the grand jury and that he had not waived any related constitutional rights. Compl. p. 5. Thereafter, Barnwell advised plaintiff that he had waived plaintiff’s grand jury rights. Id. As a result of the waiver, plaintiff claims he suffered psychological torment, emotional abuse and lost a significant amount of weight, for which he seeks damages in the sum of five million dollars ($5, 000, 000). Id. at ¶¶ IV.A.; V.

II. Discussion

A. In Forma Pauperis Application

Upon review of plaintiff’s declaration in support of his application to proceed in forma pauperis, the Court finds that plaintiff’s financial status qualifies him to commence this action without prepayment of the filing fees. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). Therefore, plaintiff’s request to proceed in forma pauperis is granted.

B. Application of 28 U.S.C. § 1915

Under the in forma pauperis statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), a district court must dismiss a complaint if it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

It is axiomatic that district courts are required to read pro se complaints liberally, Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)); Hogan v. Fischer, 738 F.3d 509, 515 (2d Cir. 2013), and to construe them “to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest.” Gerstenbluth v. Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC, 728 F.3d 139, 142-43 (2d Cir. 2013) (quotations and citations omitted). Moreover, at the pleadings stage of the proceeding, the Court must assume the truth of “all well-pleaded, nonconclusory factual allegations in the complaint.” Harrington v. Cnty. of Suffolk, 607 F.3d 31, 33 (2d Cir. 2010); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009).

Nevertheless, a complaint must plead sufficient facts “to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The pleading of specific facts is not required; rather a complaint need only give the defendant “fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Erickson, 551 U.S. at 93 (quotations and citation omitted); see also Anderson News, LLC v. Am. Media, Inc., 680 F.3d 162, 182 (2d Cir. 2012), cert. denied by Curtis Circulation Co. v. Anderson News, LLC, 133 S.Ct. 846 (2013) (accord). “A pleading that offers ‘labels and conclusions’ or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.’ ” Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). The plausibility standard requires “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 678; see also In re Amaranth Natural Gas Commodities Litig., 730 F.3d 170, 180 (2d Cir. 2013).

1. Section 1983

Tile 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 provides, in ...


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