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Ehlers v. Central Intelligence Agency

United States District Court, N.D. New York

June 10, 2015

MATTHEW R. EHLERS, Plaintiff,
v.
CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY; DAVID B. BUCKLEY, Director; MICHAEL E. HOROWITZ, Inspector General, Defendants.

MATTHEW R. EHLERS, 57 Elizabeth Street 2nd Floor Amsterdam, New York 12010 Plaintiff Pro Se.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

MAE A. D'AGOSTINO, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff commenced this civil rights action asserting claims against the Central Intelligence Agency ("CIA"), the director thereof, and the Inspector General ("IG") of the Department of Justice ("DOJ"). See Dkt. No. 1. In an April 6, 2015, Order and Report-Recommendation, Magistrate Judge Baxter conducted an initial review of the complaint and granted Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP") for filing purposes only, recommended that the complaint be dismissed in its entirety with prejudice, and denied Plaintiff's motion to appoint counsel. See Dkt. No. 5 at 11.

Currently before the Court is Magistrate Judge Baxter's Order and Report-Recommendation, Plaintiff's objections thereto, and Plaintiff's amended complaint, which was filed after the issuance of the Order and Report-Recommendation.

II. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff's complaint is very short, containing limited facts, but brings this action against the CIA and DOJ under 18 U.S.C. §§ 241-242 & 245 for having failed to investigate alleged reports of harassment that he and his family suffered due to their "whistleblowing" activities. Id. at 3, 8. Plaintiff appeared to be requesting injunctive or mandamus relief. Id. at 6. The Magistrate Judge found Plaintiff failed to plausibly allege that Defendants denied him due process by failing to conduct an investigation or prosecution and that Plaintiff has no right, constitutional or otherwise, to an investigation or prosecution. Id. at 8 (citing Bernstein v. New York, 591 F.Supp.2d 448, 460 (S.D.N.Y. 2008)). Magistrate Judge Baxter concluded that Plaintiff's complaint amounts to conclusory allegations which are insufficient to state a constitutional claim. Id. at 9 (citing Barr v. Adrams, 810 F.2d 358, 363 (2d Cir. 1987)). The Magistrate Judge then held that any attempt by Plaintiff to amend his complaint would be futile, and he would still be unable to state a federal claim. Id. at 10.

Currently before the Court are Magistrate Judge Baxter's Order and Report-Recommendation, and Plaintiff's objections thereto. Additionally pending before the Court is Plaintiff's amended complaint, which was filed after the issuance of the Order and Report-Recommendation.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Initial review

Section 1915(e)(2)(B) directs that, when a plaintiff seeks to proceed in forma pauperis, "(2)... the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that -... (B) 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).[1] Thus, although The Court has the 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), the court also has a responsibility to determine that a claim is not frivolous before permitting a plaintiff to proceed with an action in forma pauperis.[2]

When reviewing a complaint, the court may also look to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a pleading that sets forth a claim for relief shall contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." See Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The purpose of Rule 8 "is to give fair notice of the claim being asserted so as to permit the adverse party the opportunity to file a responsive answer, ... prepare an adequate defense, " and determine whether the doctrine of res judicata is applicable. Hudson v. Artuz, No. 95 CIV. 4768, 1998 WL 832708, *1 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 30, 1998) (quoting Powell v. Marine Midland Bank, 162 F.R.D. 15, 16 (N.D.N.Y. 1995) (quoting Brown v. Califano, 75 F.R.D. 497, 498 (D.D.C. 1977))) (other citation omitted).

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, 556 U.S. at 678 (citation omitted). 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 Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Thus, "where 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)).

When a party files specific objections to a magistrate judge's report-recommendation, the district court makes a "de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) (2006). When a party, however, files "[g]eneral or conclusory objections or objections which merely recite the same arguments [that he presented] to the magistrate judge, " the court reviews those recommendations for clear error. O'Diah v. Mawhir, No. 9:08-CV-322, 2011 WL 933846, *1 (N.D.N.Y. Mar. 16, 2011) (citations and footnote omitted). After the appropriate ...


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