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Bryan v. People

United States District Court, S.D. New York

July 13, 2015

CHRISTOPHER BRYAN, Plaintiff,
v.
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NY, ADEEL MIRZA, et al., Defendants.

OPINION & ORDER

NELSON S. ROMN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Christopher Bryan[1] ("Plaintiff"), a.k.a. Tom Feelgood, brings this action pro se against "The People of the State of NY, Adeel Mirza, et al. " for alleged violations of his constitutional rights.[2] The People of the State of NY[3] and Adeel Mirza (collectively, "County Defendants") now move to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint, pursuant to Rules 8 and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the following reasons, the County Defendants' motion is GRANTED.

BACKGROUND

On January 31, 2014, Plaintiff was arrested in White Plains, New York, for recording court proceedings during a custody hearing involving his children. (Compl. at 1:17-21, ECF No. 1.) The Complaint makes no mention of the relevant charges brought against Plaintiff; Plaintiff's opposition papers on the instant motion, however, suggest that he was charged with disorderly conduct and harassment, and convicted on March 6, 2015. ( See Pl.'s Opp'n at 2, 4, ECF No. 31.) Plaintiff commenced this action on October 16, 2014, in part to challenge the validity of his arrest. (Compl. at 1:14.) He further alleges that he was deprived of rights "during subsequent court dates" when he was "refused the ability to record, represent [himself] under FARETTA v. CALIFORNIA [ sic ]... and denied in the interest of justice under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(A) the ability to move venue." ( Id. at 1:22-24.)

RELEVANT STANDARDS ON THE MOTION TO DISMISS

I. Rule 8

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) provides that pleadings must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). To comply with Rule 8, "[s]pecific facts are not necessary; the statement need only give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (alteration in original)); Boykin v. KeyCorp, 521 F.3d 202, 214 (2d Cir. 2008). When a complaint does not meet this standard, the district court may dismiss the complaint. Simmons v. Abruzzo, 49 F.3d 83, 86 (2d Cir. 1995). "Dismissal, however, is usually reserved for those cases in which the complaint is so confused, ambiguous, vague, or otherwise unintelligible that its true substance, if any, is well disguised." Salahuddin v. Cuomo, 861 F.2d 40, 42 (2d Cir. 1988).

II. Rule 12(b)(6)

To withstand a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), "a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). A claim is considered facially plausible when the court can "draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged" from the complaint's factual material. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556. When making this assessment, the court must "take all well-plead factual allegations as true, and all reasonable inferences are drawn and viewed in a light most favorable to the plaintiff[]." Leeds v. Meltz, 85 F.3d 51, 53 (2d Cir. 1996). However, the presumption of truth does not extend to "legal conclusions, and threadbare recitals of the elements of the cause of action." Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009) (citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662). A plaintiff must provide "more than labels and conclusions" to show he is entitled to relief. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.

A pro se complaint should be "liberally construed, " Erickson, 551 U.S. at 94 (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)), since such a pleading is held "to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, '" Thomas v. Goord, 215 F.Appx. 51, 53 (2d Cir. 2007) (quoting Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972)). To survive a motion to dismiss, however, even a pro se plaintiff must still assert "factual allegations sufficient to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.'" Jackson v. N.Y.S. Dep't of Labor, 709 F.Supp.2d 218, 224 (S.D.N.Y. 2010) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

"[D]istrict courts should generally not dismiss a pro se complaint without granting the plaintiff leave to amend." Pantoja v. Banco Popular, 545 F.Appx. 47, 49 (2d Cir. 2013). Nevertheless, the Court may dismiss a plaintiff's claims if they are substantively deficient and "[r]epleading would thus be futile." See Cuoco v. Moritsugu, 222 F.3d 99, 112 (2d Cir. 2000).

DISCUSSION

Plaintiff claims his rights were violated when he was falsely arrested and prohibited from recording court proceedings, transferring venue, and representing himself in court. Though Plaintiff does not specify a statutory basis for his claims, the Court analyzes claims of this type under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

Section 1983 does not confer rights, but rather provides "a method for vindicating federal rights elsewhere conferred." Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 144 (1979). As such, a § 1983 claim must be predicated on a right "secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States." Katz v. Klehammer, 902 F.2d 204, 206 (2d Cir. 1990). In addition, a plaintiff "must show that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law." West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). Finally, "personal involvement of defendants in alleged ...


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