Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Parker v. Blackerby

United States District Court, W.D. New York

April 14, 2017

RONNIE JOE PARKER, Plaintiff,
v.
JOEL D. BLACKERBY, DOUGLAS LANDY, KIM DEAN, and CLIFTON SPRINGS HOSPITAL, Defendants.

          DECISION AND ORDER

          ELIZABETH A. WOLFORD United States District Judge

         INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Ronnie Joe Parker ("Plaintiff) brings this action alleging violations of his constitutional rights. (Dkt. 1). Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on January 10, 2017, (Dkt. 6), and a second amended complaint on February 14, 2017.[1](Dkt. 8). The Court is required to screen Plaintiffs second amended complaint due to Plaintiffs in forma pauperis status. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Also before the Court is Plaintiffs motion to appoint counsel. (Dkt. 9).

         For the reasons stated below, Plaintiffs defamation and right to privacy claims must be dismissed. The remainder of Plaintiff s second amended complaint may proceed to service. Additionally, Plaintiffs motion to appoint counsel is denied without prejudice.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff was indicted on April 10, 2014, for threatening the life of the President of the United States, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 871. United States v. Parker, 6:14-CR-06045, Dkt. 11, at n (W.D.N.Y. Apr. 10, 2014). Plaintiff was alleged to have "told a special agent of the United States Secret Service that he was going to 'find him (the President) and kill him. . . ." Id. Plaintiff was released on bail, but shortly thereafter he violated the conditions of his pretrial release, his release was revoked, and he was detained until the conclusion of the trial. See Parker, 6:14-CR-06045, Dkt. 36 (W.D.N.Y. Dec. 15, 2014). A jury trial commenced on September 8, 2015, and Plaintiff was acquitted when the jury returned its verdict on September 10, 2015. See Parker, 6:14-CR-06045, Dkt. 78 (W.D.N.Y. Sept. 10, 2015).

         Plaintiff filed this action on July 8, 2016, alleging violations of his constitutional rights relating to his arrest, incarceration, and prosecution. (Dkt. 1).

         DISCUSSION

         I. Plaintiffs Second Amended Complaint

         Plaintiff raises nine claims in his second amended complaint: (1) false arrest; (2) violation of his First Amendment rights; (3) malicious prosecution; (4) false imprisonment; (5) a general tort claim; (6) a "loss of liberty" claim; (7) negligence; (8) defamation; and (9) a violation of Plaintiff s "Fourth Amendment Right to Privacy." (Dkt. 8).

         A. Standard of Review

         The Court has reviewed the complaint with respect to the § 1915(e)(2) criteria. Under § 1915(e)(2), the Court must conduct an initial screening of Plaintiff s complaint. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). The Court must dismiss the 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." Id. "An action is 'frivolous' for § 1915(e) purposes if it has no arguable basis in law or fact." Montero v. Travis, 171 F.3d 757, 759 (2d Cir. 1999).

         In evaluating the complaint, a court must accept as true all of the plaintiffs factual allegations, and must draw all inferences in the plaintiffs favor. See, e.g., Larkin v. Savage, 318 F.3d 138, 139 (2d Cir. 2003). Although "a court is obliged to construe [pro se] pleadings liberally, particularly when they allege civil rights violations, " McEachin v. McGuinnis, 357 F.3d 197, 200 (2d Cir. 2004), evenpro se pleadings must meet the notice requirements of Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Wynder v. McMahon, 360 F.3d 73, 79 n.ll (2d Cir. 2004) ("[T]he basic requirements of Rule 8 apply to self-represented and counseled plaintiffs alike.").

         "[A] district court should look with a far more forgiving eye in examining whether a complaint rests on a meritless legal theory for purposes of section [§ 1915(e)] than it does in testing the complaint against a Rule 12(b)(6) motion." Nance v. Kelly, 912 F.2d 605, 606 (2d Cir. 1990). In determining whether a complaint survives a Rule 8 notice inquiry, the plaintiff 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. Twombfy, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). "So long as the [in forma pauperis] plaintiff raises a cognizable claim, dismissal on the basis of factual deficiencies in the complaint must wait until the defendant attacks the lack of such details on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion." Nance, 912 F.2d at 607.

         B. Threshold Issues

         1. Claims Against Blackerby are Cognizable under Bivens

         Plaintiff asserts that Defendant Joel D. Blackerby ("Blackerby"), a United States Secret Service agent, violated Plaintiffs constitutional rights in various ways. (Dkt. 8). In Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Fed. Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), the Supreme Court found a private right of action for monetary damages for the violation of one's constitutional rights by a federal agent acting under color of his authority. Bivens, 403 U.S. at 389; see, e.g., Arar v. Ashcroft, 585 F.3d 559, 571 (2d Cir. 2009). "The purpose of the Bivens remedy 'is to deter individual federal officers from committing constitutional violations.'" Arar, 585 F.3d at 571 (quoting Corr. Servs. Corp. v. Malesko, 534 U.S. 61, 70 (2001)). To the extent that Plaintiff states a claim for relief against Blackerby, such claims are cognizable under Bivens.

         2. Plaintiffs Claims Against Landy, Dean, and Clifton Springs May be Cognizable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983

         Plaintiff also alleges that Defendants Douglas Landy ("Landy"), Kim Dean ("Dean"), and Clifton Springs Hospital ("Clifton Springs") violated Plaintiffs constitutional rights. (Dkt. 8). Plaintiff asserts that Landy called law enforcement to interview Plaintiff while Plaintiff was under the influence of medication, and that both Landy and Dean attended Plaintiffs interrogation by Blackerby without saying anything. (Id. at 4-10). Plaintiff also alleges that Clifton Springs is liable because it employed Landy and Dean, and allowed them to "give opinions [about a] patient without sufficient basis." (Id. at 9). Plaintiff prays for monetary damages from each of these three Defendants. (Id. at 12).

         The Court assumes Plaintiff brings his constitutional claims[2] against Landy, Dean, and Clifton Springs under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Title 42 of the United States Code provides:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress. . . .

42 U.S.C. § 1983. To establish a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must demonstrate that the challenged conduct was "committed by a person acting under color of state law, " and "deprived [the plaintiff] of rights, privileges or immunities secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States." Pitchell v. Callan, 13 F.3d 545, 547 (2d Cir. 1994). "[T]he core purpose of § 1983 is to provide compensatory relief to those deprived of their federal rights by state actors." Hardy v. N.Y.C. Health & Hosp. Corp., 164 F.3d 789, 795 (2d Cir. 1999) (internal citations omitted). "The traditional definition of acting under color of state law requires that the defendant in a § 1983 action have exercised power possessed by virtue of state law and made possible only because the wrongdoer is clothed with the authority of state law." Carlos v. Santos, 123 F.3d 61, 65 (2d Cir. 1997).

         A hospital which is owned and administered by a private corporation can be a "state actor" for purposes of § 1983. Kia P. v. Mclntyre, 235 F.3d 749, 756 (2d Cir. 2000). "[C]onduct that is formally 'private' may become so entwined with governmental policies or so impregnated with a governmental character as to become subject to the constitutional limitations placed upon state action." Perez v. Sugarman, 499 F.2d 761, 764 (2d Cir. 1974) (quoting Evans v. Newton, 382 U.S. 296, 299 (1966)). A private hospital is a state actor when "(1) the State compelled the conduct [the 'compulsion test'], (2) there is a sufficiently close nexus between the State and the private conduct [the 'close nexus test' or 'joint action test'], or (3) the private conduct consisted of activity that has traditionally been the exclusive prerogative of the State [the 'public function test']." McGugan v. Aldana-Bernier, 752 F.3d 224, 229 (2d Cir. 2014) (quoting Hogan v. A.O. Fox Mem 7Hosp., 346 F.App'x 627, 629 (2d Cir. 2009)) (alterations in original).

         Plaintiffs complaint leaves open questions as to whether Landy, Dean, and Clifton Springs are state actors for purposes of § 1983. It is unclear whether Clifton Springs is a private entity or a state or municipal facility. Further, it is unclear whether Landy or Dean called Blackerby to interview Plaintiff out of a legal obligation to do so, or for some other reason. Resolution of these matters is better addressed after Landy, Dean, and Clifton Springs have appeared in the case. See Nance, 912 F.2d at 607. As a result, for the purposes of screening the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.