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Samodovitz v. Cocchiola

United States District Court, N.D. New York

April 19, 2017


          ARTHUR SAMODOVITZ Plaintiff, Pro Se

          HON. ERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN LOUIS JIM, ESQ. Ass't Attorney General New York State Attorney General Attorneys for Defendant


          DAVID N. HURD, United States District Judge


         On October 11, 2016, plaintiff Arthur Samodovitz ("Samodovitz" or "plaintiff"), proceeding pro se, initially filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against Carol A. Cocchiola, the Binghamton City Court Judge presiding over a civil case in which plaintiff is a named defendant. Plaintiff's § 1983 complaint asserted violations of his Fourteenth Amendment rights to procedural due process and to equal protection arising from certain aspects of Judge Cocchiola's conduct in presiding over the pending state action.

         On October 31, 2016, Judge Cocchiola, represented by the Attorney General of the State of New York, moved to dismiss Samodovitz's complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 12(b)(6) because plaintiff had failed to state any viable claims. Plaintiff initially responded in opposition on November 14, 2016.

         On December 29, 2016, Samodovitz filed a letter motion requesting leave to amend his complaint, primarily seeking to add Richard D. Northrup, Jr., a Broome County Court Judge, as a second defendant in this action. According to plaintiff, Judge Northrup was responsible for hearing an interlocutory appeal from his pending state court action. Plaintiff later filed a letter motion requesting that certain exhibits also be included with his proposed amended complaint.

         On February 2, 2017, the Attorney General filed a letter motion requesting that Samodovitz's exhibits be struck under Rule 12(f). According to this letter, plaintiff's filing "casts aspersions on Judge Cocchiola's character and judicial conduct by implying that donations from the law firm of Levin, Gouldin & Thompson, LLP to various campaign committees, including that of Judge Cocchiola's, influenced Judge Cocchiola's judicial decisions in a matter pending in Binghamton City Court." At that time, the Attorney General also pointed out that although plaintiff is proceeding pro se, he is actually admitted to practice law in the State of Connecticut, making his behavior "especially outrageous."[1]

         The same day, Samodovitz filed a letter motion requesting that Judge Cocchiola "consent" to the filing of plaintiff's proposed amended complaint under the liberal standard established in Rule 15(a)(2). Thereafter, plaintiff filed an opposition to the Attorney General's letter motion to strike. All of these pending motions will be considered on the basis of the submissions and without oral argument.

         II. BACKGROUND[2]

         On October 5, 2010, Samodovitz met with a vascular surgeon employed by United Medical Associates of Johnson City, New York in an effort to determine the appropriate treatment for varicose veins in plaintiff's left leg. Am. Compl. ¶ 1. The surgeon recommended that plaintiff undergo an "ambulatory phlebectomy, " a procedure where some veins are physically removed from the leg, as well as an "RF ablation, " a procedure where other veins are sealed internally without being removed. Id. In preparation for these two surgical procedures, the surgeon required plaintiff to first have an ultrasonic "vein mapping" of his left leg. Id. ¶ 2. According to plaintiff, the surgeon recommended that this pre-surgical procedure take place at United Health Services Hospital ("UHS"). Id.

         On January 11, 2011, Samodovitz underwent an ultrasonic vein mapping of his left leg at UHS. Am. Compl. ¶ 3. The bill from UHS for this procedure was "about $2148, and was excessive." Id. ¶ 4. According to plaintiff, the procedure was performed by a technician "and only took about 20 minutes." Id. Nevertheless, plaintiff and his insurer "paid this bill in full through error." Id. ¶ 5.

         On March 16, 2011, Samodovitz underwent the two surgical procedures described above at the hands of the surgeon at UHS. Am. Compl. ¶ 6. The bill from UHS this time was "about $8457, which was excessive." Id. ¶ 7; see also id. ¶¶ 8-13, 18 (setting forth itemized charges on this bill as well as smaller, related bills invoiced as a result). Plaintiff's medical insurer paid "about $6, 941" toward these services. Id. ¶ 19. However, plaintiff did not pay the balance remaining-"about $1542"-because "it appeared to plaintiff that UHS overcharged" for these services. Id. ¶ 20.

         Following these two procedures, Samodovitz's surgeon directed him "to get an ultrasonic vein scan" of his left leg "to check for a clot, even though Plaintiff had no symptoms of a clot." Am. Compl. ¶ 21. Plaintiff complied even though "[t]his vein scan was unnecessary." Id. ¶ 22. The bill from UHS for this vein scan was "about $1100, and was excessive." Id. ¶ 23. Nevertheless, plaintiff and his insurer "paid this bill in full, through error." Id. ¶ 24.

         Thereafter, UHS sued Samodovitz in Binghamton City Court for failing to pay the remainder of his past due balance. Am. Compl. ¶ 25. Judge Cocchiola is the presiding judge in that civil action. Id. ¶ 26. Further, UHS also "posted a defamatory notice with one or more credit agencies that Plaintiff failed to pay an allegedly improper bill." Id. ¶ 27.

         During the pendency of this civil action, Judge Cocchiola has "improperly denied" certain of Samodovitz's motions to compel discovery. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 31-32. According to plaintiff, Judge Cocchiola has also "improperly delayed 11 months in deciding" UHS's request for a protective order, id. ΒΆ 33, ...

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