United States District Court, E.D. New York
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
M. COGAN, District Judge.
pro se Melvin Baez, currently incarcerated at Rikers
Island, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
alleging the use of excessive force by defendant court
officers during plaintiff's sentencing on February 16,
2017, in New York State Supreme Court, Queens County. He
seeks damages and to have the officers disciplined by their
employer. Plaintiff's request to proceed in forma
pauperis, submitted on April 13, 2017, is granted
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. For the following reasons,
the claim against the City of New York is dismissed, and
plaintiff is given twenty (20) days to file an amended
complaint against the individual court officers that he seeks
complaint concerns an incident that occurred on February 26,
2017, between approximately 3:00 P.M and 3:50 P.M., during
the time of plaintiff's sentencing in the Supreme Court
of the State of New York, Queens County, Part K-24, before
the Honorable Gene Lopez. Plaintiff alleges that when he
“touched the table, ” he was “thrown to the
ground by Court Officers, ” and then “about six
officers [placed their] knees on me, ” so that he
“could not breath.” Plaintiff alleges that the
officers tried to break his arm when they handcuffed him,
caused him to defecate on himself, and continued to assault
him while he was handcuffed as they transported him
downstairs. Plaintiff alleges that he did not resist but that
they nonetheless continued to use excessive force on him. He
states that he feared for his life and was in extreme pain
28 U.S.C. § 1915A, a district court “shall review,
before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as
practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in
which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or
officer or employee of a governmental entity.” 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(a). During this screening, the reviewing
court is required to “identify cognizable claims or
dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if
the complaint (1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state
a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks
monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such
relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); see also Liner
v. Goord, 196 F.3d 132, 134 & n.1 (2d Cir. 1999)
(noting that under the PLRA, sua sponte dismissal of
frivolous prisoner complaints is not only permitted but
plaintiff is a prisoner proceeding pro se, the Court
is required to read the complaint liberally and interpret it
as raising the strongest arguments it suggests. See
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Sealed
Plaintiff v. Sealed Defendant #1, 537 F.3d 185, 191-93
(2d Cir. 2008). However, even a pro se complaint
must plead “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 v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
the allegations contained in the complaint are assumed to be
true, this tenet is “inapplicable to legal
conclusions.” Id. Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 8 does not require “detailed factual
allegations, ” but it does demand “more than an
accusation.” Id. Thus, “[a] pleading
that offers ‘labels and conclusions' or ‘a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
will not do.'” Id. (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
brings this lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which
imposes liability on persons who, “under color of any
statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any
State, ” cause a “deprivation of any rights,
privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and
laws.” 42 U.S.C. § 1983; see also Pitchell v.
Callan, 13 F.3d 545, 547 (2d Cir. 1994). Section 1983
“is not itself a source of substantive rights, but a
method for vindicating federal rights elsewhere conferred by
those parts of the United States Constitution and federal
statutes that it describes.” Baker v.
McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 144 n. 3 (1979).
order to maintain a § 1983 action, a plaintiff must
allege the direct or personal involvement of each of the
named defendants in the alleged constitutional deprivation.
See Farid v. Ellen, 593 F.3d 233, 249 (2d Cir.
2010); Farrell v. Burke, 449 F.3d 470, 484 (2d Cir.
2006) (“It is well-settled in this Circuit that
personal involvement of defendants in alleged constitutional
deprivations is a prerequisite to an award of damages under
§ 1983.”). Here, the complaint fails in two
regards: First, it names an improper party, and second, it
fails to allege the direct or personal involvement of each of
the named defendants in the alleged constitutional
The City of New York
names the City of New York as a defendant to this lawsuit.
Congress did not intend municipalities to be held liable
under § 1983 “unless action pursuant to official
municipal policy of some nature caused a constitutional
tort.” Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436
U.S. 658, 691 (1978). Thus, “to prevail on a claim
against a municipality under § 1983 based on acts of a
public official, a plaintiff is required to prove: (1)
actions taken under color of law; (2) deprivation of a
constitutional or statutory right; (3) causation; (4)
damages; and (5) that an official policy of the municipality
caused the constitutional injury.” Roe v. City of
Waterbury, 542 F.3d 31, 36 (2d Cir. 2008).
fifth element reflects the principle that “a
municipality may not be held liable under § 1983 solely
because it employs a tortfeasor.” Bd. of Cty.
Comm'rs v. Brown, 520 U.S. 397, 403 (1997). In other
words, a municipality may not be held liable under §
1983 “by application of the doctrine of respondeat
superior.” Pembaur v. City of Cincinnati,
475 U.S. 469, 478 (1986) (plurality). Rather, there must be a
“direct causal link between a municipal policy or
custom and the alleged constitutional deprivation.”
City of Canton v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 385 (1989).
has failed to allege any facts that would support an
inference that an official policy or custom of the City of
New York caused a violation of his federally protected
rights. Accordingly, his § 1983 claim against the City
of New York is dismissed for failure to ...