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Scarlett v. Riker Island

United States District Court, E.D. New York

November 13, 2017

KENWORTH SCARLETT, Plaintiff,
v.
RIKERS ISLAND, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          Pamela K. Chen, United States District Judge.

         On October 10, 2017, Plaintiff Kenworth Scarlett, [1] currently detained at the Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center, filed this pro se action against Defendant Rikers Island. Plaintiff's Complaint is dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B); however, Plaintiff is granted thirty (30) days from the date of this Order to file an amended complaint. The Court also grants Defendant's application to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff appears to allege that he was arrested on May 17, 2008 and that while he was in custody, he was “tortured, ” beaten, and raped by an “Officer William” and an “Officer Samuels”. (See Complaint, Dkt. 1, at 4.)[2] He further alleges that he suffered a “cracked . . . eye” and a “broken [left] knee” as a result of both officers' actions and medical malpractice. (Id.) Plaintiff also alleges that he “filed [a] lawsuit [in] 2012 [that] went to Appeal Court and Supreme Court and got denied.” (Id.) Plaintiff seeks “compensation and protection from Police.” (Id. at 5.)

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Plaintiff's Complaint is subject to review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). Pursuant to the in forma pauperis statute, a district court shall dismiss a case if it determines that 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). Pro se complaints are held to less stringent standards than pleadings drafted by attorneys, and the Court is required to read Plaintiff's pro se complaint liberally and interpret it as raising the strongest arguments it suggests. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). The Court must grant leave to amend the complaint if a liberal reading “gives any indication that a valid claim might be stated.” Cuoco v. Moritsugu, 222 F.3d 99, 112 (2d Cir. 2000). However, the complaint must plead sufficient facts to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).

         DISCUSSION

         A. Improper Plaintiff

         The only defendant Plaintiff names is Rikers Island, which is part of the New York City Department of Correction, an agency of the City of New York. The New York City Charter provides that suits “shall be brought in the name of the City of New York and not in that of any agency.” N.Y. City Charter ch. 17, § 396; see also Jenkins v. City of New York, 478 F.3d 76, 93 n.19 (2d Cir. 2007). Because Plaintiff may not sue a City agency, his claims against Rikers Island are dismissed for failure to state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(iii). See also Freeman v. Rikers Island C-95, No. 14 CV 349 (ENV), 2014 WL 1315384, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. Mar. 31, 2014) (Rikers Island is a non-suable entity); Farray v. Rikers Island Correctional Facility, No. 12 CV 4717 (ARR), 2012 WL 5289608, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. Oct. 22, 2012) (“Rikers Island is not a ‘person' within the meaning of § 1983 and as part of the New York City Department of Correction, an agency of the City of New York, cannot be sued independently.”).

         B. Claims Under Section 1983

         Even construing Officers William and Samuels as Defendants, Plaintiff still fails to provide sufficient information to determine: (1) whether the claim is timely filed, (2) whether venue is proper in this district, and (3) whether the claim is barred by the doctrine of res judicata. First, the only date Plaintiff mentions in the Complaint is his arrest on May 17, 2008; however, this Complaint was filed on October 10, 2017, over nine years later. Claims brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 must be filed within three years of the date on which such claims accrue. Milan v. Wertheimer, 808 F.3d 961, 963 (2d Cir. 2015); Cornwell v. Robinson, 23 F.3d 694, 703 (2d Cir. 1994). Second, Plaintiff does not state where he was allegedly injured by the two officers, i.e. whether the alleged incidents occurred in the Bronx, where he was arrested and arraigned, or at Rikers Island, where he was incarcerated. Third, to the extent Plaintiff alleges that he filed a lawsuit in 2012, he is advised that if that lawsuit alleged the same claims set forth herein, the doctrine of res judicata may bar this action. Federated Dep't Stores, Inc. v. Moitie, 452 U.S. 394, 398 (1981) (prior action based on same claims “precludes the parties or their privies from relitigating issues that were or could have been raised in that action”); Monahan v. N.Y.C. Dep't of Corr., 214 F.3d 275, 284 (2d Cir. 2000).

         C. Medical Malpractice

         Finally, to the extent Plaintiff wishes to pursue a negligence or medical malpractice claim against members of Rikers Island staff, he may not do so pursuant to Section 1983 in this Court.[3]Malpractice claims “cannot be brought under Section 1983, because they sound in negligence, and mere negligence does not rise to the level of a constitutional tort.” Bromfield v. New York, No. 15-CV-3529-CBA-RML, 2016 WL 2917611, at *4 (E.D.N.Y. May 18, 2016) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted); see also Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 105-06 (1976).

         LEAVE ...


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