United States District Court, E.D. New York
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
M. COGAN, DISTRICT JUDGE.
Melvin Baez, incarcerated at Ogdensburg Correctional
Facility, filed this pro se complaint pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983 alleging false arrest, malicious
prosecution, and illegal search in violation of his
constitutional rights arising from his February 4, 2014
arrest and detention in Queens, New York, and his subsequent
prosecution in the Supreme Court of New York, Queens County.
He seeks damages, as well as the firing and arrest of the
prosecutors assigned to his case. Plaintiff's request for
in forma pauperis status, pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915 is granted. For the reasons set forth below,
plaintiff is granted twenty days to file an amended complaint
to proceed with this action.
alleges that he was arrested by defendant police officers Lin
and Lewis on February 4, 2014 and subsequently prosecuted by
the Queens County District Attorney's Office. He alleges
that the officers did not have probable cause for the arrest,
and that they “fabricated smelling marijuana, ”
the location of his arrest, and their claim that he was
talking on an “I-phone” while driving his car.
The officers then conducted what plaintiff describes as an
unlawful search of his person at the 113th
precinct, and he alleges that the prosecutors colluded to
maliciously prosecute him despite their knowledge that the
officers had filed false reports. Plaintiff states that the
crime for which his vehicle was stopped (driving under the
influence) was dismissed, but that he is serving a seven-year
sentence as a result of the February 4, 2014 arrest. The
Court takes judicial notice that plaintiff is incarcerated
for a 2017 conviction for criminal possession of a controlled
substance in the fourth degree.
Standard of Review
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. Upon review, a district court shall
dismiss a prisoner's complaint sua sponte if the
complaint is “frivolous, malicious, or 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.; see also Liner v.
Goord, 196 F.3d 132, 134 & n.1 (2d Cir. 1999)
(noting that under PLRA, sua sponte dismissal of
frivolous prisoner complaints is not only permitted but
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), a district court shall
dismiss an in forma pauperis action where it is
satisfied 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.
Court construes plaintiff's pro se pleadings
liberally, particularly because they allege civil rights
violations. 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). Courts must read pro
se complaints with “special solicitude” and
interpret them to raise the “strongest arguments that
they suggest.” Triestman v. Federal Bureau of
Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 474-76 (2d Cir. 2006) (internal
quotation marks omitted). However, a 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)
(citation omitted). Although “detailed factual
allegations” are not required, “[a] pleading that
offers labels and conclusions, or a formulaic recitation of
the elements of a cause of action will not do.”
Id. (quotations and citations omitted). Similarly, a
complaint is insufficient to state a claim “if it
tenders naked assertion[s] devoid of further factual
enhancement.” Id. (quotations omitted).
Statute of Limitations
plaintiff's three claims appear to be time-barred. He
commenced this action on November 28, 2017. Claims brought
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 must be filed within three
years of the date on which such claims accrue. See Milan
v. Wertheimer, 808 F.3d 961, 963-64 (2d Cir. 2015).
Accrual occurs when the plaintiff has “a complete and
present cause of action, that is, when the plaintiff can file
suit and obtain relief.” Wallace v. Kato, 549
U.S. 384, 388, 127 S.Ct. 1091 (2007) (citations and
quotations omitted); see also Singleton v. City of New
York, 632 F.2d 185, 191 (2d Cir. 1980) (federal claims
accrue at “a point in time when the plaintiff knows or
has reason to know of the injury which is the basis of his
action”). The statute of limitations for illegal search
and false arrest claims begins to run at the time of
detention under legal process, such as at an arraignment.
See Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 389-91, 397, 127
S.Ct. 1091 (2007). Here, the limitations period on
plaintiff's false arrest and illegal search claim based
on his February 4, 2014 arrest and search began to run when
he was arraigned, a date not provided by plaintiff, but most
likely beyond the three-year statute of limitations
applicable to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 actions.
Wallace, 549 U.S. at 388.
the malicious prosecution claim, the statute of limitations
time begins when “the underlying criminal action is
conclusively terminated.” Murphy v. Lynn, 53
F.3d 547, 548 (2d Cir. 1995). Plaintiff does not provide the
date on which the underlying criminal action was terminated,
but New York State Department of Corrections and Community
Supervision records indicate that it was terminated in 2017,
less than three years before the filing of this action.
Assuming his prosecution terminated later than November 28,
2014, that is, less than three years before he filed this
complaint on November 28, 2017, this claim is timely.
amended complaint, plaintiff should provide the dates of his
arraignment. Plaintiff should also provide the dates of his
trial and conviction, the charges, and the result so that the
court can determine the timeliness of his claims. See
Milan v. Wertheimer, 808 F.3d at 963-64 (affirming
sua sponte dismissal of claims based on statute of