United States District Court, E.D. New York
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
DONNELLY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
December 22, 2017, the plaintiff Russell Davenport filed the
instant pro se action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983, alleging that the defendants, Selfhelp Community
Services, Inc. ("Selfhelp") and Tatyana Vasilyeva
("Vasilyeva"), violated his constitutional rights.
The plaintiffs request to proceed in forma pauperis
is granted. For the reasons discussed below, the complaint is
dismissed. The plaintiff is granted leave to submit an
amended complaint within 30 days of the date of this Order.
defendant Selfhelp is the plaintiffs court-appointed legal
guardian. (ECF No. 1, at 3-4.) Selfhelp, in turn, appointed
the defendant Vasilyeva as the plaintiffs legal guardian.
(Id.) The complaint alleges that on or about July
31, 2015, Vasilyeva imprisoned the plaintiff in his home by
holding the door to the plaintiffs home closed; when the
plaintiff forced the door open. Vasilyeva kicked the
plaintiff in his testicles. (Id.) The plaintiff went
to the hospital for treatment, and had pain in his scrotum
for at least a month. (Id.) The plaintiff reported
the incident to Selfhelp and the New York Police Department
but neither entity took any action. (Id.) The
plaintiff now seeks monetary damages for his pain and
suffering, and punitive damages. (Id. at 5.)
pleadings stage of the proceeding, the court must assume the
truth of "all well-pleaded, nonconclusory factual
allegations" in the complaint. Kiobel v. Royal Dutch
Petroleum Co., 621 F.3d 111, 124 (2d Cir. 2010)
(citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009)). A
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). A claim is
plausible "when the plaintiff pleads factual content
that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged."
Matson v. Ed. of Educ, 631 F.3d 57, 63 (2d Cir.
2011) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009)). Because the plaintiff is pro se, his
pleadings should be held "to less stringent standards
than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers" and the court
is required to read the plaintiffs pro se complaint
liberally. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89 (2007);
Sealed Plaintiff v. Sealed Defendant #1, 537 F.3d
185, 191-93 (2d Cir. 2008).
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), a district court must dismiss
an in forma pauperis action when 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." An action is "frivolous" when either:
(1) "the 'factual contentions are clearly baseless,
' such as when allegations are the product of delusion or
fantasy;" or (2) "the claim is 'based on an
indisputably meritless legal theory.'"
Livingston v. Adirondack Beverage Co., 141 F.3d 434,
437 (2d Cir. 1998) (internal citation omitted).
order to state a claim under Section 1983, a plaintiff must
allege that "some person acting under color of state law
deprived him of a federal right." Ahlers v.
Rabinowitz, 684 F.3d 53, 60-61 (2d Cir. 2012);
Cornejo v. Bell, 592 F.3d 121, 127 (2d Cir. 2010).
Private conduct, no matter how discriminatory or wrongful, is
generally beyond the reach of Section 1983. American
Mfrs. Mut. Ins. Co. v. Sullivan, 526 U.S. 40, 50 (1999)
(quotations omitted). Thus, for the plaintiff to succeed on
his Section 1983 claim, he must first establish that the
conduct of the named defendants is "fairly attributable
to the State." Id., Ciambriello v. County of
Nassau, 292 F.3d 307, 323 (2d Cir. 2002).
defendant Vasilyeva is a private party and defendant Selfhelp
is a nonprofit corporation that provides a variety of
services to at-risk populations to enable them to live
independently. Nelson v. Selfhelp Community Services,
Inc., No. 13 CV 5524, 2014 WL 6850967. at *1 (S.D.N.Y.
Dec. 4, 2014). Although the defendants were appointed by New
York State court to serve as the plaintiffs legal guardians,
their appointment does not automatically render them state
actors. Storck v. Suffolk Cty. Dep 't of Soc.
Servs., 62 F.Supp.2d 927, 941 (E.D.N.Y. 1999).
"When considering the state action requirement of a
court appointed representative, courts focus on whether the
duty of the person appointed runs to the state or the
individual client." Id. In this case, the
defendants are not state actors because they "exercise
independent professional judgment in the interests of the
clients that they represent, " and their duty runs to
their individual clients, not to the state. Id.
(neither the court-appointed law-guardians nor the defendants
doctors are state actors for purposes of Section 1983).
private actors who are not state actors may be liable under
Section 1983 if they "willful[ly] participa[ted] in
joint activity with the State or its agents" or
"conspire[d] with a state official to violate the
plaintiffs constitutional rights." Young v. Suffolk
Cnty., 922 F.Supp.2d 368, 385 (E.D.N.Y. 2013) (internal
quotations and citations omitted); see also Caldwell v.
Myer, No. 14 CV 5383, 2015 WL 428063, at *3 (E.D.N.Y.
Jan. 30, 2015). To stale a Section 1983 conspiracy claim, the
plaintiff must allege: "(1) an agreement between a state
actor and a private party; (2) to act in concert to inflict
an unconstitutional injury; and (3) an overt act done in
furtherance of that goal causing damages." Gill v.
Silver Inv'rs Inc., No. 16 CV 3219 (LDH), 2016 WL
4099098, at *3 (E.D.N.Y. Aug. 2, 2016). The plaintiff has not
made any such allegations, and thus, has failed to state a
claim for which relief may be granted. See Id. at *3
(dismissing action where the plaintiffs fail to allege any
facts that the defendants acted in concert with state actors
in furtherance of committing an unconstitutional act).
light of the plaintiff's pro se status, he is
granted 30 days to file an amended complaint. If the
plaintiff elects to file an amended Section 1983 complaint,
he must allege facts showing the conduct of the named
defendants is attributable to the state. Also, the amended
complaint must be captioned "Amended Complaint" and
bear the same docket number as this Order. No summons will
issue at this time and all further proceedings will be stayed
for 30 days. If the ...