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Anthes v. New York University

United States District Court, S.D. New York

February 28, 2018

Dr. Louis Anthes, et al., Plaintiff,
New York University, et al., Defendants.


          Andrew L. Carter, Jr. United States District Judge.

         Before this Court is Plaintiffs motion to disqualify me from this case. For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiffs motion is DENIED.


         Plaintiff filed a pro se complaint[1] commencing this action on April 6, 2017. ECF No. 2. He filed an amended complaint on May 22, 2017, asserting claims of civil fraud, deprivation of rights under color of law, conspiracy to violate the Thirteenth Amendment, conspiracy with the New York City Government to deprive him of rights, negligent misrepresentation, breach of contract, breach of implied warranty, respondeat superior, and restraint of trade. ECF No. 25 ("Am. Compl."). Defendants moved to dismiss Plaintiffs amended complaint on July 28, 2017. ECF Nos. 46-48. That motion, along with numerous motions filed by Plaintiff, remain pending. See ECF Nos. 26-29 (request for judicial notice); 39-41 (supplemental request for judicial notice); 43-45 (motion to change venue); and 81-84 (motion to vacate).

         On January 25, 2018, Plaintiff filed a letter requesting that this Court either grant his change of venue motion or permit him to file a motion to disqualify me pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 63. ECF No. 94. That day, this Court set a briefing schedule for Plaintiffs proposed motion for disqualification. ECF No. 95. Plaintiff subsequently filed three motions offering to withdraw his motion for disqualification if this Court permitted him to file a Second Amended Complaint. ECF Nos. 96, 98, 100. Defendant responded asserting that Plaintiff should be precluded from filing his proposed motion to disqualify. ECF No. 97. This Court denied Plaintiffs motions and directed Plaintiff to follow the briefing schedule set out in ECF No. 95 if he still sought to file his motion for disqualification. ECF Nos. 99, 101.

         On February 8, 2018, Plaintiff filed a motion to disqualify me from this case. ECF Nos. 102-104 ("PL Mem"). Defendant responded in opposition on February 22, 2018. ECF No. 113. On February 23, 2018, Plaintiff wrote to this Court stating that he waives his right to file a reply brief. ECF No. 114. Accordingly, the Court considers this motion fully briefed.


         "[T]he substantive standard for recusal is whether a reasonable person, knowing all the facts, would conclude that the court's impartiality might reasonably be questioned." Apple v. Jewish Hosp. and Medical Cntr., 829 F.2d 326, 333 (2d Cir. 1987). In this analysis, "the trial judge must carefully weigh the policy of promoting public confidence in the judiciary against the possibility that those questioning his impartiality might be seeking to avoid the adverse consequences of his presiding over their case." In re Drexel Burnham Lambert, Inc., 861 F.2d 1307, 1312 (2d Cir. 1988). Disqualification is not required with regards to interests that are "remote, contingent, indirect or speculative." In re Aguinda, 241 F.3d 194, 201 (2d Cir. 2001). Further, "where the standards governing disqualification have not been met, disqualification is not optional; rather, it is prohibited." Id. As this Circuit has stated, "[a] judge is as much obliged not to recuse himself when it is not called 1312).


         Plaintiff alleges this Court is biased based on several factors related to: (1) this Court's failure to discuss and determine the interests of the people and state of California or (2) Plaintiff and his spouse; (3) alleged factual mischaracterizations in its decision denying joinder; (4) references to personal characteristics of Plaintiff and Defendant; (5) this Court's decision on in forma pauperis status for the purposes of appeal; and (6) failure to decide Plaintiffs motion for a change in venue. Defendant argues that Plaintiffs motion is meritless and made in bad faith, and that Plaintiff is essentially asserting that the Court is biased if it disagrees with Plaintiff but unbiased if it agrees with him.

         I. Venue and Interests of California and Plaintiff and his Spouse

         Grounds 1, 2, and 6 of Plaintiff s motion concern this Court's alleged failure to give due consideration to California's interests in this case and the interests of Plaintiff and his spouse, as well as its failure to sufficiently weigh the prejudice to Plaintiff resulting from litigating in the Southern District of New York. PL Mem at 4-7; 11-12. This Circuit has made clear that "adverse rulings, without more, will rarely suffice to provide a reasonable basis for questioning a judge's impartiality." Chen v. Chen Qualified Settlement Fund, 552 F.3d 218, 227 (2d Cir. 2009); accord In Re International Business Machines Corp., 618 F.2d 923, 929 (2d Cir. 1980). The Court's failure to rule on pending motions likewise does not indicate bias. See Id.

         II. Joinder Ruling

         Plaintiff contends that this Court's failure to vacate its ruling denying joinder of Nelnet (ECF No. 73) demonstrates bias. Plaintiff alleges that, in that ruling, the Court erred by focusing on Plaintiffs law school education without acknowledging that he first assumed ...

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