United States District Court, S.D. New York
ORDER OF SERVICE
ABRAMS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
appearing pro se, brings this action asserting
claims under the Labor Management Relations Act, the National
Labor Relations Act, and the Federal Arbitration Act. The
Court can construe the complaint as additionally asserting
claims under the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure
Act. Plaintiff sues Barnard College (her former employer);
Local 2110 of the United Automobile, Aerospace and
Agricultural Implement Workers of America ("Local
2110") (her union); and Ralph S. Berger (the arbitrator
that adjudicated her grievance). Plaintiff seeks damages and
asks the Court to vacate an August 19, 2019 arbitration award
issued by Berger against her. Plaintiff has also filed an
application for the Court to request pro bono
counsel ("pro bono application"). DE 3.
Order dated December 19, 2019, the Court granted Plaintiffs
request to proceed without prepayment of fees, that is,
in forma pauperis ("IFP"). DE 4.
reasons discussed below, the Court dismisses Plaintiffs
claims against Berger. The Court directs service on Barnard
College and Local 2110, and denies Plaintiff spro
bono application without prejudice to Plaintiffs filing
another such application at a later date.
Court must dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint,
or any portion thereof, that is frivolous or malicious, fails
to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks
monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such
relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B); see also
Livingston v. Adirondack Beverage Co., 141 F.3d 434, 437
(2d Cir. 1998). The Court must also dismiss a complaint when
the Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction. See
Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3).
the law mandates dismissal on any of these grounds, the Court
is obliged to construe pro se pleadings liberally,
Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009), and
interpret them to raise the "strongest [claims] that
they suggest," Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of
Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 474 (2d Cir. 2006) (internal
quotation marks and citations omitted, emphasis in original).
But the "special solicitude" in pro se
cases, id. at 475 (citation omitted), has its limits
- to state a claim, pro se pleadings still must
comply with Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure,
which requires a complaint to make a short and plain
statement showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.
United States Supreme Court has held that under Rule 8, a
complaint must include enough facts to state a claim for
relief "that is plausible on its face." Bell
Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A claim
is facially plausible if the plaintiff pleads enough factual
detail to allow the Court to draw the inference that the
defendant is liable for the alleged misconduct. In reviewing
the complaint, the Court must accept all well-pleaded factual
allegations as true. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009). The Court, however, does not have to accept
as true "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a
cause of action," which are essentially just legal
conclusions. Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 555). After separating legal conclusions from well-plead
factual allegations, the Court must determine whether those
facts make it plausible-not merely possible-that the
plaintiff is entitled to relief Id. at 678-79.
The Claims Against Berger are Dismissed
Court hereby dismisses Plaintiffs claims for damages against
Berger. Judges are absolutely immune from suit for damages
for actions taken within their exercise of their judicial
functions. See, e.g., Austern v. Chicago Bd. Options
Exck, Inc., 898 F.2d 882, 885 (2d Cir. 1990). Because
"the nature of the function performed by arbitrators
necessitates protection analogous to that traditionally
accorded to judges[, ] . . . arbitrators in contractually
agreed upon arbitration proceedings are absolutely immune
from liability in damages for all acts within the scope of
the arbitral process." Id. at 886. Plaintiff
asserts claims for damages against Berger arising from his
alleged actions during a contractually agreed upon
arbitration proceeding initiated when Local 2110 filed a
grievance against Barnard College on Plaintiffs behalf.
Accordingly, the Court dismisses Plaintiffs claims for
damages against Berger under the doctrine of arbitral
immunity and because these claims are frivolous. See
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i), (iii); Montero v.
Travis, 171 F.3d 757, 760 (2d Cir. 1999) ("A
complaint will be dismissed as 'frivolous' when
'it is clear that the defendants are immune from
suit.'" (quoting Neitzke v. Williams, 490
U.S. 319, 327 (1989))).
Service on Barnard College and Local 2110
Plaintiff has been granted permission to proceed IFP, she is
entitled to rely on the Court and the U.S. Marshals Service
to effect service. See Walker v. Schult, 111 F.3d
119, 123 n.6 (2d Cir. 2013); see also 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(d) ("The officers of the court shall issue
and serve all process ... in [IFP] cases.");
Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(c)(3) (the Court must order the Marshals
Service to serve if the plaintiff is authorized to proceed
IFP). Although Rule 4(m) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure generally requires that the summons and complaint
be served within 90 days of the date the complaint is filed,
Plaintiff is proceeding IFP and could not have served
summonses and the complaint on Barnard College and Local 2110
until the Court reviewed the complaint and ordered that
summonses be issued for those defendants. The Court therefore
extends the time to serve Barnard College and Local 2110
until 90 days after the date that summonses for those
defendants are issued. If the complaint is not served on
Barnard College and Local 2110 within that time, Plaintiff
should request an extension of time for service. See
Meilleur v. Strong, 682 F.3d 56, 63 (2d Cir. 2012)
(holding that it is the plaintiffs responsibility to request
an extension of time for service); see also Murray v.
Pataki, 378 Fed.Appx. 50, 52 (2d Cir. 2010) (summary
order) ("As long as the [plaintiff proceeding IFP]
provides the information necessary to identify the defendant,
the Marshals' failure to effect service automatically
constitutes 'good cause' for an extension of time
within the meaning of Rule 4(m).").
allow Plaintiff to effect service on Barnard College and
Local 2110 through the U.S. Marshals Service, the Clerk of
Court is instructed to fill out U.S. Marshals Service Process
Receipt and Return forms ("USM-285 form") for those
defendants. The Clerk of Court is further instructed to issue
summonses for Barnard College and Local 2110 and deliver to
the Marshals ...