United States District Court, E.D. New York
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Donnelly, United States District Judge.
December 12, 2019, the plaintiff, Yaya Manneh, commenced
this pro se action against the FBI and the Director
General of the FBI. (ECF No. 1.) The plaintiffs request to
proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 2) is granted.
For the reasons that follow, the plaintiffs complaint is
dismissed without prejudice.
plaintiffs lawsuit claims that the FBI "impounded"
all of his documents, including multiple passports, four
years ago. (ECF No. 1 at 5, 8.) The plaintiff claims that
without his documents, he is jobless and homeless.
(Id. at 8.) He also claims that the FBI is
"operating" on him "with zooming and
humming." (Id.) Though the plaintiff has
"not come in touch with the [FBI] directly," he
alleges that the FBI has been "zooming and humming"
on a "24/7 basis" for the past four years.
(Id. at 9.) According to the plaintiff, the FBI
sends "information through humming, zooming and
mindset." (Id.) The plaintiff names four
individuals he identifies as "Clearance Agents,"
who he says "have successfully cleared me. They have my
case and only need a judge to make it legal with a court
order." (Id. at 7.) The plaintiff seeks a court
order enabling him to get his documents back. (Id.
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 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. Bd. of Educ, 631 F.3d 57, 63 (2d Cir.
2011) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009)). While "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.'"
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555).
pro se complaint is held "to less stringent
standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers."
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per
curiam) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106
(1976)); see Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d
Cir. 2009) (noting that even after Twombly, the
court "remain[s] obligated to construe a pro se
complaint liberally"). Nevertheless, the Court is
required to dismiss sua sponte an in forma
pauperis action if the Court determines that it
"(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). An action is
frivolous when "the factual contentions are clearly
baseless, such as when allegations are the product of
delusion or fantasy." Livingston v. Adirondack
Beverage Co., 141 F.3d 434, 437 (2d Cir. 1998) (internal
quotation marks omitted). "[A] finding of factual
frivolousness is appropriate when the facts alleged rise to
the level of the irrational or the wholly incredible, whether
or not there are judicially noticeable facts available to
contradict them." Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S.
25, 33 (1992).
a plaintiff seeking to bring a lawsuit in federal court must
establish that the court has subject matter jurisdiction over
the action. See, e.g., Rene v. Citibank NA, 32
F.Supp.2d 539, 541-43 (E.D.N.Y. 1999). "[F]ailure of
subject matter jurisdiction is not waivable and may be raised
at any time by a party or by the court sua sponte.
If subject matter jurisdiction is lacking, the action must be
dismissed." Lyndonville Sav. Bank & Trust Co. v.
Lussier, 211 F.3d 697, 700-01 (2d Cir. 2000). Federal
subject matter jurisdiction is available only when a
"federal question" is presented, or when the
plaintiff and defendants have complete diversity of
citizenship and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.
See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1332. In order to
invoke federal question jurisdiction, the plaintiffs claim(s)
must arise "under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of
the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
complaint, which names the FBI and the Director General of
the FBI, does not state a plausible claim under any standard.
The plaintiff seems to be claiming that the FBI seized and is
holding his travel documents, which has caused him to become
homeless and jobless. However, the plaintiff has admitted
that he has had no direct contact with the FBI. The plaintiff
also asserts that the FBI is "operating" on him
"with zooming and humming." These claims, devoid of
any factual explanations, must be dismissed as frivolous
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i). See Denton
v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32-33 (1992) ("[A]
finding of factual frivolousness is appropriate when the
facts alleged rise to the level of the irrational or the
the plaintiff has not alleged any facts that would bring his
claims within the jurisdiction of the federal courts.
Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of
Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), permits claims for some
constitutional violations by federal agents acting in their
individual capacities. However, the plaintiff has not alleged
that any federal officials violated his constitutional
only relief the plaintiff seeks is a court order directing
the return of his documents, but he does not explain the
circumstances surrounding the "impounded
documents." The Federal Tort Claims Act does not provide
any basis for relief in this case, as it specifically
excludes most claims related to the detention of property by
customs officials or law enforcement officers. See
28 U.S.C. § 2680(c); Bertin v. United States,
478 F.3d 489, 492 (2d Cir. 2007) (finding that a plaintiffs
claim for return of property seized at Kennedy Airport was
barred by sovereign immunity). If the documents were seized as
part of a federal criminal proceeding, the plaintiff could
file a Motion to Return Property under Rule 41(g) of the
Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. Such a motion must be
filed in the district where the property was seized.
See Fed. R. Crim. P. 41 (g). "In order to
prevail on a Rule 41(g) motion, the moving party must
demonstrate that: (1) he is entitled to lawful possession of
the seized property; (2) the property is not contraband; and
(3) either the seizure was illegal or the government's
need for the property as evidence has ended." United
States v. Pinto-Thomaz, 352 F.Supp.3d 287, 311 (S.D.N.Y.
2018) (internal quotation marks omitted), reconsideration
denied, No. S2 18-CR-579 (JSR), 2019 WL 1460216
(S.D.N.Y. Jan. 10, 2019). The plaintiffs complaint does not
include sufficient facts to support such a claim in this
Court. Accordingly, the complaint is also dismissed for lack
of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(h)(3) of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
plaintiffs complaint, filed in forma pauperis; is
dismissed without prejudice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3). The Court grants the
plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint within 30 days
of the date of this order. The amended complaint must allege
claims arising under federal law, or, if under state law, the
amended complaint must include allegations that the parties
are citizens of different states, and that the amount in
controversy exceeds $75, 000. The Court encourages the
plaintiff to make an appointment with the Federal Pro Se
Legal Assistance Project, which provides limited
representation to pro se litigants in this
district. If the plaintiff fails to file an amended
complaint within 30 days, the complaint will be dismissed and
judgment will enter. No. summonses will issue at this time,
and all further proceedings will be stayed for 30 days. The