Giles v. Fitzgerald, 5:20-CV-0980 (MAD/ML)

CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of New York
Writing for the CourtMIROSLAV LOVRIC, United States Magistrate Judge
PartiesDWIGHT GILES, Plaintiff, v. RODNEY FITZGERALD, Police Officer, Syracuse Police Department; DUANE ROOD, Police Detective, Syracuse Police Department, JUDSON KNAPPEN, Assistant District Attorney, District Attorney's Office; TIMOTHY ROULAN, Attorney at Law; and LAWRENCE YOUNG, Legal Aid Attorney, Hiscock Legal Aid Society, Defendants.
Docket Number5:20-CV-0980 (MAD/ML)
Decision Date26 October 2020

DWIGHT GILES, Plaintiff,
v.
RODNEY FITZGERALD, Police Officer,
Syracuse Police Department; DUANE ROOD,
Police Detective, Syracuse Police Department,
JUDSON KNAPPEN, Assistant District Attorney,
District Attorney's Office; TIMOTHY ROULAN,
Attorney at Law; and LAWRENCE YOUNG, Legal Aid Attorney,
Hiscock Legal Aid Society, Defendants.

5:20-CV-0980 (MAD/ML)

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT NORTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK

October 26, 2020



APPEARANCES:
OF COUNSEL:
DWIGHT GILES
Plaintiff, Pro Se
Jamesville Correctional Facility
6660 East Seneca Turnpike
Jamesville, New York 13078

MIROSLAV LOVRIC, United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER and REPORT-RECOMMENDATION

I. INTRODUCTION

The Clerk has sent this pro se complaint (Dkt. No. 1) together with an application to proceed in forma pauperis (Dkt. No. 2) filed by Dwight Giles ("Plaintiff") to the Court for review. For the reasons discussed below, I grant Plaintiff's in forma pauperis application (Dkt. No. 2) and recommend that Plaintiff's Complaint (Dkt. No. 1) be (1) dismissed without prejudice with respect to Plaintiff's (a) claims seeking injunctive relief, and (b) claims seeking monetary

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damages for malicious prosecution, conspiracy, and fabrication of evidence against Defendants Rood and Fitzgerald in their individual capacities; (2) stayed pending resolution of Plaintiff's underlying criminal charges, with respect to Plaintiff's claims seeking monetary damages for false arrest against Defendants Rood and Fitzgerald in their individual capacities; and (3) dismissed with prejudice and without leave to amend with respect to Plaintiff's claims against Defendants (a) Fitzgerald and Rood in their official capacities, (b) Knappen, (c) Roulan, and (d) Young.

II. BACKGROUND

Construed as liberally1 as possible, the Complaint alleges that Plaintiff's civil rights were violated by the following five defendants: (1) Rodney Fitzgerald, Syracuse Police Department police officer; (2) Duane Rood, Syracuse Police Department police detective; (3) Judson Knappen, Assistant District Attorney; (4) Timothy Roulan, Attorney at Law; and (5) Lawrence Young, Attorney at Hiscock Legal Aid (collectively "Defendants"). (See generally Dkt. No. 1 [Pl.'s Compl.].) More specifically, Plaintiff alleges that on May 17, 2019, his residence was searched by Defendant Rood for an alleged fire emergency. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that he left the residence during the search and began walking down Chaney Avenue. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that while he was walking down Chaney Avenue, Defendant Fitzgerald drove up along-side of him and said to Plaintiff "come here." (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that he told Defendant Fitzgerald that he was going to work but that Defendant Fitzgerald exited the vehicle, walked up to Plaintiff, took Plaintiff's hand, guided Plaintiff to the ground, handcuffed Plaintiff, arrested Plaintiff, transported Plaintiff to the police station, and booked Plaintiff. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that he

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appeared in court that evening, was charged with criminal possession of stolen property in the third degree for an iPad, and was scheduled for a preliminary hearing on May 22, 2019. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that on May 22, 2019, Judge Doherty dismissed and sealed the criminal charges against him. (Id.)

Plaintiff alleges that before he was released from jail, a parole officer "placed a violation hold on [him] charging [him] with C.P.S.P., resisting arrest and running from [Defendant] Fitzgerald." (Id. at 6.) Plaintiff alleges that on June 13, 2019, he appeared in court before Judge Doran "to face the charges of C.P.S.P. for a safe, mac book, and I pad," and he "ha[s] been going to Court for these charges s[i]nce May 22 when it was dismissed." (Id. at 7.) Plaintiff alleges that he informed the court and his attorney, Defendant Roulan, that the charges were dismissed and that Defendant Roulan "said he would look into it, but never did." (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that, as a result of Defendant Roulan's failure to act, his "children[']s mother went down to the Court, [and] someone in Honorable Doherty Court told her to ask my lawyer for a copy [of the dismissal], and the case had been sent to County Court." (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that then his "wife went down to the County Clerk[']s office to get a copy of the court order and was told the same thing get it from my lawyer, the case [had] been sent to County Court." (Id.)

Plaintiff alleges that in July or August 2019, he then asked Defendant Young, his attorney for the parole violation, "to look into the fact that the charges were dismissed, [but that] he never" responded. (Id. at 7-8.) Plaintiff alleges that at his final parole violation hearing, Defendant Fitzgerald provided perjured testimony and stated that Plaintiff "ran from him into the park from Chaney Ave" but that Plaintiff "was never charged with resisting arrest." (Id. at 8.) Plaintiff alleges that as a result of Defendant Fitzgerald's false testimony, he was sentenced to thirty-months incarceration on the parole violation. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that he has been

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incarcerated since May 17, 2019, that the charges against him were dismissed, but that he has endured "constant [b]adgering to cop out, [been] threaten[ed] with a life sentence not only from the District Attorney, but my lawyer as well." (Id.)

Based on these factual allegations, Plaintiff asserts the following four claims: (1) a claim of false arrest against Defendants Fitzgerald and Rood; (2) a claim of malicious prosecution against Defendants; (3) a claim of conspiracy against Defendants; and (4) a claim of fabrication of evidence against Defendants Rood, Fitzgerald, and Knappen. (See generally Dkt. No. 1.) For relief, Plaintiff seeks $10,000,000.00 and Defendant "Fitzgerald to clear [his] name with parole." (Id. at 9.)

III. PLAINTIFF'S APPLICATION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS

"28 U.S.C. § 1915 permits an indigent litigant to commence an action in a federal court without prepayment of the filing fee that would ordinarily be charged." Cash v. Bernstein, 09-CV-1922, 2010 WL 5185047, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 26, 2010).2 "Although an indigent, incarcerated individual need not prepay the filing fee at the time of filing, he must subsequently pay the fee, to the extent he is able to do so, through periodic withdrawals from his inmate accounts." Cash, 2010 WL 5185047, at *1 (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b); Harris v. City of New York, 607 F.3d 18, 21 (2d Cir. 2010)).

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Upon review, the Court finds that Plaintiff has submitted a completed IFP application which has been certified by an appropriate official at his facility (Dkt. No. 2), and which demonstrates economic need. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2). Plaintiff has also filed the inmate authorization required in the Northern District. (Dkt. No. 3.)

Accordingly, Plaintiff's application to proceed with this action IFP is granted.

IV. LEGAL STANDARD FOR INITIAL REVIEW OF COMPLAINT

Having found that Plaintiff meets the financial criteria for commencing this action in forma pauperis, and because Plaintiff seeks relief from an officer or employee of a governmental entity, the Court must consider the sufficiency of the allegations set forth in the Complaint in light of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) and 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Section 1915(e) of Title 28 of the United States Code directs that, when a plaintiff seeks to proceed in forma pauperis, "the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that— . . . (B) 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." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).3

Similarly, under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, a court must review any "complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a government entity or officer or employee of a government entity" and must "identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, 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." 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); see also Carr v. Dvorin, 171 F.3d 115, 116 (2d Cir.

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1999) (per curium) (noting that Section 1915A applies to all actions brought by prisoners against governmental officials even when plaintiff paid the filing fee).

Additionally, when reviewing a complaint, a court may also look to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a pleading which sets forth a claim for relief shall contain, inter alia, "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." See Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). The purpose of Rule 8 "is to give fair notice of the claim being asserted so as to permit the adverse party the opportunity to file a responsive answer, prepare an adequate defense and determine whether the doctrine of res judicata is applicable." Powell v. Marine Midland Bank, 162 F.R.D. 15, 16 (N.D.N.Y. 1995) (McAvoy, C.J.) (quoting Brown v. Califano, 75 F.R.D. 497, 498 (D.D.C. 1977)).

A court should not dismiss a complaint if the plaintiff has stated "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). While the court should construe the factual allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, "the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions." Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 678. "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id. (citing Twombly,...

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