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Osorio v. State

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

March 22, 2018

JERSEY OSORIO, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE OF CONNECTICUT, Defendant.

          RULING ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS [DOC. 6]

          CHARLES S. HAIGHT, JR. Senior United States District Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Pro se plaintiff Jersey Osorio is an incarcerated prisoner who pled guilty under the Alford doctrine in Connecticut State Superior Court, County of Litchfield, in December 2011to one charge of fourth-degree sexual assault and risk of injury to a minor, Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53-21. This charge stemmed from an incident of sexual assault which involved a fourteen-year-old girl he met on the internet. Following his plea, on February 10, 2012, Osorio was sentenced to 9 years of imprisonment. He is currently housed at Brooklyn Correctional Institution, located at 59 Hartford Road, Brooklyn, Connecticut.[1]

         At the time he was charged and sentenced, Osorio was a resident of Massachusetts. He brings this action against the State of Connecticut, protesting his conviction in Connecticut state court. In particular, he asks this Court to vacate his conviction for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and to release him from prison. Plaintiff describes himself as a "real flesh and blood man/woman, a State Citizen and Inhabitant of the County of Berkshire, Massachusetts" and demands "written proof (verified and demonstrated evidence) of jurisdiction over His Proper Person." Doc. 1, at 3. He argues that "[a] court, " in this case the Connecticut Superior Court in which he was convicted, "cannot confer jurisdiction where none exists and cannot make a void proceeding valid." Id.

         Defendant State of Connecticut moves to dismiss Plaintiff's action on three grounds. Doc. 6. Defendant asserts that Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity bars the claim against the state. Doc. 6-1, at 1. In addition, Defendant argues that the entire action is barred by Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 480-81 (1994), in which the United States Supreme Court clarified that "[t]he federal habeas corpus statute, . . . [28 U.S.C. § 2254], requires that state prisoners first seek redress in a state forum." Finally, and in any event, Defendant maintains that Plaintiff's claim is "patently frivolous" and thus subject to dismissal. Doc. 6-1, at 1 (citing United States v. Jagim, 978 F.2d 1032, 1036 (8th Cir. 1992), in which a Colorado native appellant's arguments regarding Idaho's prosecution of him were "without merit, patently frivolous, and . . . rejected without expending any more of the Court's resources"). This Ruling resolves Defendant's motion.

         II. DISCUSSION

         The Court notes at the outset that Plaintiff has failed to respond to the Defendant's motion to dismiss [Doc. 6] and the requisite twenty-one (21) day filing period to respond has expired. Pursuant to Local Civil Rule 7(a)(2), "[f]ailure to submit a memorandum in opposition to a motion may be deemed sufficient cause to grant the motion, except where the pleadings provide sufficient grounds to deny the motion." D.Conn. L. Civ. R. 7(a)(2). To ensure notice to Plaintiff, Defendant served its motion to dismiss upon him at both his address of record in Massachusetts and his actual address in Brooklyn C.I. See Doc. 6-1, at 1 n.1.

         Turning to the substance of Defendant's motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the Court will review and analyze the Complaint to determine whether it fails to state a claim.

         A. Standard of Review

         Although Defendant brings this motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for "failure to state a claim, " under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court must also review a prisoner's civil complaint "seek[ing] redress from a governmental entity" and dismiss any portion that "(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief." See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1)-(2).

         In the case at bar, Plaintiff provided a Massachusetts address as his address of record and did not designate his claim as a prisoner action. Nonetheless, he is an incarcerated prisoner who is suing a governmental entity to contest his conviction. His action is thus subject to initial screening by the Court under § 1915A.

         Whether analyzed under Rule 12(b)(6) or § 1915A, the standard of review for dismissal for failure to state a claim is set forth in the United States Supreme Court's seminal holding of Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Under Iqbal, the complaint "must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S 544, 570 (2007)).[2] "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." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. The complaint must provide "more than the unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Id. "A pleading that offers 'labels and conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

         "[W]hether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will [ultimately] . . . be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id. at 663-64. When "well-pleaded factual allegations" are present, "a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief." Id. at 679. Factual disputes do not factor into a plausibility analysis under Iqbal and its progeny.

         "Although all allegations contained in the complaint are assumed to be true, this tenet is 'inapplicable to legal conclusions.'" LaMagna v. Brown, 474 Fed.Appx. 788, 789 (2d Cir. 2012) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). See also Amaker v. New York State Dept. of Corr. Servs., 435 Fed.Appx. 52, 54 (2d Cir. 2011) (same). Accordingly, the Court is not "bound to accept conclusory allegations or legal conclusions masquerading as factual conclusions." Faber v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., 648 F.3d 98, 104 (2d Cir. 2011) (quoting Rolon v. Henneman, 517 F.3d 140, 149 (2d Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks omitted)). Consequently, "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

         With respect to pro se litigants, it is well-established that "[p]ro se submissions are reviewed with special solicitude, and 'must be construed liberally and interpreted to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest.'" Matheson v. Deutsche Bank Nat'l Tr. Co., 706 Fed.Appx. 24, 26 (2d Cir. 2017) (quoting Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 474 (2d Cir. 2006)(per curiam)). See also Sykes v. Bank of Am., 723 F.3d 399, 403 (2d Cir. 2013) (same); Tracy v. Freshwater, 623 F.3d 90, 101-02 (2d Cir. 2010) (discussing special rules of solicitude for pro se litigants); Boykin v. KeyCorp., 521 F.3d 202, 214 (2d Cir. 2008) ("A document filed pro se is to be liberally construed and a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.") (quoting Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)); Sealed Plaintiff v. Sealed Defendant, 537 F.3d 185, 191 (2d Cir. 2008) (Where the plaintiff proceeds pro se, a court is "obliged to construe his pleadings liberally.") (quoting McEachin v. McGuinnis, 357 F.3d 197, 200 (2d Cir. 2004)); Abbas v. Dixon, 480 F.3d 636, 639 (2d Cir. 2007) ("In reviewing a pro se complaint, the court must assume the truth of the allegations, and interpret them liberally to "raise the strongest arguments [they] suggest[].").

         Despite being subject to liberal interpretation, a pro se plaintiff's complaint still must "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Mancuso v. Hynes, 379 Fed.Appx. 60, 61 (2d Cir. 2010) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). Therefore, even in a pro se case, "threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Chavis v. Chappius, 618 F.3d 162, 170 (2d Cir. 2010) (citation and internal quotation ...


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