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Davis v. Malloy

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

November 5, 2018

LORETTA J. DAVIS, Plaintiff,


          MICHAEL P. SHEA, U.S.D.J.

         On October 16, 2017, the plaintiff, Loretta J. Davis, brought a civil action pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against a litany of defendants for violating her rights under the Fourteenth and First Amendments to the United States Constitution, for intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent supervision/failure to supervise. (ECF No. 1; ECF No. 3). On February 5, 2018, the Court dismissed the complaint, finding that the plaintiff's federal law claims failed as a matter of law and declining to exercise jurisdiction over her remaining intentional infliction of emotional distress claim. (ECF No. 11). The Court permitted the plaintiff to submit a motion to reopen along with an amended complaint that (1) does not join multiple, unrelated claims; and (2) sets out cognizable federal-law claims. (Id.) Further, the Court notified the plaintiff that failure to comply with these instructions would result in dismissal of the case with prejudice.

         On March 6, 2018, the plaintiff filed a motion to reopen and file an amended complaint. (ECF No. 18). For the reasons set forth below, the plaintiff's motion to reopen the case is denied and the amended complaint is dismissed with prejudice.

         I. Legal Standard

         The plaintiff was granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF No. 8). As such, “the court shall dismiss the case at any time” if the action “is frivolous or malicious; fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).

         The plaintiff is pro se, so I construe her pleadings liberally. Sealed Plaintiff v. Sealed Defendant, 537 F.3d 185, 191 (2d Cir. 2008). “[A] pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citation and quotation marks omitted). Nevertheless, even a pro se plaintiff must include sufficient facts to afford the defendants fair notice of the claims and the grounds upon which they are based and to demonstrate a right to relief. Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007). Conclusory allegations are not sufficient. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The plaintiff must plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic, 550 U.S. at 570. 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).

         II. Discussion

         a. Fed.R.Civ.P. 20(a)(2)

         In the Court's Initial Review Order, dated February 5, 2018, the Court explained that the plaintiff's complaint set out a series of unrelated claims and therefore failed to comply with Rule 20. (ECF No. 11 at 2-4). The Court informed the plaintiff that if she chose to file an amended complaint, such complaint should “not join multiple, unrelated claims.” (ECF No. 11). However, the plaintiff's amended complaint still fails to comply with Rule 20.

         Rule 20 permits joinder of claims against multiple defendants only if two criteria are satisfied: (1) the claims “aris[e] out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences;” and (2) “any question of law or fact common to all defendants will arise in the action.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 20(a)(2). “In construing the term ‘transaction or occurrence' under Rule 20, many courts have drawn guidance from the use of the same term in Rule 13(a), applying to compulsory counterclaims.” Melvin v. Connecticut, No. 3:16-CV-537 (RNC), 2016 WL 3264155, at *2 (D. Conn. June 14, 2016) (quoting Barnhart v. Town of Parma, 252 F.R.D. 156, 160 (W.D.N.Y. 2008) (citation omitted)). The Second Circuit has noted in the Rule 13 context that whether separate claims arise out of “the same ‘transaction or occurrence'” turns upon “whether the essential facts of the various claims are so logically connected that considerations of judicial economy and fairness dictate that all the issues be resolved in one lawsuit.” Harris v. Steinem, 571 F.2d 119, 123 (2d Cir. 1978).

         Like the plaintiff's original complaint, her amended complaint sets forth a number of “separate and unrelated [allegations], with [various events] occurring at different times for different reasons with regard to different agents.” Nassau Cty. Ass'n of Ins. Agents, Inc. v. Aetna Life & Cas. Co., 497 F.2d 1151, 1154 (2d Cir. 1974) (holding plaintiffs failed to comport with Rule 20). The plaintiff begins by explaining that her five-week old daughter passed away from sudden infant death syndrome at Yale New Haven Hospital on May 4, 1980. (ECF No. 18-1 at 7). The next several pages of the amended complaint allege that various individuals mishandled the remains of her child, conducted an autopsy without her consent, failed to provide her with information and records about the burial, and removed her child's body from the grave after interment. (Id. at 5-14).

         The plaintiff then sets out a series of allegations related to her work history and participation in benefits programs. She asserts that in the late 1990s, a Department of Labor (DOL) grant for retraining was taken away by the Regional Work Force Development Board in New Haven. (Id. at 15). She alleges that she was “denied a right to receive and participate in a federally funded educational program because of [her] race and [her] age, ” and that when she filed complaints, she faced retaliation from DOL representatives and social workers. (Ibid). The plaintiff then states that she became ill and lost her job in 1999. (Id. at 16). She contends that over the next 15 years, a series of Department of Social Service (DSS) representatives denied her benefits, improperly counted earnings against her due to a computer glitch, failed to comply with a 2003 fair hearing directive, and then improperly terminated her food stamp/SNAP benefits in 2015. (Id. at 16-17). She again alleges that she was “treated differently than those similar” and was denied the “right to participate in federally funded program.” (Id. at 17).

         Finally, the plaintiff sets out a series of allegations against various health centers. These include claims of “medical malpractice/negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress” against various institutions. (Ibid). The plaintiff asserts that in her interactions with these health care providers, she was treated “differently than others similarly situated because of her race and age.” (Id. at 18). She also alleges that she was given experimental medications during two pregnancies in 1982 and 1994 which led to very serious medical conditions, including bone abnormalities, breathing difficulties, and heart problems, in her and her children. (Id. at 18-19). The plaintiff continues with allegations against health care providers and doctors for conduct related to a medical procedure for her lungs, (Id. at 19-20), yearly exams, (Id. at 21), a hand and thumb injury, (Id. at 21-24), and asthma, (Id. at 23). She states that she filed a complaint with the State of Connecticut Health Department and that it denied her an opportunity to challenge the “discriminatory health care” provided to her “because of [her] race and age.” (Id. at 20-21). In addition, plaintiff alleges that “inaccurate medical and psychiatric history” will “always interfere with [her] right to be free from discrimination.” (Id. at 25).

         This wide range of allegations-spanning nearly four decades, many defendants, and many different types of claims-alone provides sufficient reason for the Court to dismiss the plaintiff's complaint. Melvin v. Connecticut, 16 Civ. 537 (RNC), 2016 WL 3264155, *2 (D. Conn. Jun. 14, 2016) (dismissing complaint for failure to comply with Rule 20). There are ...

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