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Padilla v. City, Town, or Municipality of Dallas Co.

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

August 9, 2019

ISMAEL H. PADILLA, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY, TOWN, OR MUNICIPALITY OF DALLAS CO., TEXAS, HENRY WADE, Ex-District Attorney, and GREG ABBOTT, Governor of Texas, Defendants.

          INITIAL REVIEW ORDER

          VICTOR A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Ismael H. Padilla (“Plaintiff”), currently incarcerated by the State of Texas at the John B. Connally Unit in Kenedy, Texas, filed this lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, challenging various alleged violations of his civil and constitutional rights arising from his alleged arrest for misdemeanor marijuana possession in the State of Texas on July 21, 1977. Complaint, dated Jul. 19, 2019 (“Compl.”), ECF No. 1.

         For the reasons explained below, the Court DISMISSES this action for improper venue, with prejudice to refiling in this District. Accordingly, Mr. Padilla's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, ECF No. 2, is DENIED as moot.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On July 12, 2019, one week before this lawsuit, the Court dismissed four civil rights lawsuits filed by Mr. Padilla, and transferred one other lawsuit he filed, finding that all five actions were filed in the wrong venue. See Initial Review Order, Padilla v. Abbott, No. 3:19-cv-57 (VAB), dated Jul. 12, 2019 (“Padilla v. Abbott IRO”), ECF No. 20, at 10-11 (dismissing Nos. 3:19-cv-57 (VAB), 3:19-cv-231 (VAB), 3:19-cv-282 (VAB), and 3:19-cv-594 (VAB), and transferring No. 3:19-cv-434 (VAB) to the Western District of Texas).

         On July 19, 2019, Mr. Padilla filed this lawsuit, suing the City, Town, or Municipality of Dallas Co., Texas, Ex-District Attorney Henry Wade, and Texas Governor Greg Abbott (“Defendants”) for alleged violations of his civil and constitutional rights. See Compl. Mr. Padilla alleges, inter alia, that (1) he was arrested for misdemeanor marijuana possession in the State of Texas on July 21, 1977, when he was 17 years old; (2) that Mr. Wade “conspired” with an attorney for Dallas County to extend court dates, prosecute him as an adult, and to later prosecute him for “fabricated” rape and robbery charges; and (3) that the Governor of Texas “failed to control the conduct of state employees” in Texas state courts. Id. at 3-4.

         Mr. Padilla further appears to allege, in a memorandum of law simultaneously filed with the Complaint, that the misdemeanor marijuana conviction resulted in an unlawfully enhanced sentence on his subsequent convictions for aggravated rape and robbery in 1983. See Memorandum of Law Brief, dated Jul. 19, 2019 (“Pl's Mem.”), ECF No. 3, at 2.

         That same day, Mr. Padilla moved for leave to proceed in forma pauperis in this action. Motion for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis, dated Jul. 19, 2019 (“IFP Mot.”), ECF No. 2.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), district courts must review prisoners' civil complaints against governmental actors and sua sponte “dismiss . . . any portion of [a] complaint [that] is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, ” or that “seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); see also Liner v. Goord, 196 F.3d 132, 134 & n.1 (2d Cir. 1999) (explaining that, under the Prisoner Litigation Reform Act, sua sponte dismissal of frivolous prisoner complaints is mandatory); Tapia-Ortiz v. Winter, 185 F.3d 8, 11 (2d Cir. 1999) (“Section 1915A requires that a district court screen a civil complaint brought by a prisoner against a governmental entity or its agents and dismiss the complaint sua sponte if, inter alia, the complaint is ‘frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.'”) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 1915A).

         As part of this review, district courts regularly assess whether prisoners have adequately pleaded that their claims were filed in an appropriate venue, and routinely dismiss or transfer claims filed in the wrong venue. See, e.g., Fominas v. McCarthy, 165 F.3d 13 (table), 1998 WL 802054, at *1 (2d Cir. 1998) (summary order) (noting that district court had dismissed claims in part on ground “that they were brought in the wrong district and did not merit a transfer of venue.”); Teaque v. Dep't of Corr. City of N.Y., No. 18-CV-3751 (PKC)(LB), 2018 WL 3442642, at *3 (E.D.N.Y. Jul. 17, 2018) (dismissing claim, under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a), concerning denial of medical care at out-of-district correctional facility as filed in wrong venue, without prejudice to refiling in the proper venue); Lewis v. Garcia, No. 14-CV-3499 (ARR), 2014 WL 3858394, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. Aug. 4, 2014) (dismissing complaint, under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, and providing that plaintiff may not include in amended complaint any claims pertaining to events for which venue is improper); Montgomery v. United States, No. 9:12-CV-527 (MAD/TWD), 2013 WL 938039, at *4 n.14 (N.D.N.Y. Mar. 11, 2013) (dismissing complaint from South Carolina prisoners as frivolous and finding that dismissal also warranted because prisoners “have not made any showing that venue is proper in this District, nor does it appear that it would be in the ‘interest of justice' to transfer the case to any other court.”); Cohen v. Holder, No. 11-CV-3 (ARR)(LB), 2011 WL 809773, at *3 (E.D.N.Y. Mar. 1, 2011) (determining claims arising from incarceration in Kentucky were filed in wrong venue and transferring them to the Eastern District of Kentucky).

         III. DISCUSSION

         28 U.S.C. § 1391 governs venue for all civil actions filed in federal district courts. Under that statute, a civil action may be brought in the judicial district in which any defendant resides or is subject to the court's personal jurisdiction, or in the judicial district in which a substantial part of the events giving rise to the action occurred. 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b).

         “[V]enue is proper so long as the requirements of § 1391(b) are met . . . . “ Atl. Marine Const. Co. v. U.S. Dist. Court for W. Dist. of Tex., 571 U.S. 49, 55 (2013). But “[t]he district court of a district in which is filed a case laying venue in the wrong division or district shall dismiss, or if it be in the interest of justice, transfer ...


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