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Sleigh v. Charlex, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. New York
Sep 14, 2004
No. 03 Civ. 1369 (MBM) (S.D.N.Y. Sep. 14, 2004)


No. 03 Civ. 1369 (MBM).

September 14, 2004

KEVIN E. SLEIGH (Plaintiff pro se) Laurelton, Queens.

EDWARD HERNSTADT, ESQ., ANDREW D. PATRICK, ESQ., (Attorneys for Defendant) Frankfurt Kurnit Klein Selz, P.C., New York, New York.


Plaintiff Kevin Sleigh sues Charlex, Inc. and several of its current and former employees alleging discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, and religion, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e — § 2000e-17 (2000). Defendant moves to dismiss plaintiff's complaint on the ground that plaintiff's claims are time-barred. Defendant also urges dismissal due to improper service under Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Finally, defendant moves for dismissal and on the grounds that plaintiff's complaint is factually frivolous, in violation of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), and not a short and plain statement of his claim, in violation of Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Defendant's motion is granted and the complaint is dismissed with prejudice, as the court finds that plaintiff's claim is factually frivolous, and not a short and plain statement of his claim, in violation of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), respectively.

The past and present Charlex employees named in the complaint are David Langley, Ellen Bell, Vincent Vellake (who died in 1999), Donald Klesy, Electra McDowell, Scott Lavalle, Anne Pine, Steve Chiarello, and Lawrence Shore.


The facts in plaintiff's pro se complaint are as follows: Kevin Sleigh, a self-described Caribbean-American male, began working for Charlex, Inc. in May, 1989, and remained at the company until June 1995. Compl. ¶ 5. During his time at Charlex, plaintiff claims that other Charlex employees and supervisors discriminated against and spread false information about him on a frequent basis, both during his time at the company and after he departed, up until April 2000. Compl. ¶ 6. Plaintiff alleges that Charlex and its employees discriminated against him on the basis of race, sexuality, and religion.


Plaintiff's allegations of discriminatory and objectionable treatment at Charlex, spanning more than 50 typewritten pages, are too numerous to recount here in significant detail. In general, plaintiff claims that his Charlex co-workers and supervisors insulted and distrusted him, monitored and followed him, framed him for misdeeds he did not commit, and spread malicious and false rumors about him throughout New York City, New York State, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia. He also alleges that Charlex paid him a lower salary than it paid other employees at his skill level, and denied him promotions that he deserved and earned. In his complaint, plaintiff provides specific examples of dozens of discriminatory and defamatory acts that Charlex employees committed against him both during his time at Charlex and after his departure.

Plaintiff's response to defendant's motion to dismiss contains another approximately 60 pages of allegations of mistreatment, including much material that repeats the complaint and several new claims.

See infra Part V.C for a more detailed description of the facts alleged in the Journal.

Plaintiff also describes numerous instances of discrimination and mistreatment at the hands of various individuals and entities unrelated to defendant. The court will not consider these allegations, as they are unconnected to the present lawsuit, except to the extent that they are evidence of the frivolous and prolix nature of plaintiff's complaint.


This court must decide the motion to dismiss based on the facts alleged in the complaint, and these facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, here the plaintiff. Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974), overturned on other grounds by Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800 (1982); LaBounty v. Adler, 933 F.2d 121, 123 (2d Cir. 1991). Dismissal is not warranted "unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Conley v.Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957); see also Sheppard v.Berman, 18 F.3d 147, 150 (2d Cir. 1994). "This rule applies with particular force where the plaintiff alleges civil rights violations or where the complaint is submitted pro se."Chance v. Armstrong, 143 F.3d 698, 701 (2d Cir. 1998).

Plaintiff's pro se complaint is entitled to a close and sympathetic reading by this court, and the court need not hold plaintiff to the same technical standard that might be appropriate for a lawyer. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); Riddle v. Claiborne, No. 00-1374, 2001 WL 1352456, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 2, 2001). In ruling whether or not to dismiss plaintiff's complaint, the pro se pleadings "must be read liberally and should be interpreted to `raise the strongest arguments that they suggest.'" Graham v. Henderson, 89 F.3d 75, 79 (2d Cir. 1996) (quoting Burgos v. Hopkins, 14 F.3d 787, 790 (2d Cir. 1994). Though the standard for acceptable pro se pleading is lenient, "bald assertions and conclusions of law will not suffice" to defeat a motion for dismissal. Leeds v.Meltz, 85 F.3d 51, 53 (2d. Cir. 1996). As explained below, even the most charitable reading of plaintiff's complaint cannot justify sustaining this action.


Defendant first claims that plaintiff's action is time-barred under any applicable statute of limitations. Defendant is correct in arguing that the statutes of limitation for Title VII actions and any common law intentional tort actions have expired. However, plaintiff also has the option of proceeding under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and New York Human Rights Law, and his claims are within the applicable statute of limitations for those statutes.

A. Title VII and Intentional Tort Claims

Plaintiff brings his action in federal court under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e — § 2000e-17. Title VII mandates that a plaintiff must file his claim with the EEOC within 180 days "after the alleged unlawful employment practice occurred," or within 300 days after the alleged actions occurred if the plaintiff has already brought a claim with a state or local employment agency. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(1). These timing requirements function as a statute of limitations, and "discriminatory incidents not timely charged before the EEOC will be time-barred upon the plaintiff's suit in district court." Quinn v. Green Tree Credit Corp., 159 F.3d 759, 765 (2d Cir. 1998); see also Van Zant v. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, 80 F.3d 708, 712 (2d Cir. 1996).

In this case, plaintiff filed his claim with the EEOC on October 22, 2002, seven years after his resignation from Charlex, Inc. Even were the court to consider plaintiff's unsubstantiated claim that Charlex employees continued to slander him for five years after his departure from the company, plaintiff states in his complaint that these actions ceased in April of 2000, a year and a half before plaintiff filed with the EEOC. In either situation, plaintiff's claim was filed far more than 180 days after the alleged violations. Additionally, plaintiff must file his action in federal or state court within 90 days of receiving his "right-to-sue" letter from the EEOC. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(1); see Nielsen v. Flower Hosp., 639 F.Supp. 738, 740 (S.D.N.Y. 1986). Plaintiff's Title VII suit is time-barred on these grounds as well, as his complaint was filed on February 27, 2003, 116 days after the mailing of the EEOC Right to Sue letter on November 4, 2002. Therefore, the statute of limitations for Title VII actions has expired, and plaintiff may not pursue his claim under that law.

Plaintiff also has the right to file supplemental state law claims against defendant. 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a). However, any claims plaintiff might allege for defamation or civil battery are also time-barred, since the New York statute of limitations for intentional torts is one year from the accrual of the cause of action. N.Y.C.P.L.R. § 215(3) (McKinney 2003).

Among many other intentional tort claims mentioned in plaintiff's complaint, plaintiff accuses defendant of "defamation of character," "calumny," "illegal investigations," "criminal projection," and "threats of death and injury." These allegations are contained in plaintiff's April 26, 2003 letter to the court, which is apparently intended as a supplement to his complaint.

B. Section 1981 and New York Human Rights Law Claims

Although plaintiff does not specifically mention 42 U.S.C. § 1981 in his complaint, he also has a right to pursue his discrimination claim under that statute. Section 1981 guarantees all persons within the United States the right "to make and enforce contracts," 42 U.S.C. § 1981(a), which includes "the making, performance, modification, and termination of contracts, and the enjoyment of all benefits, privileges, terms, and conditions of the contractual relationship." Id. § 1981(b);see also Lauture v. IBM, 216 F.3d 258, 261 (2d Cir. 2000). The courts have construed § 1981 primarily to apply to claims of race-based employment discrimination and hostile work environment. See Whidbee v. Garzarelli Food Specialties, Inc., 223 F.3d 62, 69 (2d Cir. 2000); Lopez v. S.B. Thomas, Inc., 831 F.2d 1184, 1189 (2d Cir. 1987).

Section 1981 contains no statute of limitations of its own, and federal courts have traditionally applied the forum state's statute of limitations for personal injury actions when deciding § 1981 claims. King v. American Airlines, Inc., 284 F.3d 352, 356 (2d Cir. 2002); see also Goodman v. Lukens Steel Co., 482 U.S. 656, 660-61 (1987). In New York, the statute of limitations for filing personal injury actions is three years from the date the cause of action arose, and courts in this circuit have consistently applied the three-year limit to § 1981 actions. See N.Y.C.P.L.R. § 214(2), (5); Patterson v. County of Oneida, N.Y., 375 F.3d 206, 225 (2d Cir. 2004); Madera v.Metro. Life Ins. Co., No. 99-4005, 2002 WL 1453827, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. July 3, 2002).

In May 2004, the Supreme Court ruled that the four-year "catch-all" federal statute of limitations established in 28 U.S.C. § 1658(a) applied to § 1981 suits based on amendments to the statute made by the Civil Rights Act of 1991, Pub.L. No. 102-166 (codified in scattered sections of 42 U.S.C.). Jones v.R.R. Donnelley Sons Co., 124 S.Ct. 1836, 1845 (2004). It is unclear whether Donnelley governs pending cases or not; at least one court in this circuit has already applied the four-year period to a pending § 1981 case. See Nicholls v. Brookdale Univ. Hosp. Med. Ctr., No. 03-6233, 2004 WL 1533831, at *3 (E.D.N.Y. July 9, 2004). However, plaintiff's action is timely under both the old regime's three-year statute of limitations and the new four-year period, so the court need not rule on whetherDonnelley applies here.

It should also be noted that plaintiff has the right to allege a supplemental claim under New York State Human Rights Law, which prohibits, in relevant part, any employer from barring an individual from employment on the basis of race, sexual orientation, color, or creed. N.Y. Exec. L. 296(a) (McKinney 2003). The New York Human Rights Law has a three-year statute of limitations. N.Y.C.P.L.R. § 214(2); see Lightfoot v. Union Carbide Corp., 110 F.3d 898, 907 (2d Cir. 1997); Murphy v.American Home Products Corp., 58 N.Y.2d 293, 297, 461 N.Y.S.2d 232, 233 (1983).

In this case, plaintiff alleges that Charlex employees were acting out of racial hatred by "intentionally giving the wrong information as to [his] character and as to events which took place within Charlex" up until April 2000. Compl. ¶ 6. Plaintiff claims that this spreading of malicious rumors throughout various communities prevented him from obtaining other employment in the video editing business. Journal. Thus, plaintiff's claim could have been timely filed under both § 1981 and New York Human Rights Law, if he had been able to plead sufficient facts describing the alleged discriminatory conduct through April 2000. Applying the three-year statute of limitations, plaintiff could have filed his complaint anytime through April 2003. Because he filed on February 27, 2003, his action would have been within the statute of limitations for § 1981 suits in this district. However, as discussed below, since plaintiff's complaint has no rational factual basis, it must be dismissed, even though it is potentially timely.

Plaintiff also makes this allegation in a letter addressed to the clerk of this court written on January, 3, 2003, and attached to his complaint as part of "Exhibit I."


Defendant claims also that plaintiff failed to properly serve his complaint on the parties in this case. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(m) requires that the plaintiff serve the summons and complaint on all defendants within 120 days of filing the complaint. The court may extend the time for service upon a showing of good cause, but even absent such a showing, the court has discretion to allow service after the 120-day period has passed. Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(m); see also Henderson v. United States, 517 U.S. 654, 662-63 (1996).

Good cause to excuse deficient service is "generally found only in exceptional circumstances where the plaintiff's failure to serve process in a timely manner was the result of circumstances beyond its control." Nat'l Union Fire Ins. Co. v.Sun, No. 93-7170, 1994 WL 463009, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 25, 1994). In making this determination, courts consider the plaintiff's diligence in attempting to effect service, and any prejudice defendants may have experienced by the delay. See, e.g., Hutchinson v. New York State Corr. Officers, No. 02-2407, 2003 WL 22056997, at *10 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 4, 2003). Additionally, "[i]gnorance of the law, even in the context ofpro se litigants, does not constitute good cause." Charles v. New York City Police Dep't, No. 96-9757, 1999 WL 717300, at *6, (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 15, 1999).

In this case, plaintiff delivered the complaint to the U.S. Marshal for service on July 2, 2003, 125 days after he filed his complaint on February 27, 2003. The papers were not actually served on defendant Charlex until September 8, 2003, and on defendant Langley on August 11, 2003, 193 and 165 days after the complaint was filed, respectively. Papers were never served on the other nine remaining defendants, one of whom is deceased. In his response to defendants' motion, plaintiff does not offer any excuse for his tardy delivery of the papers to the marshal; he simply asserts that according to his calendar, he delivered the papers to the marshal 119 days after he filed his complaint. There appears no good cause for the plaintiff's late delivery of the papers for service on David Langley and Charlex, or for his complete failure to request service on the nine other defendants in this action. Plaintiff's pro se status is not sufficient to constitute good cause, and neither is his misreading of his calendar.

There is some evidence that the papers may actually have been delivered on July 3, 2003, as this is the date of the letter plaintiff submitted to the marshal along with the required paperwork. However, a one-day difference is immaterial to the court's ruling on this issue.

It is unclear exactly whom plaintiff wished to serve with his complaint. His letter to the Marshal indicates three individuals: David Langley Electra McDowell, and Donald Klesy. The paperwork plaintiff submitted names Langley and McDowell as defendants on two separate forms, but on both forms, he names Charlex as the entity to be served. The Marshal ended up serving Langley and Charlex, but not McDowell or Klesy, likely because McDowell is no longer a Charlex employee and plaintiff provided the Marshal with no alternate address for her, and because no address at all was provided for Klesy. Confronted with this confusing history, the court will proceed under the assumption that service was eventually effected as to Langley and Charlex, but not as to McDowell, Klesy, or any of the other defendants.

However, as mentioned above, this court has the discretion to extend the plaintiff's time for service even absent good cause. In deciding whether to grant an extension, the court should consider "(1) whether the applicable statute of limitations would bar the refiled action; (2) whether the defendant had actual notice of the claims asserted in the complaint; (3) whether the defendant had attempted to conceal the defect in service; and (4) whether the defendant would be prejudiced by the granting of plaintiff's request for relief from the provision." Eastern Refractories Co. v. Forty Eight Insulations, Inc., 187 F.R.D. 503, 506 (1999) (quoting Advisory Committee Notes to Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(m)). Additionally, this court must take into account plaintiff's pro se status. A pro se plaintiff is not excused from the requirements of proper service, see Morrison v. New York State Div. for Youth Children and Family Servs., No. 98-643, 2000 WL 532762, at *3 (N.D.N.Y. Apr. 25, 2000), but "when dismissing a pro se plaintiff's complaint for improper service will result in a statute of limitations bar to the renewal of his claim . . ., courts have excused improper service and considered the allegations of the complaint." Ladner v. Proportional Count Associates, Inc., No. 96-2190, 2001 WL 1328443, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 17, 2001); cf. Buckley v. Doha Bank Ltd., No. 01-8865, 2002 WL 1751372, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. July 29, 2002) (excusing delay when pro se plaintiff effected service one week after the 120-day deadline). The court is not obligated to excuse plaintiff's delay in such cases, but it may if it so chooses.See Sun, 1994 WL 463009, at *4. Courts have not generally excused a pro se plaintiff's failure to serve when there has been no attempt whatsoever to serve defendants. See Hutchinson, 2003 WL 22056997, at *11; Point-Dujour v. United States Postal Serv., No. 02-6840, 2003 WL 1745290, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 31, 2003) ("[W]here a party fails to take any affirmative step to serve its adversary, courts should refrain from granting that party more time to effect service.").

In this case, the statute of limitations for any conceivable action plaintiff could have filed expired in April 2004. Accordingly, and taking into account plaintiff's pro se status, I am willing to excuse the tardy service for defendants Charlex and David Langley, because plaintiff did make reasonable efforts to serve these defendants properly. No such excuse can be made to permit service on the nine other individual defendants, since plaintiff never made any attempt to serve them. However, as discussed below, because this complaint must be dismissed with prejudice in any event due to its fatal defects in form and substance, it is immaterial that service was acceptable as to Langley and Charlex.

Applying the Donnelley decision, which imposes the federal four-year statute of limitations on § 1983 actions, April 2004 would be the final month in which the plaintiff could timely refile his action. Donnelley, 124 S. Ct. at 1845. This four-year period is the longest possible applicable statute of limitations in this case.

See infra Part V.


A. Defendants' Motion Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) (2) (B) (1)

Defendants also move to dismiss plaintiff's complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) (2) (B) (1), which mandates that a district court must dismiss an in forma pauperis action if it is "frivolous or malicious." See Cruz v. Gomez, 202 F.3d 593, 596 (2d Cir. 2000) (explaining that since the amendment of the statute in 1996, such dismissal is no longer discretionary, but mandatory). The statute was adopted in order to protect against litigants abusing the privilege of filing proceedings in federal court without paying to do so. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 27 (1992).

The Supreme Court and our Court of Appeals have held that an action is frivolous when the claim is "based on an indisputably meritless legal theory," or if "the `factual contentions are clearly baseless,' such as when allegations are the product of delusion or fantasy." Nance v. Kelly, 912 F.2d 605, 606 (2d Cir. 1990) (quoting Nietzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989)); see also Livingston v. Adirondack Beverage Co., 141 F.3d 434, 437 (2d Cir. 1998). Courts in this district have dismissed actions on these grounds. For example, the court dismissed one case sua sponte where the pro se plaintiff claimed she was a cyborg, bound to root out a conspiracy among the defendants — who included Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Ross Perot, IBM, and NASA — to reinstitutionalize slavery. Tyler v.Carter, 151 F.R.D. 537, 537-38 (1993). In another case, on defendants' motion, the court dismissed the pro se plaintiff's case accusing the United States and New York State governments of conspiring to lynch and murder him, and of drugging him in order to keep him from pursuing the practice of dentistry. Bloom v. United States Government, No. 02-2352, 2003 WL 22327163, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 10, 2003).

This case must be dismissed for similar reasons. As discussed above, plaintiff's only timely claim is his allegation that defendants spread malicious and false rumors about him through April 2000, preventing him from obtaining employment in the video editing industry. A close and sympathetic reading of the complaint and accompanying Journal fails to produce any rational basis in fact for plaintiff's assertions that defendants continued to poison his reputation during the five years after he resigned from Charlex.

See supra, Part III.B. The court will not discuss the voluminous non-timely claims plaintiff makes against Charlex.

A few examples will make evident the delusional and fantastic nature of plaintiff's timely claims. Plaintiff alleges that "due to demonizing slander which radiated from several places of employment, including Charlex . . ., many of my neighbors in Flushing, Queens were noticeably uncomfortable when I was near to them. Another painful result of criminalization is being constantly accused, followed, and having police officers monitor you." Journal. This statement exemplifies large portions of plaintiff's Journal — he alleges that defendants' "slander" turned neighbors, stores, potential employers, law enforcement personnel, his dentist, and even his own family members against him, and these rumors spread throughout New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia.

Among other incidents apparently motivated by defendants' rumor-mongering, plaintiff alleges that his neighbors tampered with his car, causing it to "mysteriously shut down" on the George Washington bridge, and that his cousins conspired to murder him. Journal. Plaintiff also describes being followed and monitored at various establishments in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia, including Emigrant Savings Bank, Pathmark, ServiStar Hardware, Today's Man, Western Beef Supermarket, CVS. His descriptions of the incidents occurring at these locations uniformly involve the conduct of store employees, and plaintiff often expresses a desire to sue the stores themselves, but he never indicates any connection between defendants and the stores themselves beyond occasional vague statements that the damaging information originated from Charlex and its employees.

Plaintiff is convinced that for many years his telephones have been monitored (it is unclear by whom), and he describes multiple encounters with people on the street in which passers-by made reference to plaintiff's personal telephone conversations. In one such case, in Baltimore, plaintiff recounts a red sports car full of African-American males driving by his house, its occupants yelling out a portion of plaintiff's own words from a telephone conversation he had had with his cousin two days earlier. It is unclear how defendants are related to the monitoring incidents; indeed, there is virtually no articulated link between defendants and all of the other incidents in the Journal that occurred after plaintiff's resignation from Charlex.

Plaintiff cites "the nose picking incident," in which his Charlex co-workers allegedly gossiped about plaintiff picking his nose in the editing room, as evidence of the type of "controversy" that worked to destroy his reputation. Plaintiff claims that he publicly rubbed (but did not pick) his nose once in March 1995, and the story "followed" him for "at least four or five years after . . . because society is so used to ensnaring young black men that my co-workers had to any controversy to create a humiliating incident." Journal.

Plaintiff claims that Charlex management spread rumors among Charlex clients and plaintiff's own neighbors that plaintiff was charged with soliciting a prostitute in northern New Jersey. Plaintiff's evidence of Charlex's conduct in this instance is that for four years, he heard his clients and neighbors telling others, "Kevin made one mistake, one mistake!" and that one night, while dining at a Chinese restaurant in Queens, he learned that Charlex was the source of these rumors. He gives no further details as to how this revelation occurred.

As the above examples indicate, plaintiff's timely claims are lacking in rational factual basis. "A plaintiff asserting fantastic or delusional claims should not, by payment of a filing fee, obtain a license to consume limited judicial resources and put defendants to effort and expense." Tyler, 151 F.R.D. at 540. Thus plaintiff's action is dismissed as frivolous and malicious under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(1).

B. Defendants' Motion Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)

Finally, defendants move to dismiss plaintiff's complaint under Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 8(a) requires that a complaint "shall contain a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). As the Second Circuit has explained:

The statement should be plain because the principal function of pleadings under the Federal Rules is to give the adverse party fair notice of the claim asserted so as to enable him to answer and prepare for trial. The statement should be short because `unnecessary prolixity in a pleading places an unjustified burden on the court and the party who must respond to it because they are forced to select the relevant material from a mass of verbiage.'
Salahuddin v. Cuomo, 861 F.2d 40, 42 (2d Cir. 1988) (quoting 5 C. Wright A. Miller, Federal Practice Procedure § 1281, at 365 (1969)) (citations omitted). When a complaint violates Rule 8(a), the court may, sua sponte or on defendant's motion, strike repetitive or irrelevant portions or dismiss the complaint. Dismissal is usually warranted only in cases where "the complaint is so confused, ambiguous, vague, or otherwise unintelligible that its true substance, if any, is well disguised." Id.; see also Martin Luther King Jr. H.S. Parents v. New York City Dep't of Educ., No. 02-1689, 2004 WL 1656598, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. July 23, 2004) (dismissing complaint containing "a litany of vague and conclusory allegations whose relevance to the asserted claims is uncertain").

The complaint in this case blatantly violates Rule 8(a). The complaint, supplemented by plaintiff's "Exhibit I," the "Journal of Civil Rights Abuses," spans more than 175 single-spaced pages. It reads more like a novel than a legal document, discussing at length plaintiff's love life, childhood, tense relationships with various family members and neighbors, and his views on sexuality, morals and religion. The Journal's pages and paragraphs are not numbered, making it extremely difficult to navigate, especially given its length. The overarching theme of the complaint is its accusation that at every stage of plaintiff's life, he has been discriminated against and stereotyped. Regardless of the truth of any of plaintiff's farfetched allegations, the form of his complaint is unacceptable. It certainly has not put defendants on fair notice of the claims asserted against them, as the complaint's 175 pages fail to make clear exactly what role defendants played in plaintiff's life after his resignation from Charlex in 1995. By forcing both defendants and the court to parse hundreds of pages of baseless, irrelevant, and paranoid allegations, plaintiff has unjustifiably burdened the system. Therefore this case is also dismissed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 8(a).

C. Leave To Amend

Given the Second Circuit's "jurisprudential preference for adjudication of cases on their merits rather than on the basis of formalities," Salahuddin, 861 F.2d at 42, plaintiffs are usually given leave to amend and replead their complaints before they are dismissed with prejudice under 28 U.S.C. § 1915 or Rule 8(a). See, e.g., Cruz, 202 F.3d at 597-98 (holding that pro se plaintiffs should be allowed to amend their complaint prior to dimissmal under 28 U.S.C. § 1915 "unless the court can rule out any possibility, however unlikely it might be, that an amended complaint would succeed in stating a claim."); Gomez v.USAA Federal Savings Bank, 171 F.3d 794, 796 (2d Cir. 1999) (same); Simmons v. Abruzzo, 49 F.3d 83, 86 (2d Cir. 1995) (allowing leave to replead when complaint violated Rule 8(a)).

However, courts have the power to dismiss without leave to amend or replead in "extraordinary circumstances, such as where . . . the substance of the claim pleaded is frivolous on its face. . . ." Salahuddin, 861 F.2d at 42 (citing Moorish Science Temple of Am., Inc. v. Smith, 693 F. 2d 987, 990 (2d Cir. 1982)); see also Landesberg v. Legislative and Judicial Branches of Gov't, No. 96-3033, 1997 WL 473585, at *4 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 19, 1997) (dismissal without leave to replead of plaintiff's frivolous claim against the government for various violations of his constitutional rights); Inducol, LDA. v. Ford Motor Co., No. 92-0798, 1992 WL 189458, at *1-2 (E.D.N.Y. 1992) (dismissing with prejudice as frivolous a 135-page class action alleging money laundering conspiracy in leather goods industry). Courts also have dismissed with prejudice cases in which the plaintiff's complaint describes "`fantastic or delusional scenarios,'"Bloom, 2003 WL 22327163 at *8 (quoting Tyler, 151 F.R.D. at 540).

In this case, plaintiff's timely claims are not only frivolous on their face, but also appear to be largely based upon delusions. Defendants' motion, in part, suggests that plaintiff's claims arise from delusions. In response, plaintiff compares the substance of his complaint to the Holy Bible, and suggests that if defendants' suggestion is accepted, then the New York City Police Department should arrest practicing Catholics in church, because, he queries, "[i]sn't worshipping entities whom are invisible strange and `delusional'"? Response. Plaintiff also has no conception of how to conform his complaint to the requirements of the law. In response to defendants' understated characterization of plaintiff's complaint as "prolix," plaintiff responds, "I disagree. A better way to characterize my legal documents would be `well thought out.'"Id. Therefore, it appears that any attempt plaintiff might make at coherent repleading would be unsuccessful.

Plaintiff's Response also lacks numbered pages or paragraphs.

As stated above, this court is aware of its obligation to consider pro se plaintiffs' complaints with lenity, Haines, 404 U.S. at 520-21. However, in this case, plaintiff's complaint is frivolous on its face, and must be dismissed without leave to amend or replead.

* * *

For the reasons set forth above, the motion to dismiss the complaint is granted, and the action is dismissed with prejudice.


Summaries of

Sleigh v. Charlex, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. New York
Sep 14, 2004
No. 03 Civ. 1369 (MBM) (S.D.N.Y. Sep. 14, 2004)
Case details for

Sleigh v. Charlex, Inc.

Case Details

Full title:KEVIN E. SLEIGH, Plaintiff, v. CHARLEX, INC., et al., Defendants

Court:United States District Court, S.D. New York

Date published: Sep 14, 2004


No. 03 Civ. 1369 (MBM) (S.D.N.Y. Sep. 14, 2004)

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