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Papazoni v. Shumlin

United States District Court, D. Vermont

April 15, 2014

DAVID PAPAZONI, Plaintiff,
v.
PETER SHUMLIN, Governor, State of Vermont, Official Capacity, VERMONT STATE HOUSING AUTHORITY, and SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER (Docs. 11, 12, 14)

WILLIAM K. SESSIONS, III, District Judge.

Pro se Plaintiff, David Papazoni, brings this action against Peter Shumlin, Governor of the State of Vermont, in his official capacity ("Governor Shumlin"), Vermont State Housing Authority ("VSHA"), and the Social Security Administration ("SSA") (collectively, "Defendants"). Now pending before the Court is Governor Shumlin's Motion to Dismiss, VSHA's Motion to Dismiss, or in the alternative, Motion for a More Definite Statement, and SSA's Motion to Dismiss. Mr. Papazoni has not filed responses. For the reasons that follow, Governor Shumlin's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 11) is GRANTED, VSHA's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 12) is GRANTED and Motion for a More Definite Statement is DENIED as moot, and SSA's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 14) is GRANTED.

DISCUSSION

Mr. Papazoni's Complaint is comprised of three paragraphs. (Doc. 4 at 2.) He alleges that Defendants "continue to use [his] compr[o]mi[s]ed Social Security number" and have committed abuse, fraud, and discrimination against him. Id . He also alleges he is "still unable to obtain medications" due to "ongoing eligibility [f]rauds." Id . He requests "reasonable accommodations" and seeks to "incarcerate the abusers, [f]rauders [etc.]" Id .

I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Defendants bring their motions to dismiss under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). A facially sufficient complaint may be properly dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) when the district court lacks the statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate it." Makarova v. United States , 201 F.3d 110, 113 (2d Cir. 2000). The party asserting subject matter jurisdiction has the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the court has jurisdiction. Id .

On a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the court must accept all factual allegations as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Mills v. Polar Molecular Corp. , 12 F.3d 1170, 1174 (2d Cir. 1993). "[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "The plausibility standard is not akin to a probability requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 678.

Complaints brought by pro se litigants are held "to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Peay v. Ajello , 470 F.3d 65, 67 (2d Cir. 2006) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). A pro se complaint is construed "to raise the strongest arguments it suggests." Abbas v. Dixon , 480 F.3d 636, 639 (2d Cir. 2007) (citation omitted).

II. Governor Shumlin's Motion to Dismiss

Governor Shumlin argues that the doctrine of res judicata bars Mr. Papazoni's claims against him. His Motion to Dismiss cites a recent case brought by Mr. Papazoni that was dismissed by Chief Judge Christina Reiss on May 9, 2013. Papazoni v. State of Vermont , No.5:12-cv-01-cr, Dkt. No. 22, slip op. at 4 (D.Vt. May 9, 2013), appeal dismissed , No. 13-2281, Dkt. No. 16, slip op. (2d Cir. Aug. 21, 2013).

The doctrine of res judicata, or claim preclusion, provides that, "a final judgment on the merits of an action precludes the parties or their privies from relitigating issues that were or could have been raised in that action." Maharaj v. Bankamerica Corp. , 128 F.3d 94, 97 (2d Cir. 1997) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). The district court applies federal law to determine the preclusive effect of a federal judgment. Marvel Characters, Inc. V. Simon , 310 F.3d 280, 286 (2d Cir. 2002). The Second Circuit's test for claim preclusion requires the district court to determine whether the previous action was: "(1) a final judgment on the merits, (2) by a court of competent jurisdiction, (3) in a case involving the same parties or their privies, and (4) involving the same cause of action." NML Capital, Ltd. V. Banco Central de la Republica Argentina , 652 F.3d 172, 184-85 (2d Cir. 2011).

This Court issued an order dismissing Mr. Papazoni's previous case on the merits; that case involved the same defendant and the same causes of action. The previous case alleged that Governor Shumlin participated in "Abuses, Frauds, and Discriminations" in the form of an improperly recorded social security number and the denial of access to medications through the Medicaid D prescription drug program, among other claims. Papazoni v. State of Vermont , No.5:12-cv-01-cr, Dkt. No. 22, slip op. at 2 (D.Vt. May 9, 2013), appeal dismissed , No. 13-2281, Dkt. No. 16, slip op. (2d Cir. Aug. 21, 2013). Chief Judge Reiss granted Mr. Papazoni leave to file an amended complaint on two separate occasions. Id . at 3-4.

The May 9, 2013 Opinion and Order provides a thorough analysis that considered the possibility that Mr. Papazoni intended to bring claims against Governor Shumlin in his individual capacity, even though, as here, the Second Amended Complaint expressly referred to Governor Shumlin in his "official capacity." Id. at 5. Chief Judge Reiss also concluded that Mr. Papazoni failed to allege facts connecting Governor Shumlin to an ongoing violation of federal law which might merit prospective injunctive relief, including "reasonable accommodations, " under the Ex Parte Young doctrine. Id . at 8, 9.

The Court concluded that Mr. Papazoni failed to state a claim against Governor Shumlin. Dismissal for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6) operates as a "judgment on the merits." Federated Dept. Stores v. Moitie , 452 U.S. 394, 398, n.3 (1981); see also Berrios v. New York City Hous. Auth. , 564 F.3d 130, 134 (2d Cir. 2009). Therefore, because Mr. Papazoni's claims against Governor Shumlin have already been dismissed on the merits for failure to state a ...


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