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Fromberg v. City of Marlborough

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

January 4, 2016

ALEC H. FROMBERG, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF MARLBOROUGH, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

LEO T. SOROKIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

For the reasons stated below, the court (1) grants the plaintiff’s motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis; (2) dismisses the Marlborough Police Department as a defendant; (3) denies the motion to appoint counsel without prejudice; (4) denies the motion for preliminary injunction and (5) directs the plaintiff to show cause why the claims against the City of Marlborough should not be dismissed, or he shall file an amended complaint.

I. Background

On December 17, 2015, pro se litigant Alec H. Fromberg (“Fromberg”) filed a one-page complaint against the City of Marlborough and the Marlborough Police Department. With the complaint, Fromberg filed motions for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, for appointment of counsel and for preliminary injunction. See Docket.

As best can be gleaned from the motion for preliminary injunction, Fromberg seeks to have this federal court enjoin state criminal proceedings stemming from disorderly conduct charges that were filed on November 15, 2015. See Docket No. 4. Fromberg seeks an order directing “the police to leave [plaintiff] alone and that the case against [plaintiff] by the commonwealth (sic) of Massachusetts be officially thrown out [barred from ever reinstating these charges].” Id.

The one-page civil rights complaint recounts events surrounding Fromberg’s effort to report an assault on November 4, 2014, by an unknown female and the subsequent filing of criminal charges against Fromberg by the Marlborough police. See Compl. Fromberg contends that the police told him to “speak [or be] arrested” and that he was questioned as though he “was the criminal and not the victim.” Two weeks after the incident, officer Gaurco informed Fromberg that “he had charged [plaintiff] with paying for sex and filing a false police report.” Fomberg alleges that Gaurco was laughing and bragging. Fromberg seeks speedy judgment against the City of Marlborough and the City of Marlborough police department for unlawful charges and prosecution attempts.

II. Motion for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

Upon review of the plaintiff’s motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, the Court concludes that he has shown that he is without assets to pay the filing fee. Accordingly, the Court ALLOWS the motion.

III. Screening

Because the plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, the complaint is subject to screening under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). This statute authorizes federal courts to dismiss actions in which a plaintiff seeks to proceed without prepayment of fees if the action is malicious, frivolous, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). In conducting this review, the court liberally construes the plaintiff’s complaint because he is proceeding pro se. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972).

When examining the sufficiency of the pleadings, the court considers whether the plaintiff has pled “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “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) (citation omitted). The court accepts as true the factual allegations of the complaint, draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff that are supported by the factual allegations, and determines whether the complaint, so read, sets forth a claim for recovery that is “ ‘plausible on its face.” Eldredge v. Town of Falmouth, 662 F.3d 100, 104 (1st Cir. 2011) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quotation marks omitted)).

A plaintiff's complaint need not provide an exhaustive factual account, only a short and plain statement. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). However, the allegations must be sufficient to identify the manner by which the defendant subjected the plaintiff to harm and the harm alleged must be one for which the law affords a remedy. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Legal conclusions couched as facts and “threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action” will not suffice. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. See also Ocasio-Hernandez v. Fortuno-Burset, 640 F.3d 1, 12 (1st Cir. 2011).

IV. The Complaint is Subject to Dismissal

As an initial matter, the complaint does not comply with the pleading requirements of Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. This rule requires, among other things, that a complaint include “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). At a minimum, the complaint must “give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff’s claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Calvi v. Knox County, 470 F.3d 422, 430 (1st Cir. 2006) (quoting Educadores Puertorriqueños en Acción v. Hernández, 367 F.3d 61, 66 (1st Cir. 2004)). This means that the statement of the claim must “at least set forth minimal facts as to who did what to whom, ...


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