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Aguirre v. Koumanelis

United States District Court, D. Rhode Island

May 29, 2015

REY DAVID AGUIRRE, Plaintiff,
v.
ALEXANDER KOUMANELIS and ALFONSO J. ESQUER, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

WILLIAM E. SMITH, Chief District Judge.

Plaintiff Rey David Aguirre has filed a pro se civil rights complaint pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). The Court is required to screen the Complaint under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A. Having done so, the Court concludes that Aguirre has failed to state a claim on which relief may be granted.

I. Background

Aguirre filed his original Complaint (ECF No. 1) on October 30, 2014, in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona. He subsequently filed an Application to Proceed in Forma Pauperis (ECF No. 3), a Motion to Request Change of Venue (ECF No. 8), and a First Amended Complaint (ECF No. 12).[1]

In his First Amended Complaint, Aguirre names as Defendants Alexander Koumanelis, a Special Agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration, based in Rhode Island, and Alfonso J. Esquer, also a Special Agent with the DEA, based in Arizona. Aguirre alleges that Defendants violated his rights to due process under the Fifth and Fourteenth[2] Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and his right to bear arms under the Second Amendment. Specifically, in Count I, Aguirre claims that his right to "due process was violated when the defendants knowingly used evidence belonging to another individual. Such evidence was entered into another individual's file a day after the Plaintiff was indicted with this evidence." (Am. Compl. 3.)[3] He also alleges that Defendants committed perjury "when under oath they testified saying that a cell phone was taken of the Plaintiff which was used to commit such a crime." (Id.) As a result of Defendants' actions, Aguirre states, he received a ten and one-half year prison sentence.[4] (Id.) In addition, in Count II Aguirre claims that "the Defendants used false evidence and p[e]rjured testimony in a State court to secure a conviction. Thus depriving the Plaintiff of his liberty, life, and property." (Id. at 4.) Finally, in Count III Aguirre asserts that, although he was legally able to bear arms, "[h]is arms were taken by the defendants with no crime committed with any arms. The defendants infringed the Plaintiff's rights to keep and bear arms." (Id. at 5.) He claims to have lost this right due to Defendants' actions. (Id.) Aguirre seeks a variety of compensatory damages. (Id. at 6.)

In an Order dated April 22, 2015 (ECF No. 13), the District of Arizona court granted Aguirre's Application to proceed in forma pauperis and Motion for Change of Venue. The court stated that: "This action is transferred to the District of Rhode Island for further proceedings, including screening of the revised[5] First Amended Complaint (Doc. 12) and the two pending Motions to Show Additional Disclosure' (Docs. 9, 10)." Aguirre v. Koumanelis, No. CV 14-02452-TUC-RM (D. Ariz. Apr. 22, 2015) (Marquez, J.) (order granting motions to proceed in forma pauperis and for change of venue). The case was transferred to this Court on April 23, 2015.

II. Law

A. Screening under § 1915(e)(2) and § 1915A

In connection with proceedings in forma pauperis, § 1915(e)(2) instructs the Court to dismiss a case at any time if the Court determines that the action, inter alia, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).[6] Similarly, § 1915A directs courts to screen complaints filed by prisoners against a governmental entity, officer, or employee of such entity and dismiss the complaint, or any portion thereof, for reasons identical to those set forth in § 1915(e)(2). 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.[7]

The legal standard for dismissing a complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to § 1915(e)(2) and § 1915A is identical to the standard used when ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. See Fridman v. City of New York, 195 F.Supp.2d 534, 538 (S.D.N.Y. 2002); see also Pelumi v. Landry, No. CA 08-084ML, 2008 WL 2660968, at *2 (D.R.I. June 30, 2008). "To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). In making this determination, the Court must accept a plaintiff's well-pled allegations as true and construe them in the light most favorable to him. See Rogan v. Menino, 175 F.3d 75, 77 (1st Cir. 1999); Greater Providence MRI Ltd. P'ship v. Med. Imaging Network of S. New England, Inc., 32 F.Supp.2d 491, 493 (D.R.I. 1998). Although the Court must review pleadings of a pro se plaintiff liberally, Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976), the Court need not credit bald assertions or unverifiable conclusions, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79.

B. Bivens

In Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), the Supreme Court stated that "[i]n Bell v. Hood, 327 U.S. 678... (1946), we reserved the question whether violation [of the Fourth Amendment] by a federal agent acting under color of his authority gives rise to a cause of action for damages consequent upon his unconstitutional conduct. Today we hold that it does." Id. at 389; see also id. at 397 ("Having concluded that petitioner's complaint states a cause of action under the Fourth Amendment, [] we hold that petitioner is entitled to recover money damages for any injuries he has suffered as a result of the agents' violation of the Amendment."). "This cause of action is the federal equivalent to [42 U.S.C.] § 1983 suits against state officials." Morales v. Chadbourne, 996 F.Supp.2d 19, 28 (D.R.I. 2013) (quoting Soto-Torres v. Fraticelli, 654 F.3d 153, 158 (1st Cir. 2011)).

III. Discussion

Aguirre purports to seek monetary damages for violation of his Second and Fifth Amendment rights to bear arms and to due process, respectively. However, in reality he is challenging the validity of his conviction.[8] (See, e.g., Am. Compl. 3) (noting use of evidence belonging to another and perjured testimony, resulting in ten and one-half years' incarceration); (id. at 4) (noting use of false evidence and perjured ...


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