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Laifer v. Berryhill

United States District Court, D. New Hampshire

November 9, 2017

Warren Laifer and Gail Anne Laifer
v.
Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration; New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services; and Shania Sanborn

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Andrea K. Johnstone United States Magistrate Judge.

         Appearing pro se and in forma pauperis, Warren and Gail Laifer have filed a complaint (doc. nos. 1 and 3), which is before this magistrate judge for preliminary review. See LR 4.3(d)(2). For the reasons that follow, I am issuing an order granting plaintiffs leave to amend their complaint to assert a properly exhausted and timely claim based upon the reduction of their Social Security benefits, however I also recommend dismissal of all of their other claims.

         I. The Legal Standard

         When reviewing a pro se complaint, I must construe it liberally. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). After reviewing a complaint filed by parties such as the Laifers, who are not incarcerated and who are proceeding in forma pauperis, I may

recommend to the court that the filing be dismissed because the allegation of poverty is untrue, the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, or the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief[; or]
. . . grant the party leave to file an amended filing in accordance with the magistrate judge's directives.

LR 4.3(d)(2)(A) & (B); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). To state a claim upon which relief may be granted, 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 Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)); see also Gordo-González v. United States, 873 F.3d 32, 35 (1st Cir. 2017).

         II. Background

         The facts in this section are drawn from the Laifers' complaint, which consists of documents 1 and 3. See Endorsed Order, Nov. 7, 2017.

         As a preliminary matter, the court notes that the Laifers' complaint is convoluted and difficult to follow. That said, they allege that they both are or have been eligible for, and have received, Social Security benefits, food stamps, and some form of housing assistance. At some point, their Social Security and food stamp benefits were reduced. The reasons for those reductions are hinted at, but not fully described, in the complaint. According to plaintiffs:

We were defrauded by the Social Security Administration [“SSA”] and all papers and answers they gave were [lies] with criminal intent to defraud. The same applies to D.H.H.S. food stamp program. All venues of handling this have been attempted - we need to talk to a federal judge in chambers.

Compl. (doc. no. 3 at 2). As to the venues in which they have pursued their claims, plaintiffs elaborate: “We appeared at both Social Security and food stamps office[s], [and] contacted Senator Shaheen's office staffers.” Compl. (doc. no. 1 at 2).

         With regard to conduct by Shania Sanborn on which plaintiffs base their claim(s) against her, they allege:

Shania Sanborn said prior to our deficit [presumably the reduction in their . . . benefits], call the city, call the state, call the federals, and steal take all of our benefits, what a sick sociopath, pathological liar who should be questioned about the sickening children episode. She organized all the action. The amounts to be stole[n] and the exact [number] of food stamps, social security were known, stated by Shania's crews prior to Gail and I knowing. Also she knew and told them about Renee Laifer's home address and U.F.T. benefits, some type of gambling operation was going ...

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