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WILLIAMS v. WARD

August 11, 1982

Norris WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
Benjamin WARD, Individually and in his official capacity as Commissioner of the Department of Corrections, Jackie McMickens, Individually and in her official capacity as Chief of Operations for the Department of Corrections, John Cunningham, Individually and in his official capacity as Warden for the Department of Corrections, and William Cogdell, individually and in his official capacity as Warden for the Department of Corrections, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: COSTANTINO

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER

COSTANTINO, District Judge.

 Plaintiff Norris Williams ("Williams") formerly and presently an inmate at the Brooklyn House of Detention for Men ("BHDM") located at 275 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, who was transferred for a period to the House of Detention for Men on Rikers Island ("Rikers Island"), has brought a pro se action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against four defendants employed by the New York City Department of Corrections. Two of the defendants, John Cunningham ("Cunningham") and William Cognell ("Cognell"), were personally served on May 14, 1981. The defendants, Benjamin Ward ("Ward") and Jacqueline McMickens (McMickens") were personally served on May 29, 1981. The defendant Cunningham is the Warden of the BHDM and the defendant Codgell is the Deputy Warden of Security at the same facility. The defendant Ward is the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections of the City of New York and the defendant McMickens is Chief of Operations of the same agency.

 In this action Williams alleges that his constitutional rights were violated because he was classified as a central monitored case ("CMC") and transferred from Rikers Island to the maximum security section of BHDM on April 30, 1981 without being afforded a due process hearing either before or after the transfer. Williams also alleges constitutional deprivations based on alleged unsanitary conditions existing for one night in his cell, the failure to provide him with free toothpaste, toothbrush and sheets and an inability to sleep well due to a bright light.

 For the reasons set forth below, the defendants' motion for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on the grounds that there exists no genuine issue as to any material fact is hereby granted.

 Statement of Facts

 On April 30, 1981, the defendant McMickens ordered that plaintiff be classified as a CMC and transferred from Rikers Island to the maximum security section of BHDM. McMickens ordered the transfer on the basis of confidential information she had received that plaintiff, along with three other inmates, was planning an escape from Rikers Island Block # 1A area. It is revealed to the court that McMickens relied on the discovery of a Correction Officer that screws in the lower panel of a window in Block # 1A had been removed and that a panel of the window had been pulled away from the frame.

 On April 30, 1981, prior to his admission to the maximum security unit at BHDM, Williams was given an initial admission interview by Captain Richard Gumbs in which he denied knowledge of an escape plan. Williams maintains this position of denial to date. Captain Gumbs also provided plaintiff with a written explanation of his classification as a maximum security detainee and an information sheet on maximum security. In his affidavit, Warden Cunningham maintains that plaintiff was requested to acknowledge in writing the receipt of those materials but refused to do so.

 On the following day, Williams filled out an interview slip on which he requested a hearing relating to his maximum security classification. Plaintiff was not afforded a hearing but Captain Gumbs explained to Williams that he had the right to present an appeal to the Director of Operations which could only be submitted on appeals form entitled, "Inmate Appeal of Maximum Security Status." Accordingly, Warden Cunningham attests to the court that Williams was given that form and requested to complete it. Williams refused to accept the appeals form, demanding instead "regular stationery with no legal implications."

 Warden Cunningham maintains that although Williams was repeatedly advised of his right to an appeal, he never submitted an appeal form in order to activate the appeals process. However, plaintiff's status as a maximum security inmate was reviewed monthly at BHDM hearings. On May 28, June 23 and July 22, 1981, Williams was afforded an opportunity to challenge his classification. At Williams' first hearing he requested that the hearing officer "Go away." However, at his June 23 and July 22, 1981 hearings plaintiff appeared but did not attempt to present any evidence. After reviewing the evidence submitted at the hearings, the hearing officers recommended that plaintiff remain in maximum security. This recommendation was adopted by Warden Cunningham.

 Upon plaintiff's transfer to BHDM, Warden Cunningham maintains that Williams was given a complete set of linens. In addition, Cunningham asserts that Williams' cell was inspected and found to be clean, including the toilet and sink which were in working order. Williams states that he was not issued new supplies, i.e., toothbrush and soap. This court accepts the explanation of Warden Cunningham that because Williams was not a new inmate at the time of his transfer it was expected that he would bring his supplies from Rikers to BHDM. However, Cunningham asserts that those articles would have been readily available to Williams if requested.

 Plaintiff's cell was equipped with an overhead light fixture whose switch was located outside his cell. Warden Cunningham asserts that upon request to a correction officer, plaintiff could have had the light turned off. An overhead light was also located in the hallway outside of Williams' cell. For security reasons, hallway lights throughout BHDM remain on twenty-four hours a day.

 Williams remained in the maximum security unit at BHDM until July 10, 1981, when he was transferred back to Rikers Island. On January 27, 1982, plaintiff was again transferred to BHDM. Williams is presently incarcerated at the Downstate Correctional Facility.

 This action was filed on May 12, 1981. Defendants answered on July 30, 1981, and now move ...


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