UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
April 26, 1985
Otis J. Tate, Plaintiff,
Norman L. Carlson, et al., Defendants
The opinion of the court was delivered by: HAIGHT
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
HAIGHT, District Judge:
Plaintiff Otis Tate was, at the time of filing of this lawsuit, a federal prisoner at the Federal Correctional Institution at Otisville, New York. Through a combination of circumstances described in the Court's Memorandum Opinion and Order of May 14, 1984, he was held in administrative detention--a condition of semi-solitary confinement and restricted privileges--for over a year. This extended detention served as the basis for his complaint, which alleged Sixth and Eighth Amendment deprivations and prayed for injunctive and monetary relief. I construed the complaint as a motion for a preliminary injunction and directed the Government to respond.
In the above-mentioned opinion of May 14, I dismissed plaintiff's claims under the Sixth Amendment, but I did not reach the constitutional Eighth Amendment claim. Instead, I held that petitioner's extended detention violated existing prison regulations, and directed that plaintiff be promptly released from detention or moved to another institution. Apparently the order was complied with, for plaintiff is currently incarcertated in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. The Government now moves for summary judgment on the claims for damages. Plaintiff, appearing pro se, has filed no papers in opposition.
It is clear that plaintiff may maintain an action for damages against federal officials who have violated his constitutional rights in the course of performing their duties. Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388, 29 L. Ed. 2d 619, 91 S. Ct. 1999 (1971).
In his complaint, plaintiff states three cognizable constitutional claims: 1) that by restricting his access to the prison law library, defendants violated his Sixth Amendment rights, 2) that by keeping his in semi-solitary confinement for over a year defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights, and 3) that by keeping him in administrative detention in excess of the time permitted by prison regulations defendants violated his due process rights. I address these in turn.
In the May 14 order, I held plaintiff's Sixth Amendment claim meritless on the basis of Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 52 L. Ed. 2d 72, 97 S. Ct. 1491 (1977). That ruling was in effect a dismissal for failure to state a claim, and I adhere to it.
As noted, I did not rule on plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claim in the May 14 order. However, a number of courts have held that extended confinement under conditions similar to those imposed upon plaintiff
does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment. See Sostre v. McGinnis, 442 F.2d 178, 190-94 (2d Cir. 1971) (en banc) (twelve months); Smith v. Coughlin, 748 F.2d 783, 787 (2d Cir. 1984) (indefinite); Jackson v. Meachum, 699 F.2d 578, 582-84 (1st Cir. 1983) (citing cases). Second Circuit authority is binding upon me. Plaintiff's detention did not constitute cruel and unusual punishment. Nor does the violation of a regulation in these circumstances implicate due process guarantees. United States v. Caceres, 440 U.S. 741, 752, 59 L. Ed. 2d 733, 99 S. Ct. 1465 (1979).
As a result, plaintiff has no claim for damages. Because he has been transferred out of administrative detention, any request for permanent injunctive relief is mooted. Defendants are entitled to summary judgment dismissing the complaint. It is SO ORDERED