The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sweet, District Judge.
Plaintiff pro se John Murray ("Murray"), an inmate formerly
incarcerated at the House of Detention for Men on Rikers Island,
has moved to amend his Section 1983 complaint to add two
additional correctional officers as defendants and to re-join as
a defendant Marron Hopkins ("Hopkins"), the Warden of the
facility against whom the complaint was previously dismissed.
Defendants object to the renaming of Hopkins as a defendant but
do not otherwise oppose the motion. For the reasons stated below,
the motion is granted.
This prisoner's civil rights action arising out of an alleged
beating at Rikers was commenced in July 1988 against six
defendants, four of whom are correctional officers of various
rank. The other two original defendants, Commissioner Koehler and
Warden Hopkins, occupy positions of supervisorial authority over
the Rikers facility.
In February 1989, following several months during which
plaintiff sought to serve the complaint and defendants sought
extensions of time to investigate the alleged incidents, an
answer was filed by the Corporation Counsel on behalf of all
defendants. Thereafter, defendants Koehler and Hopkins moved in
August 1989 for dismissal of the complaint as against them on
grounds that the complaint failed to allege any action on their
part upon which liability could be predicated. On August 25, 1989
that unopposed motion was granted.
On October 30, 1989 Murray filed the instant motion, seeking to
amend the complaint to re-name Warden Hopkins and add two
additional correctional officers as defendants. The motion was
adjourned at the request of defendants to November 25, 1989, at
which point opposition papers were filed and the matter taken
In the amended complaint, Murray alleges that he was assaulted
by a number of correctional officers on May 11, 1988 following a
riot or altercation that arose in a hallway at the Rikers
facility. Murray states that fifteen minutes after the incident,
while he was in the housing area, he was identified by officers
as one of the participating inmates. The officers allegedly
picked Murray out as the inmate who had punched defendant Daly,
an assistant deputy warden at Rikers, during the incident.
According to Murray's complaint, after being identified in the
housing area, he was handcuffed, taken to a receiving room and
then beaten by several officers.
The alleged assailants in the receiving room include Captain
Kevin Cole and Officer Elmor Velez, the two additional officers
Murray seeks permission to name as defendants. Both are accused
of using excessive force against Murray, the former by employing
a "choke hold" in violation of the facility's rules and
regulations, the latter by punching plaintiff in the face.
In addition, the complaint charges that Warden Hopkins was
"immediately notified of the [hallway] incident by radio or
phone, prior to plaintiff being injured" yet took no action to
ensure plaintiff's safety or adherence by the officers to
departmental rules, regulations or procedures, notwithstanding
the Warden's knowledge that officers in the facility have "a high
record of physical abuse or excessive use of force . . . against
inmates, after an inmate has been in an altercation with
Supervisory Official Liability
Defendants do not oppose the addition of Officers Cole and
Velez to the action, each of whom is alleged to have directly
participated in the beating of Murray. The only issue before the
court therefore is the appropriateness of amending the complaint
to name Warden Hopkins as a defendant. Defendants oppose such
amendment on the ground that the claim sought to be asserted
against Hopkins is without merit as a matter of law. See Love v.
New York State Dept. of Environ. Conserv., 529 F. Supp. 832, 845
(S.D.N.Y. 1981) (denial of leave to amend appropriate where claim
wholly lacking in merit).
A supervisory official is not liable under section 1983 by
virtue of his subordinate's actions; rather, he must be shown to
have "some personal responsibility." Al-Jundi v. Estate of
Rockefeller, 885 F.2d 1060, 1065 (2d Cir. 1989) (quoting Johnson
v. Glick, 481 F.2d 1028, 1034 (2d Cir.), cert. denied,
414 U.S. 1033, 94 S.Ct. 462, 38 L.Ed.2d 324 (1973)); see also Williams v.
Smith, 781 F.2d 319, 323 (2d Cir. 1986). In Williams v. Smith,
the Second Circuit outlined four ways in which a supervisory
official may be personally involved in a § 1983 violation: he may
(1) be directly involved, such as where a warden orders an inmate
disciplined; (2) fail to remedy a wrong after learning of the
through a report or appeal; (3) have created or allowed to
continue a policy under which the violation occurred; or (4) have
been grossly negligent in managing subordinates who caused the
unlawful condition. 781 F.2d at 323-24.
With respect to the latter two prongs of liability, a prison
superintendent is not held responsible for an isolated incident
about which he had no advance notice. See Oklahoma City v.
Tuttle, 471 U.S. 808, 823-24, 105 S.Ct. 2427, 85 L.Ed.2d 791
(1985). In Williams v. Vincent, 508 F.2d 541, 546 (2d Cir. 1974),
the dismissal of a prisoner's complaint against the prison
superintendent was upheld where the plaintiff had failed to
allege either that the superintendent authorized the officer's
objectionable conduct or that there had been a history of similar
incidents. See also Johnson v. Glick, 481 F.2d 1028, 1034 (2d
Cir.), cert. denied, 414 U.S. 1033, 94 S.Ct. 462, 38 L.Ed.2d 324
(1973) (warden not liable for a correction officer's single
spontaneous beating of inmate); Bowman v. Casler, 622 F. ...