Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

DEUTSCH v. FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS

May 2, 1990

MELVIN P. DEUTSCH, PLAINTIFF,
v.
FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS, MICHAEL J. QUINLAN[FN1], JESSIE R. JAMES, JOHN BROWN, AND LAWRENCE COE, JR., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert J. Ward, District Judge.

  MEMORANDUM DECISION

Plaintiff, appearing pro se, filed an action claiming that his constitutional right under the Eighth Amendment to be free from cruel and unusual punishment was violated because he was required to share a prison cell with an inmate diagnosed as having the antibodies to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus ("HIV"), a virus which is often a precursor to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome ("AIDS"). Plaintiff has also asserted various common law tort claims against defendants. Defendants move to dismiss the action, arguing that: (1) the claims against the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the individual defendants in their official capacities should be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), Fed.R.Civ.P., for lack of subject matter jurisdiction; (2) the constitutional tort claims against the individual defendants personally should be dismissed pursuant to Rules 12(b)(6) and 56, Fed.R.Civ.P., because plaintiff has failed adequately to allege a constitutional tort and because their alleged conduct is protected by qualified immunity; and (3) the common law tort claims against the individual defendants should be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), Fed.R.Civ.P., because federal officials acting within the scope of their employment are absolutely immune from such claims.*fn2 For the reasons that follow, defendants' motion is granted and the action is dismissed.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, Melvin Deutsch ("Deutsch") alleges that, while he was an inmate at the Federal Correctional Institute in Otisville, New York ("Otisville"), defendant Lawrence Coe, Jr. ("Coe"), a corrections counselor at Otisville, assigned him to a prison cell with another inmate ("the cellmate") for a ten-day period beginning July 27, 1988 and ending August 5, 1988. Statement of Claim, attached to Complaint, filed May 19, 1989, at ¶¶ 5-6.

Also on July 30, 1988, after Deutsch was told by the cellmate of his HIV test results, Deutsch asked Coe to assign him to another cell. Coe allegedly denied the request on the ground that inmates may not select their own cellmates, adding that if Deutsch "got AIDS, it was just to [sic] bad," and warning Deutsch that if he told other prisoners about the cellmate's HIV test results, he would be punished for inciting a riot. Id. at ¶¶ 12-13.*fn4

Plaintiff contends that the quality of his life and his ability to maintain relationships with others have been hampered by a fear that he has AIDS. Id. at ¶¶ 15-17. He also asserts that defendants' actions have unjustly sentenced him to death, "by way of `TORTURE'." Id. at ¶ 14. Plaintiff, however, has not alleged that he has tested positive for the antibodies to HIV.

Aside from Coe, defendants in this action include the Federal Bureau of Prisons, J. Michael Quinlan ("Quinlan"), the Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Jessie R. James ("James"), formerly the warden of Otisville, and John Brown ("Brown"), formerly Deutsch's unit manager at Otisville.

Deutsch seeks one hundred billion dollars in compensatory damages, along with punitive damages, treble "anti-trust" damages, and attorney's fees, but the complaint does not specify the legal theories he seeks to rely on for recovery. Affording the complaint the liberal construction warranted by plaintiff's pro se status, see Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520, 92 S.Ct. 594, 595, 30 L.Ed.2d 652 (1972) (per curiam), it can be viewed as asserting both constitutional and common law tort claims against the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the individual defendants in their official and personal capacities.

DISCUSSION

The Court's role on a motion to dismiss is a limited one: it must accept plaintiff's well-pleaded allegations at face value and construe the allegations in the complaint in plaintiff's favor. Dwyer v. Regan, 777 F.2d 825, 829 (2d Cir. 1985), mod., 793 F.2d 457 (2d Cir. 1986). The Court may dismiss the complaint only if "it appears beyond doubt that plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim that would entitle him to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S.Ct. 99, 101-102, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957).

In comparison, a motion for summary judgment may be granted only when it is clear both that no genuine issue of material fact remains to be resolved at trial and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Rule 56, Fed.R.Civ.P. In deciding a summary judgment motion, the Court is not to resolve disputed issues of fact, but rather, while resolving ambiguities and drawing reasonable inferences against the moving party, to assess whether material factual issues remain for the trier of fact. Knight v. U.S. Fire Ins. Co., 804 F.2d 9, 11 (2d Cir. 1986), cert. denied, 480 U.S. 932, 107 S.Ct. 1570, 94 L.Ed.2d 762 (1987) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-250, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2509-2510, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986)). Only if "no reasonable trier of fact could find in favor of the nonmoving party" should summary judgment be granted. H.L. Hayden Co. v. Siemens Medical Systems, Inc., 879 F.2d 1005, 1011 (2d Cir. 1989). In other words, only where the entire record would inevitably lead a rational trier of fact to find for the moving party is summary judgment warranted. National Railroad Passenger Corp. v. New York, 882 F.2d 710, 713 (2d Cir. 1989).

Although the movant faces a difficult burden to succeed, motions for summary judgment, properly employed, permit a court to terminate frivolous claims and defenses, and to concentrate its resources on meritorious litigation. Knight v. U.S. Fire Ins. Co., supra, 804 F.2d at 12. See also Celotex Corp. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.