Despite the fact that the criminal charges against the plaintiff were dismissed, parole violation proceedings were commenced against him. Parole Officer Lewis wrote a Violation of Parole report, which he then filed with the Parole Board. Plaintiff asserts that the "Parole Board allowed the alleged victim to commit perjury" during his parole hearing. He claims that, in the police report, the alleged victim did not mention that he had "anything to do with the alleged robbery or sexual abuse," but that at the hearing she testified that the plaintiff had held a knife to her throat and took her money." Plaintiff claims that his parole revocation was based solely on the alleged victim's second statement. For the sake of clarity, this court will address the allegations against each of the defendants separately.
A. Defendants Thomas Coughlin and Raul Russi:
In order to state a claim for a constitutional violation under § 1983, the plaintiff must allege personal involvement of each defendant. McKinnon v. Patterson, 568 F.2d 930, 934 (2d Cir. 1977), cert. denied, 434 U.S. 1087, 55 L. Ed. 2d 792, 98 S. Ct. 1282 (1978); Ayers v. Coughlin, 780 F.2d 205, 210 (2d Cir. 1985). The mere fact that the defendant was "in a high position of authority is an insufficient basis for the imposition of personal liability." McKinnon, 568 F.2d at 934; Al-Jundi v. Estate of Rockefeller, 885 F.2d 1060, 1065 (2d Cir. 1989). Nor does the doctrine of respondeat superior suffice to demonstrate personal responsibility of a defendant. Al-Jundi, 885 F.2d at 1065.
Plaintiff apparently bases his claim against defendant Thomas Coughlin on the fact that he has legal custody of plaintiff. Plaintiff's claim against Russi is apparently based upon the fact that Russi is the Chairman of the New York State Board of Parole and that he is the employer of defendant Veronica Thomas. Plaintiff does not assert that either Chairman Russi or Commissioner Coughlin were in any way directly involved with the decision to revoke his parole. Accordingly, plaintiff's complaint fails to state a cause of action against defendants Coughlin and Russi.
B. Defendant Veronica Thomas:
Defendant claims that Parole Board Member Veronica Thomas violated his constitutional rights by relying on false testimony when revoking his parole. Neither the Supreme Court nor the Second Circuit has definitively answered the question of whether state parole officials enjoy absolute immunity from suit. This court and other district courts in the Second Circuit have, however, adopted the view of several other circuits, that state parole officials do enjoy absolute or quasi-judicial immunity when acting in their official capacity. Vinson v. Barkley, Civ-85-1451T, at 3 - 4 (W.D.N.Y. June 30, 1986) (citing Sellars v. Procunier, 641 F.2d 1295, 1301 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 454 U.S. 1102, 70 L. Ed. 2d 644, 102 S. Ct. 678 (1981)); Doe v. United Social and Mental Health Services, 670 F. Supp. 1121, 1124 (D. Conn. 1987). Accordingly, because defendant Thomas was acting in her role as a Parole Board Member when she revoked plaintiff's parole, she is entitled to absolute immunity from his § 1983 action for money damages.
C. Defendant Norman Lewis:
Although it is not clear from his complaint, plaintiff appears to allege that defendant Lewis filed the Notice of Parole Violation knowing that the plaintiff was not involved in the alleged sexual assault and robbery of the victim. In his complaint, plaintiff alleges that
during Parole Officer Norman Lewis' Investigation he came to the conclusion that I did not have anything to do with the alleged ROBBERY OR SEXUAL ABUSE. He also went so far as to inform friends and family members that the only involvement that I had with the alleged Robbery or Sexual Abuse was that I was driving the car that these alleged crimes occurred in.