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BRELAND v. ABATE

February 22, 1996

VINCENT BRELAND, Plaintiff, against COMMISSIONER CATHERINE M. ABATE; CORRECTION OFFICER AND SUPERVISORY CORRECTION OFFICERS BEVERLY LAWRENCE, JANET CHAVIES, and JOHN DOE; and the CITY OF NEW YORK, Defendants.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: BATTS

 DEBORAH A. BATTS, United States District Judge.

 Plaintiff Vincent Breland sues various correctional officials and the City of New York under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for injuries suffered at the hands of other inmates while in pretrial detention. Defendants move for summary judgment on various grounds. Plaintiff opposes the motion. For the reasons stated herein, the motion is granted in its entirety.

 Summary judgment is appropriate when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions of file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); accord Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986); Citizens Bank of Clear Water v. Hunt, 927 F.2d 707, 710 (2d Cir. 1991).

 The facts are basically undisputed, and for the purposes of this motion, the Court will accept the facts as stated in Plaintiff's opposition papers. Specifically, for the purposes of this motion, the Court will accept as a fact that Officer Lawrence was asleep at her position inside the inmate dormitory at the time that a fight among Plaintiff and three other inmates started. Pl. Opp. at 2-4.

 In his motion papers, Plaintiff seeks to maintain the following federal claims: (1) deliberate indifference claims under § 1983 against Corrections Officers Lawrence and Chavies, and (2) Monell1 claims against the City under § 1983 based on (a) the deliberate indifference of Officers Lawrence and Chavies and (b) its failure to take adequate steps to assure a reasonable level of security for inmates of GMDC. Pl. Mem. at 5-7. Plaintiff's motion papers in opposition to this motion recite no other federal claims.

 A. Deliberate Indifference Claims Against Individual Officers

 To establish a constitutional claim under the Fourteenth Amendment sufficient to allow recovery under § 1983, Plaintiff must show more than mere negligence. Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327, 88 L. Ed. 2d 662, 106 S. Ct. 662 (1986); Stubbs v. Dudley, 849 F.2d 83, 86-87 (2d Cir. 1988); see also Hendricks v. Coughlin, 942 F.2d 109, 113 (2d Cir. 1991) (Eighth Amendment); Morello v. James, 797 F. Supp. 223, 227 (W.D.N.Y. 1992).

 Plaintiff's version of the facts are that at approximately 1:55 a.m. Officer Chavies was awake inside the "bubble" adjacent to the inmate dorm where Plaintiff was assigned, and Officer Lawrence was asleep inside that dorm with the inmates. At approximately 1:55 a.m., Plaintiff woke up after another inmate threw a bar of soap at him and he heard several inmates in the back of the dorm laughing. Plaintiff did not cry out or request assistance, but instead challenged the other inmates by saying in a conversational tone of voice, "Anyone feel like a man, step to me." In response, Inmate Christopher Solis came up to Plaintiff's bed and spoke to him. This exchange escalated into a physical altercation.

 Upon seeing that the inmates were out of bed, Officer Lawrence ordered the inmates to stop talking and get back into bed. They ignored her. At 1:58 a.m., only three minutes after Plaintiff awoke, Officer Lawrence activated her Personal Body Alarm, thereby alerting the Central Control Room that assistance was required.

 As plaintiff and three other inmates were fighting, Officer Chavies became aware of the situation and turned on the lights in the dorm. After turning on the lights, she notified the Central Control Room by telephone of the disturbance. When the dorm lights came on, the inmates who had been fighting dispersed. The assistance summoned by Officer Lawrence's Personal Body Alarm and Officer Chavies's telephone call arrived two to three minutes after the lights in the dorm came on. As a result of the incident, Plaintiff suffered cuts and puncture wounds, for which sutures were required.

 In light of the brief two to three minute gap between the throwing of the soap and activation of the body alarm by the allegedly sleeping Officer, Plaintiff can prove, accepting all his asserted facts as true, no more than mere negligence. Accordingly, judgment must be entered in favor of both individual corrections officers deriving from Plaintiff's claim that Officer Lawrence was asleep. See Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. at 336 ("Petitioner alleges that he was injured by the negligence of respondent, a custodial official at the city jail. Whatever other provisions of state law or general jurisprudence he may rightly invoke, the Fourteenth Amendment . . . does not afford him a remedy").

 This issue of fact is the only basis pressed by Plaintiff in his papers to maintain the action against Officers Lawrence and Chavies. This argument having failed, Plaintiff presents no other argument to maintain the action against them; thus, summary judgment will be granted in favor of the officers on ...


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