Special Programs Peter Nardiello all contended that the complaint failed to allege that they did not fulfill their duties and/or that the facts alleged support no more than negligent omissions. Defendants Thomas A. Coughlin and Frank Irvin claimed that the plaintiff failed to allege personal involvement on their part.
Consequently, the defendants originally moved to dismiss the plaintiff's amended complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). In a decision and order dated October 28, 1994, this court denied defendants' motion, and the parties proceeded with discovery.
On June 19, 1995, the United States Supreme Court decided Sandin v. Connor, U.S. , 115 S. Ct. 2293 (1995), a case which altered the standard for evaluating cases where special confinement allegedly violates a prisoner's constitutional rights. Based on the Sandin decision, this court granted defendant leave to make the present motion for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. In addition to their Sandin argument, defendants also argue that Coughlin and Irvin are protected by qualified immunity.
For purposes of a motion to dismiss, the factual allegations of the complaint are presumed to be true. At all times relevant to this action, Luis was incarcerated at Wende. On May 28, 1991, Luis allegedly refused a work assignment in violation of Rule 180.18, 7 N.Y.C.R.R. § 270.2(b)(26)(viii) (1988). Defendant Nardiello witnessed this refusal, placed Luis into "keeplock" status, and wrote a misbehavior report. However, he failed to report either his actions or Luis's status to the superintendent before going off duty or at any time thereafter, although he was required to do so pursuant to Departmental Rule 251-1.6 (e)(1). Item 40, P 13. Luis also alleges that Nardiello failed to do the paperwork necessary for Luis to obtain a timely disciplinary hearing in violation of Departmental Rule 251-4.1. 7 N.Y.C.R.R. 251-4.1 (1992).
Luis was served with charges on May 30, 1991, and was provided with a prison employee assistant, defendant Paul Mecca. Although Mecca interviewed Luis on the plaintiff's seventh day in keeplock, Mecca never advised the plaintiff that he was entitled to a disciplinary hearing within seven days, nor did Mecca ask for such a hearing on Luis's behalf, ask for the inmate's release from keeplock, or notify the Disciplinary Hearing Office of the situation. In violation of 7 N.Y.C.R.R. § 251-5.1 (1992), no disciplinary hearing on the charges was held within seven days of his segregation. Luis was released from keeplock on June 30.
Luis further charges that defendant Edd Martin, the Review Officer from May 28 to June 30, did not review the misbehavior report, forward the report to a Disciplinary Hearing Officer, review Luis's status during June of 1991, or order Luis's release after seven days in keeplock. In addition, Anonymous Defendant 'A,' the Disciplinary Hearing Officer from May 28 to June 30, did not provide a disciplinary hearing nor order Luis's release during his 33-day confinement.
Finally, Luis claims that defendants Thomas Coughlin, the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Correctional Facilities, and Frank Irvin, the Superintendent of Wende, were deliberately indifferent to and grossly negligent of their responsibilities to protect Luis's civil rights. They failed to train, supervise, and educate their subordinates properly as to their duties and responsibilities to assure compliance with departmental rules and procedures, including appointment of a correctional officer to commence a disciplinary hearing and termination of Luis's keeplock status after more than seven days without a hearing. The plaintiff further alleges that Coughlin and Irvin have taken no actions to assure that inmates put into keeplock status are provided with a disciplinary hearing within seven days. Rather, they have deliberately fostered a practice and policy in which correctional officers may disregard departmental rules so as to deprive inmates of liberty interests.
1. Plaintiff had no liberty interest in remaining free of keeplock confinement.
Plaintiff's keeplock confinement occurred pursuant to 7 N.Y.C.R.R. § 251-1.6(a) (1983). This section specifies the conditions under which an inmate may be placed in keeplock:
Where an officer has reasonable grounds to believe that an inmate should be confined to his cell or room or housing area because he represents an immediate threat to the safety, security or order of the facility or [an] immediate danger to other persons or property, such officer shall take reasonable and appropriate steps to so confine the inmate.
Such segregation, not intended for a punitive purpose, is said to be administrative. Once an inmate is confined to administrative keeplock, New York regulations require that prison authorities follow certain procedures. For example, 7 N.Y.C.R.R. § 251-5.1(a) mandates that a disciplinary hearing must be commenced as "soon as reasonably practicable following the inmate's initial confinement, . . . but in no event may it be commenced beyond seven days of said confinement without authorization of the commissioner or his designee." In addition, 7 N.Y.C.R.R. § 251-1.6(e) states that an employee who places an inmate in keeplock shall report this fact in writing to the superintendent before going off duty.
Prior to Sandin, some courts drew a distinction between disciplinary and administrative segregation. "Generally, restrictive confinement imposed for administrative reasons [did] not implicate a liberty interest unless the state, by enacting certain statutory or regulatory measures, creates a liberty interest in remaining in the general prison population." Hewitt v. Helms, 459 U.S. 460, 468-72, 74 L. Ed. 2d 675, 103 S. Ct. 864 (1983).
In Gittens v. Lefevre, 891 F.2d 38, 40 (2d Cir. 1989), the Second Circuit held that the New York administrative keeplock regulations created a "liberty interest by using mandatory language and requiring specific substantive predicates for keeplock." Consequently, after Gittens, and before Sandin, prisoners had a liberty interest in remaining free from administrative confinement, and were deprived of this interest if held in keeplock for more than seven days without a hearing. See Russell v. Coughlin 910 F.2d 75 (2d Cir. 1990).
In Sandin, 132 L. Ed. 2d 418, 115 S. Ct. 2293, the Supreme Court held that the placement of a prison inmate into disciplinary confinement does not automatically implicate a liberty interest protected by the Due Process Clause. Specifically, the Sandin majority stated:
The time has come to return to the due process principles of we believe were correctly established and applied in Wolff and Meachum. Following Wolff, we recognize that States may under certain circumstances create liberty interests which are protected by the Due Process Clause. But these interests will be generally limited to freedom from restraint which, while not exceeding the sentence in such an unexpected manner as to give rise to protection by the Due Process Clause of its own force, nonetheless imposes atypical and significant hardship on the inmate in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life.