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GREAVES v. NEW YORK

January 29, 1997

FRANKLIN E. GREAVES, Plaintiff, against THE STATE OF NEW YORK, ROBERT SANFORD, C. LIORENS, ALBERT YOUNG, PHILIP COOMBE, JR., Acting Commissioner of the New York State Department of Correctional Services, Defendants.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: SCHEINDLIN

 Shira A. Scheindlin, U.S.D.J.:

 Pursuant to Local Civil Rule 3(j), defendants Sanford and Liorens move for reargument of their motion for summary judgment after plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint. For the reasons set forth below, defendants' motion for summary judgment is now granted.

 Procedural Background

 Plaintiff Franklin E. Greaves filed this Section 1983 action on November 16, 1995, alleging that he was wrongly found guilty of disciplinary charges, removed from the Fishkill Correctional Facility's Temporary Release Program ("TRP"), and placed in solitary confinement in violation of his constitutional rights. On October 21, 1996, defendants Sanford and Liorens filed a motion for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. I denied defendants' motion in an Opinion and Order dated November 14, 1996. See Greaves v. State of New York, 1996 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16839, 951 F. Supp. 33, 1996 WL 660902 (S.D.N.Y. 1996).

 On November 25, 1996, defendants moved for reargument of the November 14 Opinion and Order pursuant to Local Civil Rule 3(j). In a Memorandum Order dated December 17, 1996, I found the plaintiff's original Complaint (the "Complaint") to be "unclear as to what specific instances of wrongful conduct each defendant is alleged to have committed." See Greaves v. State of New York, 1996 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18751, No. 95 Civ. 9725, 1996 WL 727445, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. 1996). Accordingly, I ordered plaintiff to file an Amended Complaint "that shall set forth with particularity each specific allegation of wrongful conduct with regard to defendants Sanford, Liorens and Young". Id. Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on January 2, 1997.

 Legal Standard for Summary Judgment

 Because I now grant defendants' motion for summary judgment, I will reiterate the legal standard under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and applicable case law. A party is entitled to summary judgment when there is "no genuine issue of material fact" and the undisputed facts warrant judgment for the moving party as a matter of law. See Fed. R. Civ. P 56(c); Celotex v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986). The burden of demonstrating the absence of a material factual dispute rests on the moving party. See Gallo v. Prudential Residential Svcs., Ltd., 22 F.3d 1219, 1223 (2d Cir. 1994). Once that burden is met, the non-moving party must present "significant probative supporting evidence" that a factual dispute exists. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249.

 The court's role is not to try issues of fact, but rather to determine whether issues exist to be tried. See Balderman v. United States Veterans Admin., 870 F.2d 57, 60 (2d Cir. 1989); Donahue v. Windsor Locks Bd. of Fire Comm'rs, 834 F.2d 54, 58 (2d Cir. 1987). All ambiguities must be resolved and all inferences drawn in favor of the party against whom summary judgment is sought. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; Donahue, 834 F.2d at 57, 60. If there is any evidence in the record from which a reasonable inference could be drawn in favor of the non-moving party on a material issue of fact, summary judgment is improper. See Chambers v. TRM Copy Centers Corp., 43 F.3d 29, 37 (2d Cir. 1994).

 Discussion

 On motion for reargument, defendants directed the Court's attention to the fact that the Complaint alleged that defendants were only involved in the filing of a false misbehavior report. See Defendants' Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion for Reargument at 3-4. Defendants also correctly observed that the Second Circuit has held that "a prison inmate has no constitutionally guaranteed immunity from being falsely or wrongly accused of conduct which may result in the deprivation of a protected liberty interest," Freeman v. Rideout, 808 F.2d 949, 951 (2d Cir. 1986), cert. denied, 485 U.S. 982, 99 L. Ed. 2d 484, 108 S. Ct. 1273 (1988). Rather, an inmate's constitutional right to due process requires prison officials to conduct a proper hearing before disciplining that inmate based on a misbehavior report. In other words, the failure to conduct a constitutionally adequate disciplinary hearing may give rise to a Section 1983 action, but the mere filing of a false misbehavior report against an inmate does not. See Williams v. Smith, 781 F.2d 319, 323-24 (2d Cir. 1986).

 As I stated in the November 14, 1996 Memorandum Order, it was unclear from the Complaint whether the defendants' allegedly wrongful conduct extended beyond filing a misbehavior report on February 24, 1995. See Greaves, 1996 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18751, 1996 WL 727445, at *1. The Complaint stated in ambiguous terms that Sanford, Liorens and Young "acting severally, jointly and in concert with each other" deprived plaintiff of his constitutionally protected liberty interest in the TRP. See Complaint at PP 29, 30. However, while plaintiff's Memorandum of Law alleged that either Sanford or Liorens was personally involved in the disciplinary hearing, the Complaint contained no specific allegations of fact with regard to these defendants beyond the filing of the misbehavior report. See Plaintiff's Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment at 6. I ordered plaintiff to file an Amended Complaint to ascertain whether plaintiff's failure to set forth such specific allegations in his original Complaint was inadvertent.

 Plaintiff's Amended Complaint fares no better than his original Complaint. The Amended Complaint contains no specific allegations with regard to defendants Sanford and Liorens apart from the claims that they caused plaintiff to be confined to the prison by filing a misbehavior report against him on February 24, 1995. See Amended Complaint at PP 14-15, 23. The Amended Complaint again sets forth the nebulous claim that "defendants Robert Sanford, Albert Young, C. Liorens and other unknown correction officers acting severally, jointly and in concert with each other in the scope of their authority and employment and under Color of Law" violated plaintiff's constitutional rights. Id. at P 36. See also id. at P 37. Yet there is no indication from the ...


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