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.

BROWN v. COUGHLIN

May 27, 1997

NATHAN BROWN, Plaintiff,
v.
THOMAS A. COUGHLIN, III, Commissioner, et al, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: LARIMER

 Plaintiff, Nathan Brown, appearing pro se, commenced this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff, who is currently an inmate at Clinton Correctional Facility, alleges that on or about July 18, 1993, while he was incarcerated at Southport Correctional Facility, four of the defendants, all of whom were then employed at Southport, took certain actions against him in retaliation for plaintiff having filed lawsuits and administrative complaints regarding his confinement at Southport. Plaintiff alleges that defendants' actions violated his rights under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

 The five defendants, and the positions they held at all relevant times, are: Thomas A. Coughlin, the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Correctional Services ("DOCS"); T. Decker, a DOCS sergeant; C. Knapp and B. Curren, both corrections officers; and A. Basurto, a nurse. Defendants have moved for summary judgment.

 BACKGROUND

 Many of the allegations of the complaint consist of conclusory allegations that defendants have violated plaintiff's rights. The complaint does, however, allege the following specific facts. On or about July 18, 1993, Curren and Knapp approached plaintiff's cell and said to him, "We got you on a real bad ticket," and said that when they were done with him, "nigger, you won't want to file any more complaints." Later that same day, Curren and Knapp again approached plaintiff's cell and said, "We got your nigger ass real good." Complaint P 13.

 The complaint also alleges that Knapp and Decker "'conspiratorially fabricated mental health referral form' alleging plaintiff committed acts of lewdness, so as to lable [sic] an unsavory stigma on plaintiff within the prison and make it appear as though plaintiff was allegedly unbalanced." Complaint P 12. Plaintiff alleges that this stigma has caused him to be subjected to harassment and prevented him from obtaining "meaningful" job assignments. Complaint P 16.

 The complaint further alleges that defendant Coughlin "as a matter of policy and practice has with deliberate indifference failed to adequately discipline, train or otherewise [sic] direct correctional officers regarding the rights of prisoners, thereby causing the defendants-officers in this case to engage in the unlawful conduct" alleged by plaintiff. Complaint P 19. Plaintiff alleges that prior to the incidents giving rise to this action, he had written several letters to Coughlin complaining about various matters concerning corrections officers and that Coughlin did nothing in response. Complaint P 21.

 Plaintiff contends that these alleged acts and omissions by defendants violated his right "to communicate with the courts an [sic] seek redress without being harmed and retaliated against," and his right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. Complaint PP 22, 23. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages, and expungement from his files of certain misbehavior reports that were filed by defendants.

 SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

 The standards for deciding a summary judgment motion under Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 are well established. The rule provides that a motion for summary judgment shall be granted if the pleadings and supplemental evidentiary materials "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." Under the rule, the burden is on the moving party to inform the court of the basis for the motion and to demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986). Once the moving party has carried that burden, the non-moving party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 89 L. Ed. 2d 538, 106 S. Ct. 1348 (1986). Instead, "the non-moving party must come forward with 'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Id. at 587 (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e) (alteration in original)).

 "Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no 'genuine issue for trial.'" Id. at 587. However, at the summary judgment stage, when perusing the record to determine whether a rational fact-finder could find for the non-moving party, all reasonable inferences must be drawn in favor of the non-moving party. See Murray v. National Broadcasting Co., 844 F.2d 988, 992 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 488 U.S. 955, 102 L. Ed. 2d 380, 109 S. Ct. 391 (1988).

 Applying these standards to the case at bar, I find that questions of fact do exist regarding plaintiff's First Amendment claims against defendants Knapp and Curren. There are no genuine issues of material fact concerning his Eighth Amendment claim, or any of his claims against the other three defendants, however, and those claims are dismissed.

 DISCUSSION

 As stated, plaintiff alleges that on July 18, 1993, Curren and Knapp approached his cell and said to him, "We got you on a real bad ticket," and that when they were done with him, "Nigger you won't want to file any more complaints." It also appears from the record that an inmate named Reese, whose cell was near plaintiff's, stated in connection with plaintiff's disciplinary hearing that "Officer Knapp and Curen [sic] told inmate Brown that they were going to get him on a real bad ticket and that when they were done with him, inmate Brown, and inmate Brown would not to ... write any more complaints." Plaintiff's Affidavit Ex. A-1. Reese also stated that after "the lights were turned out Officer Knapp and Curen went into inmate Brown's cell and told him, 'we got your niger [sic] ass good now ..." Id. In a report by a Lieutenant Hancock regarding his investigation of a complaint that plaintiff had sent to Coughlin on July 7, 1993 alleging that Curren had threatened him with a gun, Hancock also states that "Reese locks next to Brown and could possibly see something happening in front of Brown's ...


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.