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WATSON v. MCGINNIS

September 25, 1997

ANTHONY WATSON, Plaintiff, against SUPT. JOHN McGINNIS OF DOWNSTATE CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, CAPTAIN WILLIAM MANY, CORRECTION OFFICER R. DECKER and CORRECTION OFFICER R. RUIZ, Defendants.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: PECK

 ANDREW J. PECK, United States Magistrate Judge:

 To the Honorable Lewis A. Kaplan, United States District Judge:

 This Court previously denied defendant Corrections Officer Ruiz's motion to dismiss, holding that a prison "guard's intentionally calling a prisoner a snitch in order to cause him harm by other inmates states an Eighth Amendment excessive force claim." Watson v. McGinnis, 964 F. Supp. 127, 131 (S.D.N.Y. 1997). The parties having completed discovery, Officer Ruiz now moves for summary judgment. For the reasons discussed below, the Court recommends that Officer Ruiz's summary judgment motion be granted because Watson has failed to submit any admissible evidence that Officer Ruiz called Watson a snitch. *fn1"

 FACTS

 As a preliminary matter, the Court notes that plaintiff Watson has not filed any papers in opposition to defendant's summary judgment motion, despite being warned of the consequences. (See 8/22/97 Order.) Accordingly, pursuant to S.D.N.Y. Local Civil Rule 56.1(c), "all material facts set forth in the [Rule 56.1] statement required to be served by the moving party will be deemed to be admitted. . . ." Nevertheless, defendant's moving papers include Watson's entire deposition transcript and his testimony at two prison disciplinary hearings, and the Court has considered this evidence on Watson's behalf.

 Watson's Allegations Against Corrections Officer Ruiz

 In March 1996, plaintiff Anthony Watson was incarcerated at the Downstate Correctional Facility, and Corrections Officer Ruiz was a guard there. (Ruiz Rule 56.1 Stmt. PP 1-2; Watson Dep. at 5, 7-8, 10.)

 According to Watson's deposition testimony, on Saturday March 23, 1996, Watson was approached by Officer Ruiz and asked if he knew anything about an inmate smoking marijuana. (Watson Dep. at 12-13.) When Watson said he did not know, Officer Ruiz placed him in keeplock. (Watson Dep. at 13-14.) Officer Ruiz told Watson that the keeplock was for a disturbance in the television area resulting in a damaged television. (Watson Dep. at 14-16.) Watson told Officer Ruiz that he did not break the television and was not even near the television set. (Watson Dep. at 17, 22.) *fn2" Watson received a misbehavior report for damaging the television and for creating a disturbance. (Watson Dep. at 16; Ruiz Rule 56.1 Stmt. P 9; Prudenti Aff. Ex. A: Misbehavior Report.)

 Watson testified at his deposition that while Officer Ruiz did not say it directly to Watson, Officer Ruiz told other inmates that Watson was a "snitch." (Watson Dep. at 27-28.) Watson testified that four fellow inmates -- Kermit Williams, Samuel Cortez, Eugene Jackson and Angel Rosado -- "heard Officer Ruiz call me a snitch in the TV area at about 11:15" on March 23. (Watson Dep. at 27-30; see also Prudenti Aff. Ex. D: Ruiz 3/23/96 Letter to Supt. McGinnis at 2-3.)

 Watson's Complaint to Superintendent McGinnis

 Fearing reprisals for being labeled a snitch, Watson wrote Superintendent McGinnis a letter on March 23, 1996. (Watson Dep. at 31; Prudenti Aff. Ex. D: Watson Letter to McGinnis; Ruiz Rule 56.1 Stmt. P 18.) Watson wrote in the letter that Officer Ruiz "approached T.V. area of [cell] block, turned down the T.V. and told inmates in [the] area: 'Watson told me that you guys had something to do with this [breaking a wire junction box near the T.V.], so I locked him up so that you don't hurt him for being a snitch.'" (Prudenti Aff. Ex. D at 2; see also Ruiz Rule 56.1 Stmt. P 19.) Watson complained that calling an inmate a snitch "is a horrible thing to do to an [inmate]. . . . I could very well be scarred for life, or even killed." (Prudenti Aff. Ex. D at 3.) Watson requested that Superintendent McGinnis release him from keeplock to general population status so he could dispel the rumor that he was a snitch. (Id.; see also Ruiz Rule 56.1 Stmt. P 20; Watson Dep. at 85.)

 Watson's Altercation with McGraw

 Watson testified that he was temporarily released from his cell by Officer Decker during the evening on March 26, 1996. (Ruiz Rule 56.1 Stmt. P 23; Watson Dep. at 62-63; Prudenti Aff. Ex. E: Disciplinary Hearing Tr. at 4.) Watson was approached by inmate McGraw, *fn3" who was brandishing a makeshift knife and mumbling about how Watson was a snitch. (Watson Dep. at 64-66; Ruiz Rule 56.1 Stmt. P 24; Prudenti Aff. Ex. E at 5.) After exclaiming "snitches get stitches," McGraw attacked Watson. (Watson Dep. at 67; see also, id. at 54-55; Prudenti Aff. Ex. E at 6.) The altercation ended when Watson pushed McGraw off the tier, a drop of around twelve feet. (Watson Dep. at 70; Prudenti Aff. Ex. E at 6.) Watson sustained cuts and scratches on his neck. (Ruiz Rule 56.1 Stmt. P 26; Watson Dep. at 74-75.) Officer Decker and twenty other inmates watched the altercation, but did not intercede. (Watson Dep. at 66, 68.)

 The next day, March 27, 1996, Officer Ruiz asked Watson whether he was involved in an altercation the previous night. (Ruiz Rule 56.1 Stmt. P 27; Watson Dep. at 34-35.) Watson initially denied it, but when further questioning showed that Ruiz already knew about the incident, Watson admitted it. (Watson Dep. at 35-38; Ruiz Rule 56.1 Stmt. PP 28-29.) When asked at his deposition why he lied to Officer Ruiz about the altercation, Watson responded that since he was already "noted for being a ...


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