Liner alleges that defendants Keane, Jones and Williams
conspired to tamper and destroy his medical records. Liner,
however, fails to state how defendants conspired to alter and
delete the records and which records, if any, were destroyed. It
is well-established that "a complaint containing only
conclusory, vague, or general allegations of conspiracy to
deprive a person of constitutional rights cannot withstand a
motion to dismiss." Boddie v. Schnieder, 105 F.3d 857, 862 (2d
Cir. 1997) (quoting Leon v. Murphy, 988 F.2d 303, 311 (2d Cir.
1993)); Polur v. Raffe, 912 F.2d 52, 56 (2nd Cir. 1990),
cert. denied, 499 U.S. 937, 111 S.Ct. 1389, 113 L.Ed.2d 446
(1991). Because Liner's conspiracy allegations in the Amended
Complaint remain general, conclusory and unsupported by specific
factual details, the conspiracy claims must be dismissed. See
Leon, 988 F.2d at 311; Ostrer v. Aronwald, 567 F.2d 551, 553
(2d Cir. 1977).
4. Deliberate and Callous Indifference
Liner alleges that defendants Jones, Williams and Keane acted
with deliberate indifference when they failed to gather all of
his medical records for Liner's disciplinary hearing; reached a
determination that there was no back condition precluding Liner
from being placed in a top bunk; and sentenced Liner to
"key-lock" on three occasions. The Court construes this claim as
an attempt to demonstrate deliberate indifference to Liner's
serious medical needs.
To establish an unconstitutional denial of medical care, Liner
must prove deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs.
See Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104, 97 S.Ct. 285,
50 L.Ed.2d 251 (1976). The deliberate indifference standard
includes both objective and subjective components. See Chance
v. Armstrong, 143 F.3d 698, 702 (2d Cir. 1998). In objective
terms, the alleged deprivation must be "sufficiently serious."
Chance, 143 F.3d at 702. Defendants must further act with a
sufficiently culpable state of mind. See id.
Here, Liner, on the basis of his vague general pleadings,
cannot satisfy both prongs for establishing deliberate
indifference to medical needs. Even assuming that Liner suffered
from a serious back condition, from what could be culled from
the Amended Complaint there is not sufficient indication that
Defendants acted with the requisite culpable state of mind nor a
demonstration that any correctional officer knew of and
disregarded Liner's medical needs. See Farmer v. Brennan,
511 U.S. 825, 837, 114 S.Ct. 1970, 128 L.Ed.2d 811 (1994).
Accordingly, these claims must be dismissed.
5. Gross Negligence
Liner further alleges a claim of gross negligence against two
defendants. The fourth count against Keane "charges the
defendant with Gross [sic] negligence, charges defendant with
instituting [a] policy [and] practice which govern[s] double
bunking without adequate screening." Amended Compl. at 10. Count
two against Williams "charges defendant with gross negligence"
in connection with her work with Liner's medical records. See
id. at 11.
A gross negligence claim standing alone, unsupported by any
federal action that would permit the Court to exercise its
pendent jurisdiction to consider a claim based solely on state
law, may provide grounds for dismissal. Gross negligence,
however, as pleaded here by an incarcerated pro se plaintiff, is
"somewhat akin" to deliberate indifference, and the Court will
so treat it for the purposes of this motion. See Vogelsang v.
County of Cayuga, No. 95 Civ. 1123, 1998 WL 146293, at *4
(N.D.N.Y. March 25, 1998) (Pooler, J.) (citing Doe v. New York
City Dep't of Soc. Servs., 649 F.2d 134, 145 (2d Cir. 1981)).
The Court has already addressed Liner's deliberate
indifference claim. In addition, Liner has alleged no facts
detailing how Keane or Williams was grossly negligent. Moreover,
Liner has conceded that "bouble [sic] bunking is not an issue
this court." Amended Compl. at 1. Finally, Judge Hellerstein
as to the claim concerning the constitutionality of
the double bunking policy at Woodburne Correctional
Facility, Judge Stein thoroughly analyzed the issue
in Bolton v. Goord, 992 F. Supp. 604 (S.D.N.Y. 1998)
and concluded that the policy is constitutionally
sound. I find Judge Stein's opinion to be thoughtful
and well-reasoned, and plaintiff alleges no set of
facts which suggest that I should reach a different
conclusion as to his particular situation.
Order, at 2-3. Judge Hellerstein's conclusion remains the law of
the case, especially where Liner has failed to allege any
additional facts establishing gross negligence.
6. Due Process
Liner claims, among other things, that Officer Jones
determined that Liner was eligible for a top bunk without having
all of Liner's medical records and without the testimony of
certain witnesses. Liner further claims that Superintendent
Keane affirmed the results of three disciplinary hearings with
knowledge that Liner's rights were violated. The Court, again
extending due leniency to the pleadings, broadly construes these
allegations as an attempt to set forth a due process claim.
While the United States Supreme Court held that an inmate
should be allowed to call witnesses at a disciplinary hearing,
prison authorities are given broad discretion to deny an
inmate's request to call witnesses "for irrelevance, lack of
necessity or the hazards presented in the individual cases."
See Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 566, 94 S.Ct. 2963,
41 L.Ed.2d 935 (1974). Simply put, at the administrative
proceedings here at issue, Liner was not entitled to the "full
panoply of rights due a defendant in a criminal prosecution."
Id. at 556, 94 S.Ct. 2963.
In this case, Liner admits that he was able to call some
witnesses, including defendant Williams. Amended Compl. at 4.
One of his witnesses, Mrs. Gill, was in the hospital "having
brain surgery" and was thus unavailable at the time of the
hearing; another witness was at a different correctional
facility. Amended Compl., at 3, 5. In addition, Liner has failed
to describe what testimony was allegedly excluded and what its
relevance may have been; how his rights were violated by not
having these witnesses, including defendant Superintendent
Keane; or what their testimony would have added materially to
his disciplinary hearings that might have altered the outcome.
Similarly, with respect to the claim directed at Keane, Liner
cites no factual grounds supporting why Superintendent Keane's
actions in denying his appeals were anything other than normal
7. Commissioner Goord
The only mention of defendant Commissioner Goord in the entire
Amended Complaint is in its introduction:
And the plaintiff an [sic] Mr. Keane was [sic]
familiar with each from another facility, the episode
dealt with the policy making of double bunking
adopted by DOCS, Commissioner Glenn Goord, where at
that stage each inmate was obligated to be placed in
[sic] double cell; which meant a lower bunk would
need approval, policy making that of defendant Goord
had sole responsibility.
Amended Compl. at 2.