1). The Code Blue was apparently issued in response to a report by
Officer Hernandez which stated that he had found several rounds of
ammunition hidden in an area at the prison accessible to inmates. (See
Compl. at 6-7, Points 4, 5). Subsequently, it was discovered that the
report was false. Officer Hernandez was arrested and, thereafter,
resigned from DOCS. (See Compl. at Ex. D).
Plaintiff alleges that as a result of the Code Blue, correction
officers conducted searches of all of the inmates' cells at Sing Sing.
(See Compl. at 1). During these searches, prison personnel were allegedly
indifferent to the inmates' property, reading their legal mail and
"disregard[ing]", their personal possessions. (See Compl. at 1-2, 8).
Throughout the Code Blue, it is alleged that the inmates at Sing Sing
were confined to their cells twenty-four hours a day, and were denied,
among other things, showers, access to recreational facilities and the
library, mail and telephone privileges, hot meals, clean linen, and the
opportunity to attend religious services. (See Compl. at 3-7, 9).
Additionally, the inmates were allegedly not allowed medical or dental
"callouts," and medical treatment was provided strictly on an emergency
basis. (See Compl. at 3, 5). As noted. the Code Blue lock down conditions
at Sing Sing are alleged to have continue(i for at least twenty days.
(See Compl. ¶ 4.B; at 5, Point 2; 11).
Additionally, Plaintiff alleges that DOCS violated certain state labor
laws as a result its failure to compensate inmates adequately for their
work or permit them to "organize and bargain collectively." (See Compl.
at 3-4). When the inmates at Sing Sing are not confined to their cells,
they may participate in work programs which pay them "35 cents per day,"
a sum which is significantly lower than that paid for compensable work at
other facilities, and which allegedly results from the inmates' inability
to bargain collectively. (See Compl. at 3-4).*fn1
Plaintiff seeks an order from this Court enjoining Defendants' future
"abusive conduct." (See Compl. at 1).*fn2
On August 30, 2000, DOCS moved to dismiss Plaintiff's claims against
DOCS, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b), on the grounds that this Court
lacks subject matter jurisdiction under the Eleventh Amendment. On March
15, 2001, the Honorable Frank Maas, United States Magistrate Judge, to
whom the matter had been referred on August 28, 2000, issued a Report and
Recommendation ("Report") recommending that DOCS' motion to dismiss be
granted.*fn3 On April 5, 2001, Plaintiff filed written objections to the
Report ("Objections"). DOCS did not file objections to the Report. For
the reasons stated below, the Court concurs with Judge Maas' Report and
grants DOCS' motion to dismiss.
II. Standard of Review
The Court may adopt those portions of the Report to which no
have been made and which are not facially erroneous. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 72
(b); see, e.g. Letizia v. Walker, 1998 WL 567840, at *1 (W.D.N.Y. Aug.
27, 1998); Pizarro v. Bartlett, 776 F. Supp. 815, 817 (S.D.N.Y. 1991);
Nelson v. Smith, 618 F. Supp. 1186, 1189 (S.D.N.Y. 1985). The Court
conducts a de novo review of those portions of the Report to which
objections have been made. See, e.g., Letizia, 1998 WL 567840, at *1;
Pizarro, 776 F. Supp. at 817. Once objections are received, a district
judge may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings
and recommendations of the Magistrate. See, e.g., DeLuca v. Lord,
858 F. Supp. 1330, 1345 (S.D.N.Y. 1994); Walker v. Hood, 679 F. Supp. 372,
374 (S.D.N.Y. 1988). Where, as here, the plaintiff is pro se, "leniency
is generally accorded . . ." Bey v. Human Resources Admin., 1999 WL
31122, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. Jan. 12, 1999).
Although its not entirely clear from the Objections, the Court has
assumed that Plaintiff is challenging the Report in its entirety and
has, therefore, conducted a de novo determination of the Report's
findings and recommendations.
A. Eleventh Amendment Immunity
The Eleventh Amendment of the United States Constitution bars a suit in
law or equity in federal court by a citizen of a state against that
state, absent the state's consent to such a suit or Congressional
abrogation of immunity. See Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Florida,
517 U.S. 44, 54, 116 S.Ct. 1114, 134 L.Ed.2d 252 (1996); Pennhurst State
Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 99-101, 104 S.Ct. 900, 79 L.Ed.2d
67 (1984). State agencies, such as DOCS, serve as an arm of the state and
are, similarly, entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity.*fn4 See
Pennhurst, 465 U.S. at 100, 104 S.Ct. 900; Alabama v. Pugh, 438 U.S. 781,
98 S.Ct. 3057, 57 L.Ed.2d 1114 (1978).
In order for a state to waive its Eleventh Amendment immunity, consent
must be "unequivocally expressed." Pennhurst, at 99, 104 S.Ct. 900. The
Report correctly concludes that "it is beyond dispute that the State of
New York and its agencies have never consented to be sued in federal
court."*fn5 Report at 4; See also Dube v. State Univ. of New York,
900 F.2d 587, 594-95 (2d Cir. 1990), cert denied, 501 U.S. 1211, 111
S.Ct. 2814, 115 L.Ed.2d 986 (1991). Additionally, Congress did not
abrogate New York's Eleventh Amendment immunity by enacting Section
1983. See Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 99 S.Ct. 1139, 59 L.Ed.2d 358
(1979); Santiago v. New York State Dept. of Corr. Servs., 945 F.2d 25, 31
(2d Cir. 1991). Section 1983 provides a means of redress when a "person"
acting under the color of state law has deprived a plaintiff of civil
liberties. See Will v. Michigan Dept. of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 66,
109 S.Ct. 2304, 105 L.Ed.2d 45 (1989). It does not provide a federal
forum for litigants who seek a remedy against a state for alleged
deprivation of rights secured by the United States Constitution. See
Will, 491 U.S. at 66, 69,
109 S.Ct. 2304 ("We find nothing substantial in the legislative history
that leads us to believe that Congress intended that the word "person' in
§ 1983 included the States of the Union."). Moreover, state agencies
do not fall within the meaning of "persons" for purposes of Section
1983. See Kaplan v. New York State Dept. of Corrs., 2000 WL 959728, at *1
(S.D.N.Y.)" "The law is Clear that the state, and state agencies such as
DOCS, are immune from prisoner § 1983 suits because of their Eleventh
Amendment sovereign immunity.'") (quoting Jackson v. Johnson,
985 F. Supp. 422, 426 (S.D.N.Y. 1997)) (emphasis added). Accordingly, the
Report correctly recommends that this Court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction over this action as to DOCS and Sing Sing.
Although the notice of motion in this case was filed (only) on behalf
of DOCS, Plaintiff's suit against Sing Sing must also be dismissed sua
sponte under the Eleventh Amendment. "Sing Sing, as a part of DOCS, a
state agency, is considered an arm of the state and stands in the same
position as the State." Jones v. Bishop, 981 F. Supp. 290, 295 (S.D.N.Y.
1997), Report at 5.*fn6 Plaintiff's claims against Sing Sing should also
be dismissed on Eleventh Amendment grounds.
B. Plaintiffs Objections
Plaintiff claims that DOCS, Sing Sing, and Officer Hernandez, in their
"individual capacity . . . all acted under the color of state law in
violation of [his] civil rights." (Plaintiff s Objs. at 2). He asserts
that DOCS and Sing Sing, by maintaining "lock down procedures' with
knowledge of Officer Hernandez's erroneous report and "knowing that the
prison inmates [were] innocent of any wrongdoings." are responsible for
the actions of its officers and employees in carrying out Code Blue
procedures for an extended period of time. (Plaintiff's Objs. 1-2).*fn7
Plaintiff argues that the Court should allow the case to go forward
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Plaintiff's Objs. at 2).
Plaintiff's objections are not persuasive. It is well established that
a state agency cannot be sued directly in its own name absent consent or
statutory abrogation of immunity. See Seminole, 517 U.S. at 54, 116
S.Ct. 1114. Plaintiff must specifically "name as a defendant a state
official rather than a state or a state agency directly." Santiago, 945
F.2d at 32. Section 1983 "permits individuals to seek injunctive relief
against actors in their official capacities, Edelman v. Jordan,
415 U.S. 651, 677, 94 S.Ct. 1347, 39 L.Ed.2d 662 (1974), and to seek
damages against them in their personal capacities." Pritchett v. Artuz,
2000 WL 4157, at *4 (S.D.N.Y.) (citations omitted). Plaintiff's action
against Officer Hernandez, assuming proper service is or has been made
(and/or accepted by DOCS) may, under these principles, go forward.
IV. Conclusion and Order
For the foregoing reasons, Defendant's motion to dismiss as against
DOCS and Sing Sing is granted.
Plaintiff shall advise the Court in writing on or before June 29, 2001
status of service of process upon Officer Hernandez. Plaintiff may wish
to contact the Court's Pro Se Office, Rm. 230 of the United States
Courthouse, 500 Pearl Street, New York, New York, for assistance in going
The Clerk is respectfully requested to dismiss the action against
Defendants DOCS and Sing Sing.