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MORRIS v. EVERSLEY

June 13, 2002

BEATRICE MORRIS, PLAINTIFF,
V.
GILBERT EVERSLEY, OFFICER OF THE BAYVIEW CORRECTIONAL CENTER, IN HIS OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITIES, ALEXANDREENA DIXON, SUPERINTENDENT OF BAYVIEW CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, IN HER OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITIES, ELNORA PORTER, ASSISTANT DEPUTY SUPERINTENDENT OF PROGRAMS OF BAYVIEW CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, IN HER OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITIES, DARRYL WARNER, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE OFFICE OF THE WEST PAGE 235 NEW YORK STATE INSPECTOR GENERAL, IN HIS OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITIES AND FAITH WATSON, AN EMPLOYEE OF BAYVIEW CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, IN HER OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITIES, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Chin, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM DECISION

In this case, plaintiff Beatrice Morris alleges that while she was incarcerated at Bayview Correctional Facility ("Bayview"), defendant Gilbert Eversley, a corrections officer, entered her cell one night and sexually assaulted her. Morris contends that Eversley's conduct is but one example of an ongoing pattern and practice at Bayview of male corrections officers engaging in sexual contact with female prisoners. By law, any such conduct would be improper, as inmates are deemed incapable of consenting to sexual contact with prison employees. Morris further contends that the supervisors were aware of the inappropriate and prevalent sexual conduct at Bayview because of the number of complaints lodged by female prisoners and the incidence of pregnancies among inmates. Despite this knowledge, Morris claims, Bayview supervisors failed to act.

Morris brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that defendants violated her rights under the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution and state law. Defendants Alexandreena Dixon and Elnora Porter move to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim.*fn1 They contend that Morris has failed to exhaust her administrative remedies and that the amended complaint fails to state claims against them for supervisory liability. They argue also that the state law claims must be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is denied.

BACKGROUND

A. Facts

The following facts are drawn from the complaint and attached exhibits as well as the amended complaint. Although defendants deny plaintiffs allegations, as required, I assume plaintiffs alleged facts are true for purposes of this motion. The parties have also submitted additional information concerning Morris's efforts to exhaust her administrative remedies.

1. The Parties

Morris was incarcerated at Bayview, a medium security women's prison, from March of 1999 through June of 1999. (Am.Compl. ¶ 12). She was later incarcerated at Taconic Correctional Facility, and was released on parole on November 10, 2000. During Morris's incarceration at Bayview, defendant Eversley was employed as a corrections officer by the New York State Department of Correctional Services ("DOCS"), assigned to Bayview. (Id. ¶¶ 4, 14). Defendants Dixon and Porter were also employed by DOCS and assigned to Bayview at that time. (Id. ¶¶ 5-6). Dixon served as Superintendent of Bayview, and Porter served as Assistant Deputy Superintendent of Programs. (Id.). Captain Werbacker also worked at Bayview, and had supervisory authority over Eversley.*fn2

2. The Assault

Throughout Morris's incarceration at Bayview, Eversley had custodial authority over inmates, including Morris. (Id. ¶ 14). This authority translated into "custody and control over Morris'[s] person, her housing, and her rights and privileges as an inmate at Bayview." (Id. ¶ 15). In approximately March of 1999, Eversley began to make sexually suggestive comments to Morris. (Id. ¶ 16). On the night of April 18, 1999, after "lights out" had been called, Eversley entered Morris's cell, without warning, as she lay sleeping. (Id. ¶ 17; Compl. Ex. B). Morris was awakened by Eversley's touch, and immediately told him to get out. He refused. Exposing himself, Eversley pulled back the covers on Morris's bed. Morris was petrified and repeatedly told him to stop; again, he refused. Eversley restrained her, forced himself upon her, and sexually assaulted her. (Compl. Ex. B; Am. Compl. ¶ 18).

3. Morris Seeks Relief

After the assault, Morris retained the bed sheet as evidence of the assault. (Id. ¶ 29). She isolated herself from other inmates and avoided corrections officers, fearing for her safety. (Id. ¶ 23). Morris was initially reluctant to report the assault, fearing that Eversley would retaliate against her. (Id. ¶ 22). On June 7, 1999, Eversley filed a disciplinary report against Morris, citing alleged infractions. (Compl. Ex. A; Am. Compl. ¶ 24). Thereafter, Morris reported Eversley's sexual assault to Captain Werbacker, who had supervisory authority over Eversley. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 13, 27). She provided details of the assault in a letter, and met with Darryl Warner of the New York State Inspector General's Office to further discuss the attack. (Id. ¶¶ 7, 27-28). Morris also gave Warner and Werbacker the bed sheet she had retained from the night of the assault; laboratory testing later confirmed the presence of semen on the sheet. (Id. ¶¶ 29, 32).

On June 30, 1999, Morris executed a Notice of Intention To File Claim, addressed to the New York State Attorney General. Morris set forth the nature of her claim in detail, and noted that the administration and the Inspector General's Office had previously been informed of the matter. (Compl.Ex. B).

Notwithstanding Morris's complaint, Eversley has not been removed from his position and is still employed at Bayview. (Am.Compl. ¶ 37). He has engaged in sexual conduct with other prisoners at Bayview, as have other corrections officers employed by Bayview. (Id. ¶ 37). Prisoners have also complained to supervisors of unwelcome sexual contact by corrections officers, and prisoners have become pregnant while incarcerated at Bayview. (Id. ¶¶ 20-21). The supervisory authority at Bayview has failed to adequately investigate Eversley's conduct or to discipline him. (Id. ¶ 33).

The District Attorney's Office for New York County is conducting an investigation into facts surrounding ...


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