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GARVIN v. GOORD

June 28, 2002

ALFONSO GARVIN, PLAINTIFF,
V.
GLENN S. GOORD, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Larimer, Chief Judge.

DECISION AND ORDER

Procedural Background

Factual Background

At all times relevant herein, plaintiff has been in DOCS custody and incarcerated at Attica. Defendant Glenn Goord is the Commissioner of DOCS. Defendant Mark Miller is employed by the DOCS Inspector General's Office as a Senior Investigator.

In his complaint, plaintiff claims that all defendants violated his constitutional rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments by assaulting him, and, after he complained about it, retaliating against him with a further assault and a false misbehavior report that resulted in a conviction at a Tier III hearing, and by failing to protect him despite knowledge of the practices of a specified group of correctional officers who regularly assault inmates and then retaliate against any inmates who report the abuse. In addition, plaintiff charges that defendants Goord and Miller have been aware of these actions and have failed to intervene.

Discussion

I. Summary Judgment — General Standards

Summary judgment is appropriate where "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and . . . the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court "must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable inferences in its favor." McKelvie v. Cooper, 190 F.3d 58, 61 (2d Cir. 1999). Where, as here, the plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the court will liberally construe the plaintiffs pleadings, and "interpret them `to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest.'" McPherson v. Coombe, 174 F.3d 276, 280 (2d Cir. 1999) (citing Burgos v. Hopkins, 14 F.3d 787, 790 (2d Cir. 1994)). Nevertheless, proceeding pro se does not otherwise relieve a litigant of the usual requirements of summary judgment, and a pro se party's bald assertions, unsupported by evidence, are insufficient to overcome a motion for summary judgment. Carbonell v. Goord, 99-CV-3208, 2000 WL 760751, *5 (S.D.N.Y. June 13, 2000).

II. Defendants' Personal Involvement

"It is well settled in this Circuit that personal involvement of defendants in the alleged constitutional deprivations is a prerequisite to an award of damages under § 1983." Johnson v. Newburgh Enlarged School Dist., 239 F.3d 246, 254 (2d Cir. 2001), quoting Colon v. Coughlin, 58 F.3d 865, 873 (2d Cir. 1995); see also Gaston v. Coughlin, 249 F.3d 156, 164 (2d. Cir. 2001). The personal involvement of a supervisory defendant may be shown by evidence that: (1) the defendant participated directly in the alleged constitutional violation, (2) the defendant, after being informed of the violation through a report or appeal, failed to remedy the wrong, (3) the defendant created a policy or custom under which unconstitutional practices occurred, or allowed the continuance of such a policy or custom, (4) the defendant was grossly negligent in supervising subordinates who committed the wrongful acts, or (5) the defendant exhibited deliberate indifference to the rights of inmates by failing to act on information indicating that unconstitutional acts were occurring. Colon v. Coughlin, 58 F.3d 865, 873 (2d Cir. 1995); Williams v. Smith, 781 F.2d 319, 323-24 (2d Cir. 1986). Because of their lack of personal involvement in any of the alleged deprivations of plaintiffs rights, Goord and Miller must be dismissed as defendants.

A. Defendant Goord

The complaint does not allege that Goord directly participated in either the alleged assaults or the alleged retaliatory action against plaintiff for reporting the assaults, or that Goord created a policy or custom under which any inappropriate conduct occurred. In addition, Goord denies personal knowledge of the events described in the complaint.

Nevertheless, plaintiff attempts to link Goord to his claims based upon his contention that plaintiff mailed certain letters of complaint to Goord in 2001. However, it is undisputed that, in accordance with DOCS procedures, Goord never saw any of these letters. Rather, the letters addressed to and received by his office were reviewed by his staff and forwarded to DOCS Deputy Commissioner for Facility Operations Lucien Leclaire, Jr. for investigation and response. LeClaire ...


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