Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

TORRES v. MAZZUCA

February 25, 2003

ANGEL TORRES, PLAINTIFF,
V.
WILLIAM P. MAZZUCA, SUPERINTENDENT, AT FISHKILL CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, THOMAS G. EAGEN, DIRECTOR OF INMATE GRIEVANCE PROGRAM FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES, B. DEPASQUALE CORRECTIONAL OFFICER AT FISHKILL CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, JOHN DOE 1 CORRECTIONAL LIEUTENANT AT AUBURN CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, CAPTAIN PELC, CORRECTIONAL CAPTAIN AT FISHKILL CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, CAPTAIN ROURKE, CORRECTIONAL CAPTAIN AT AUBURN CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, CAPTAIN N. BEZIO, CORRECTIONAL CAPTAIN AT UPSTATE CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, DEFENDANTS.



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

  DECISION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Angel Torres ("Torres"), proceeding pro se, filed this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of his constitutional rights under the Eighth Amendment and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Defendant B. Depasquale ("Depasquale") answered the complaint. Defendants William Mazzuca ("Mazzuca"), Thomas Eagen ("Eagen"), Arlen Pelc ("Pelc"), John Rourke ("Rourke") and N. Bezio ("Bezio") filed a motion to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure ("Fed.R. Civ. P.") 12(b)(6). On April 18, 2002, Torres identified defendant John Doe 1 as Lieutenant Kruger ("Kruger") but has not served that defendant. For the reasons discussed below, the motion is GRANTED in its entirety.

I. BACKGROUND

According to the Complaint, on or about June 10, 2001, while Torres was housed in a Special Housing Unit ("SHU") at Fishkill Correctional Facility ("Fishkill"), he translated a request to Depasquale, a corrections officer at Fishkill, for toilet paper made by the inmate housed in the cell adjoining his who did not speak English. In response, Depasquale swore and denied the request, telling Torres to mind his own business and instructing him to inform the other inmate to "wash up in the toilet or use his washcloth." (See Amended Complaint, dated February 15, 2002 (the "Compl."), ¶¶ 20-22.) Depasquale then left. Shortly thereafter, Torres reported this incident to the Sergeant on duty, who assured Torres that Depasquale would deliver toilet paper. When Depasquale delivered toilet paper ten or fifteen minutes later, he said: "Torres don't forget you snitched on me to the Sergeant. I am gonna be here on June 25th 2001 [the day Torres was to be released from SHU] and you're gonna get it, I promise." (Compl. ¶ 25.) Torres did not grieve or otherwise inform prison officials of this threat.

The Complaint further alleges that on June 25, 2001, Depasquale again threatened Torres by stating "Torres, I'm here and I'm gonna get you!" (Id. at ¶ 26.) Shortly thereafter, Depasquale, along with two other lieutenants, appeared to release Torres from SHU confinement. Torres alleges that Depasquale handcuffed him and "pat frisked" him roughly, including intentionally grabbing him in the groin area. (Id. at ¶ 27.) When Torres objected to Depasquale's "improper pat frisk," Depasquale slammed his head against the wall. (Id.)

Once the officers waist chained and handcuffed Torres, Torres alleges that they took him to the "strip room" where Depasquale punched Torres in the face, causing him to fall to the ground unconscious. (Id. at ¶¶ 28, 29.) Torres regained consciousness when he was lifted from the ground, and noticed a pool of blood beneath him. The Court will refer to these alleged events as the "Incident".

Torres was then taken to the hospital and received 19 stitches around his mouth area. Torres was also examined by a dentist who diagnosed "apical root fractures" and had to pull two of Torres' front teeth. (Id. at ¶¶ 30, 31.) The Dentist opined that Torres would never recover from the nerve damage he suffered. (Id.) Torres attached to the Complaint certain medical records reflecting this treatment. (See id. Exhs. I, P.) Upon his return from his medical appointments, Torres was again placed in SHU confinement.

On the same day as the Incident, Depasquale filed an Inmate Misbehavior Report charging Torres with assaulting staff, violent conduct, disobeying a direct order, interference with an employee, and violation of a search and frisk procedure. (See id. Exh. J (the "Misbehavior Report").) The Misbehavior Report sets forth a very different account of the Incident from Torres's, essentially stating that because of Torres's aggressive and disruptive behavior, Depasquale punched him in self-defense. At the June 29, 2001 hearing held in response to Depasquale's charges, Torres argued that the Misbehavior Report was a fabrication. Mazzuca, Superintendent of Fishkill, presided over the hearing. The hearing was adjourned to review evidence and to arrange for Torres's witnesses to be summoned. The hearing was never reconvened. Instead, on July 7, 2001, Torres was released from SHU. Torres filed a request for the hearing tape, the Misbehavior Report and disposition, as well as pictures that were taken of him after the Incident is alleged to have occurred. He was informed by letter from corrections officer T. L. Favro, dated October 18, 2001, that no file existed. (See id. Exh. L.)

On June 26, 2001, Torres filed a grievance regarding the Incident. Receiving no response, he submitted a second grievance on July 4, 2001. Again receiving no response, he filed a third grievance on July 17, 2001.

Torres finally was interviewed by Kruger, a correctional lieutenant at Auburn Correctional Facility, on August 13, 2001. According to Torres, Kruger submitted a report stating that Depasquale "denies in writing that he assaulted the grievant" and apparently did not interview any witness or review any video surveillance tapes that might exist. (Id. at ¶ 46.) Based on Kruger's findings, a report was issued denying Torres's grievance (the "Kruger Report"). (Id. Exh. E.) Torres appealed the Kruger Report to Eagen, Director of the Inmate Grievance Program. Bezio, another corrections officer, was then assigned to conduct a second investigation. On December 19, 2001, when Bezio appeared to interview Torres, Torres was distressed to find that Bezio was not able to interview Depasquale and did not have any videotapes to review. Bezio's investigation affirmed the Kruger Report and the appeal was denied. (Id. Exh. H.)

Torres wrote to Commissioner Goord ("Goord"), the Commissioner of the Department of Correctional Services, explaining the Incident, the existence of the video and audio tapes recording the Incident, the denial of his grievances and requested assistance in prosecuting his grievance. In response, he received a letter from Lucien J. Leclaire, Jr. ("Leclaire"), Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Correctional Services, dated December 5, 2001 (Id. Exh. O.) Leclaire informed Torres that the Incident had been recorded as an "unusual incident (assault on staff)." In addition, Leclaire pointed to the Doe Report investigation, and indicated that corrections officer Pelc had reviewed the video tape of Torres's escort from the gallery to the strip frisk area and found nothing to support Torres's claims. Further, Leclaire stated that the Misbehavior Report charges were dismissed because the disciplinary hearing was not completed in a timely manner. Thus, Leclaire found no factual support in the grievance record for Torres's assault claim.

II. DISCUSSION

A. STANDARD OF ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.