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BAINES v. CITY OF NEW YORK

February 5, 2004.

WILLIE BAINES, Plaintiff, -v.- THE CITY OF NEW YORK, EDWARD BENOIT, GARY LEWIS, and MICHAEL CONNORS, Defendants


The opinion of the court was delivered by: GABRIEL GORENSTEIN, Magistrate Judge

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

Willie Baines has brought this pro se action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the City of New York and Corrections Officers Edward Benoit, Gary Lewis and Michael Connors. Baines is currently incarcerated at the Southport Correctional Facility in Pine City, New York. Defendants have now moved for summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. For the reasons stated below, their motion should be granted.

I. INTRODUCTION

  In considering the defendants' motion for summary judgment, the Court accepts as true Baines's version of the facts where supported by admissible evidence and draws all factual inferences in Baines's favor. See, e.g., McPherson v. Coombe. 174 F.3d 276, 280 (2d Cir. 1999).

  A. Factual Background

  On March 5, 1998, Baines was assigned to the Central Punitive Segregation Unit ("CPSU") of the Otis Bantum Correctional Center at Rikers Island Correctional Facility ("Rikers Island"). See Deposition of Willie Baines, May 8, 2003 ("Baines Dep.") (annexed as Ex. C to Page 2 Declaration of Vikrant Pawar in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment, filed July 30, 2003 (Docket #43) ("Pawar Decl.")), at 26, 53. The CPSU is a disciplinary unit for inmates who have been found guilty of various infractions. See Declaration of Edward Benoit in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment, dated July 23, 2003 ("Benoit Decl.") (annexed as Ex. F to Pawar Decl.), ¶ 4. Baines was classified as an inmate who had exhibited violent behavior and posed a safety risk to others. Baines Dep. at 49; Benoit Decl. ¶ 5; see Ex. K to Pawar Decl. Such inmates carry a red identification card and are thus termed "Red-ID" inmates. Benoit Decl. ¶ 5; The City of New York Department of Correction Operations Order #15/94, Identification. Tracking and Monitoring of Weapon Carriers, dated September 23, 1994 ("Operations Order #15/94") (reproduced in Plaintiffs' [sic] Motion in Opposition to Defendants' Memorandum of Law in Support of Their Motion for Summary Judgment, dated December 5, 2003 ("Pl. Mem.")), at 1-3. Red-ID inmates are considered a threat to the safety of prison officials and other inmates. Benoit Decl. ¶¶ 6, 8.

  Each day, inmates at CPSU are escorted to a recreation yard for exercise and recreation time. Baines Dep. at 55, 63-65. All CPSU inmates go to the recreation yard at the same time, chained together in groups. Id. at 63-64. They stay there for approximately one hour. Id. at 64. Before entering the yard, all inmates are subjected to a three-point search that is designed to prevent unauthorized items from being transported from their cells to the yard. Id. at 80-82. Under this procedure, an officer comes to an inmate's cell door, cuffs him behind his back, and takes him to the search area. Id. at 80. In the search area, the inmate must remove his clothes and any jewelry and then proceed through a magnetometer. Id. at 80-81. The officers search the inmate's clothing and shoes to ensure that he does not possess any weapons or contraband. Id. at Page 3 81. The inmate is then permitted to get dressed. Id. After the search, the inmates are brought cuffed to the recreation yard where they are then uncuffed and placed into "cages." Id. at 81, 116. The recreation yard has several single-inmate cages for Red-ID inmates and four "big" cages for other inmates. Id. at 57-58. These other inmates, referred to as "non-Red-ID" inmates, are not considered a threat to Red-ID inmates. Benoit Decl. ¶ 8. While the inmates are in the cages, officers walk around the cages and monitor them. Baines Dep. at 58-59.

  On March 5, 1998, Baines was subjected to this three-point search and taken outside to the recreation yard. Id. at 65-66, 80-82. Once outside, he noticed that an "old rival" named "Bambi" was in one of the non-Red-ID cages along with other inmates. Id. at 84-85, 87. Bambi had threatened and been violent to Baines outside of prison in the past but Baines had never seen him at Rikers Island prior to March 5. Id. at 89-90. Baines noticed that Bambi was standing inside the cage staring at him. Id. at 91. Upon seeing Bambi, Baines stated to defendant Corrections Officers ("CO") Gary Lewis and Michael Connors that he did not belong in a non-Red-ID cage because he was a Red-ID prisoner. Id. at 73, 82-83, 86-87. Baines "plead[ed]" with them not to be put in the cage, telling them "I cannot go in the cage." Id. at 91. However, there is no evidence that Baines ever told the officers that there was an individual in the cage whom he believed to be a threat to him. See id. at 91-95; see also id at 91 ("Q. Did you point to [Bambi] and point out to the officer the individual known as Bambi? A. No."). Notwithstanding Baines's plea, CO Lewis and CO Connors put Baines in the non-Red-ID cage. Id. at 87-88.

  Once Baines was in the cage, he was attacked by two inmates. Voluntary Inmate Statement, dated March 5, 1998 ("Baines Statement") (annexed as Ex. I to Pawar Decl.), at 1. Baines fought back but does not know which inmates assaulted him. Baines Dep. at 107-08, Page 4 114-15; Baines Statement at 1. Officers demanded that the inmates cease fighting and sprayed them with a chemical agent when they refused to comply. 24 Hour Report — Communication Control Center — From 0600 Hrs. March 5, 1998 to 0559 Hrs. March 6, 1998 ("24 Hour Report") (annexed as Ex. G to Pawar Decl.), at 1: see also Benoit Decl. ¶ 10(c) ("At times, chemical agent is needed to help quell the violence and to ensure the safety of prison officials and others when inmates refuse to cease fighting and pose a potentially greater risk."). When the violence subsided, Baines was taken out of the cage. Baines Dep. at 116. He had been cut on his face by a sharp object and had suffered scrapes and bruises to his neck, face and knees. Id. at 111-12; Baines Statement at 1; Injury to Inmate Report, Form #167R, dated March 5, 1998 ("Injury Report") (annexed as Ex. J to Pawar Decl.), at 1.

  Before receiving any medical treatment at the clinic, Baines was taken to an inmate-intake area. Baines Dep. at 116-17. This procedure is followed to ensure that no inmate takes a weapon to the clinic and to flush out an inmate's eyes when a chemical agent has been used. Benoit Decl. ¶ 11. Baines was then taken to the clinic where he received medical treatment, including approximately nine stitches for his cut. Baines Dep. at 116; 24 Hour Report at 2. Baines arrived at the clinic for treatment approximately 90 minutes after the incident in the cage was reported. See Injury Report at 1.

  B. Procedural History

  On June 2, 1999, Baines filed with the New York Court of Claims a document captioned "Claim" in which he alleged that the City was negligent. See Claim, dated April 12, 1999 ("Claim") (annexed as Ex. D to Pawar Decl.), at 1. According to Baines, that case was dismissed on statute-of-limitations grounds. See Complaint, filed March 28, 2001 (Docket #2) ("Compl") Page 5 (annexed as Ex. A to Pawar Decl.), ¶ I(B)(5).

  The complaint in the instant action was received by the Southern District of New York Pro Se Office on January 30, 2001 and was filed on March 28, 2001. Id. at 1. That complaint named as defendants "Captain Gram" and "C.O. John Doe." Id. After failed attempts at serving these defendants, the Court ordered the Corporation Counsel of the City of New York to identify the defendants referred to in the complaint. Order, filed July 24, 2001 (Docket #7), at 1-2.

  On October 10, 2001, Baines filed an amended complaint naming as defendants the instant defendants. See Amended Complaint, filed October 10, 2001 (Docket #8), at 1. Defendants moved to dismiss the amended complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). See Notice of Motion, filed February 14, 2002 (Docket #14). Baines then submitted a second amended complaint, which the Court ordered docketed without prejudice to defendants' arguments that it did not cure the alleged defects in the first amended complaint. Order, filed April 11, 2002 (Docket #21); see Second Amended Complaint, filed April 11, 2002 (Docket #24). Defendants moved to dismiss the second amended complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). See Notice of Motion, filed May 2, 2002 (Docket #25). Baines then moved for leave to amend the second amended complaint, which was granted. See Memorandum Endorsement, filed ...


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