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WILLIAMS v. CITY OF NEW YORK

April 19, 2005.

TIMOTHY WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF NEW YORK, et. al., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBERT SWEET, Senior District Judge

OPINION

Defendants Hillel Bodek ("Bodek"), a certified social worker and employee of the Supreme Court of New York County, Martha Stolley ("Stolley"), an assistant district attorney in the Manhattan District Attorney's office, and Lou Young ("Young"), a television evening newscaster for the Columbia Broadcasting System, have moved pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), Fed.R.Civ.P., to dismiss those claims asserted against them in the complaint of plaintiff Timothy Williams ("Williams"), who is asserting various claims under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983, 1985 and 1986. Williams, who is proceeding here pro se, has opposed the motions to dismiss and has moved for leave to file a third amended complaint. Williams also has moved for entry of default judgment as against Bodek. For the reasons set forth below, the motions to dismiss are granted, and Williams' motion for leave to file a third amended complaint is denied. The motion for default judgment as against Bodek is denied.

Prior Proceedings

  Williams' initial complaint in this matter was received by this District's Pro Se Office on February 6, 2003, alleging violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Specifically, the original complaint alleged that, due to Williams' complaints to the Prisoners' Rights Project of the Legal Aid Society, correctional officers retaliated against him by assaulting him, directing inmates to assault him, and transferring him to different facilities within Rikers Island. The complaint further alleged that Williams had been denied medical treatment on several occasions, including after one of the aforementioned assaults.

  On July 21, 2003, the Honorable Michael B. Mukasey, Chief Judge, issued an opinion and order granting Williams leave to proceed in forma pauperis, directing the Clerk of Court to assign a docket number to Williams' complaint, dismissing certain of Williams' claims, and directing Williams to file an amended complaint.

  Among those claims dismissed were Williams' claims against "City of New York, "NYCDOC (DOI)," "Prisoner Health Services d.b.a. N.Y. City Health and Hospital Corporation," and "N.Y.C. Board of Correction," dismissed in view of Williams' failure to allege facts demonstrating that a municipal policy or custom caused Williams' injury, as is required to sustain a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (See July 21, 2003 Opinion and Order, at 2-3 (noting that the latter three entities were agencies of the City of New York and could not be sued).) The claims against Assistant District Attorney ("A.D.A.") Gene Porcaro, A.D.A. Stolley, A.D.A. Ginger James, and A.D.A. Shlomit A. Metz were also dismissed, as the original complaint contained no factual allegations of any involvement by the four A.D.A.'s in a constitutional violation. The claims against attorneys Tim Mulligan, John Boston and Hilda Diaz, all of the Legal Aid Society, were likewise dismissed in view of Williams' failure to allege facts demonstrating that these defendants had conspired unconstitutionally with state actors or were otherwise state actors themselves within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The claims against "Elmhurst Hospital," "Manhattan `Tombs' Clinic (D.O.C.)," and "Brooklyn House of Detention" were dismissed, as "[a] hospital, clinic and facility . . . are not `person[s]' within the meaning of § 1983, and therefore, must be dismissed." (Id. at 6.) Additional claims were dismissed for want of factual allegations concerning the personal involvement in any constitutional deprivations of particular individual defendants.

  Having disposed of certain of Williams' claims, Chief Judge Mukasey described the prerequisites for stating a claim of excessive force, deliberate indifference, deliberate indifference to medical needs, retaliation, and access to the courts (see id. at 9-14), and directed Williams to submit an amended complaint "in order to detail his allegations of assault, deliberate indifference to medical needs, retaliatory transfers, and access to courts." (Id. at 18.) It was explained that:
In order to comply with Rule 8, plaintiff must submit a clear and concise statement regarding his allegation that certain defendants assaulted him and that he was denied needed medical attention. Plaintiff must specify how many assaults occurred, when they occurred and who was responsible for the alleged assaults by providing a clear chronological narrative as to what exactly happened. Plaintiff must give the dates of all relevant events, the names of all relevant persons and a description of what actually occurred. Plaintiff must also describe how each defendant named in the amended complaint was personally involved in each alleged event. . . . Plaintiff must also detail his exhaustion within the DOC [Department of Corrections] system as to each grievable claim.
(Id. (internal footnote omitted).)

  Williams filed his first amended complaint on August 21, 2003, and on September 22, 2003 this action was reassigned to this Court. Thereafter, Williams sought leave to file a second amended complaint, which application was granted in an order dated January 22, 2004. Williams filed his second amended complaint (the "SAC"), the operative complaint for purposes of the motions discussed herein, on March 26, 2004. The SAC names over fifty defendants, including some twenty "John Doe" defendants.*fn1

  Defendant the City of New York (the "City") brought a letter application dated June 29, 2004 seeking an order compelling Williams to execute certain releases with regard to medical information and extending the City's time to file an answer to the SAC. Thereafter, in October 2004, the City's motion for an order compelling Williams to execute the releases was granted, Williams' motion for default judgment as against the City was denied, and the City's time to answer the SAC extended through December 31, 2004.

  In the interim, on June 30, 2004, Stolley moved to dismiss the SAC, and on August 2, 2004 Williams' motion for default judgment against Stolley was denied in view of the timely filing of Stolley's motion to dismiss. Stolley's motion was adjourned and subsequently taken on submission upon receipt of Stolley's reply papers on October 20, 2004. Both Bodek's motion for summary judgment*fn2 and Williams' motion for default judgment as against Bodek were deemed fully submitted on September 29, 2004. Young's motion to dismiss the SAC, filed on August 17, 2004, was deemed fully submitted on October 27, 2004 upon receipt of Williams' surreply dated October 15, 2004.

  By letter dated July 9, 2004 Williams sought leave to file a third amended complaint. The letter was deemed treatable as a motion, and, following an adjournment, was taken on submission on September 29, 2004. Meanwhile, Williams submitted a letter dated September 10, 2004 seeking comparable relief. Williams' second letter was deemed treatable as a motion, and following opposition to the amendment and receipt on December 10, 2004 of reply papers from Williams dated December 4, 2004, the motion was deemed fully submitted.*fn3

  Williams' application for appointment of counsel was granted on July 21, 2004, and his request forwarded to the Pro Se Office. To date, no attorney from the District's Pro Bono Panel has filed a notice of appearance on Williams' behalf.*fn4

  The Facts

  The following factual background is drawn from the allegations of the SAC. These allegations are accepted as true for the purposes of this motion, see Chambers v. Time Warner, Inc., 282 F.3d 147, 152 (2d Cir. 2002), and do not constitute findings of fact by the Court. As the SAC totals some 45 pages, not counting the appended exhibits, and contains some 160 paragraphs, only those allegations necessary to provide a general background concerning Williams' claims or pertinent to the particular motions discussed herein are set forth below.

  Williams was, at all times relevant, a pretrial detainee and prisoner in the custody of the New York City Department of Correction ("DOC"), detained at various Rikers Island jails. (See SAC at ¶ 3.)

  It is alleged that Stolley is and was at all times relevant an employee of the Manhattan District Attorney's Office. (See SAC at ¶ 18.) It is further alleged that Bodek is and was at all relevant times an employee of the Supreme Court of New York County in the State of New York (see SAC at ¶ 22) and that Young is and was at all relevant times a television evening newscaster for the Columbia Broadcasting System. (See SAC at ¶ 56).

  According to the SAC, on or about October 6, 2000, Williams, also known as "Timothy Harris" and "Timothy Harris-Williams," left his place of employment and was seen at the New York Harbor Veteran's Medical Center (the "V.A.") emergency room after suffering from "severe manic-depressive and manic-psychotic episodes." (SAC at ¶ 60.) Williams was subsequently committed to the locked ward of the V.A.'s psychiatric ward where, hours later, Williams allegedly experienced another manic-psychotic episode, requiring him to be placed in isolation and strapped to a bed in leather restraints. (See id.)

  On or about October 13, 2000, Williams "eloped from the custody of the V.A.'s locked psychiatric ward against medical advice" and without a prescription for his psychiatric medications. (SAC at ¶ 61.) On or about October 15, 2000, Williams became involved in an altercation in the vicinity of Tenth Avenue and West 57th Street in Manhattan after wandering the streets of midtown Manhattan unmedicated. (See SAC at ¶ 62.) The police arrived on the scene, and Williams was questioned from approximately 10:00 p.m. on October 15 until 4:30 a.m. on October 16, 2000. (See SAC at ¶ 63.) Williams alleges that he was denied medical attention, food and medications during this time, and that defendant Officer Raymond Elie-Pierre ("Elie-Pierre") was aware that Williams was a patient at the V.A.'s psychiatric ward because Williams' plastic medical wrist bracelet was in full view. (See SAC at ¶ 62-63.) Stolley "was then notified." (SAC at ¶ 63.)

  According to Williams, Stolley was aware that he was an "escapee from a psychiatric ward," but instructed Elie-Pierre and defendant Detective Judith Sena ("Sena") to cover up the fact that Williams had recently been committed at the V.A.'s psychiatric ward. (SAC at ¶ 64.) It is alleged that Stolley assisted Elie-Pierre and Sena to create probable cause to sustain his arrest and to obtain an indictment. (See id.) It is further alleged that Stolley contacted Williams' past employers, psychiatrists and friends before a grand jury was set to hear the indictment and that, on or about October 24, 2000, Stolley contacted Williams then-counsel and instructed him not to obtain Williams' official records from the V.A. until such time as Williams was persuaded to accept a plea bargain. (See id.) According to Williams, a facsimile sent by Stolley to Williams' psychiatric expert, Dr. Ruth Finch, in which Stolley "advanced her unprofessional and personal feelings that the plaintiff was a `SICK COOKIE'" is further evidence that Stolley's ...


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