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Hines v. Smith

July 17, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Paul A. Crotty, United States District Judge.


Plaintiff Sylvia Hines ("Hines"), an inmate at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, brings this complaint pro se alleging various denials of her constitutional rights by prison personnel in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Hines seeks an unspecified amount of monetary damages to compensate for these violations. Defendants now move pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to dismiss Plaintiff's amended complaint. After a careful review of Plaintiff's amended complaint and all supporting documentation, the Court grants Defendants' motion to dismiss in full.


Plaintiff's amended complaint alleges claims against three individuals employed at Bedford Hills: (1) Defendant Coleman Smith ("Sergeant Smith"), who works the 3-11 p.m. shift on the West Wing; (2) Dr. Lori Beth Goldstein, M.D. ("Dr. Goldstein"), a physician who works in the regional medical unit; and (3) Nurse Elizabeth Williams ("Nurse Williams"), a nurse employed in the regional medical unit. Because Plaintiff's claims come before the Court on a motion to dismiss, all facts are taken from the amended complaint and supporting documentation.

A. Claims Against Sergeant Smith

Hines has been housed at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility ("Bedford Hills"), a maximum security state penitentiary, since approximately August 1999. In March 2002, Hines was transferred to the West Wing of Bedford Hills, where Sergeant Smith works the 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift. Hines claims that, in July 2002, Sergeant Smith began harassing her for unknown reasons, and sets forth a number of unrelated incidents in which Sergeant Smith allegedly harassed Hines and subjected her to cruel and unusual punishment.

On an unspecified day in July 2002, when the outside temperature was about 90 days, Sergeant Smith allegedly instructed Officer Wheeler to lock Hines's cell flap, even though Plaintiff was not keeplocked. Plaintiff reported Sergeant Smith's actions the next day, and "soon thereafter," Sergeant Smith and Officer Wheeler began searching Hines's cell every other day. After Hines filed a grievance against Sergeant Smith in October 2002, the harassment got worse. Sergeant Smith and Officer Wheeler took part of her monthly supplies away from her, leaving her with less supplies than other inmates on the wing, and when there was extra food, Sergeant Smith would allow every inmate on the wing except Hines to have the food.

Hines suffers from a number of health problems, for which she takes medication. On November 24, 2002, while Hines was in the yard, she experienced dizziness. Officer Ware refused to escort Hines to the regional medical unit, so Hines's friend Susan walked her there. At some point, Hines lost her balance, which caused her to throw her back out so badly that she could not stand up straight. Eventually, however, Hines made it to the regional medical unit. She informed Nurse Mallineu, who was dispensing mental health medications, that she had fallen, but Nurse Mallineu would not allow Hines to take any medication for the pain. Hines was forced to go back to her cell alone, and on the way she tripped and fell over a ladder, paint and paint trays and fell to her knees.

When Hines returned to her cell, she fell asleep. She was shaken awake by a female officer, who ordered her to get dressed so that Officer Ware could escort her to the regional medical unit. Once in the medical unit, Hines, who claims that she was under the influence of unidentified mental health medications, again fell asleep. Sergeant Smith began banging some kind of metal objection and yelling that Hines should "tell him the story about the fall," or "something to that effect." Hines awoke and told Sergeant Smith that she could not speak because she was under the influence of Antivert and mental health medications, but the nurses in the medical unit began accusing Hines of "drinking hootch" or using illegal drugs. When a nurse told Sergeant Smith that Hines was "incoherent" and "despondent," Sergeant Smith said "I don't care, get a story out of her anyway," so the nurse shone a flashlight in her eyes and slapped her face. Hines was then escorted back to her cell.

On December 19, 2002, Sergeant Smith gave Hines a Tier I ticket and found her guilty of an unspecified charge. As a result, Hines received a 13-day loss of recreation privileges. While Hines suggests that the ticket was merely a form of harassment by Sergeant Smith, Hines does not state in her amended complaint what charge was leveled against her, who issued the ticket, or the what the circumstances were surrounding the charge.

On January 8, 2003, Sergeant Smith appeared at Hines's cell with two other officers. First, the two officers woke her up and pat frisked her. Sergeant Smith then instructed one of the officers to look in cell for an ashtray and check the toilet for ashes. During the search, Sergeant Smith and the two officers trashed her cell, scattering clothing everywhere, spilling her pills, and dumping her food everywhere. Plaintiff also claims that after the search some of her legal papers and clothes were missing.

Because Hines was again under the influence of Antivert and methal health medications, she did not realize the mess until she awoke the next morning. When Hines saw her cell in a messy state, she became "hysterical" and was escorted to the mental health unit, where she remained until she "regained some self control." Hines then returned to her cell. Because Hines has "bad feet," upon returning to her cell she lost her balance and fell on her back, rendering her unable to stand. As a result of the fall, Hines was wheelchair bound for eleven days and was told that she would need physical therapy.

On July 19, 2003, Hines went to the law library to meet with a law clerk to prepare her petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Hines had scheduled to meet with the law clerk, another inmate named Marleena, at 6pm. When she arrived at the law library, however, Hines was told that Marleena had gone to the package room. As a result, Hines never got to work with Marleena on her habeas corpus petition.

Hines complained to Sergeant Smith that Marleena had not followed procedure, because Marleena knew she was supposed to meet with Hines but instead went to the package room. Sergeant Smith refused to write Marleena a ticket. Hines now claims that Sergeant Smith's failure to write Marleena a ticket, even though she failed to follow procedure, is disparate treatment, and that Marleena should have received a ticket, which would have resulted in Marleena losing he residence on the honor floor, where the inmates "have much more prestige and privileged (sic) than the rest of the inmates in Bedford Correction."

On another occasion, Sergeant Smith refused to allow Hines to use that photocopy machine in the school building, even though the machine that Hines would usually use was broken. Instead, Sergeant Smith told Hines to send the originals if she could not make copies. Hines now suggests that Sargeant Smith should have allowed ...

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