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Antonucci v. David

August 7, 2006

VINCENT ANTONUCCI, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOSEPH DAVID, SUPERINTENDENT OF GREENE CORRECTIONAL FACILITY; AND GLEN GOORD, COMMISSIONER OF NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Scullin, Senior Judge

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff filed his complaint against Defendants on May 27, 2003, and filed an amended complaint, in compliance with the Court's June 11, 2003 Order, on June 25, 2003. See Dkt. Nos. 1, 5. Plaintiff asserts that Defendant David, who is the Superintendent at Greene Correctional Facility ("Greene"), and Defendant Goord violated his constitutional right to have the Department of Correctional Services ("DOCS") accurately maintain his prison record.*fn1 Plaintiff asserts that this false information resulted in him being denied certain work assignments. As a result, Plaintiff seeks a mandatory injunction requiring DOCS to investigate and correct its records.

On December 31, 2004, Defendants David and Goord moved for summary judgment on the ground that Plaintiff made several prior, unsuccessful efforts in both federal and state courts to secure modification of his PSR to rectify the errors which he now advances in support of his claims. Additionally, Defendants contended that, because no constitutional violation resulted from DOCS' reliance upon erroneous information received from outside sources, provided that DOCS had no basis to know or reasonably believe that the information might not have been accurate, Plaintiff's complaint was subject to dismissal on its merits. Lastly, Defendants asserted that Plaintiff's claims against Defendant David were moot because Plaintiff has been transferred to another prison facility and he was only seeking injunctive relief in the form of a directive that his records, allegedly maintained at the facility level, be adjusted. On January 26, 2005, Plaintiff cross-moved for summary judgment asserting a lack of any genuine triable issues of material fact and, thus, entitlement to judgment as a matter of law.*fn2

On September 6, 2005, Magistrate Judge Peebles issued a Report and Recommendation in which he recommended that the Court grant Defendants' motion for summary judgment, deny Plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment, and dismiss Plaintiff's complaint in its entirety. Specifically, Magistrate Judge Peebles found that Defendants' preclusion arguments provided no basis for dismissal and that Plaintiff demonstrated at least a genuine issue of material fact as to whether his DOCS guidance header contained inaccurate information which was not derived from external sources. However, even accepting Plaintiff's argument that DOCS inaccurately imported information on his guidance header, Magistrate Judge Peebles concluded that Plaintiff could not establish a likelihood that the false information had been, or was likely to be, relied upon in a constitutionally significant manner, which is a prerequisite for establishing a constitutional violation based on inaccurate information in official records. Accordingly, Magistrate Judge Peebles recommended that this Court grant Defendants' motion on the ground that Plaintiff's claims lacked merit. Currently before the Court are Plaintiff's objections to that recommendation.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Standards of Review

1. Review of Magistrate Judge's Report-Recommendation

A district court judge must review the findings and recommendations in a magistrate judge's report-recommendation to which a party has filed timely objections de novo or for clear error those findings and recommendations to which the parties do not object. See Gill v. Smith, 283 F. Supp. 2d 763, 766 (N.D.N.Y. 2003) (citing Thomas E. Hoar, Inc. v. Sara Lee Corp., 900 F.2d 522, 525 (2d Cir. 1990)) (other citations omitted).

2. Summary Judgment Standard

A court will grant a motion for summary judgment where ""the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.'" Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)). When summary judgment is sought, the moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating that there is no genuine dispute of material fact to be decided with respect to any essential element of the claim at issue; the failure to meet this burden warrants denial of the motion. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986). In analyzing such a motion, the court must view the facts in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. See Thompson v. Gjivoje, 896 F.2d 716, 720 (2d Cir. 1990). Moreover, when a plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the court must afford special latitude and read his pleadings liberally. See McPherson v. Coombe, 174 F.3d 276, 280 (2d Cir. 1999) (citation omitted); Burgos v. Hopkins, 14 F.3d 787, 790 (2d Cir. 1994). Nonetheless, when the moving party has met its burden, the nonmoving party, even if he is pro se, must do more than "simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986) (citation omitted). At that point, "the nonmoving party must come forward with 'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Id. at 587 (quotation and other citation omitted).

B. Res Judicata, Collateral Estoppel and The Rooker-Feldman Doctrines

The doctrine of res judicata precludes a party or someone in privity with it from relitigating a claim that has been raised, or could have been raised, in a prior action that resulted in the entry of a final judgment on the merits. See Marvel Characters, Inc. v. Simon, 310 F.3d 280, 286-87 (2d Cir. 2002) (citing Allen v. McCurry, 449 U.S. 90, 94, 101 S.Ct. 411, 66 L.Ed. 2d 308 (1980)). When considering whether two actions arise from the same transaction or occurrence, a court "'look[s] to whether the underlying facts are related in time, space, origin, or motivation, whether they form a convenient trial unit, and whether their treatment as a unit conforms to the parties' expectations or business understanding or usage.'" Id. at 287 (quoting Pike, 266 F.3d at 91). However, "a prior judgment 'cannot be given the effect of extinguishing claims which did not even then exist and which could not possibly have been sued upon in the previous case.'" Id. (quoting Lawlor v. Nat'l Screen Serv. Corp., 349 U.S. 322, 328, 75 S.Ct. 865, 99 L.Ed. 1122 (1955)). Finally, "res judicata does not bar subsequent litigation when the court in the prior action could not have awarded the relief requested in the new action." Id. (citing Leather v. Eyck, 180 F.3d 420, 425 (2d Cir. 1999)) (other citations omitted).

A related, but distinct, doctrine is the doctrine of collateral estoppel, which prevents a party or someone in privity with it "from relitigating in a subsequent action an issue of fact or law that was fully and fairly litigated in a prior proceeding." Id. at 288 (citing Boguslavsky v. Kaplan, 159 F.3d ...


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