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Islam v. Goord

September 29, 2006

NURIDEEN ISLAM, PLAINTIFF,
v.
GLENN S. GOORD, COMMISSIONER OF NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES, WILLIAM MAZZUCA, SUPERINTENDENT OF FISHKILL CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, W. SCHALLER, CAPTAIN AT FISHKILL CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, D. MICHAELS, LIEUTENANT AT FISHKILL CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, M. BLAINE, SERGEANT AT FISHKILL CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, GUARINO, SERGEANT AT FISHKILL CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, AND RIEL, CORRECTIONS OFFICER AT FISHKILL CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard J. Holwell, Usdj

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Nurideen Islam, currently incarcerated in Fishkill Correctional Facility ("Fishkill"), brings a pro se complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking monetary damages and injunctive relief. He brings this complaint against defendants Glenn S. Goord, the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Correctional Services ("DOCS"), William Mazzuca, Superintendent of Fishkill, Captain W. Schaller, Lieutenant D. Michaels, Sergeant M. Blaine, Sergeant Guarino, and Corrections Officer Riel, alleging violations of his constitutional rights. According to a liberal reading of plaintiff's pro se pleadings, plaintiff alleges (1) cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment, (2) retaliation in violation of the First Amendment, (3) tampering with his family and legal mail in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments, and (4) inadequate investigation of complaints in violation of his Fourteenth Amendment due process rights.*fn1 Now before the Court is defendants' motion [12] to dismiss the complaint in its entirety. For the reasons set forth below, defendants' motion is GRANTED.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is, and has been at all relevant times, incarcerated at Fishkill Correctional Facility ("Fishkill"). In his complaint, filed August 24, 2005, plaintiff has set forth factual allegations that the Court shall accept as true for the purposes of this 12(b)(6) motion.*fn2

On November 18, 2004, defendant Corrections Officer Riel allegedly affixed a magazine advertisement for a video game with the words "Kill Zone" and "Kneel Before Us" behind a desk in plaintiff's housing unit. (Compl. ¶¶ 12, 31.) According to plaintiff, the display caused him and other inmates to become "terrorized and visibly upset." (Compl. ¶ 12.) On November 21, 2004, plaintiff filed an employee misconduct report (the "November 21 Misconduct Report") against Riel for displaying the advertisement and allegedly repeatedly threatening and harassing him in the past. (Id.)

Defendant Corrections Sergeant Blaine was assigned to investigate the matter on November 22, 2004. (Compl. ¶ 13.) Plaintiff alleges that Blaine retaliated against him for filing the November 21 Misconduct Report by threatening to place him in involuntary protective custody and improperly conducting the investigation by not summoning most of his witnesses, treating the two witnesses summoned in an unprofessional manner, and distorting and omitting material facts. (Id. ¶ 14.) Soon after, on or about November 23, 2005, plaintiff filed a grievance against Blaine for retaliation (the "November 23 Grievance").*fn3 (Id.) Plaintiff appealed the denial of his November 23 Grievance to the Central Office's Review Committee, which denied his claim in January 2005. (Id. ¶ 20.)

On December 2, 2004, plaintiff complained to the mail room with respect to missing family mail. (Id. ¶ 17.) Plaintiff believes that Riel was responsible for the incident because Riel has been "observed on several occasions tampering with inmates['] mail." (Id.)

On December 9, 2004, plaintiff received a letter from defendant Superintendent Mazzuca, evidently in response to his November 23 Grievance against Blaine.*fn4 (Id. ¶ 18.) It informed plaintiff that defendant Lieutenant Michaels had been assigned to replace Blaine as investigator of plaintiff's complaints about Riel. (Id.) Plaintiff informed Michaels that Riel "possessed . . . animosity toward his fellow officer Ms. C. Bean" and defamed Bean's character. (Id.) However, plaintiff also found Michaels' investigation unsatisfactory, and alleges that he distorted and omitted facts. (Id.)

In January 2005, plaintiff alleges that Riel, defendant Sergeant Guarino, and an unidentified sergeant conspired to frame Officer Bean, inmate Anthony Ellison, and him in retaliation for filing complaints complaining about conditions in the housing unit. (Compl. ¶ 21.) Plaintiff states that Riel, Guarino, and the unidentified person conspired to frame Bean and Ellison by recruiting inmate Antonio Smith to plant a weapon in Ellison's room. (Id. ¶¶ 21--22.) Smith allegedly placed a weapon in Ellison's room on January 19, 2005. (Id. ¶ 22.) Ellison found the weapon approximately five minutes before Riel, Guarino, and other officers searched Ellison's room. (Id.) After Ellison's room was searched, Riel allegedly told plaintiff, "[Y]ou're next Islam." (Id.) On January 30, 2005, plaintiff sent a letter to the Dutchess County District Attorney's Office to inform them of this alleged conspiracy. (Id. ¶ 21.) Although plaintiff states that Guarino, Riel, and the unidentified sergeant intended similarly to frame him at some future time (id. ¶ 22), he does not allege that any such event ultimately took place.

Plaintiff sent additional letters to Mazzuca on February 2, 2005, lodging complaints on behalf of himself and his fellow inmates. (Id. ¶ 23). Plaintiff also filed a grievance on February 24, 2005 that concerned "aforementioned violations"-presumably Ellison's alleged framing- and complained that Schaller had failed to investigate "approximately a dozen complaints [that plaintiff] filed two months earlier." *fn5 (Id. ¶ 25.)

On March 21, 2005, Riel personally delivered plaintiff's "legal mail" to his cell. (Id. ¶ 27.) The correspondence in question allegedly concerned an ongoing investigation against Riel, and was sent by the New York State Police, postmarked March 17, 2005, and stamped "OFFICIAL BUSINESS." (Id.) Officer Riel indicated to plaintiff "that he was familiar with the contents of the correspondence." (Id.) In response, plaintiff filed a grievance on March 23, 2005 against Riel for "harassment, mail tampering, and spreading rumors about Plaintiff to other inmates and corrections officers, jeopardizing Plaintiff's safety." (Id.)

On or about April 1, 2005, a hearing was conducted to investigate plaintiff's grievances about the November 2004 poster incident and March 2005 mail tampering. (Id. ¶ 28). The investigation, conducted by defendant Captain Schaller, established that: (1) Officer Bean (working the 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. shift) and Officer Antunovic (working the 10:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. shift) observed the poster with the language "Kill Zone" and "Kneel Before Us"; (2) Officer Riel (working the intervening 2:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. shift) denied any knowledge of the poster,; (3) Officer Bean removed the poster; (4) the poster was an advertisement for a PlayStation video game taken from an ESPN magazine; and (5) Captain Schaller found that the treatment of plaintiff's letter from the New York State Police was the result of oversight. (Compl. ¶¶ 28--29, 31.) Plaintiff's grievances about the poster incident and mail tampering were denied. (Compl. ¶ 32.)

Plaintiff appealed the findings of the April 1, 2005 hearing to the Central Office Review Committee (CORC) on or about April 6, 2005. (Compl. ¶ 32.) On April 27, 2005, plaintiff received CORC's response. (Compl. ¶ 33.) Plaintiff found ...


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