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Headley v. Fisher

May 7, 2008


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


Pro se Plaintiff Rogelio Headley ("Headley"), an inmate formerly housed at New York's Sing Sing Correctional Facility ("Sing Sing"), seeks $5,000,000 in damages against eight Defendants: Brian Fisher ("Fisher"), Superintendent of Sing Sing, and Correction Officers Simpson ("Simpson"), B. Ellis ("Ellis"), R. Bethea ("Bethea"), T. Rizzuto ("Rizzuto"), K. Harris ("Harris"), R. Reyes ("Reyes"), and K. Barrett ("Barrett"), alleging multiple violations of his constitutional and statutory civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, including his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights as well as allegations of conspiracy and retaliation.

Defendants filed motions to dismiss on February 5, 2007 and December 6, 2007, pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) (failure to exhaust administrative remedies) and 12(b)(6) (failure to state a claim for which relief can be granted).*fn1 Headley opposed both motions to dismiss the Complaint. Magistrate Judge Kevin Nathaniel Fox issued his Report and Recommendation ("R&R") on February 26, 2008, and Headley filed timely objections to the R&R. Defendants filed no objections.


During 2004 and 2005, while Headley was housed at Sing Sing in Ossining, New York, he filed of a series of grievance reports about the facility and against certain Correction Officers ("C.O.s"), seven of whom were named as Defendants in a Complaint filed on August 21, 2006. The following are the chief factual points alleged in Headley's Complaint:

(1) The water at Sing Sing was black and undrinkable, exposing Headley to Hepatitis A. Additionally, the ventilation system was not functional and the exhaust fans were inoperable. Headley filed multiple grievances on this matter in 2004 and 2005, but the facility maintained that the water was clean.

(2) On April 21, 2004, C.O. Barrett prepared a misbehavior report charging Headley with leaving the mess hall without permission. At the relevant hearing, Headley explained that he had permission to leave the mess hall and that he had the requisite escort. The charges against him were subsequently dropped, but not before Headley served twelve days in "keep-lock" confinement.*fn3

(3) On April 29, 2004, C.O. Simpson refused, without explanation, to let Headley use the bathhouse. After a nearby sergeant directed Headley to follow Simpson's orders, Headley claims that Simpson grabbed him, cursed at him, spit in his face, and slapped his face twice. Simpson then pushed Headley into his cell, where Headley received a blow to his lower hips and back when he hit the side of a locker located in the cell. Simpson threatened Headley and then placed him in keep-lock for sixteen days, where Headley did not receive meals, a shower, or recreation.

(4) On or about May 21, 2004, eighty-eight photographs were taken from Headley during a family visit, and C.O. Ellis and C.O. Bethea strip-searched him and made offensive comments. Ellis slapped Headley in the face and threatened that "something bad" was going to happen if he continued to submit written complaints about Simpson. (Complaint ("Compl.") at 5*fn4 ). For months following that incident, Ellis and Bethea harassed him- pushing and shoving him, searching his cell without producing a search slip, and taking items from his cell after stopping and searching him unjustifiably.

(5) On or about June 21, 2004, on his way to speak with Correction Lieutenant Siger about the incident with Simpson, C.O. Harris searched Headley roughly. Headley reported this incident to Siger (not named as a defendant in the Complaint) but no action was taken.

(6) On August 8, 2004, C.O. Rizzuto issued a misbehavior report on Headley for failing to report to work. Based on this report, Headley was placed in keep-lock for six days. The report was ultimately dismissed following a disciplinary hearing where Headley called witnesses who testified that Headley was not in fact scheduled to work on that day.

(7) Finally, on December 14, 2004, C.O. Reyes searched Headley and confiscated an envelope given to Headley by another inmate. Headley was placed in keep-lock and charged with smuggling and unauthorized exchange. Headley claims that a hearing officer convinced him to plead guilty to those charges.


The Complaint purports to be a factual narrative that does not clearly identify constitutional or statutory rights or legitimate legal bases for challenging the Correction Officers' conduct. Magistrate Judge Fox carefully parsed the discursive allegations in Headley's pro se Complaint into legal claims, which he then carefully reviewed and analyzed before issuing the R&R. Magistrate Judge Fox's analysis is ...

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