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Houston v. Goord

March 31, 2009

TYRONE HOUSTON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
GLENN S. GOORD, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Glenn T. Suddaby, United States District Judge

DECISION and ORDER

Currently before the Court in this pro se prisoner civil rights action are Defendants' motion for summary judgment (Dkt. No. 80), and United States Magistrate Judge David E. Peebles's Report-Recommendation recommending that Defendants' motion be granted and Plaintiff's Complaint be dismissed in its entirety (Dkt. No. 85). Plaintiff has timely filed Objections to the Report-Recommendation. (Dkt. No. 86.) For the reasons set forth below, the Report-Recommendation is accepted and adopted in its entirety, Defendants' motion is granted and Plaintiff's Complaint is dismissed.

I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

On November 21, 2003, Plaintiff filed this action against twenty-two (22) individuals currently and/or formerly employed by the New York State Department of Correctional Services, at various correctional facilities. Generally, in his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that his rights under the First and Eighth Amendments were violated when (1) certain Defendants had him transferred in retaliation for grievances that he had filed, (2) certain Defendants issued false misbehavior reports against him in retaliation for grievances that he had filed, and (3) certain Defendants deprived him of the opportunity to engage in outdoor exercise on two separate occasions. (See generally Dkt. No. 1.)*fn1

On September 29, 2006, District Judge Lawrence E. Kahn issued a Memorandum Decision and Order dismissing (1) Plaintiff's claims for equitable relief due to Plaintiff's release from incarceration, which mooted this claim, and (2) Plaintiff's claims against the CORC and all of the individual defendants in their official capacities on Eleventh Amendment grounds. (Dkt. No. 69.)

On January 4, 2008, Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment seeking dismissal of all of Plaintiff's claims against them. (Dkt. No. 80.) Generally, Defendants' motion is premised on the following three grounds: (1) certain of Plaintiff's claims are procedurally barred based upon his failure to exhaust available administrative remedies with regard to those claims (2) no reasonable factfinder could conclude that the issuance of misbehavior reports or the transfer to different facilities were caused by Plaintiff's filing of grievances; and (3) no reasonable factfinder could conclude that Plaintiff was subjected to cruel and unusual punishment based on being denied certain exercise opportunities. (Id.) On February 1, 2008, Plaintiff filed a response in opposition to Defendants' motion. (Dkt. No. 82.).

On March 11, 2009, Magistrate Judge Peebles issued a Report-Recommendation recommending that Defendants' motion be granted, because (1) certain of Plaintiff's claims were not properly exhausted, and (2) no reasonable factfinder could rule in Plaintiff's favor on any of his claims. (Dkt. No. 85.) Familiarity with the grounds of the Report-Recommendation is assumed in this Decision and Order. On March 20, 2009, Plaintiff filed his Objections to the Report-Recommendation. (Dkt. No. 86.)

II. APPLICABLE LEGAL STANDARDS

A. Standard of Review on Objection from Report-Recommendation

When specific objections are made to a magistrate judge's report-recommendation, the Court makes a "de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made." See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C).*fn2 When only general objections are made to a magistrate judge's report-recommendation, the Court reviews the report-recommendation for clear error or manifest injustice. See Brown v. Peters, 95-CV-1641, 1997 WL 599355, at *2-3 (N.D.N.Y. Sept.22, 1997) (Pooler, J.) [collecting cases], aff'd without opinion, 175 F.3d 1007 (2d Cir.1999).*fn3 Similarly, when a party makes no objection to a portion of a report-recommendation, the Court reviews that portion for clear error or manifest injustice. See Batista v. Walker, 94-CV-2826, 1995 WL 453299, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. July 31, 1995) (Sotomayor, J.) [citations omitted]; Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b), Advisory Committee Notes: 1983 Addition [citations omitted]. After conducing the appropriate review, the Court may "accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C).

B. Standard Governing Motion for Summary Judgment

Under Fed. R. Civ. P. 56, summary judgment is warranted if "the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits 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." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the Court must resolve all ambiguities and draw all reasonable inferences against the moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). In addition, "[the moving party] bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of the... [record] which it believes demonstrate[s] the absence of any genuine issue of material fact." Celotex v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). However, when the moving party has met this initial responsibility, the nonmoving party must come forward with "specific facts showing a genuine issue [of material fact] for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)(2).

A dispute of fact is "genuine" if "the [record] evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the novmoving party." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. As a result, "[c]onclusory allegations, conjecture and speculation... are insufficient to create a genuine issue of fact." Kerzer v. Kingly Mfg., 156 F.3d 396, 400 (2d Cir. 1998) [citation omitted]; see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)(2). As the Supreme Court has famously explained, "[The nonmoving party] must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts" [citations omitted]. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 585-86 (1986).

As for the materiality requirement, a dispute of fact is "material" if it "might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. "Factual disputes that are irrelevant or ...


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