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Linares v. Mahunik

September 29, 2009

JORGE L. LINARES, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DAVID MAHUNIK, CORR. OFFICER, AUBURN C.F.; AND JOHN BURGE, SUPERINTENDENT, AUBURN C.F., 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 filed by Jorge L. Linares ("Plaintiff") against two employees of the New York State Department of Correctional Services ("Defendants"), pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, are (1) Defendants' motion for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 (Dkt. No. 70), (2) United States Magistrate Judge Randolph F. Treece's Report-Recommendation recommending that Defendants' motion be granted in part and denied in part (Dkt. No. 76), and (3) Plaintiff's Objections to the Report- Recommendation. (Dkt. No. 78.) For the following reasons, Plaintiff's Objections are rejected; the Report-Recommendation is accepted and adopted in its entirety; and Defendants' motion for summary judgment is granted in part and denied in part.

I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

A. Plaintiff's Claims

On May 23, 2005, Plaintiff filed his Complaint in this action. (Dkt. No. 1.) On August 10, 2005, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint in this action, alleging that his constitutional rights were violated by three individuals: (1) David Mahunik, a correctional officer at Auburn Correctional Facility; (2) John Burge, the superintendent of Auburn Correctional Facility; and (3) Kenneth McLaughlin, the director of operations of the New York State Inspector General's Office. (Dkt. No. 9.) On April 30, 2007, District Judge Gary L. Sharpe dismissed various of Plaintiff's claims, including all claims against Kenneth McLaughlin. (Dkt. No. 35.) Remaining in the action, after Judge Sharpe's Decision and Order, were only certain of Plaintiff's claims against David Mahunik and John Burge ("Defendants"). (Id.)

More specifically, currently pending before the Court are Plaintiff's claims that Defendants violated his First Amendment rights by retaliating against him after he filed two prison grievance complaints. (Dkt. No. 9.) Specifically, liberally construed, Plaintiff's Amended Complaint alleges as follows: (1) Defendant Mahunik retaliated against Plaintiff by filing a false misbehavior report against him on April 17, 2005, in response to Plaintiff's having authored a grievance against Defendant Mahunik on that date (alleging that Defendant Mahunik prevented Plaintiff from going to the media center on April 16, 2007, prevented Plaintiff from going to the law library on April 17, 2007, and planted a shank in Plaintiff's cell on April 17, 2005); (2) Defendant Mahunik retaliated against Plaintiff by threatening to plant a shank in his cell on April 27, 2005, in response to Plaintiff's litigating his previously mentioned grievance against Defendant Mahunik (which necessitated Mahunik's appearance at a hearing on April 27, 2005); and (3) Defendant Mahunik retaliated against Plaintiff by threatening to cause Plaintiff "dire consequences" on May 3, 2005, in response to Plaintiff's having filed a second grievance against Defendant Mahunik on April 17, 2005 (alleging that Defendant Mahunik threatened him on that date). (Id.) In addition, Plaintiff asserts a supervisory liability claim against Defendant Burge for denying Plaintiff's grievances regarding Defendant Mahunik, and for failing to remedy the situation after learning about it. (Id.)

B. Parties' Arguments on Defendants' Motion

On January 15, 2009, Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. No. 70.) In their motion, Defendants argue that (1) Plaintiff has failed to adduce any admissible record evidence establishing a First Amendment claim against Defendants for retaliation, and (2) Plaintiff failed to exhaust his available administrative remedies prior to filing this action in federal court. (Dkt. No. 70, Part 5.) The Court notes that, although some of Defendants' first argument is cast in terms suggesting they are attacking the pleading sufficiency of Plaintiff's claims under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), the bulk of Defendants' first argument makes clear that they are actually attacking the evidentiary sufficiency of Plaintiff's claims under Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. (See, e.g., Dkt. No. 70, Part 5, at 5 [relying on record evidence to support Defendants' argument].)

On March 27, 2009, Plaintiff submitted his response to Defendants' motion. (Dkt. No. 71.) In his response, Plaintiff argues that (1) Defendants are barred from asserting that he has failed to state a claim under the doctrine of res judicata, (2) he has cognizable claims against Defendants, and (3) he did exhaust his available administrative remedies before filing this action in federal court. (Dkt. No. 71, Part 2.)

C. Magistrate Judge Treece's Report-Recommendation

On July 16, 2009, Magistrate Judge Treece issued a Report-Recommendation recommending that Defendants' motion be granted in part and denied in part. (Dkt. No. 76.) More specifically, Magistrate Judge Treece recommends as follows:

(1) that Defendants' motion be granted to the extent it requests the dismissal of Plaintiff's claims against Defendants arising out of the alleged threat on May 3, 2005, on the ground that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his available administrative remedies (id. at 8);

(2) that Defendants' motion be denied to the extent that it requests the dismissal of Plaintiff's claims against Defendants arising out of the incidents and threat on April 17, 2005, and April 27, 2005, on the (asserted) ground that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his available administrative remedies (id. at 9);

(3) that Defendants' motion be granted to the extent it requests the dismissal of Plaintiff's claims against Defendants arising out of the planting of a shank in Plaintiff's cell on April 17, 2005, and the issuance of the false misbehavior report on April 17, 2005, on the ground that no admissible record evidence exists establishing a causal ...


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