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Black v. Lansberg

September 29, 2009

NATCH BLACK, PLAINTIFF,
v.
C. LANSBERG, CORR. SERGEANT, GREAT MEADOW C.F.; R. ATKINSON, PROGRAM COMM. CHAIRMAN, GREAT MEADOW C.F.; D. CARPENTER, DEPUTY SUPERINTENDENT FOR PROGRAMS, GREAT MEADOW C.F.; AND GLENN S. GOORD, NYS DOCS COMMISSIONER, 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 Natch Black ("Plaintiff") against four employees of the New York State Department of Correctional Services ("Defendants") are (1) Defendants' motion for summary judgment (Dkt. No. 17), (2) Plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment (Dkt. No. 19), (3) United States Magistrate Judge George H. Lowe's Report-Recommendation recommending that Defendants' motion be granted and that Plaintiff's cross-motion be denied (Dkt. No. 31), and (4) Plaintiff's Objections thereto (Dkt. No. 33). For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's Objections are rejected; Magistrate Judge Lowe's Report-Recommendation is accepted and adopted in its entirety; Defendants' motion for summary judgment is granted; Plaintiff's cross-motion is denied; and Plaintiff's Complaint is dismissed.

I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

In his Report-Recommendation, Magistrate Judge Lowe accurately and thoroughly recited both the allegations of Plaintiff's Complaint and the parties' arguments on Defendants' motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. No. 31, at 2-6.) As a result, that recitation is incorporated by reference herein. In addition, familiarity with the analysis offered in Magistrate Judge Lowe's Report-Recommendation is assumed in this Decision and Order. (Dkt. No. 17-22.)

After Magistrate Judge Lowe filed his Report-Recommendation on March 30, 2009, Plaintiff was afforded an extension of time to file his Objections, which he did on May 21, 2009. (See Text Order dated 4/6/09; Dkt. No. 33.) Liberally construed, Plaintiff's Objections advance the following three arguments: (1) Magistrate Judge Lowe erred by failing to understand that Plaintiff enjoyed a procedural due process right under the Fourteenth Amendment in having Defendants' follow the Department of Correctional Services' "Policy, Procedure and Standard for Programing Inmates" (attached at Dkt. No. 19, Part 4, Ex. C); (2) Magistrate Judge Lowe also erred by failing to recognize the several pieces of record evidence establishing that Defendants (admittedly) violated the aforementioned policy, and that they did so without affording him the process he was due before placing him in punitive confinement; and (3) Plaintiff did not consent to having his case be heard by Magistrate Judge Lowe. (See generally Dkt. No. 33.)

Defendants filed a response to Plaintiff's Objections on May 26, 2009. (Dkt. No. 34.)

Generally, in their response, Defendants advanced the following five arguments: (1) Plaintiff has failed to cite case law contradicting Defendants' argument that the law is that Plaintiff did not enjoy a protected liberty interest, under the procedural Due Process Clause of Fourteenth Amendment, in remaining free from the type of confinement he experienced for only fifty-three days; (2) Plaintiff has adduced no admissible record evidence that he accepted any programs other than two academic programs, nor has he adduced record evidence disputing that he refused to accept the mess hall and utility crew programs; (3) the medical excuse issued by Dr. Albert Paolano was issued in 2005, not 2004, and in any event the medical testing of Plaintiff subsequently conducted revealed that he has no detectable medical allergy to fish or eggs; (4) the response to Plaintiff's Grievance No. GM-40863-06 did not agree with his claim that he had been placed on Limited Privileges Status wrongfully; and (5) Plaintiff has adduced no admissible record evidence that he received back pay for the fifty-two days he spent on Limited Privileges Status (rather, he received back pay for something else). (See generally id.)

II. APPLICABLE LEGAL STANDARDS

A. Standard of Review

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).*fn1

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).*fn2 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. Standards Governing Motion for Summary Judgment and Motion to Dismiss

Magistrate Judge Lowe correctly recited the legal standard governing a motion for summary judgment and motion to dismiss. (Dkt. No. 31, at 6-17.) As a result, those legal ...


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