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Davis v. Chapple

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT NORTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK


January 8, 2010

TOUSSAINT DAVIS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
WILLIAM CHAPPLE, CHIEF DEPUTY; DANIEL G. MIDDAUGH, SHERIFF; ROBERT MYERS, SHIFT COMMANDER; LT. GRIFFO, SHIFT COMMANDER; KEVIN MILLER, CORRECTIONAL OFFICER; BAMBURY, CORRECTIONAL OFFICER; DONALD STOCK, NURSE ADMINISTRATOR; JANE DOE, NURSE; AND HELEN HEIM, GRIEVANCE COORDINATOR, 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 Toussaint Davis ("Plaintiff") against the above-captioned employees of the New York State Department of Correctional Services ("Defendants"), are Defendants' motion for summary judgment (Dkt. No. 43), and United States Magistrate Judge David R. Homer's Report-Recommendation recommending that Defendants' motion be granted in part and denied in part (Dkt. No. 48). Neither party has submitted an Objection to the Report-Recommendation. For the reasons set forth below, the Report-Recommendation is accepted and adopted in its entirety, and Defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part.

I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

Plaintiff filed his Complaint in this action on March 27, 2007. (Dkt. No. 1.) Generally, construed with the utmost of liberality, Plaintiff's Complaint alleges that, between approximately February 28, 2006, and October 5, 2006, while Plaintiff was a pretrial detainee at Oneida County Correctional Facility in Rome, New York, the above-captioned Defendants violated his constitutional rights. More specifically, Plaintiff's Complaint asserts the following claims: (1) retaliation and denial of access to the courts in violation of the First Amendment; and (2) inadequate medical care, wrongful confinement in administrative segregation, and excessive restraints during recreation, cruel-and-unusual conditions of confinement, and the use of excessive force in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.*fn1 (See generally Dkt. No. 1 [Plf.'s Compl.].) Familiarity with the factual allegations supporting these claims in Plaintiff's Complaint is assumed in this Decision and Order, which is intended primarily for review by the parties. (Id.)

On May 29, 2009, Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment seeking dismissal of all of Plaintiff's claims. (Dkt. No. 43.) Generally, in support of their motion, Defendants argue as follows: (1) Plaintiff has failed to establish that Defendants were personally involved in the alleged violations; (2) Defendants are protected from liability as a matter of law by the doctrine of qualified immunity; and (3) Plaintiff's Complaint failed to state a claim against Defendants Bambury, Meyers, Griffo, Stock, and Miller. (Id.)

On July 22, 2009, after being granted an extension of time by the Court, Plaintiff filed a response in opposition to Defendants' motion. (Dkt. No. 45.) In his response, Plaintiff argues as follows: (1) his medical indifference claim should not be dismissed because X-rays were taken only of his lower back and should also have been taken also of his upper back/neck area; (2) his excessive force claim against Defendant Miller should not be dismissed because Plaintiff has introduced evidence that Defendant Miller physically assaulted him, used pepper spray on him, and tied him up; (3) he was threatened by both Defendant Miller and Defendant Myers because of his underlying conviction for killing a police officer (and, as a result, he lives in fear for his life); and (4) Defendants are not entitled to summary judgment because unresolved issues of fact remain. (Id.)

On November 4, 2009, Magistrate Judge Homer issued a Report-Recommendation recommending that Defendants' motion be granted in part and denied in part. (Dkt. No. 48.) More specifically, Magistrate Judge Homer recommended that (1) Plaintiff's due process, excessive force and improper use of restraints claims survive Defendants' motion for summary judgment, and (2) Plaintiff's other claims be dismissed. (Id.) Neither party has submitted an Objection to the Report-Recommendation and the time in which to do so has expired. Familiarity with the grounds of Magistrate Judge Homer's Report-Recommendation is assumed in this Decision and Order, which again is intended primarily for review by the parties.

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).*fn2 When only general objections are made 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 a 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 unnecessary will not be counted." Id. [citation omitted].

Implied in the above-stated burden-shifting standard is the fact that, where a nonmoving party willfully fails to adequately respond to a motion for summary judgment, a district court has no duty to perform an independent review of the record to find proof of a factual dispute--even if that nonmoving party is proceeding pro se.*fn4 (This is because the Court extends special solicitude to the pro se litigant largely by ensuring that he or she has received notice of the consequences of failing to properly respond to the motion for summary judgment.)*fn5 As has often been recognized by both the Supreme Court and Second Circuit, even pro se litigants must obey a district court's procedural rules.*fn6 For this reason, this Court has often enforced Local Rule 7.1(a)(3) by deeming facts set forth in a moving party's statement to have been admitted where the nonmoving party has willfully failed to properly respond to that statement*fn7 --even where the nonmoving party was proceeding pro se in a civil rights case.*fn8

III. ANALYSIS

Neither party has not submitted an Objections to the Report-Recommendation. As a result, the Court reviews the Report-Recommendation for only clear error or manifest injustice. After so reviewing all of the papers in this action, including Magistrate Judge Homer's Report-Recommendation, the Court can find no clear error in Magistrate Judge Homer's Report-Recommendation. (See Dkt. No. 48, at 6-24, [Report-Recommendation].) Magistrate Judge Homer employed the proper legal standards, accurately recited the facts, and reasonably applied the law to those facts. (Id.) As a result, the Court adopts the Report-Recommendation in its entirety for the reasons stated therein.*fn9

ACCORDINGLY, it is

ORDERED that Magistrate Judge Homer's Report-Recommendation (Dkt. No. 48) is ACCEPTED and ADOPTED in its entirety; and it is further

ORDERED that Defendants' motion for summary judgment (Dkt. No. 43) is DENIED as to the following claims:

(1) Plaintiff's claim for continued administrative segregation in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment,

(2) Plaintiff's claim for improper use of full restraint orders in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, and

(3) Plaintiff's claim for excessive force in violation of his the Fourteenth Amendment; and it is further

ORDERED that Defendants' motion for summary judgment (Dkt. No. 43) is GRANTED as to all other claims; and it is further

ORDERED that the Clerk of the Court grant judgment in all respects to Defendants Donald Stock, Jane Doe and Helen Heim, and terminate these individuals as Defendants in this action.


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