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Crenshaw v. Hartman

January 20, 2010

WILLIAM CRENSHAW, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JAMES HARTMAN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: David G. Larimer United States District Judge

DECISION AND ORDER

Plaintiff, William Crenshaw ("Crenshaw"), appearing pro se, commenced this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against several officials of the New York State Department of Correctional Services ("DOCS"). The incidents raised in the complaint relate to activities occurring at the Collins Correctional Facility ("Collins") during the summer of 2007.

This Court conducted an initial review of the complaint as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) and § 1915A(a). After review, the Court dismissed three of the named defendants, Superintendent Robert Kirkpatrick, Captain M. Kearney and Sergeant Scott Andruiz. The claims against six other defendants, James Hartman, Dennis Macaione, M. McCall, Patrick Connolly, Richard Hamilton and Sergeant Brown, were allowed to proceed. Familiarity with that decision and order (Dkt. #10) is presumed.

Pursuant to that decision, plaintiff filed an amended complaint, which he later supplemented. See Dkt. #11, #21, #28. The remaining defendants now move, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, to dismiss the complaint on the ground that it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted (Dkt. #22). Plaintiff has filed a response in opposition to the motion to dismiss (Dkt. #27).*fn1

I. Motions to Dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6)

Rule 12(b)(6) motions are now analyzed under a slightly different standard than they were prior to the Supreme Court's decision in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007). Prior to Twombly, courts would generally deny a motion to dismiss if there was "any set of facts" consistent with the allegations of the complaint that would entitle the plaintiff to relief. See, e.g., Hill v. City of New York, 45 F.3d 653, 657 (2d Cir. 1995); Gilmore v. University of Rochester, 410 F.Supp.2d 127, 131 (W.D.N.Y. 2006).

In Twombly, however, the Supreme Court declared that the "any set of facts" standard had "earned its retirement." 550 U.S. at 563. The Court explained that to defeat a motion to dismiss, "a plaintiff's obligation ... requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. at 555 (citations omitted).

Thus, where a plaintiff "ha[s] not nudged [his] claims across the line from conceivable to plausible, [his] complaint must be dismissed." Id. at 570. A "plausible" entitlement to relief exists, then, when the allegations in the complaint move the plaintiff's claims across the line separating the "conclusory" from the "factual," and the "factually neutral" from the "factually suggestive." Id. at 557 n. 5.

"[T]his plausibility standard governs claims brought even by pro se litigants." Robles v. Bleau, No. 9:07-CV-0464, 2008 WL 4693153, at *5 (N.D.N.Y. Oct.22, 2008) (citing Jacobs v. Mostow, 271 Fed.Appx. 85, 87 (2d Cir. 2008), and Boykin v. KeyCorp, 521 F.3d 202, 215-16 (2d Cir. 2008)). At the same time, however, the Court is mindful that even after Twombly, a "document filed pro se is to be liberally construed and a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Boykin, 521 F.3d at 214. Nevertheless, all pleadings, pro se or otherwise, must contain enough factual allegations to "give the defendant fair notice of what the ... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Id. (quoting Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89 (2007)) (additional internal quotation marks omitted).

II. Discussion

As is often the case with pro se filings, plaintiff's amended complaint, which consists of twenty-one paragraphs and eight pages, is not a model of clarity as to the nature of the constitutional violations that plaintiff alleges occurred. A portion of the complaint, especially relating to defendants Macaione and Connolly, concerns plaintiff's removal from his job in the mess hall at Collins. Plaintiff also claims that a false misbehavior report was filed against him, and that he was "set up" by other officers who claimed that plaintiff possessed illegal contraband. There is also a claim that one defendant assaulted and beat plaintiff without just cause.

A. Discrimination Claims Against Macaione and Connolly

Plaintiff's discrimination and equal protection claims must be dismissed. Plaintiff asserts that he was removed from a job that he preferred--mess hall duty--for discriminatory reasons. Plaintiff was apparently advised that because he had a series of misbehavior reports filed against him, he would be removed from the mess hall job.

It is well established that inmates have no right, constitutional or otherwise, to any particular job or assignment within a prison. Gill v. Mooney, 824 F.2d 192, 194 (2d Cir. 1987); see, e.g., Anderson v. Lapolt, No. 07-CV-1184, 2009 WL 3232418, at *11 (N.D.N.Y. Oct. 1, 2009). Inmates can be assigned jobs, and removed from them, for virtually any reason, provided that such decisions are not ...


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