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Kim Carl v. Thomas Griffin

March 2, 2011

KIM CARL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THOMAS GRIFFIN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



DECISION & ORDER

I.Background

On or about May 30, 2008, pro se plaintiff Kim Carl ("Plaintiff" or "Carl") filed a complaint ("Complaint") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Thomas Griffin ("Griffin"), Deputy Superintendent of Security at Mid-Orange Correctional Facility ("Mid-Orange") in Warwick, New York; James Nichols, Superintendent at Mid-Orange; Jackie Ramos ("Ramos"), Nurse at Mid-Orange; Mid-Orange Lieutenants Cestaro ("Cestaro") and Urbanski ("Urbanski"); and Mid-Orange Corrections Officers Mill ("Mill") and Dronke ("Dronke," and collectively, "Defendants"). (See Compl., dated May 12, 2008.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendants denied him due process and retaliated against him for his and his family's exercise of their First Amendment rights when, following a verbal dispute between Plaintiff and Griffin, Defendants, among other things, searched Plaintiff's cell, ordered that he undergo a urinalysis, lodged a "false" disciplinary charge against him, found him guilty on that charge after a "partial and bias[ed] hearing," sentenced him to 30 days of confinement, and failed adequately to respond to freedom of information law ("FOIL") requests filed by Plaintiff relative to these events. (Compl. § D.)

On September 29, 2009, the Court issued an order adopting United States Magistrate Judge Michael H. Dolinger's report and recommendation ("Report"), dated September 1, 2009, denying Defendants' motion, filed September 8, 2008, to dismiss the Complaint for Plaintiff's failure to exhaust administrative remedies under the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"), 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). (See Order, dated Sept. 29, 2009; Report, dated Sept. 1, 2009.) The Court determined that exhaustion should be excused because prison officials failed to timely advance Plaintiff's grievance or otherwise prevented him from seeking his administrative remedies. (See Order at 2; Report at 15--16.)*fn1

On August 30, 2010, Defendants moved for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure ("Fed. R. Civ. P."), arguing, among other things, that (1) Plaintiff "was given all the procedural due process protections guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment"; (2) "[P]laintiff attempts to turn a series of legitimate and typical penological actions into a constitutional claim by characterizing them all as retaliatory"; and (3) Defendants should be entitled to qualified immunity because it was "objectively reasonable for . . . [D]efendants to believe that their . . . penological actions did not violate any constitutional rights." (Defs.' Mem. of Law in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J., dated Aug. 30, 2010 ("Defs. Mem."), at 2, 15, 20--21.)*fn2

On December 6, 2010, Plaintiff submitted opposition papers restating the facts from his Complaint and arguing that Defendants should not be granted summary judgment based upon, among other things, Judge Dolinger's Report, Defendants' alleged discovery violations, and Defendants' alleged violations of New York State Corrections Law. (See Pl.'s Mem. of Law, dated Dec. 1, 2010 ("Pl. Opp'n")); N.Y. Correct. § 250.2.

On December 15, 2010, Defendants filed a two page letter in reply, noting, among other things, that "[P]laintiff has . . . failed to address any of the legal arguments asserted in

[D]efendants' Memorandum of Law." (Defs.' Ltr. to the Ct., dated Dec. 15, 2010 ("Defs. Reply"), at 1.) The parties waived oral argument. (See Admin. Order, dated Jan. 24, 2011.)

The following facts are not in dispute:

(i) Plaintiff, while an inmate at Mid-Orange, was leaving the mess hall at approximately 9:30 a.m. on January 18, 2008 when he became engaged in a brief verbal altercation with Griffin regarding Plaintiff's access through the mess hall's exit doors;

(ii) Griffin immediately reported to Urbanski that Plaintiff was "acting strang[ely] and making unusual comments";

(iii) Urbanski ordered that Plaintiff undergo a cell search and urinalysis "for suspicion due to his unusual behavior";

(iv) at approximately 10:15 a.m., Dronke searched Plaintiff's cell, where -- according to Dronke's "Inmate Misbehavior Report," dated January 18, 2008 ("Misbehavior Report") -- he "discovered several forms of expired medications";

(v) on that same morning, Plaintiff underwent a urinalysis which came back with "negative results";

(vi) on January 24, 2008, Cestaro held a Tier II disciplinary hearing ("Hearing") (having charged Plaintiff with violating Rule 113.14 of N.Y. Correct. ยง 270.2 ("Rule 113.14"), which prohibits inmate possession of "outdated" medication), at which Plaintiff stated that themedication was his and affirmed that ...


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