UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT NORTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
March 29, 2011
HILARIO CAMPOS, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS PARENT AND GUARDIAN OF MINOR CHILDREN MARIA CAMPOS, EVE CAMPOS, AND ANGEL CAMPOS AND AS NEXT OF KIN OF CHRISTOPHER CAMPOS (DECEASED), AND HILARIO DAVID CAMPOS, JR., PLAINTIFF,
EVELYN WEISSMAN, M.D.; L. TICHENOR, P.A.; COMMISSIONER GLENN S. GOORD; LESTER N. WRIGHT, M.D.; SUPERINTENDENT ROY GIRDICH; AND JANE DOE NOS. 1-6, DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Scullin, Senior Judge
Currently before the Court are Magistrate Judge Randolph F. Treece's September 10, 2009 Report and Recommendation and Plaintiff's objections thereto. See Dkt. Nos. 28, 30. Defendants also filed a memorandum of law in response to Plaintiff's objections. See Dkt. No. 31.
Plaintiff, through his attorney,*fn1 filed a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking compensatory and punitive damages for Defendants' alleged deliberate indifference to the medical needs of Christopher Campos ("Christopher"), a deceased New York State prison inmate. See Dkt. No. 8 at 1. Plaintiff alleged that Defendants' negligent medical treatment of Christopher caused him serious injury, resulting in his death. See id. Plaintiff also claimed that Defendants deprived him of his constitutionally-protected interest in his association and relationship with Christopher in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. See id. at 2. Plaintiff further asserted that Defendants' actions violated Christopher's rights in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, in that they inflicted injury and needless pain and suffering on him. See id. at 1.
On November 13, 2008, Defendants moved for judgment on the pleadings, arguing that 42 U.S.C. § 1983 did not allow for derivative claims such as those that Plaintiff asserted and that the statute of limitations barred Plaintiff's claims. See Dkt. No. 21.
In a Report and Recommendation dated September 10, 2009, Magistrate Judge Treece recommended that this Court grant Defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings and, in addition, dismiss Plaintiff's claims against the six unidentified, unserved Jane Doe Defendants. See Dkt. No. 28 at 18-19. Plaintiff objected to Magistrate Judge Treece's recommendation that this Court grant Defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings. See Dkt. No. 30.
Section 636 of Title 28 of the United States Code provides that "[a] judge of the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). When reviewing a magistrate judge's recommendations, a district court judge "make[s] a de novo determination of those portions of the [magistrate judge's] report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made." Id. "'"If, however, the party makes only conclusory or general objections, or simply reiterates his original arguments, the Court reviews the Report and Recommendation only for clear error."'" Salmini v. Astrue, No. 3:06-CV-458, 2009 WL 1794741, *1 (N.D.N.Y. June 23, 2009) (quoting [Farid v. Bouey, 554 F. Supp. 2d 301] at 306 [(N.D.N.Y. 2008)] (quoting McAllan v. Von Essen, 517 F. Supp. 2d 672, 679 (S.D.N.Y. 2007))). The district court also reviews for clear error those portions of a report-recommendation to which a party does not object. See Lawton v. Astrue, No. 7:10-CV-256, 2010 WL 4810604, *1 (N.D.N.Y. Nov. 18, 2010) (citation omitted).
The Court has thoroughly reviewed Plaintiff's objections and finds
them unpersuasive. Regarding Plaintiff's First and Fourteenth
Amendment claims (claims one, two, and three), the Court agrees with
Magistrate Judge Treece's finding that, to pursue a claim of
interference with a familial relationship with an adult relative, a
plaintiff must allege that the defendant or defendants acted with
intent to interfere. See Dkt. No. 28 at 13-18. The Court also agrees
with Magistrate Judge Treece's reasoning that, because the Second
Circuit has not definitively ruled on this issue, it is appropriate to
follow the guidance of the other circuits and the district courts
within the Second Circuit. See id. at 13-16. In this case, only the
Ninth Circuit clearly disfavors an intent requirement,*fn2
while five circuits*fn3 require a showing of
intent, and three circuits*fn4 do not
recognize that the familial relationship with an adult relative is even
constitutionally protected. District courts in New York appear to have
taken their cues from those circuit courts that have required a
showing of intent.*fn5 Accordingly, since Plaintiff
did not allege that Defendants intended to interfere with a familial
relationship, the Court finds that he may not maintain claims one,
two, and three.
Regarding Plaintiff's Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment claims (claims four, five, and six), the Court agrees with Magistrate Judge Treece's finding that Plaintiff lacks standing to bring these claims on behalf of Christopher. See Dkt. No. 28 at 10. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide that a party must bring an action in the name of the real party in interest, including an administrator or guardian. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 17(a)(1). The law of the forum state governs the determination of legal capacity to sue, see Fed. R. Civ. P. 17(b); and, in New York, only a decedent's personal representative may pursue a § 1983 action on his behalf. See Johnson v. Morgenthau, 160 F.3d 897, 898 (2d Cir. 1998) (per curiam) (citation omitted). Moreover, New York's Estates, Powers and Trusts Law defines a personal representative as "a person who has received letters to administer the estate of a decedent." N.Y. Est. Powers & Trusts Law § 1-2.13. Since Plaintiff has not received letters of administration, see Dkt. No. 27, the Court finds that he lacks the legal capacity to pursue a § 1983 claim on Christopher's behalf. *fn6
Finally, since Plaintiff did not object to Magistrate Judge Treece's recommendation to dismiss Plaintiff's claims against the six unserved, unnamed Jane Doe Defendants, the Court reviewed this recommendation for clear error. Determining that Magistrate Judge Treece did not commit a clear error, the Court dismisses Plaintiff's claims against the Jane Doe Defendants.
Accordingly, for the above-stated reasons, the Court hereby
ORDERS that Magistrate Judge Treece's September 10, 2009 Report and Recommendation is ACCEPTED in its entirety for the reasons stated therein; and the Court further
ORDERS that the six unidentified, unserved Jane Doe Defendants are dismissed from this action pursuant to Rule 4(m) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and L.R. 4.1(b); and the Court further
ORDERS that Defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings is GRANTED in its entirety; and the Court further
ORDERS that the Clerk of the Court shall enter judgment in favor of Defendants and close this case.
IT IS SO ORDERED
Syracuse, New York