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Raszell Reeder v. Michael Hogan

March 31, 2011

RASZELL REEDER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL HOGAN, OMH COMMISSIONER; JOANNE WALDRON, UNIT CHIEF, CLINTON C.F.; MAUREEN BOSCO, FORENSIC PROGRAM ADMINISTRATOR, CLINTON C.F.; GREGORY SAVAGE, MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELOR, CLINTON C.F.; JAMES MORGAN, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF QUALITY MANAGEMENT, NEW YORK STATE OFFICE OF MENTAL HEALTH; TARA BROSSEAU, I.G.P. SUPERVISOR, CLINTON C.F.; THOMAS LAVALLEY, ALSO KNOWN AS THOMAS LAVALLE;DALE ARTUS, SUPERINTENDENT, CLINTON C.F.; STEVEN RACETTE; DEPUTY SUPERINTENDENT OF SECURITY; CLINTON C.F.; DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Glenn T. Suddaby, United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM-DECISION and ORDER

Currently before the Court in this pro se prisoner civil rights action filed by Raszell Reeder ("Plaintiff") against the nine New York State employees listed in the caption above ("Defendants"), are the following: (1) Defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted (Dkt. No. 21); and (2) United States Magistrate Judge David E. Peebles' Report-Recommendation recommending that Defendants' motion be granted and Plaintiff's Complaint be dismissed with leave to file an Amended Complaint (Dkt. No. 28). For the following reasons, the Report-Recommendation is accepted and adopted in its entirety; and Plaintiff's Complaint is dismissed with leave to replead certain claims listed below in the "So Ordered" Paragraphs of this Decision and Order. Plaintiff is advised that his entire action shall be dismissed unless, within thirty (30) days of the date of this Decision and Order, he files an Amended Complaint that is limited to the claims permitted below in the "So Ordered" Paragraphs of this Decision and Order, and that cures the pleading defects identified in Magistrate Judge Peebles' Report-Recommendation and below in Part III of this Decision and Order.

I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

A. Plaintiff's Complaint

Plaintiff filed his Complaint on August 28, 2009. (Dkt. No. 1.) Construed with the utmost of liberality, Plaintiff's Complaint alleges that, while he was incarcerated at Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York ("Clinton C.F."), Defendants violated his constitutional rights by assigning him to a mental health Level Six designation, which rendered him ineligible to receive mental health treatment, including participation in the group therapy program ("GTP") at Clinton C.F., in retaliation for his having thrown "a huge bucket of feces" at a mental health nurse and a corrections officer.(Id.)

Based on these (and other) factual allegations, Plaintiff appears to assert the following claims against Defendants: (1) a claim of inadequate prison conditions against Defendants based on their allowing Plaintiff to be designated Level Six, which in turn resulted in Plaintiff being housed in an unfavorable environment, denied food, and having his food tampered with; (2) a claim of excessive force against unidentified corrections officers, which occurred as a result of Plaintiff throwing feces at a mental health nurse and a corrections officer and subsequently being designated as a Level Six; (3) a claim of retaliation against Defendants based on their allowing him to be designated as a Level Six as a result of him throwing feces at staff; (4) a claim of interference with the grievance process against Defendants based on their refusal to process his grievances; (5) a claim of deliberate indifference to serious medical needs against Defendants based on their failure to provide him with the mental health treatment that he needs, which has resulted in his mental health condition "worsening"; (6) a claim of conspiracy against Defendants based on their retaliating against him and harassing him; and (7) a claim of mail tampering against Defendants. (See generally id.)

For a more detailed recitation of Plaintiff's factual allegations, the Court refers the reader to the Complaint in its entirety, and to Magistrate Judge Peebles' Report-Recommendation. (Dkt. Nos. 1,28.)

B. Magistrate Judge Peebles' Report-Recommendation

On March 1, 2011, Magistrate Judge Peebles issued a Report-Recommendation recommending that all of Plaintiff's claims be dismissed, but that Plaintiff be granted leave to amend his Complaint to replead certain claims. In support of his recommendation, Magistrate Judge Peebles found as follows: (1) Plaintiff failed to allege facts plausibly suggesting that Defendants Hogan, Morgan, Artus, and Racette were personally involved in any of the alleged constitutional violations; (2) Plaintiff's retaliation claim should be dismissed because he failed to allege facts plausibly suggesting that he was retaliated against as a result of his engaging in protected activity; (3) Plaintiff's conspiracy claim should be dismissed because he failed to allege facts plausibly suggesting the identity of the participants in the alleged conspiracy, or allege a meeting of the minds and an agreement to abridge Plaintiff's constitutional rights; (4) Plaintiff's claim of interference with the grievance process should be dismissed because inmates do not possess a constitutional right to access established grievance procedures; (5) Plaintiff's claim of mail tampering should be dismissed because he failed to allege facts plausibly suggesting the identity of the individual(s) who tampered with his mail, or allege facts plausibly suggesting how his mail was tampered with; (6) Plaintiff's claim of excessive force should be dismissed because he failed to allege facts plausibly suggesting the identity of the Defendant(s) who participated in the alleged assaults; (7) Plaintiff's claim of food tampering and/or denial of food should be dismissed because he failed to allege facts plausibly suggesting the identity of which Defendants, if any, are responsible for the tampering and/or denial, or how he was denied food and/or had his food tampered with; (8) Plaintiff's claim of medical indifference should be dismissed because Plaintiff failed to allege facts plausibly suggesting (a) what mental condition he has, (b) how he is limited by that condition, (c) how his condition has worsened as a result of his Level Six designation, and (d) who is responsible for the Level Six designation; (9) Plaintiff's claim for compensatory relief should be dismissed because Plaintiff failed to allege facts plausibly suggesting that he suffered a physical injury as a result of Defendants' actions; and (10) Plaintiff's New York State tort claim(s) are barred by N.Y. Correct. Law § 24.

C. Plaintiff's Objections

On March 21, 2011, Plaintiff filed his Objections to the Report-Recommendation. (Dkt. No. 29.) In his Objections, Plaintiff argues as follows: (1) Defendants Hogan, Morgan, Artus, and Racette were personally involved in denying Plaintiff mental health treatment; (2) his claims of retaliation and conspiracy to retaliate against him should not be dismissed because he has alleged that he was not given the mental health treatment he needs as a result of Defendants' animosity toward him; (3) Defendants LaValley and Brousseau failed to process Plaintiff's grievance filings; and (4) Plaintiff is entitled to compensatory damages. (Id.)

II. APPLICABLE LEGAL STANDARDS

A. Standard of Review Governing a Report-Recommendation

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 ...


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