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Joseph Paul Guarneri v. Superintendent Calvin E. West

May 6, 2011


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



Plaintiff Joseph Paul Guarneri ("plaintiff"), proceeding pro se, brings this action against Elmira Correctional Facility ("Elmira") employees; Sergeant Kattylacky, Nurse Administrator Hapkin, and Superintendent Calvin E. West (collectively "Elmira defendants"), as well as several Attica Correctional Facility ("Attica") employees; Superintendent James T. Conway, Deputy Superintendents M. Woeller and Randy James, Deputy Superintendent of Programs Sandra Dolce, Corrections Counselor L. Guertin, Grievance Supervisor George Struebel, Nurse Administrator B. Frisby, Physicians Dr. John Bauers and Dr. Laskawski, nurses Turton and Hawley, corrections officers D. Adamy, Rademacker, Preacher and two "John Doe" corrections officers (collectively "Attica defendants").

Plaintiff alleges that the defendants subjected him to cruel and unusual punishment and denied him equal protection of the law, in violation of his rights pursuant to, inter alia, the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. (Dkt. #4).

Plaintiff commenced the instant action on September 15, 2005. (Dkt. #1). He claims that during his one month's incarceration at Elmira, the Elmira defendants violated his constitutional rights by failing to provide him with proper ventilation and heating, neglecting to timely repair a clogged toilet, failing to provide plaintiff with more than three opportunities to shower per week and/or failing to provide plaintiff with handicap-accessible showers to accommodate his knee brace, failing to provide adequate treatment for plaintiff's mental health, high blood pressure, hyperthyroidism and knee injury, and failing to provide him with sufficiently frequent access to the facility's law library. He alleges that after he was transferred to Attica, each of the Attica defendants denied him adequate mental health and medical care, subjected him to an unnecessarily rough pat search, denied him access to the law library on a number of occasions, and/or refused to let him out of his cell to attend certain religious services or observe several religious holidays. (Dkt. #4).

On January 29, 2010, the defendants moved for summary judgment dismissing plaintiff's claims, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 56 (Dkt. #87). On February 24, 2010, plaintiff filed papers opposing the motion. (Dkt. #100).

For the reasons set forth below, the defendants' motion (Dkt. #87) is granted, and the complaint is dismissed.


I. Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is appropriate where the record demonstrates 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). See also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986). Where the party opposing summary judgment is proceeding pro se, the Court must "read the pleadings ... liberally and interpret them to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest." Corcoran v. New York Power Auth., 202 F.3d 530, 536 (2d Cir.1999). However, "proceeding pro se does not otherwise relieve [an opposing party] from the usual requirements of summary judgment." Fitzpatrick v. N.Y. Cornell Hosp., 2002 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25166 at *5 (S.D.N.Y. 2003). Those requirements include the obligation not to rest upon mere conclusory allegations or denials, but instead to set forth "concrete particulars" showing that a trial is needed. R.G. Group, Inc. v. Horn & Hardart Co., 751 F.2d 69, 77 (2d Cir. 1984).

II. Plaintiff's Claims

A. Claims Concerning Conditions at Elmira

Prison conditions which result in the "unnecessary and wanton" infliction of pain, and which are "totally without penological justification," are unconstitutional. Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 346 (1981). However, in order to implicate the Constitution, a claim must be grounded upon "extreme deprivations," Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S 1, 9 (1992), which are "barbarous" or "shocking to the conscience." Sostre v. McGinnis, 442 F.2d 178, 191 (2d Cir. 1971), and not simply on conditions that are merely unpleasant or annoying to the inmate.

In determining whether prison conditions violate the Constitution, the Court first examines whether the deprivation is objectively "sufficiently serious" to form the basis for an Eighth Amendment violation. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994) (internal quotations omitted). "The Constitution . . . does not mandate comfortable prisons, and only those deprivations denying the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities" will be found sufficiently serious. Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298 (1991), quoting Rhodes, 452 U.S. 337 at 347-349. Second, the finder of fact must examine the subjective prong of the analysis, and determine whether the defendants were ...

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