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Jamel Stevens v. City of New York

July 22, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Paul G. Gardephe, U.S.D.J.:


This is a Section 1983 action in which pro se Plaintiff Jamel Stevens alleges that Defendants subjected him to unconstitutional conditions of confinement at the George Motchan Detention Center ("G.M.D.C.") at Rikers Island. Defendants have moved to dismiss, arguing that the conditions alleged by Stevens do not rise to the level of a constitutional violation.

For the reasons stated below, Defendants' motion to dismiss will be granted.


The Complaint alleges that Stevens encountered the following conditions in his jail cell on May 13, 2010 (Cmplt. II(C)):

I moved to 4-Upper housing (cell # 8), where[] the living conditions did not fit constitutional standards. Ants were all over and there was a garbage bag somewhat covering the window. I tried to close the window but it did not work (which was why the garbage bag was there). I was told by inmates that the window has been that way since January. I asked Officer James to move to another cell, but was told that it[']s the only one vacant in the building. I even told Dept. Gaskins who[] told me that he was too busy. That night I slept, shivering from the rain and cold. The water tasted funny as well. I woke up the next morning with a pain in my chest and went to brush my teeth and the water from the sink was coming out brown (the color of tea). I locked out at 8:30 a.m. and asked Officer Gong shield # 17943 for assistance. She said that she would put another work order in. Later I spoke with Captain Pollard shield # 1683 and he said, "well it[']s almost summertime so consider it as air conditioning.["]

Later I went to the clinic for my chest. I then contacted the OCC inspectors and DOC Health Department, who[] both made a visit to inspect, and did verify the conditions. The next day the Dept. told officers to move me to cell #7, where[] the exhaust ventilation does not work, the windows were shut and did not have a crank to open it [sic]. I felt that it was retaliation against me, for making a report. (Cmplt. II(D)) Stevens further alleges that he suffered chest pain as a result of "the nasty conditions [he] was subjected to, with the cold cell with rain pouring in or the brown rust water that I drank all night." (Cmplt. III)



"To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "In considering a motion to dismiss . . . the court is to accept as true all facts alleged in the complaint," Kassner v. 2nd Ave. Delicatessen Inc., 496 F.3d 229, 237 (2d Cir. 2007) (citing Dougherty v. Town of N. Hempstead Bd. of Zoning Appeals, 282 F.3d 83, 87 (2d Cir. 2002)), and must "draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff." Id. (citing Fernandez v. Chertoff, 471 F.3d 45, 51 (2d Cir. 2006)).

A complaint is inadequately pled "if it tenders 'naked assertion[s]' devoid of 'further factual enhancement,'" Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557), and does not provide factual allegations sufficient "to give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Port Dock & Stone Corp. v. Oldcastle Ne., Inc., 507 F.3d 117, 121 (2d Cir. 2007) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

"In considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a district court may consider the facts alleged in the complaint, documents attached to the complaint as exhibits, and documents incorporated by reference in the complaint." DiFolco v. MSNBC Cable L.L.C., 622 F.3d 104, 111 (2d Cir. 2010) (citing Chambers v. Time Warner, Inc., 282 F.3d 147, 153 (2d Cir. 2002); Hayden v. County of Nassau, 180 F.3d 42, 54 (2d Cir. 1999)). Additionally, "[w]here a document is not incorporated by reference, the court may never[the]less consider it where the complaint 'relies heavily upon its terms and effect,' thereby rendering the document 'integral' to the complaint." Id. (quoting Mangiafico v. Blumenthal, 471 F.3d 391, 398 (2d Cir. 2006)).

Because Stevens is proceeding pro se, this Court is required to read his complaint liberally. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)) ("A document filed pro se is to be 'liberally construed.'"). Accordingly, this Court will construe the Plaintiff's complaint "'to raise the strongest arguments that [it] suggest[s].'" Fulton v. ...

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