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Timothy Dumpson and Moses Ortega v. Glenn S. Goord

September 15, 2011

TIMOTHY DUMPSON AND MOSES ORTEGA,
PLAINTIFFS,
v.
GLENN S. GOORD, DONALD SELSKY, MICHAEL MCGINNIS, GEORGE J. BARTLETT, RICHARD MORSE, ROCKY L. HAZELTON, THOMAS F. EAGEN, JAMES MECK, ROBERT F. MCCLELLAN, BERNARD O=BREMSKI, AND JOHN ALVES,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles J. Siragusa United States District Judge

DECISION AND ORDER

INTRODUCTION

Siragusa, J. This is a prisoners= civil rights suit brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ' 1983. Plaintiffs raised claims under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments regarding the manner of their confinement at Southport Correctional Facility (ASouthport@). Now before the Court are cross-motions seeking summary judgment on the Eighth Amendment claims. Plaintiffs filed their motion for summary judgment (Doc. No. 115) on May 22, 2009, and Defendants filed their cross-motion (Doc. No. 119) on June 28, 2009. Following oral argument on February 10, 2010, the Court has reviewed the documents filed in support of, and in opposition to, the motions. For the reasons stated below, Plaintiffs‟ motion is denied, and Defendants‟ motion is granted.

BACKGROUND

The present action commenced on January 26, 2000, with the filing of a complaint by several inmate plaintiffs. (Doc. No. 1.) Plaintiffs were denied class certification by order signed on March 12, 2001. (Doc. No. 32.) Following the dismissal of several plaintiffs‟ claims, the remaining plaintiffs are Timothy Dumpson (ADumpson@) and Moses Ortega (AOrtega@). By Stipulation and Order signed by the Court on April 5, 2001, all portions of the claims relating to Dumpson being placed in full restraints in 1995, 1996 and 1997 at Southport Correctional Facility (ASouthport@) were dismissed with prejudice, except those claims relating to defendants Bernard O‟Bremski ("O‟Bremski") and John Alves ("Alves"). (Doc. No. 52.)

On September 24, 2003, this Court signed a Decision and Order granting summary judgment against all plaintiffs with respect to the Fourteenth Amendment claims on the ground of qualified immunity, and directing that "the record should reflect that this action is discontinued against Mr. Coughlin and that Mr. Goord is substituted." (Doc. No. 52 at 1, fn.2 & 18.) On February 4, 2009, a Suggestion of Death was filed as to James Meck ("Meck"). (Doc. No. 111.)

Southport is exclusively a Special Housing Unit (ASHU@), only housing inmates with a history of disciplinary problems. Timothy Dumpson was an inmate at Southport from December 26, 1995, until October 27, 1999. (Pl. Motion for Summary Judgment, Ex. A, ¶ 7.) Moses Ortega was an inmate at Southport from approximately 1998 through 2000, and again from 2005 through 2008. (Id. at ¶ 9.)

From 1995 through 2000, Southport employed a Progressive Inmate Movement System (APIMS@) to classify inmates according to their disciplinary records. (Pl. Ex. J at 8.) Inmates transferred into Southport were automatically placed in PIMS Level I, the most restrictive level of confinement, for at least a thirty day adjustment period. (Pl. Ex. F at 3.) Level I inmates were placed in single-person cells and confined therein for twenty-three hours a day. (Pl. Ex. Q at 11 & 66.) They had no commissary privileges, with the exception of postage stamps. (Pl. Ex. Q at 4.) Pursuant to New York Department of Correctional and Community Supervision *fn1 ("DOCCS") policy, these inmates were restrained with handcuffs attached in front to a waist chain and leg shackles during all out-of-cell movement, including exercise periods. (Pl. Ex. D at ¶3.) Dumpson and Ortega were both classified as PIMS Level I inmates and subject to restraint orders at various times during their confinement at Southport. (Id. at ¶2.)

Pursuant to Southport=s SHU Inmate and Staff Orientation Manual and DOCCS Directive 4933 ' 304.3, all SHU inmates are permitted one hour of daily outdoor exercise. However, they may be mechanically restrained during that hour. Restraint orders are controlled by New York Compilation of Codes, Rules and Regulations Title 7, section 305.4, which states in full as follows:

(a) Any inmate assigned to an SHU who has a history of assaultive behavior and/or who presents a threat to the safety or security of himself/herself, other persons, or State property may be placed under a restraint order by the deputy superintendent for security or, in his/her absence, the O.D. or higher ranking authority.

(b) A restraint order will be valid for no more than seven days and may be renewed by the deputy superintendent for security or, in his/her absence, the O.D. or higher ranking authority.

(c) A copy of the restraint order and any renewal thereafter must be forwarded to the superintendent and the inmate within 24 hours. The order and any renewal thereafter must briefly state the reason(s) for the order or renewal and contain the following notice to the inmate: AYou may write to the deputy superintendent for security or his/her designee to make a statement as to the need for continuing the restraint order.@

(d) A restraint order will describe the types of restraints to be used and the manner in which they are to be applied (e.g., handcuffed in front or in back, with or without waist chain, with or without leg irons).

(e) If an inmate is under a restraint order directing that he/she be mechanically restrained whenever he/she leaves the SHU cell for any reason, the inmate will remain mechanically restrained during the entire period of time he/she is out of the SHU cell, except:

(1) Upon request of a physician, nurse practitioner, or a physician=s assistant (P.A.) when removal is necessary to permit medical treatment;

(2) Upon request of the Parole Board at a parole hearing;

(3) Upon the request of the judge or magistrate;

(4) When the inmate can be secured in a shower room during the scheduled shower period;

(5) When the inmate has been secured in the exercise area, unless the restraint order (or renewal) includes a written determination stating the reason(s) why the removal of restraints in the exercise area would, in the light of the particular circumstances relative to the affected inmate, present a threat to the safety or security of the inmate, other persons or state property. Such a determination, in any restraint order or renewal, shall only remain in effect for three days unless approved in writing by the superintendent or acting superintendent, based upon his or her review of the relevant facts. Note: This paragraph does not apply to Southport Correctional Facility;

(6) Upon order of the deputy superintendent for security services or higher ranking authority; or

(7) When in a general population visiting room and not in a non-contact area.

(f) When mechanical restraints are removed pursuant to subdivision (e) above, they will be reapplied as specified in the restraint order prior to return to the SHU cell.

N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 7, § 305.4 (2010).

In 1997, Superintendant Michael McGinnis ("McGinnis") requested and received authorization from Deputy Commissioner George J. Bartlett ("Bartlett") to handcuff Level I inmates behind their backs with a waist chain and leg shackles for staff safety, due to a series of assaults that took place around that time, which had resulted in injury to both inmates and corrections officers. (Def. Mot. Summ. J., Statement of Facts, Ex. D.) Subsequently, a Restraint Order for Level I inmates at Southport meant that said inmates would be placed under what is commonly referred to as Afull restraints," meaning that they were handcuffed behind their backs with a waist chain and leg irons affixed during all out-of-cell movement, including exercise periods. (Pl. Ex. H at 5.) Level I inmates were not so restrained while in their cells.

A Restraint Order could be initiated for alleged non-assaultive, non-violent offenses, such as uncooperativeness or yelling, and could be based on the recommendation of a tier sergeant, who was under no formal obligation to corroborate allegations of prisoner misconduct before recommending a Restraint Order to the Deputy Superintendent. (Pl. Ex. G at 18-19.) No formal investigation was conducted prior to Southport officials approving Restraint Orders. (Id.)

During Plaintiffs= confinement at Southport, Level I inmates were subjected to the following procedure prior to leaving their cells for exercise:

a. handcuffed through the cell feed-up port;

b. instructed to turn their back to the cell door prior to the cell ...


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