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Allah Kasiem v. Robert Guzman

September 15, 2011


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



Allah Kasiem ("Plaintiff"), a prison inmate in the custody of the New York State Department of Correctional Services*fn1 ("DOCCS"), brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Robert Guzman ("Defendant") for an alleged violation of his rights under the Fourteenth Amendment (Doc. No.1.) Now before the Court is Defendant's motion for summary judgment (Doc. No. 15 and Plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment (Doc. No. 20.) For the reasons stated below, Defendant's motion is granted and Plaintiff's cross-motion is denied.


The following facts are viewed in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff. At all times relevant, Plaintiff was an inmate in the custody of DOCCS and was incarcerated at the Elmira Correctional Facility ("Elmira"). Defendant was employed by DOCCS as the Deputy Superintendent at Elmira. (Def. Statement of Facts ¶¶ 1--4.)

On August 16, 1999, Defendant commenced Plaintiff's Tier III Disciplinary Hearing and served as Hearing Officer, following which he rendered a disposition of guilty. (Id. ¶ 4.) Plaintiff appeared and the determination was affirmed on October 13, 1999. (Id. ¶ 5.) On November 9, 1999, Plaintiff commenced an action in the New York State Court of Claims, alleging that the August 16, 1999, hearing violated New York State regulations and statutes. (Id. ¶ 6.) On October 25, 2005, a trial was conducted at which Plaintiff testified. The Court of Claims rendered a decision dismissing Plaintiff's complaint on November 3, 2005. (Id. ¶ 7.) See Allah Kasiem v. State of NY, #2005-019-035, Claim No.101387 (Nov. 3, 2005) (Def. Exh. E.)

Plaintiff's Disciplinary Hearing arose out of a Misbehavior Report issued to Plaintiff dated August 6, 1999, charging him with sex offense--soliciting, harassment, and bribery or extortion, for sending two sexually graphic letters to a female staff member and offering her gifts. (Def. Exh. A.) Each letter was addressed to "Ann Krutger" in the Guidance Unit, and each was delivered to and opened by Ann Krotzer ("Krotzer"), who was in fact a staff member of the Guidance Unit. (Def. Exh. A; Hr'g Tr. at 2, Exh. B.) Shortly before the Misbehavior Report was issued, Plaintiff sent letters to Deputy Superintendent Raymond Doane ("Doane") explaining that he did not write the letters, and that another inmate was trying to set him up. (Def. Exh. F.) The letters written to Doane contained the same misspelling, "Krutger," as the letters received by Krotzer. (Id.)*fn2

On August 13, 1999, Plaintiff submitted a memorandum to Defendant in connection with his Disciplinary Hearing entitled "Inmate Statement," in which he denied sending the graphic letters. He further argued that the misbehavior report was insufficient, since "Ann Krutger," not Ann Krotzer, was the intended recipient of the letters, and since Krotzer did not observe the person who mailed the letters or have direct knowledge of who may have done so. (Def. Exh. G.) The memo contained the same writing style contained in the letters, which included placing certain words and phrases in capital letters and bold font for emphasis. (Def. Exhs. A & G.)

At the hearing, Plaintiff pleaded not guilty to the charges, entered a statement on the record that he had been set up by another inmate, and claimed to have never seen the letters in question. (Hr'g Tr. at 4.) Defendant provided him with the letters' envelopes to review. (Id.) Plaintiff denied sending the letters, arguing that the misbehavior report was based on speculation and conjecture. He then called three employee witnesses to testify. (Id. at 5-6.) At the close of the Disciplinary Hearing, Defendant found Plaintiff guilty of the three charges, stating his reasons on the record. (Id. at 19.) Defendant then imposed six months of confinement in the special housing unit ("SHU"), loss of packages, commissary, phone calls, and personal television. (Id. at 20.)


Summary Judgment Standard

The standard for granting summary judgment is well-established. Summary judgment may not be granted unless "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show 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). A party seeking summary judgment bears the burden of establishing that no genuine issue of material fact exists. See Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157 (1970). "[T]he movant must make a prima facie showing that the standard for obtaining summary judgment has been satisfied." 11 MOORE'S FEDERAL PRACTICE, § 56.11[1][a] (Matthew Bender 3d ed.). That is, the burden is on the moving party to demonstrate that the evidence creates no genuine issue of material fact. See Amaker v. Foley, 274 F.3d 677 (2d Cir.2001). Where the non-moving party will bear the burden of proof at trial, the party moving for summary judgment may meet its burden be insufficient to carry the non-movant's burden of proof at trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986).

Once that burden has been met, the burden then shifts to the non-moving party to demonstrate that, as to a material fact, a genuine issue exists. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986). A fact is "material" only if the fact has some affect on the outcome of the suit. Catanzaro v. Weiden, 140 F.3d 91, 93 (2d Cir. 1998). A dispute regarding a material fact is genuine "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. In determining whether a genuine issue exists as to a material fact, the court must view underlying facts contained in affidavits, attached exhibits, and depositions in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. U.S. v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962). Moreover, the court must draw all reasonable inferences and resolve all ambiguities in favor of the non-moving party. Leon v. Murphy, 988 F.2d 303, 308 (2d Cir. 1993); Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248-49; Doe v. Dep't of Pub. Safety ex rel. Lee, 271 F.3d 38, 47 (2d Cir. 2001), rev'd on other grounds, Connecticut Dept. of Public Safety v. Doe, 538 U.S. 1 (2003); International Raw Materials, Ltd. v. Stauffer Chemical Co., 898 F.2d 946 (3d Cir. 1990). However, a summary judgment motion will not be defeated on the basis of conjecture or surmise or merely upon a "metaphysical doubt" concerning the facts. Bryant v. Maffucci, 923 F.2d 979, 982 (2d Cir. 1991) (citing Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986)); Knight v. United States Fire Ins. Co., 804 F.2d 9 (2d Cir. 1986). Rather, evidentiary proof in admissible form is required. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). Furthermore, the party opposing summary judgment "may not ...

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