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Peoples v. Fischer

December 1, 2011

LEROY PEOPLES, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BRIAN FISCHER, LUCIEN LECLAIRE, JR., DOCS OFFICE OF COUNSEL, WILLIAM LEE, PETER A. CRUSCO, ERIC C. ROSENBAUM, RICHARD A. BROWN, LT. L. JARD, SGT. O'CONNOR, C.O. MALARE, C.O. DROWN, NORMAN BEZIO, D. ROCK, LT. WARD, AND KAREN BELLAMY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Shira A. Scheindlin, U.S.D.J.

OPINION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

LeRoy Peoples, a pro se inmate, brings this action pursuant to section 1983 of Title 42 of the United States Code ("section 1983") against, inter alia, Peter A. Crusco, Executive Assistant District Attorney, Queens County, Eric C. Rosenbaum, Assistant District Attorney, Queens County, and Richard A. Brown, District Attorney, Queens County, alleging violations of his constitutional rights. Crusco, Rosenbaum, and Brown (collectively the "Prosecutor Defendants") now move to dismiss Peoples's Complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on the following grounds: (1) lack of personal involvement; (2) failure to state a conspiracy claim; and (3) absolute and qualified immunity. For the reasons that follow, the motion is granted and these defendants are dismissed from the lawsuit.

II. BACKGROUND

LeRoy Peoples is an inmate formerly incarcerated at the Green Haven Correctional Facility ("Green Haven").*fn1 On October 5, 2009, Sergeant O'Connor ordered Corrections Officer Malare to frisk Peoples and to search his work station.*fn2

Officer Malare then led Peoples to his cell, which Malare searched, seizing certain items*fn3 including U.C.C. forms prohibited by Rule 113.30 of the Standards of Inmate Behavior.*fn4 As punishment for possession of these prohibited materials, corrections officers moved Peoples to the Special Housing Unit, where he lost a tooth in a fist fight with another inmate*fn5 and sustained mental and emotional injuries.*fn6

On October 13, 2009, Department of Correctional Services ("DOCS") personnel held a hearing in connection with Peoples's misbehavior report stemming from this incident.*fn7 Peoples alleges that Corrections Officer Drown "verbally attacked" him off the record.*fn8 At the close of this hearing, Peoples received a punishment of three years in the Special Housing Unit, a three-year loss of packages, phone and commissary privileges, and seventy-two months of recommended loss of good-time credit.*fn9 In "November/December 2009," Peoples appealed the hearing disposition to defendant Norman Bezio.*fn10 This appeal was denied.*fn11

Peoples alleges that the Prosecutor Defendants caused the search of his cell by forwarding a package of letters they received from Peoples to William Lee, the Superintendent of Green Haven.*fn12 According to the Inmate Misbehavior Report, the letters forwarded by the Prosecutor Defendants included evidence that Peoples possessed prohibited U.C.C. materials and other financial forms that "are bogus and without legal basis."*fn13

Peoples alleges that the Prosecutor Defendants violated his constitutional rights by acting in concert with officials at Green Haven to suppress his speech by confiscating his U.C.C. materials.*fn14 The Prosecutor Defendants move to dismiss the Complaint on the following grounds: (1) Peoples has failed to state a plausible claim and (2) the defendants are shielded by absolute and qualified immunity.

III. LEGAL STANDARDS

A. Motion to Dismiss

In deciding a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the court must "accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint"*fn15 and "draw all reasonable inferences in Plaintiff's favor."*fn16 However, the court need not accord "[l]egal conclusions, deductions, or opinions couched as factual allegations . . . a presumption of truthfulness."*fn17

To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the allegations in the complaint must meet a standard of "plausibility."*fn18 A claim is facially plausible "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged."*fn19 Plausibility "is not akin to a probability requirement," rather plausibility requires "more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully."*fn20

When determining the sufficiency of a claim under Rule 12(b)(6), a court is generally required to consider only the ...


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