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Derek Martin v. the City of New York

April 20, 2012

DEREK MARTIN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE CITY OF NEW YORK, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: P. Kevin Castel, District Judge:

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff Derek Martin, currently incarcerated at Upstate Correctional Facility, brings this pro se action against the City of New York under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Martin alleges that he slipped and fell on a wet floor at Manhattan Detention Complex ("MDC") because the shoes issued to him were too large for his feet and had inadequate soles. The defendant moves to dismiss the Amended Complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under Rule 12(b)(6), Fed. R. Civ. P. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted.

BACKGROUND

On April 17, 2010, the plaintiff slipped on a wet floor at MDC. The wet floor was located near several showers and a sink. The plaintiff alleges that the area was "poor[ly] designed" and that the floor did not have a drain to remove excess water. (Am. Compl. at 3.) He also alleges that there were no "Wet Floor" signs posted, and that Anderson, a corrections officer at MDC, "was in plain view to see the complete accident." (Id.)

At the time of his accident, the plaintiff was wearing slip-on shoes issued to him by the New York City Department of Correction ("DOC"). The plaintiff alleges that although he normally wears size 12, his DOC-issued shoes were size 14. (Id. at 2.) The plaintiff allegedly slipped because his shoes were "two sizes too big" and did not have "adequate bottoms/soles to prevent slip and falls." (Id. at 3.)

Following the accident, the plaintiff visited MDC's medical clinic. An injury report from his visit indicates Martin complained of "injury to his right elbow, lower back and back of his neck." (Id. Ex. A.) The plaintiff thereafter made "numerous complaints" and "oral appeals" regarding his "need for shoes" and the wet floor, but did not file a written grievance. (Id. at 4.) The plaintiff allegedly "d[id] not know" whether MDC had grievance procedures and maintains that the grievance procedures "were never active . . . nor presented by manuals/policy" upon his arrival at MDC. (Id.)

On August 2, 2011, the plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint against the City of New York, DOC, and two MDC correctional officers in their official capacity: Captain Sumpter and Correction Officer Anderson. (Docket # 9.) The Amended Complaint contains causes of action under section 1983 for "poor prison conditions" and under the Due Process Clause for being "deliberately indifferent to this plaintiff's needs." (Am. Compl. at 3--A.)*fn1 The plaintiff alleges that as a result of his accident, he sustained injuries to his lower back, right thigh, right foot, and "stool," causing him "continuing pain" as well as "emotional distress, mental anguish, [and] pain & suffering." (Id. at 3, 5.) In an Order dated August 15, 2011, the Court dismissed the Amended Complaint as to DOC, Captain Sumpter, and Correction Officer Anderson. (Docket # 12.) The City of New York, the last remaining defendant, now moves to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6).

DISCUSSION

I. Motion to Dismiss Standard

To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), Fed. R. Civ. P., "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, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "'Labels and conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do,'" rather, a plaintiff must plead "factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

In considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, all non-conclusory factual allegations are accepted as true, see id. at 1949--50, and all reasonable inferences are drawn in favor of the plaintiff. See In re Elevator Antitrust Litig., 502 F.3d 47, 50 (2d Cir. 2007) (per curiam). However, "[t]he plausibility standard . . . asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949. Legal conclusions and "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action" do not suffice to state a claim. Id. at 1950. On a motion to dismiss, the Court considers only the facts stated in the complaint, exhibits or documents incorporated by reference, matters of which judicial notice may be taken, and documents upon which the complaint heavily relies. See Brass v. Am. Film Techs., Inc., 987 F.2d 142, 150 (2d Cir. 1993).

Lastly, a pro se complaint, "however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Boykin v. KeyCorp, 521 F.3d 202, 214 (2d Cir. 2008) (internal quotations omitted). The plaintiff's pleadings are thus given a liberal and generous construction and are read "to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest." Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 474 (2d Cir. 2006). However, dismissal of a pro se complaint is "appropriate where 'it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief.'" Rodriguez v. Weprin, 116 F.3d 62, 65 (2d Cir. 1997) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45--46 (1957)). A pro se complaint must still "'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Mancuso v. Hynes, 379 Fed. Appx. 60, 61 (2d Cir. 2010) (quoting Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949) (non-precedential).

II. The Plaintiff's Amended Complaint Is Dismissed

The defendant moves to dismiss the Amended Complaint on four grounds, contending that the plaintiff: (1) made false statements on his application to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP"); (2) failed to exhaust his administrative remedies prior to filing this lawsuit; (3) does not state a cognizable section 1983 claim; and (4) does not plausibly allege municipal liability on the part of the defendant. (See Def.'s Mem. L.) In his opposition to the defendant's motion, the plaintiff responds only to the first ground and does not address the other three grounds. (Docket # 24, 26.) As discussed below, the Court declines to dismiss the Amended Complaint because of misstatements in the plaintiff's IFP application, but concludes ...


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