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Alonzo Faulk v. Comm. Brian Fisher

July 19, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Michael A. Telesca United States District Judge


I. Introduction

Proceeding pro se, plaintiff Alonzo Faulk ("Faulk" or "Plaintiff"), filed the instant action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against defendants alleging constitutional violations which occurred while he was an inmate in the custody of the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision ("NYSDOCCS"). Defendants have moved for summary judgment, and Plaintiff has filed an application styled as a cross-motion for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion is granted, and the complaint is dismissed. Plaintiff's cross-motion is denied.

II. Background

Plaintiff's supporting allegations cover numerous, disparate topics. To avoid unnecessary repetition, the facts pertinent to the alleged constitutional violations will be set forth below in the sections addressing Plaintiff's specific claims.

III. General Legal Principles

A. 42 U.S.C. § 1983

In order to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the plaintiff must establish the following elements: (1) conduct attributable at least in part to a person acting under color of state law, and (2) deprivation, as the result of the challenged conduct, of a right, privilege, or immunity secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States. Dwares v. City of New York, 985 F.2d 94, 98 (2d Cir.1993).

B. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate "if 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 judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c). The court must assess whether there are any material factual issues to be tried while resolving ambiguities and drawing reasonable inferences against the moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248--49 (1986). A material fact is genuinely in dispute "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id. at 248.

Initially, the moving party must show that there is "an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). Once the moving party has carried its burden under F.R.C.P. 56, the opposing party must set forth "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial[,]" FED. R. CIV. P. 56(e), and must introduce evidence beyond the mere pleadings to show that there is an issue of material fact concerning "an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322.

III. Analysis

A. Lack of Personal Involvement

The § 1983 plaintiff must adequately demonstrate "personal involvement of defendants in alleged Constitutional deprivations." Colon v. Coughlin, 58 F.3d 865, 873 (2d Cir. 1995). Defendants argue that the supervisory defendants (Commissioner Fischer, Superintendent Kadien, and Inspector General Roy) were not personally involved in any of the alleged constitutional violations, and therefore the claims against them must be dismissed. The Court agrees.

Plaintiff contends that these individuals became involved when they received mail from him and when he commenced two administrative proceedings in Erie County (which subsequently were dismissed for failure to state a claim). Contrary to Plaintiff's contention, liability is not conferred upon a supervisory official based upon his mere receipt of a prisoner's letter or his denial of a grievance. See Warren v. Goord, 476 F. Supp.2d 407, 413 (S.D.N.Y. 2007) ("In the complaint, plaintiff alleges only that Eagen denied his grievance. However, plaintiff does not explain how a denial of a grievance violates plaintiff's constitutional or federal rights so as to state a claim under § 1983. Because plaintiff has failed to allege any relevant facts that would give rise to a failure to protect claim, and because he has not alleged that Eagen violated any of his other rights, the Court dismisses the claim against Eagen.") (internal citation to record omitted).

B. Deliberate Indifference to Plaintiff's Medical and Dental Needs

There are two elements to a prisoner's claim that officials violated his Eighth Amendment right to receive medical care: The plaintiff must show that he had a "'serious medical condition' and that it was met with 'deliberate indifference.'" Caiozzo v. Koreman, 581 F.3d 63, 72 (2d Cir. 2009) (quotation omitted). "The objective 'medical need' element measures the severity of the alleged deprivation, while the subjective 'deliberate indifference' element ensures that the defendant prison official acted with a sufficiently culpable state of mind." Smith v. Carpenter, 316 F.3d ...

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