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Mark Inesti v. Michael F. Hagan

September 4, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Paul A. Crotty, United States District Judge:


Pro se Plaintiff Mark Inesti (a/k/a Hector Ortiz) ("Inesti") brings this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action, alleging violations of his federal constitutional rights by nine New York City and New York State officials. Inesti's claims against the City arise out of the conditions of his confinement and failure to receive treatment for mental illness while he was held by the New York City Department of Corrections ("DOC") on Rikers Island. He also asserts claims against the State relating to treatment he received at mental health facilities operated by the New York State Office of Mental Health.

On May 17, 2011, the Court referred this case to Magistrate Judge Andrew J. Peck for general pretrial supervision and dispositive motions. (Docket No. 7.) On October 24, 2011, the City and State Defendants each moved to dismiss Inesti's Complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). On June 22, 2012, Magistrate Judge Peck issued a Report and Recommendation ("R&R") recommending that Defendants' motions to dismiss be granted in part and denied in part. Defendants filed timely objections to the R&R. The Court has reviewed the R&R and Defendants' objections. For the reasons set forth below, the Court adopts the R&R. Defendants' motions to dismiss are granted in part and denied in part.



Although Inesti's allegations as to relevant time periods are somewhat vague, the events in this case appear to span a three-year period from 2006 to the beginning of 2009. Inesti alleges that while he was detained on Rikers Island,*fn2 he was diagnosed with schizoaffective one disorder and prescribed medication. He contends that he received a misbehavior report because of his illness. A disciplinary hearing followed, at which Inesti was sentenced to ninety days in the Special Housing Unit ("SHU"). Inesti alleges that during this period, corrections staff locked him in his cell for twenty-four hours a day and denied him showers. He also alleges that staff denied him meals while City Defendants Sherma Dunbar and Anna Pressley, both captains at Rikers, were on duty. Captain Pressley allegedly told Inesti, "I run this shit," and "you['re] never going to eat." Inesti contends that he banged on his cell door "to dispel[] demonic activity" while asking for mental health treatment, resulting in pain and swelling to his legs and ankles. He received no mental health treatment or medication for his pain. Inesti further asserts that he was subjected to unjustified, daily strip searches under Captain Dunbar's orders.

At the end of Inesti's ninety-day SHU sentence, he was transferred to a state facility, the Manhattan Psychiatric Center ("MPC"), by court order. At the MPC, Inesti was diagnosed with schizoaffective one disorder and was prescribed medication. Inesti alleges that he was placed in a twenty-four month in-patient program against his wishes, and that staff housed him in an area reserved for violent patients. Inesti claims that staff members from MPC and the Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center ("Kirby") sedated him via injections because he had become combative. He contends that staff then left him in a room without a bed, and that he lost control of his torso and legs and urinated on himself as a result of the injections. Inesti alleges that he filed numerous written complaints to Defendant Steven Rabinowitz, director of the MPC and Kirby. Inesti was later transferred to an MPC transitional unit, where he refused to take his medication, became delusional and struck a nurse. Inesti's violence prompted Defendant Lucy Borges-Smith, Acting Counselor at MPC, to call an ambulance to transport Inesti to Bellevue Hospital Center ("Bellevue"). Inesti alleges that Borges-Smith failed to inform the paramedics of his mental health status, or provide them with the appropriate medical records.

Bellevue subsequently released Inesti without any mental health treatment, and he proceeded to wander the streets of New York City in a delusional state. He alleges that he ultimately returned to the MPC, where Borges-Smith had him arrested on assault charges. Inesti was then taken back to Rikers Island, where he received mental health treatment and medication. After a court hearing, Inesti was released from DOC custody without further treatment, and was allowed to wander the streets until he returned to the MPC, where he was arrested once again and returned to Rikers Island. He alleges that this "revolving door" cycle of arrest-and-release continued from 2006 to 2008.

On August 8, 2008, Inesti was arrested for acts committed while delusional. He was sent to Bellevue the same day for a court-ordered examination, where he struck an officer and was given medication. He was once again returned to Rikers Island, where he was housed in the SHU from August 8 to November 21, 2008. Inesti alleges that during this period, Captains Dunbar and Presley again denied him food, clothing, recreation time, showers, and mental health treatment.

On November 21, 2008, Inesti was transferred to Kirby after he was found unfit to proceed in a criminal trial. At Kirby, Defendants Drs. Hamilian, Hicks, and Kunz interviewed Inesti and diagnosed him with schizoaffective one disorder. Inesti struck a Kirby staff member while suffering a delusion, and Defendant Dr. Tom Tuzel ordered Inesti be sedated. Dr. Tuzel also prescribed Risperdal for Inesti, and ordered that he be injected with psychotropic medications on multiple occasions without consent.

On January 8, 2009, Kunz and Hicks found Inesti fit to proceed with trial. Inesti alleges that this "diagnosis" was false, and that as a result of proceeding to trial, he was sentenced to a twenty year-to-life term of imprisonment "for a crime that was propelled by [his] mental illness . . . ." (R&R at 6.)

Inesti also claims that he felt helpless under Dr. Tuzel's care and filed a written complaint with Rabinowitz. He contends that Rabinowitz ordered Inesti back to Rikers Island without further treatment.

Lastly, Inesti alleges that since he was repeatedly transferred between facilities, his medication was automatically discontinued, and he was required to undergo re-examination with each transfer. This process took "days to weeks" and caused Inesti to suffer continued mental illness while he was without medication.

B.Procedural history

Inesti filed his original Complaint by mail from the Clinton Correctional Facility. The Complaint is dated April 20, 2010, but the envelope in which it was mailed was postmarked on April 7, 2011. Inesti amended his Complaint twice, once on October 11, 2011, and again on November 29, 2011. In his Second Amended Complaint, Inesti seeks compensatory and punitive damages, as well as declaratory and injunctive relief, for alleged constitutional violations pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

On January 12, 2012, Defendants moved to dismiss Inesti's Second Amended Complaint. In their Rule 12(b)(6) motion, State Defendants argue: (1) Inesti's claims are barred by the statute of limitations; (2) Defendants Michael Hogan, Commissioner of the New York State Office of Mental Health, and Rabinowitz were not personally involved in any alleged deprivation of Inesti's rights; (3) the Second Amended Complaint does not state facts alleging a violation of any constitutional right or federal statute; (4) Inesti's claims against the State Defendants in their official capacities are barred by the Eleventh Amendment; and (5) Inesti lacks standing to seek injunctive relief, and his claim is moot.

City Defendants moved to dismiss Inesti's claims on the grounds that: (1) all of Inesti's claims before his August 9, 2008, incarceration are barred by the statute of limitations; (2) Inesti fails to allege the personal involvement of either City Defendant in his remaining claims; (3) Inesti's remaining claims as to his medical needs and conditions of confinement do not satisfy even the liberal pro se pleading standards; and (4) Inesti fails to state a claim for municipal liability.

C.Magistrate Judge Peck's R&R

On June 22, 2012, Magistrate Judge Peck issued an R&R recommending that Defendants' motions to dismiss should be granted in part and denied in part.

In considering a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a court must "take [ ] factual allegations [in the complaint] to be true and draw [ ] all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor." Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 71 (2d Cir. 2009) (citation omitted). Although a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). As pro se litigants "are entitled to a liberal construction of their pleadings, [their complaints] should be read to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest." Green v. United States,260 F.3d 78, 83 (2d Cir. 2001) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).

In determining the sufficiency of a complaint, the Court may consider "the factual allegations in [the] . . . complaint, . . . documents attached to the complaint as an exhibit or incorporated in it by reference, . . . matters of which judicial notice may be taken, [and] documents either in plaintiffs' possession or of which the plaintiffs had knowledge and ...

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